Dayna’s birthday was back at the end of September and like most girls turning 25, there was only one thing she wanted to do for it – play paintball!
I had a lot of people think I was crazy for setting up a game of paintball for my girlfriend’s birthday but don’t worry this was Dayna’s idea really. Apparently it has always been on her list of things to do and so we added it to our 100 Things List at the start of the year (I wasn’t too adverse to the idea either).
We rounded up a pretty sweet crew of 8 to head out to Essex on a perfect sunny day. Our “Team Yellow” (we had yellow armbands on) was an all kiwi contingent of mainly fresh off the boat Kiwis; Craig, Jono, Cath, Jase, plus my sister Sarah and her (slightly hungover) partner-in-crime Demelza (plus me and Dayna of course). What we were lacking in paintball experience we made up for in enthusiasm, competitiveness and experience with video games and war movies.
After lucking out with the weather, we also lucked out with our extra teammates for the day as our team was bolstered by 2 gun paintballers (well one experienced guy and his heavily made up, giant fake eyelash wearing girlfriend who turned out to be pretty much just as good as him even though it was her first time).
I had asked that we get put with the most rubbish rookies there but as we sat waiting around to get teamed up there was a disturbing amount of big soldier type men walking around. The fact everyone is dressed in army fatigues may have been contributing to the soldier look though. We got our hopes up when we saw a bunch of little kids come in as surely we could take them but, alas, they were teamed up with other kids their own size. Eventually we found ourselves pitted up against a pretty timid looking bunch of newbies like us so we were happy to accept them as our foes for the day.
After kitting up with all our gear and guns, having a safety briefing (mainly “DON’T TAKE OFF YOUR HELMET OR YOU’LL LOSE AN EYE”), and trying out our guns, we went straight out to our first map of the day. The rest of the day is based on my limited view of the matches and stories from the rest of the guys.
The first map was an open field with hay bales dotted around with the odd vehicle for cover. It was still early in the morning but we managed to psyche ourselves up pretty well (I may or may not have channelled Mel Gibson in Braveheart and yelled out “Freedom” as we started). They came out a little more timid than us and we took most of them out in the first 30 seconds. I’ll admit to taking a certain glee in sprinting around the side of the map and sneaking up behind a couple of our cowering opponents to shoot them in the back from point-blank range. I didn’t think much of it at the time but later on I was to find out that getting shot at point-blank range HURTS so I now feel a little bad for those guys. Our refs for the day said the first match was the quickest they ever saw (we got all of them out in about 2 minutes without any of us taking a hit).
The second game was a little closer but still went pretty quickly and we racked up our second win of the day to go 2-0 up. I was struggling to find anyone to shoot on the second game and was wandering around the map in the open trying to draw them out. Some of our team members (*cough* Jase *cough*) were so eager they even took to shooting our foes when they had already been hit (when you get hit you put your hand up and walk off and people are supposed to leave you alone. Supposed to anyway.). Maybe this fired them up as they improved quite a bit from this point.
After the “deathmatch” style first round (where you just have to shoot all the opposing players) we moved on to another map. I can’t remember what it was called but it had a Barn which was apparently “really important to take first”. We were supposed to be playing a new game where we tried to rescue a dummy (I think it was called “Sheila”) from the middle and take her to the enemy’s base. A small group of us decided it would be a good idea to leave the Barn to the others and head towards “Sheila” where there was a car that looked like a nice little spot to set up and take cover. We found out the hard way it was not a nice little spot.
As soon as we got to the car we had paintballs zipping everywhere around us. Every time we popped out and tried to fire off a shot, we would nearly get hit. I looked up and saw Jono and Craig trudging off covered in paint (only 30 seconds in) followed by Sarah from a different part of the map and I thought this isn’t going great, we need to change tactics. So I said “I have to MOVE!!!”, took a step out…and got a paintball right in the face. Thankfully I was wearing a thick helmet and didn’t feel it at all but it is an alarming thing to have paint explode all over your face and I did have to do the walk of shame off to our dugout.
The numbers of our team in the dugout were getting pretty high and we realised we were probably going to lose this one. It was at that point that our new teammate for the day showed us he was actually Rambo in disguise and started gunning down all our competition (along with a little help from our remaining team members). It ended up that all our opponents joined us in the dugout and still paintballs were flying everywhere. Eventually our guys realised they were all on the same team and we emerged victorious again. 3-0.
The second round on the barn map went only slightly better for me. I again left the barn to others and ended up hanging out stuck behind a hay bale for most of the game. My main memory from this round was Jase trying to figure out who was in the barn by screaming “HAS YELLOW GOT THE BARN?!?!” repeatedly, getting more and more desperate every time. Finally, Dayna responded (just as frantically) with “YELLOW HAS THE BARN! YELLOW HAS THE BAAAAARRRNN!!!” Demelza showed her bravery at the end of the second round here and went sprinting straight towards the remaining group of foes guns blazing. Unfortunately for her, their guns were also blazing and she ended up with some nice welts from getting shot from only a couple of metres away.
Luckily for us Craig stepped up and snuck around to take the last foes out for us. Unluckily for Craig, Jono was still shooting at them from the opposite side and managed to catch Craig with a couple of good hits of friendly fire (a recurring theme of our day). 4-0.
It was at this stage in the day that events took a dramatic turn. A couple of the opposing team pulled out “injured” so our dream team couple from Essex deserted us and switched sides to the opposite team. We were distraught.
So with heavy hearts (and belly’s since we had just had lunch – yay for £2 burgers!), we headed to the next map “Jungle”. I won’t say much about this map other than we sucked at it, got shot a lot and the score moved to 4-2 (Rambo being responsible for taking most of us out).
To finish the day we went to the map that us boys had been looking forward to all day “Bog” (which is a replica of a Call of Duty map). We were playing a game where we had to take a “bomb” from a mound in the middle of the map and take it to our opponent’s base. The map had loads of different features with a bit of a house on one side, and storage containers, a bus, sheds and mounds spread around the rest. The first round was a really tight fought match where it was down to Craig and a couple of opponents at the end with time running down. Craig miscalculated thinking the other team would just hang back so he went running for the bomb only to get shot and hand the victory to our foes. 4-3.
And so we went in to what turned out to be the dramatic last match of the day. At this stage a few of us (myself included) were having technical issues with our guns and we were getting pretty sore (well at least I was) so it took a bit of extra effort to psyche ourselves up for one last big effort. The match started with everyone sprinting to different positions on the map and then we all got held down in different spots. I thought we were doing pretty well but every time I had a clear shot at one of our enemies my gun decided not to work. Then when I called the ref over to help me out the gun would work fine when I tried to show him. I couldn’t figure it out but soon after I ran out of paintballs so there at least was an issue I could understand.
At this stage, everyone seemed quite distracted and nobody had gone for the “bomb” so I decided I would take matters in to my own hands and went and grabbed it. I had an amazing plan of sneaking around the side of the map and coming up to our opponents’ base without them realising it. I was going to be a hero.
Craig and Jase were nearby and we had been talking with each other so I ran around, with the bomb in hand, to where they were. I ran passed Jase and then came up behind Craig thinking “sweet, I have these two guys to cover me” only for Craig to jump around like a startled cat and unleash paintballs all over me. From a couple of metres away. To make matters worse the ref was right there (laughing) to tell us that yes, friendly fire counts and I’m out. It was tragic.
I gave Craig what was probably a very moving speech to tell him that he had to win it for us now. Then my final act was going to be handing back the paintballs I had borrowed off Jase. Unfortunately as I was trying to offload the paintballs I was hit in the face for the second time that day. A suitable way to end the game for me I think.
Craig (driven with the guilt of taking out his buddy and inspired by my parting speech) managed to take the bomb from where I left it with him and, with help from our remaining team members, got it to our opponents’ base to secure a heroic 5-3 win for Team Yellow. Special mention should go to the rest of our team who dealt with Rambo for the last 2 matches and kept him out of the way. Apparently Demelza managed to hit him in the butt to knock him out on that last game. Nice.
Overcome with the joy of winning, Cath then proceeded to shoot Dayna in the leg as a celebration (leaving Dayna with a nice little bruise for a few days). Dayna’s attempts at retaliating didn’t hit Cath apparently.
I think everyone agreed it was a pretty amazing day – if you’re ever going paintballing in London/Essex then I would definitely recommend Mayhem paintball.
Like right proper Londoners, we ended the day at the pub. A beer never tasted better.
Oh and Happy Birthday Dayna! Thanks for being the type of girlfriend who can celebrate her 25th birthday playing paintball in Essex!