The first thing that struck me when I turned up at Go Ballistic’s site at RAF Dishforth was just how much of a military feel there was about the place. The guys have done a really good job of designing a great safe area which takes on the role of base camp for the day.
First up we got a comprehensive safety briefing and we were issued with our kit. A real shiver ran down my spine as I was handed overalls, a protective snood balaclava, a battle pack and a hopper for my gun. Next I stocked up on ammunition, strapping 400 paintballs to my body in readiness for the action ahead.
Then we made our way out to the first game zone – ‘Speedball’ – which really lived up to its name. The action in the first scenario was fast and furious as we split into teams for a game of ‘Last Man Standing’. The game was extremely fast-paced and there really was no place to hide.
We then moved on to the ‘Ambush Alley’ zone which ended up being my favourite at the end of the day. A game of ‘Capture the Flag’ was played both ways round and I nearly managed to win the game for our team but the time limit beat me as I got to the flag.
Next we headed to the ‘Trench Warfare’ zone and it was now that I really appreciated the site’s location on the edge of RAF Dishforth. The runway and military buildings in the background gave a real sense of drama and, with a helicopter doing manoeuvres within view, it made the gameplay really come alive. The ‘Trench Warfare’ zone was the real opposite to the up-close-and-personal ‘Speedball’ area.
The name of the game was to recover a bomb from the centre of the field and deposit it in the enemy’s camp. To start with both teams played a cagey game but, taking the bull by the horns, our enemy decided to force the action which played right into our hands. Moving wide thanks to great covering fire from a team-mate, I got great angle on the opposition’s men and managed to pick a few off without attracting much attention myself.
It was in the ‘Trench Warfare’ zone that I discovered some of the sounds associated with paintball. With balls whizzing just over my head, the adrenalin really started to pump and I actually felt compelled to return fire. That proved to be a big mistake because I attracted more attention and, during the second game, I became pinned down, completely defensive and unable to get out of my position to help my team-mates. It was certainly a lesson learned.
After a welcome break for lunch, we moved on to the ‘Fort Zone’ and the ‘Tactical Tyre Zone’ before finishing off with a return to the ‘Speedball’ arena. All in all, it was a great day and the nerves quickly evaporated once I fired my first paintball!
In fact, it was such a learning curve that, by the end of the afternoon, I even felt quite professional! A real surprise was just how physical the gameplay was – vaulting over earth embankments, crawling between tyre barriers, and ducking and diving through bunkers meant it was a lot more involved than just firing paintballs at people.
I could go on all day about how much fun paintball turned out to be at RAF Dishforth, but in all honesty the only advice I can give is to just get out there and do it for yourself! You certainly won’t regret it if you Go Ballistic!