Skirmish, Poco Loco, Del Hobbies, Fireball Mountain
I recently went to EMR's Severe Extravaganza, put on by Divine Craft Paintball. I can heartily recommend EMR for regular play, but there are some caveats for big games that newbies and non-team players should be aware of.
Refs were courteous, helpful and safety-consious. They were in the thick of things and making calls. Unfortunately, there were many instances during the big game that there were no refs in sight, but that is a function of their number and deployment, not the individual refs themselves. Rating: 8.
Surrender rule allowed, which I think is a must for a rec field. Chronographing was strictly enforced. At least one ref carried a hand chrony to check hot guns. Play was fairly clean, so I didn't see any refs having to boot people for overshooting. Rating: 8.
3. Support Staff
Friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The air shack staff was safety-conscious and competent. Rating: 9.
Great people; local/sponsored teams were all over and were friendly and helpful. Met a bunch of Canadians who go to EMR regularly (Canadian Contingent, woohoo!) and many people from all over the eastern seabord. Some newbies, but many old-schoolers, too. I saw no wiping, fighting or arguing with the refs. Many of the clientele would go out of their way to help out a fellow paintballer. One of the best aspects of this field. Rating: 10.
WOW! Amazing fields; several castles, a ditch/high grass field, some villages, several rocky/woodsy fields, and Castle AAAAARGH! must be seen to be believed! Easily the best woodsball fields I've ever played. Clearly marked, well-maintained, imaginative, fun to play and unusual. Rating: 10+!
EMR has standard player facilities (small proshop, shooting range, port-a-potties, parking near the main building, etc.), as well as some unusual facilities (rec house, musuem, camp ground, swiming pond and bunkhouses). Camping/bunkhouses are free, and appeared clean (we did not stay in them). I do not know if there were lockers for equipment and belongings, however.
The museum was great - it was very cool to see all the old markers and pieces of equipment. Food was available through vendors, although I don't know if they'd be there for non-big game events. Many people brought their own tents and canopies, as there is little shade from the sun otherwise. There were a number of tables and benches under a free-standing roof, and a pair of commercial-style sinks there as well with running water. Like most places, lack of a true bathroom hurts. Rating: 7.
The pricing for the event was good ($25 and a free jersey), and paint prices were a bit higher than I'd like to see ($80 for Severe). $80 is the norm for many places (Skirmish, Poco Loco, etc.), but it's a bit hard to swallow for just Severe. Prices at the pro shop were fairly standard for a brick-and-mortar shop. Air/CO2 was free. Rating: 7.
8. Field Paint
Severe was $80 a case; the paint was fresh, but had a little dimpling and accuracy was good, not great. I've had worse field paint and I've had better field paint. It seems to be more of an industry issue and not a field issue.
Overall, EMR is a great field with some of the best playing fields I've ever been on. The only caution is big games; the home/sponsored teams were all on one side, and they wiped the field with the rest of us. They were given grey jerseys and we had red jerseys (can you say "target practice?"). I didn't see any favoritism on the part of the refs (who were local team guys), but the lopsided nature of the competition caused a lot of red team members to leave early, leaving the rest of us to be repeatedly pounded by the greys.
Therefore, I'm going back to EMR, just on a regular day when the teams might be more even . . . .