To Paintball or Not to Paintball ...
When you're looking around for an event that will really appeal to your friends or work colleagues you need to be sure that it will have the broadest possible appeal. You really don't want to go to the trouble of organising a weekend activity or weekday event only to find that no one signs up because you misread the mood or misunderstood what the activity involved.
This article will aim to address at least that latter issue in respect of one of the most popular adventure activities: paintballing.
Of course, paintballing may be popular, and locations to hold your paintballing event may be scattered liberally across the country, but if you've never been paintballing before then you really can't know what you're getting yourself into. So here's everything you need to know about one of the greatest, most fun, and just plain insane outdoor activities you'll find anywhere.
Then you can decide whether it's right for you and your work, stag, hen or any other party.
Paintball: Battle of the sexes?
First things first, paintballing is absolutely not the sole preserve of blokes. Right across the country, week in, week out, a host of women are regularly taking part in, and loving, paintball weekends.
Location, Location, Location.
With well over 100 paintballing venues across the country finding a place to hold your paintball event won't be difficult, but if you're lucky enough to have more than one paintballing centre near you then pay them a visit in advance and check them out because they differ wildly.
Many are hidden in areas of dense woodland which makes for a classic paintball experience.
Some are in woodland clearings. They may have turrets, towers and forts built within them.
Some are based on scrubland and will offer less natural cover (and more oil drums, overturned cars and caravans to hide in or behind).
Finally there's the industrial complex-type paintballing experience. Disused warehouses on the outskirts of our larger cities will sometimes house the latest variant of the paintball activity - and these can offer the benefit of being a little dryer (but often only a little!) than their woodland-based counterparts.
Paintballing: Health and Fitness.
It almost goes without saying that, no matter what your level of activity, you can't leave a day of " paintballing adventure games " without feeling the heart pounding and the pulse racing.
It's great exercise for everyone taking part. The question is, just how fit do you have to be to go paintballing in the first place?
It's a personal thing, of course, but if you're carrying a lot of extra baggage then moving around the paintballing arena will take that much more energy and you may not have the stamina to last the full day.
For the seriously obese, then, paintballing parties may not be for you. Similarly, if you have problems with mobility the terrain may compromise your chances of enjoying the day to its full.
For everyone else though, almost irrespective of fitness, you will be able to last the distance because you can choose how much energy to expend.
Yes, you can charge around like a paintballing lunatic if you so wish, but if you'd rather opt for the more covert strategy you can sneak from cover to cover sniping your competitors as you go.
Should the mood take you, you can just camp out in a bush each game and sit and wait.
Paintball: Clothing and Safety.
Any adventure game or outdoor activity which involves shooting people is just bound to come with a host of safety precautions isn't it?
Well yes, and no.
No because the safety rules are dead simple - don't shoot anyone above the neck. Since accidents (and poor aim) happen everyone will be kitted out with full -face visors and the other key rule is never, ever remove your mask whilst in the live game arena.
You will be given overalls to wear. Make sure you wear sturdy boots that you don't mind covering in mud, and you might like to consider gloves and beanie hats to offer a little extra protection and warmth. Balaclavas are also good as they give you the added bonus of looking like a terrorist.
Since it is very easy to get carried away by the moment, one final rule: no hand to hand combat.
Paintballing: Guns and Bullets.
A paintball is a squishy orb of paint about the size of a marble. It is loaded into a hopper that sits atop your rifle (the standard weapon for a day's paintballing).
Terms vary, but you'll normally get a round of ammo in your initial price, with further ammo able to be purchased throughout the day.
Unless you are the most frugal of gunslingers you will need extra ammo.
Paintballing centres all offer a similar menu of games - and these all tend to be a variation on a theme; the theme being 'shoot everyone'.
So there's the skirmish-type game where it's every man or woman for themselves.
Then there are the team eliminator games where you play cooperatively to wipe out the opposing team.
Capture the flag is a hugely popular variation that sees a team having to capture a literal flag and return it to their base - but if the flag-carrier is shot the flag is dropped and the opposing team can grab it.
Storm the castle is, as it suggests, one team defending a base and the other attacking.
Some locations offer a dodgeball paintball game which is pretty much the same game of dodgeball you played as a kid, but with paint bombs replacing balls.
There are many more paintball game variants taking place across the country - but these are the basic types, and you're likely to play most of these on a full day's paintballing.
Paintballing is a terrific, fun, exciting day - and one you'll come back to again and again.
If what you've read appeals, then you and your party will have a great day.