Sunday 20 August 2006

Paintballing again

Went paintballing with people from work yesterday.

Seeing as I went just a few weeks ago to a different centre, this gives me the opportunity to compare them.

Yesterday we went to HotShots, near Upper Bucklebury. The previous time we went to Delta Force.

In terms of organisation, facilities, equipment and professionalism them was no comparison.

Delta Force was better in terms of:

Facilities: Their 'HQ' was so much better. The Hotshots toilet was a rubbish little portaloo that look like it had been rejected from Glastonbury for being too minging. Delta Force had a permanent building with separate gents and ladies. Maybe an idea if you want to have more of the fairer sex along.

When it came to lunch, Delta Force gave us a pretty nice BBQ. Hotshots ordered in loads of Dominos pizzas. Now I'm not saying I don't like Domino's pizza, but I got the impression it was because they couldn't be bothered doing a proper BBQ.

DeltaForce had a 'goggle cleaning station'. At HotsShots it was a case of running around trying to find the one spray bottle and some clean paper.

DeltaForce had lots of free drinking water and tea/coffee. HotShots had some bottles of juice that vanished pretty quickly.

Organisation: When I arrived at HotShots it was a case of hanging around trying to work out what to do, then a kind of mad rush to get some equipment. The fact they only had 2, XXL overall suits was a bit annoying. Like big guys don't like paintball eh? We had ordered a package that included grenades, but they had no grenades available. Admittedly the gave us 50 paintballs instead, but if you're going to say you give grenades then maybe you should...

Equipment: DeltaForce equipment was just better. End of. Guns - I don't know if they were technically better, but they were shiny, looked newer and had two handles, which matters to the lay person. Especially the shiny bit. They had loads of grenades. Their ammo packs had good fresh velcro (most of them). With the HotShots stuff I actually lost ammo in a game because the velcro wouldn't stick! They were nice enough to replace my lost paintballs though. DeltaForce supply all players with full head protection and their masks look much newer. The HotShots stuff is probably more standard but is inferior to the DeltaForce stuff.

professionalism: Now I'm not saying the HotShots guys were unprofessional, but they did kind of give the impression of being a bunch of lads who were leasing the centre out or something and running it for a 'larf'. I was very impressed with the DeltaForce professionalism and the way they drilled in the safety rules. i.e. if they see you without Goggles on in the game you are out for the rest of the day. At HotShots there were people going about with Goggles off as they stood at the side of the game.

The HotsShots safety talk seemed more like they were only doing it because they were obliged too. During the safety brief the HotShots guy was 'demonstrating' the guns, so had a paintball gun in the 'safe' area firing and was firing it against a lorry to show us how it worked. Then as he talked he was waving the gun barrel in front of us all. It was pretty stupid and unprofessional and everyone was kind of looking at each other thinking, "wtf?" with nervous laughter going around. There's no way the DeltaForce guy would have done that.

DeltaForce marshals seemed a bit more with it. They wore recognisable clothing so you could see them all the time, and they were always on hand to help if you had a gun jam or anything.

Anyway, organisation and professionalism isn't why you go paintballing - it's all about the fun in the games.

However, I think I had more fun at DeltaForce. There were about 25 on each team yesterday. A lot of the game areas were too narrow for that many people. There was the usual 'get the flag' type games, but it's a telling sign that nearly every game at HotShots ended in a stalemate, whereas every game at DeltaForce was won by someone. Also, the DeltaForce people kept track of the scores between the teams, with HotShots I didn't really have a clue what was going on.

I must admit I think I had my 'best ever' game of Paintball yesterday. It was a 'defend the castle' game and I got into a great defensive position where I was able to shoot about 5 or 6 people, before someone got an accurate shot through the walls!

Enjoyment wasn't helped by an incredibly heavy downpour that completely soaked everyone. It was so uncomfortable and made us think about how bad it must have been to be a real soldier in the trenches soaked for weeks at a time, with something more serious than paintball to worry about!

Overall I did have a fun day. It's hard not to with paintball! However, I don't think I would return to HotShots. DeltaForce I would go to again, but there are so many different paintball centres between here and London that it's worth trying them all.

Disclaimer: All this rubbish is my opinion only. I have no affiliation to any paintball centre.

The only reason I've blogged this and gone into so much detail is because there was so much difference in terms of quality between the two centres. I suspect Delta Force may be especially good and professional and HotShots more the norm, although I've been to a few other centres in England and I'd say they fall inbetween the two.

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