It’s not everyday that you get to chase your other half around a muddy woodland brandishing a gun and cackling wildly as they flee in fear; although I’m convinced this should happen far more often as we had the most exhilarating time taking part in a morning of paintball missions at Delta Force Paintball in Watford and it’s certainly a tale that we will tell for many years to come!
The Delta Force Kings Langley paintball centre is situated on the outskirts of Watford with plenty of parking in the picturesque Hertfordshire countryside just a five minute drive from Hemel Hempstead town centre. With multiple scenes and mission scenarios constructed in the woodland they proudly boast props and features shipped directly from blockbuster Hollywood movies to really bring the action to life. I’ve only ever been paintballing once which was in my teens and after getting shot at I ran away and hid until it was over; a decade or so later, and after having two children, I doubt there’s anything that could ever stop or hurt me now – if you’ve stood on your childs lego left out on the carpet then you can literally take on anything!
We arrived at 9am as instructed for our 10am-1pm morning session and were greeted by an influx of excited paintballee’s and staff in bright yellow t-shirts directing us where to go, giving safety talks and sourcing and sorting our equipment. We didn’t need to bring anything with us as Delta Force provide it all but were advised to wear comfortable clothes and trainers that we wouldn’t mind getting muddy as it had conveniently rained the night before. I opted for a rather worn pair of gym trainers and some leggings and a vest top with a hoody as I wasn’t sure if it would be cold, but in hindsight I could’ve done it in a bikini because the body armour and overalls get pretty toasty when you’ve been running around for 3hrs straight across 6 games!
After signing consent forms we were led through a series of barriers to collect our equipment of overalls, a paintball hopper, body armour and a goggle mask which covered us from head to ankle, protected our clothes and softened the impact of the paintballs. We were then given the option to purchase additional paintballs, smoke bombs, grenades and flares from the shop for which you have to be over the age of 18yrs. There are also light refreshments of crisps, energy drinks, water, free tea and coffee, hot noodles and pizza which can be ordered in advance for lunch although some of the couples and groups had packed their own lunches for dietary requirements. The lockers on site can be hired for a few pounds and we used ours to stow our box of additional paintballs, jackets, phones and valuables as the only thing you take out onto the field is yourself and a paintball gun. We had 1,000 paintballs between the two of us working out at around 100 paintballs each per game and it was more than enough. I had a handful of balls leftover in my gun at the end but could have easily used them all, it depends on how trigger happy you get if you choose to be a sniper or go all out armageddon!
Our morning session was split into six games on four different courses and we were given a choice of colours for teams whilst getting ready in the safe zone. The safe zone is where the shop, toilets, scoreboard and picnic benches are located and it’s the only area in the camp where you can remove your paintball mask. Seeing as it was just the two of us we wanted to stay together so we both picked the orange team for which we met groups of friends and individuals from all different areas. It was announced that our team was up against the white team and although we were effectively enemies on the course looking to defeat each other there was such a great sense of humour and friendship between us all that we sat together chatting and laughing in the safe zone between games as we had several minutes at a time to reload our hoppers, go to the toilet and get something to eat and drink before our next game. It also made it hilarious catching up after games, breathlessly laughing and undressing to cool off as we talked about the shots we took and scenarios of getting each other out; a guy on the white team frequently used a shield to hide behind and sniper off my team mates and I took great pleasure in catching him off guard and taking him down!
Set deep in the woodland there are a variety of courses to play on with the Castle Wallenberg two-storey fortress, helicopter, stacked oil drums and barricades where several teams are in combat at once across all ages and abilities. We chuckled over the teams of children marching past with their huge guns and little helmets ready for combat. Alternating between task games, shoot outs, speedball, capturing the flag and rescuing the president kept each game exciting, unique, time focused and motivational for those all important team points. You can also chase zombies around a life-size graveyard, fight a terminator for his upgraded weapon and take over a foreign embassy if the mood takes you. Our semi-automatic paintball guns were powered by air canisters to fire the paintballs at around 100mph which meant that safety guidelines and vigilant staff patrolling were paramount throughout. We were given strict instructions to only shoot a target at a minimum distance of three metres away and should anyone come closer we should raise our hands and allow a field marshal to separate the players safely before continuing the game. During our morning session everybody abided by the rules and the staff and marshals were incredibly well organised, safety conscious and helpful – even providing tactics and advice on how best to approach each course which really helped us as newbies with zero combat knowledge.
Our first game focused upon taking over and defending huts as a team in order to earn a point for each location that we successfully captured and held. If we were shot we had to raise our hand and return to a safe zone by a coloured barrel at each end of the course to signal that we were no longer a target for the other team. Throughout the game we were given the chance to respawn and rejoin the game so that we didn’t miss out on the action, but as we progressed onto different courses and gained experience we each had one life only. The first time I was shot in my leg I yelped like a surprised puppy because I was caught off guard inside a hut when a sniper took the opportunity to shoot me through a doorway which I wasn’t expecting. My immediate reaction was to freak out and run to the safe zone with the other girls on my team to leave the game and let the men play instead as I didn’t like the thought of getting hurt, but when respawn was called again I cautiously reentered this time more conscious of the doorways and more involved in defending our hut in order to keep our points. The first shot is always going to be the worst as we have little experience of being struck or hit by paintballs in day to day life, it isn’t pleasant but it definitely isn’t agony! I think the sting and bruise left behind adds to the reality of fighting a team of opponents and it certainly works as an incentive to think tactically, move fast and keep low and covered. It wouldn’t be half as much fun if you were throwing pretty bubbles and flowers at the enemy!
Delta Force are the world largest paintball games provider with over 50 prime UK locations for paintballing rated 5 star by the UK Paintball Association and responsible for the safety of over 500,000 players each year. With US spec full head helmet and goggle protection systems fitted with anti-fog lenses, camouflage combat suits to protect your clothes, custom made battle packs to hold extra ammo, the latest semi-automatic paintball guns which are lightweight and very accurate along with breathable body armour and a padded collar to protect the neck and torso the only thing you need to bring with you is your best war face and aim.
Within the first hour I was howling with laughter, providing cover for my teammates, running at the enemy gun blazing and even locked in a helicopter as the president on a special mission to reach the safe point whilst the entire white team were instructed to shoot at me. Never in a million years did I think I could ever be so brave, adventurous, muddy and ecstatic to be thrown into the middle of a battlefield defending my boyfriend, but it was something we both thoroughly enjoyed which has undoubtedly brought us even closer together as a couple because now I can actually say he’d take a bullet for me -and we have the certificates for outstanding courage and leadership in battle to prove it!