As part of a stag do yesterday I had a go at paintballing at Effingham in Surry. There’s a £5 deposit which gets you equipment and a very small number of paintballs and then you have to buy extra ammunition at £6 per 100 pellets.
The place seems very well organised when you arrive, but it doesn’t always manage to be so. We found there were no lockers available and since we’d all travelled by train (Waterloo to Effingham Junction) their suggestion of ‘can you leave your bags in the car?’ didn’t help much. But they were very helpful in letting us store our bags in their equipment shed, although I wouldn’t expect to be so lucky next time as I think we were lucky with who we dealt with.
The first frustration, though, was in arriving at 12pm (as we had been told to) but not even getting to fire a shot until well after 1:30 due to lunch breaks. They were ‘running behind schedule’. Nobody’s perfect, but it was frustrating for us.
The paintballing sessions themselves were fun. I’d never been before so didn’t really know what to expect, so the first shower of paintballs is quite a surprise! You soon get used to it, though. As a group we made absolutely no attempt to organise ourselves into any kind of coherent team so it just tended to be 20 individuals against 20 other individuals. It’s only a game, and attack strategies seemed to much like ‘work’.
The marshals did fairly well at organising the three rounds of games (with two attempts at each round – one as attacker, one as defender). There was a ‘defend the president in the convoy’,’protect the missile’ and ‘occupy the inca temple’. All quite a good laugh. The only problem I had was after my goggles getting so covered in paint splashes in one round I couldn’t see anything the next.
Firing paintball guns is also not a particularly exact science. I had a good shot of the enemies ‘president’ in the first round (hey – I wonder if that phrase is going to trigger the CIA looking at my blog?) but at more than about 40 feet there’s no accuracy at all (probably a possible hit area of around 10 feet diameter) and often the paintballs don’t burst. And if they don’t burst, it doesn’t count. I was slightly disappointed with that, but then I suppose if they made them more powerful it would be a very dangerous game.
Paintballing injuries abound, though. They were very clear about the need for goggles, and the wound on my hand shows me that you really don’t want one anywhere near your eye so that was good advice. (Actually, it’s more than advice: it’s a hard and fast rule.) Everyone had some wounds somewhere and there are plenty of small red bruises on my legs today. Paintballing is certainly not for anyone who doesn’t mind a few minor aches the next day.
The walk from Effingham Junction station to the paintballing centre itself was a bit hazardous too – no footpaths, and it’s a good mile or so. Not much the paintballing centre can do about that, I imagine, but some wider verges would have made it a bit less hairy.
All in all, paintballing was a good day out, but I can’t say I’m itching to go again. Some other groups there were obviously real addicts but the whole fake war thing is not something I can get too excited about. Instead, I’ll just keep on being an armchair general in Medieval Total War and leave the paintballing for now.