This was the only field I went to in Ireland but I've been to 6 in the States and I was a ref for 3 years
I went to Combat Zone with the National University of Ireland WARSoc (intramural paintball club). In our group there were two experienced players, myself and a German student who had played in tournaments back home and the rest were playing for the first time.
Safety- Safety was fine, they made sure everyone kept their masks on. Its a good thing no one was acting up because the refs studiously ignored what was going on around them.
Price- I really don't have anything to compare it to. It was a LOT more expensive than it is in the states but then I know some of the bureaucratic hurdles faced by Irish paintball players just to be allowed to play, so the prices were probably OK considering the licensing issues and customs issues to get things like paintball guns and paintballs.
They ran a tab, which I thought was pretty odd. In the end some of the people didn't have enough money and those of us with extra had to cough it up. I'd much rather they had us buy ammo individually. We weren't even getting a discount on the bulk ammo on the tab.
Equipment- Their rental fee was 30euro ($36 at the time) which included a model 98, 100rounds, a Scott mask and a jumpsuit. The 98's were in appalling condition. I'll go into it more in the "ref" section because the two are linked.
Fields- I play almost exclusively rec ball (sometimes called woods ball or brush ball) and I lean toward the mil-sim crowd. I had also been a ref for 3 years at this point and played in some big scenario games. For the recreational or woods ball player Combat zone had some excellent fields. Really top notch military themed wooded fields.
D-Day at the time was an impressive collection of fox holes and shallow trenches. From their current site it looks like they have added some above ground structures.
The Village is a nice balanced speed ball style (but not speed ball) field with a collection of small houses. My home field back in the states had a similar but less extensive village. I was impressed.
The Fortress wasn't my favorite field. The castle itself is a little too open and we ended up with some uncomfortable close firefights. I think it could benefit from a second level, close-able doors and perhaps a way to eliminate players inside without actually raiding it and shooting them at close range.
I don't really remember the rest of the fields from the website. They were busy that day so we might not have been able to play on all of them.
Rules- Some of the rules were maddening. Hits to hand, feet and gun did not count (I've played games like that before and its a good way to start off beginners. Additionally hits to the head don't count and the refs get mad at you if you actually shoot someone in the mask. They didn't seem to understand that the masks were meant to take a hit and told us it was dangerous to shoot someone in the mask. That's just insane. Of course when head shots don't count no one is ever eliminated since the head is the only part of the body that ever comes out of cover.
Instead of a 20ft rule they had a 30ft minimum distance for shooting someone. That might be acceptable except their guns were turned all the way down so there is no chance of hitting someone at long range. I had to set the gun at a 30degree angle to make a 20ft target on the firing range. Both this and the above rule seemed to be designed to force players to wast ammo rather than for their safety.
Services, ProShop, Food, Facilities- The only thing I used was the bathroom, which I remember being all right. I think they had locker rooms too, which was a nice change from most of the outdoor fields I've been to.
Refs- Oh boy.
The field fee gets you a rental package plus three hours of play, which ended up being six, 12 minute games or obviously 1 hour and 12 minutes of actual play. One of the jobs of a ref is to keep the game going and herd players out of the setup area when it is time for another game. They were not interested in doing that and when myself and my German friend suggested we get moving and actually play, they told us not everyone was ready. True, but no one was ready because no one was pushing them to get ready. Anyone who has ever played a game before knows how that can be. Most of the players (besides the two of us) didn't notice the delays at first, but were trying to get the refs to move faster toward the end of our 3 hours.
When I received my rental package I took the barrel off to inspect it and immediately had it taken from me by a ref who put it back on while saying,“Oh, is there something wrong with this?”
“No, I was just checking the barrel for dirt and its dirty,” I replied.
The ref said, “Test fire it first and if it doesn’t work I’ll squeegee it,” which might have made sense if I hadn't seen the inside of the barrel. So, still having patience at this point I took 2 shots which curved in different directions and asked him to clean it. I checked the hopper and elbow to make sure nothing else was fouled up. The chamber was full of rust (which is odd as aluminum oxidizes but doesn't "rust") and all the paintballs were soft and dimpled. When we were all ready they took us out into the woods. Peoples hoppers began falling off left and right. I took a look at them and they were all still attached to the 98 elbows, which were all missing one pin. One of the refs came over to fix a WARSoc member's gun and I explained this to him. He said that happens and it will be fine. I explained that it needs 2 pins, which is why it kept falling off and he said that it was hard to find replacement pins. He then switched out the gun but kept the defective elbow with a missing pin. The ref didn't do anything about all the ammo that had spilled and broken when the kids hopper and elbow fell off. When I pointed out that a new gun wouldn’t fix a broken hopper I was ignored. This was when I began to seethe.
In the first game I shot at least 4 people while defending the flag, but didn’t see whether or not they came out. The next one I shot in the shoulder and our German Speed Ball player hit the same person in the chest. We asked the ref near us for a paint check, he radioed it in and 5 minutes later (literally 5 minutes waiting for another ref instead of the ref I asked going to check for himself), surprise surprise, the player was clean.
I broke three rounds in the barrel and tried to get a ref, who was standing next to me, to squeegee it out. He took the gun after some arguing, fired three shots into the ground and told me it was fine. I asked him again (rather irately at this point) to squeegee it because the balls wouldn’t shoot strait with a dirty barrel. He told me it was normal to get paint in it and I would be fine. It was at this point that I lost it and told him I was a field ref and knew that he was full of crud (ran afoul of the swear police or I'd use my original language). That would be something to tell a new player if A- You had no business ethics, because a dirty barrel will affect performance and waste ammo, and B- if you do not count on repeat business. It would be like telling a new baseball player that their bat is supposed to be squarish and heavily curved. “Its normal it won’t affect your swing.” He kept telling me, “You know in this game your going to get paint in the barrel and you really just have to keep moving.” I'd only been this mad a few times in my life and I figured I'd better get away from the ref before I lost control. Not being able to hit anyone with a paint filled barrel and dimpled paintballs I rushed a bunker and was hit with a barrage of corkscrewing shots from other paint packed barrels. My German friend was able to eliminate a few people by overshooting them (as refs wouldn't call out singe shots) and using several hoppers of ammo.
On the way to our next field I did some considerable complaining about the refs to my German compatriot who also had nothing good to say about them. I guess they heard me because the bull spouting ref took me aside to tell me that in a game situation he had to watch the players and couldn’t take time to help me. Maybe if there were fewer people. I’ll explain about him “watching” players in a minute. He then kept telling me that I should understand as a ref that paint gets into barrels and you have to deal with it. I told him that the normal procedure was preventative maintenance and not selling obviously defective paintballs followed by taking care of rental guns if there is any problem. He gave me the watching players speech again. He kept insisting that I understand because I was a ref but he wasn't making sense. If he really did not have the time to help me with my gun (and my 3 years as a ref can assure you that he had the time, ability and equipment with which to do it) he should have said that he didn’t have the time and I would have to play with the handicap until he could get to me. That is a plausible answer and one I've given to people when I was reffing a game and couldn't get to someone because I had to watch an intense firefight or some kid who was being a knob. Telling me that there is supposed to be paint in the barrel is a bull crud answer that takes advantage of newbies lack of experience. During the game he stood on the sidelines a few feet from me, refused to do paint checks and never called anyone for a safety violation (so I know he wasn't too busy watching some idiot to squeegee my barrel).
The next game was in the Castle. Once the attacking team touched the wall they were safe from the defending team, i.e. they couldn’t be shot on the top of the head from point blank. About halfway through the game a ref switched my crappy old 98 for a 98 with a sniper barrel and drop forward. Squeaky wheel gets the grease. This one had a large enough bore that the rotten paint didn't burst in it. While I was glad to get a better gun I was upset that I had to complain about the place for over an hour before anyone did anything and I felt bad for all the kids with barrels full of paint and shells who didn't know any better. When the game ended I spoke with my German friend and another WARSoc member and we figured between us we eliminated 17 people and called for 5 paint checks. Not only were none of the people we hit leaving the field, the refs were refusing to check them.
Our last 2 games were in the Village. The refs said that because of the close quarters on this field (i.e. a speedball like arena) if the enemy got within 10 feet of a row of huts the defenders have to fall back. I did pretty well in a hut shooting 2 people (who actually left the field this time). They moved up to a position 10 feet in front of me and I had to retreat to a bunker 30 feet behind the hut. When I took cover and returned fire the refs started yelling at me, apparently 40 feet was too close and I had to fall back even though I had 4 guys pinned. It is incredibly hard to use any type of strategy when you are forced to retreat every time the enemy advances. I retreated to the last huts and shot a few more players who were never called out. I was shot 6 times in the hand and all I have to show for it is a pin prick sized red mark, which is just more evidence of the crappy velocity. At this point even the newest players were starting to figure out something was wrong with the game play. The initial thrill of just shooting a paintball gun had worn off and they were starting to remember all the things they had red about how a paintball game is supposed to be played.
I have no idea who won because very few people were actually eliminated.
I never could have imagined a place that poorly run and that dishonest to its customers. The worst thing is that it was one of maybe 3 places in the country and I'm sure they were ruining the sport for hundreds of new players a year. I truly hope they have made improvements since the last time I was there. There is no way I'd go back until I start to see a lot of positive reviews on this site.
Last edited on Friday, August 13th, 2010 at 5:11 pm PST