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November 24, 2010 / ccollinsonjones1

A total paintbath

I spent Saturday skidding around wet Essex woodland, being pelted with tiny, rock-hard balls of paint-filled evil. My brave comrades in battle were the gentlefolk of creative consultancy Figtree.

We went to the theatrically named Delta Force in Upminster, a vast landscape of artificial battle fields packed full of teenagers and stag parties with a predilection for violent games.

It seems some people take it all terribly seriously. There was one man in a fatly padded suit (cheating surely?) with sponsorship all over it. There was a character called ‘The Terminator’ who would periodically pop up and challenge a poor terrified soul to a one-on-one dual. There were people with paint grenades and smoke grenades and, well, a few problems.

I got quite in to it at first; even taking out two people and manfully taking a few stinging blows myself. I listened to strategy and backed up my fellow soldiers as they courageously crawled through the undergrowth. It was all going well.

Then I decided to be brave and reckless. Foolish soldier. I took a kamikaze run right in to the ‘church’, where I encountered several of the enemy and ducked behind a pew. I was running out of ammunition. I crouched low to the floor, my mask rapidly steaming up and the clatter of enemy boots just in front of me. I was contemplating a run for freedom when one of my own team mates poked their gun through a window behind me and unceremoniously shot me four times in the arse.

First of all, I was on their team. Second of all, you only need to hit someone once for them to be out. Third of all, I had my pathetic, paint-spattered hand in the air in the customary sign of surrender. Friendly fire it was not. Unfortunately everyone is fully masked up and I will never know who this paint-thirsty assassin was. If I find out I will pelt them with marbles or stones first chance I get.

That rather put me off and I went home early. I was knackered and couldn’t face another three full games. I skulked back to the station, welts rising impressively on my backside.

I don’t think I’d call it sport. I’m not even sure I’d call it exercise. Judging by the fug of weed hanging over the car park at lunch time, I’m guessing the motivation isn’t really fitness. It’s probably closest to a real life computer game.

Entry is pretty reasonable at £16 per person. That includes basic kit and about a teacup full of ammo. Everything else you buy once you’re in and there’s plenty to spend your money on. I’m sure some people could get through hundreds of pounds worth of ammunition in a day.

It may not be quite my cup of tea, but I learned some important lessons: never join the armed forces, and stick to laser quest if you want simulated shoot outs. Oh, and if people spill those little pellets on the floor they are really, really, very fun to stand on and splat.

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