Games like “Call of Duty” let you shoot your friends in a video game setting. Sure, it’s fun. But shooting your friends in real life with paintballs, and getting to hear them cry out in pain, is better. Way better. Welcome to Flag Raiders Paintball, soldier.
Fear and adrenaline pump through my veins as I dive behind the concrete wall for cover. A hailstorm of paintballs drowns out the noise of my team mates as the wall I’m crouched behind gets peppered. With so much gunfire, I wonder if I actually did get hit. I don’t think so but as a paintballing newb, I’m not sure how it’s supposed to feel when I do get tagged.
I perform a quick self-check. Satisfied that I’m clean of any fresh paint, I leap to my feet and attempt to run to new cover. The second I leave the safety of my concrete wall, however, I find out exactly what it feels like to get shot with a paintball. A painful yelp escapes my lips as a paintball hits me in the left buttocks.
“I’m hit! I’m hit!” I cry out, holding my gun and hands in the air and announcing my elimination from the game. The sting of defeat fades as fast as the sting of my butt cheek, however, and within a few minutes I am back on the field of battle, playing a new game.
About Flag Raiders Paintball
Located at Bingeman’s Park in Kitchener, Ontario, the outdoor facility of Flag Rraiders covers over 60 acres of varied terrain (click here for a map of the facility). These 60 acres are divided into different play areas, with war-like names such as Saigon, Check Point Charlie, Guns of Navarone and Firebase Phoenix.
Each area offers a unique gaming experience and is littered with a variety of objects. Players get to crawl through, duck behind, and take up sniper positions in things like battered concrete buildings, a multi-storey church, burnt-out buses, bunkers, towers and even an airplane.
The day begins with a short but thorough orientation, covering equipment, safety, game rules and fair play. The group is then divided into two teams and we are taken into the play area.
The players range from the truly hardcore (case in point, the man in the gilly suit below)…
…to the newly initiated like myself and these girls celebrating their friend’s birthday.
The heat of battle is a great catalyst for camaraderie. After a couple short games, people are chatting and laughing with each other, swapping war stories, tactics and showing off angry welts that they wear with pride.
In addition to the varied terrain of each game, the objectives of each game vary too. For example, the first game kicked off with a simple enough objective: kill everyone. But as the morning progressed the objectives changed; from getting a satchel of “explosives” into the Somali pirates’ headquarters, to defending a church from the enemy. I only played for half a day but full-day participants get to enjoy as many as eight scenarios across the sprawling 60+ acre compound.
The only challenge I had during the day (besides being a really terrible shot) had to do with my glasses. Inside the requisite masks, they tended to get fogged up pretty easily, making it difficult to see. To remedy this, I played the second game without my glasses. And although my vision was much less foggy, it was now very blurry.
Tucked behind a tree, I squinted and attempted to locate the enemy. I probably wasted 50 paintballs shooting at what I thought was a person. It turned out to be a pile of logs. I put my glasses back on for the third game.
A great day
I even experienced my own micro-version of post-traumatic stress disorder when I stopped in at Subway for a sandwich on my way home. I instinctively flinched and looked for cover at the sound of the automatic change dispenser shooting out coins. Visions of the gilly suit soldier emerging from the store’s plastic plant flashed through my head.
I’ve never been so nervous eating an egg salad sandwich.
All in all, it was an awesome experience. I’d definitely do it again and would love to try their indoor facility, also located in Kitchener. If you’re looking for an activity that gets you off the couch and lets you shoot your friends, Flag Raiders paintball is a great way to spend a day. Bang bang, baby.
Many thanks to Flag Raiders Paintball for the complimentary visit. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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