aint acking istols
War-gaming used to be a board game for bored executives. Now it’s out in the open and you can run about the woods at the weekend firing emulsion at The Viet Kong Hunting Club. But does it beat Ronsealing cork tiles? Mike Wilson has his doubts . . .
On went the army fatigues. Then the protective visor. I was handed a paint pellet gun and a blue armband which distinguished me from the red enemy. Then we were given a clear. succinct rundown ofthe rules. Reminded that once out of the safe area the visor could not be lifted. we trooped towards the first game. our guns held oh so nonchalantly. We could have been Vietnam vets. stumbling to a Jim Morrison soundtrack.
I was about to take part in a combat game, run by Skirmish (whose Cleveland branch was criticised recently for operating a ‘Hunt Salman Rushdie‘ game). one of the better organised outfits in the country. It's simulated armed warfare where paint pellets are the
ammunition and the guns are fired using compressed air.
IfI looked calm, then it was a pose I had mixed feelings about this: not whether I should be Judge Dread or Clint Eastwood. but whether I could square a liberal repugnance of violence with the undeniably exciting prospect of being able to play out a catalogue of childhood fantasies. How my companion. a well-heeled Marxist university lecturer. was coming to terms with the prospect ofdiving into nature‘s detritus to shoot before being shot. I couldn‘t tell.
Within seconds ofthe starting whistle being blown. I was crawling into a mush of mud and leaves, with my gun held clumsily and my visor beginning to mist up. I felt like a gull
smeared with crude oil. After only a few minutes, a number from both sides were already eliminated and were making their way to the safe area (armbands held above their heads in mock humiliation). I still hadn‘t fired a shot or seen the enemy. Whispers ahead urged me to move forward more quickly to keep up with the phalanx of the twenty-strong team. I darted from tree to tree; looking good. feeling vulnerable. By this time, shots had been fired at me and by me. I knew I hadn’t been shot — had I had any doubts I could have shouted for one of the many referees on hand to conduct a paint check — and I wasn‘t concerned about my strike rate. I was still learning, and was happy to let others seek the objective of this
particular game: nothing so enticing as a tea caddy filled with sweets, but an old ammo box being guarded at the top of a wooden tower about 150 yards from our position.
Nearing the end of the game the action began to hot up. Perhaps it was time to make a significant move. But before I could say ‘cathartic theory of aggression’. two of the enemy charged me, one covering the other in a rehearsed exercise. Give an accountant an army uniform, and you have no idea what beast might be unleashed. I fired my pump action gun in a desperate attempt to save my skin or at least go down fighting.
Failing in the first. I surveyed the terminal marks ofemulsion. One on an arm. another on a leg. Flesh wounds. I thought. but enough to halt my progress.
As it turned out. this first game was the least exciting of nearly a dozen, with a couple involving a mock village and others using a network of subterranean trenches. The 45 acre site, leased from Lord Morton of Dalmahoy, is considered an outstanding location with its varied terrain, though others elsewhere are more extensive.
Whether a predilection for such games presupposes an irresistible urge to commit acts ofviolence against a fellow human being is a question that can never be satisfactorily resolved. despite what apologists for combat games might suggest. In attempting to rationalise the nature of aggression, psychology has found itself treading all sorts of speculative paths — too much testosterone, a Y chromosome too many, vicarious learning— with most coming to dead ends. When faced with a group of young men — amongst them retail managers and salesmen— who possess a shared enthusiasm for militaria and call themselves the ‘Viet Kong Hunting Club’. it is difficult immediately to criticise when they are affable. and unattracted to the idea of participating in the real thing.
Given that it is necessary to book games. it is advisable to ask about safety provision (for example. do they provide full face masks. do they have sufficient insurance cover. do they have a mobile phone and a first aid kit'.’). changing facilities. lunch and the average cost once extra ammunition is bought and guns are refilled with compressed air. Expect to pay between £25 and £35. after hidden costs are added. though group reductions might be available. As far as clothing is concerned. check that overalls and some form of headscarf are provided. Take a pair of strong shoes or walking boots. and perhaps a pair of gloves.
GLASGOW I Survival Game Dryinen. l0miles north ofthe city. 1
EDINBURGH I Survival Game
1 Run by Alternative
l Leisure Ltd. 041 638 281 l.
: thedailyminimumcharge ‘
extrachargesfortheface mask and paint pellets so
' that the average fee is about £30). The l80-acre l
. site features nospecific I games but is so large that thereis plenty ofvariety
I Intercept Between Newton Mearns and Neilston. 0563 27810. Their basic price of£20 includes a protective face mask and ten roundsof ammunition. The 30-acre site has lots ofdifferent features including a cliff ; and swamps. I Challenger Moscow. near Galston. Ayrshire. 0414251066lligh Life Leisureoffera-15-acre site. which is very varied. for a basic price off; 1 9 (which includes a full face mask and a starting number of pellets. but no
Kirknewton Estate. near Kirknewton. Alexander Strachan Ltd.031554 4690. The daily minimum charge is£19.50 per person (which includes full face mask and a basic number of paint pellets). The 60-acre site offers five games. The company can take basic games to specific sites near Perth. Fort William and Aberdeen. I Skirmish A couple of miles to the west ofthe city. on the A71 heading towards Livingston. 031 316-1004. The average cost is £26 after extra ammunition is bought. A full face mask and 24 pellets are provided in the basic package. which costs £20. The 45-acre site has 5 different games. I Mayhem Long Dalmahoy Road. off the A71 towards Livingston. 0506 880752. AWL Enterprises operate a 35-acre site. with many different games. for a j basic price of£20.
Who Dares, Plays!
The Ultimate Paintball Adventure Game
We set the standards that everybody tries to follow.
Just look at what is on offer at the Skirmish site only 15 minutes from the centre ofEdinburgh.
it Male and female changing rooms.
a Covered BBQ area.
a Enclosed dining area.
it Ladies and gents toilets.
ﬁr Free transport to and from the site in genuine World War II Troop Carrier.
a? Transport around the site in Military-style vehicle.
a Trophies for winning teams. Best player etc.
PLUS video of your day if requested.
THE BEST PAINTBALL SITE INSCOTLAND (PROBABLY)
PLUS MUCH MUCH MORE
Two Towers two thirty foot towers that have to be stormed. Hamburger Hill a real hill over 200ft that has to be captured. Underground Trench System Experience the first ofits kind in Scotland.
Village & Prison Complex over 14 buildings in this exciting scenario.
Speedball comes to Edinburgh! Play now on our international size Speedball competition arena —
‘A not/ter first from Skirmish."
it Corporate packages for client entertainment and management training programme.
For‘your"‘business or pleasure’ information pack
telephone Shona on 031 316 4004.
The List 26 January — 8 February 199071