Thursday the 2nd had finally arrived, and Willow and I were off to Crawley for a full day of being hit with paint pellets. The scorching hot weather made my idea of wearing a thousand layers less practical. However, 28 degrees or not, I still dressed in my massive Experience Days hoodie and packed extra tracksuit bottoms to put on over my leggings. It is fair to say I was very prepared due to my previous paintballing adventure!
The drive up to Crawley was smooth and traffic free. I thought the 9.15am start would result in rush hour, but this seemed to miss our destination route entirely. When approaching the last roundabout, we saw a sign saying, ‘Delta Force Paintballing’ and took the first exit down a long road into the forest. It wasn’t hard to see the army style barrack which looked like a fort! On arrival, we signed in and read through the safety terms and conditions before walking into a large open space inside the fort. This had everything we needed for an exciting day of paintballing. The first thing that caught my eye was the two massive missiles right in the middle. These were surrounded by shaded tables, a shop and a stage with a huge yellow scoreboard. We were greeted by Ralph, the Manager of the Crawley centre. He was super friendly, and guided us to our table which had our paintball outfits laid out with a note saying, ‘Welcome to Delta force Gemma!’. This was a lovely touch, and my mind was put at ease when I saw the optional body armour available. I did not hesitate to put this on!
Once we were suited and booted, our left arms were wrapped in blue tape to symbolise us being on the blue squad! I immediately felt sorry for whoever had Willow and myself. One of our marshals, Jonny, went through the safety rules and the plan for the day. I was more relaxed when hearing about the 3-metre rule: the minimum distance that must be between you and someone else when firing. He also explained there would be fourteen games, all with different themes and objectives, in six different game zones scattered around their land. Then it was through the partition that separates the safe gun free zone and paintballing zone. Once through this divider our masks had to stay on the entire time to prevent any injury. We were all given a gun and then could practice our aiming ability by shooting at the zombies and targets that were set up! At a short distance I wasn’t too bad, however, I wasn’t being shot at this point!
Esme was another marshal we had for the day and she was great at leading us all to and from the many games zones and ensuring everyone was happy and not breaking any rules. Her approachable and friendly personality made her a hit with the kids, who were so excited to be a part of the action. The first game took place on a massive castle. The defenders stayed inside it, and had to prevent the attacking team finding the flag and raising it up the pole attached to the castle. Another map involved two massive double decker buses. The attacking team had a ‘president’ dressed in an orange vest. Their mission was to get the president to the defending teams’ bus without him being shot. This game had several shields the attacking team could use, and made a loud noise when they were being sprayed with paint pellets.
I especially liked that after each map we had a 10-minute break back at the barracks, so we could hydrate, clean the paint off our masks, and reload our guns. This also gave us the opportunity to buy more ammo and paint / smoke grenades! Adults were permitted to throw the paint grenades during a game and everyone with paint on them had to go to the dead zone, where they could either respawn or wait, depending on the rules for that particular game. During the previous 10-minute interval we were all given the option to have a personal size Domino’s pizza! Of course Willow and I wanted this, so by the time it came to lunch time, we were delighted to see two Domino’s boxes coming over to our table! Feeling revitalised and refreshed, we were ready to tackle the last few games! My favourite game was one that took place in the heart of the woods. There were full size tanks scattered around the many trees that provided lots of hiding places, making it harder to spot your targets. The object was to collect the 4 flags in the middle of the wood and get them to the opposite side, then back to where we first began, without being hit.
A few games later, and it was time for the awards ceremony, where certificates were handed out by the marshals for triumphs they had noticed throughout the day. These included The Best Camper and The Bravest Solider! A group photo was taken, and then it was on to the last game of the day: ‘The Hunger Games One for All Mission.'
Overall, the day was filled with excitement, great organisation and efficiency. I would recommend this paintball experience to those of you who are looking for an adrenaline filled day out. Thank you to Delta Force for a great day out, and for those of you wondering, I only have three battle bruises -but it was completely worth it!