Our mission is to capture the bright green flag that’s lying, taunting us, in the middle of the indoor playing field at Sharjah Paintball Park, where we’ve been invited to brave a game of paintballing (it’s meant to be “team-building”).
It’s just sitting there, on top of a park bench, surrounded by space, with absolutely no cover. Aside from my heartbeat, all I can hear, faintly, is the referee counting down.
It’s been almost ten minutes since we started and neither team is any closer to taking home the prize.
“One minute left, one minute!” he yells.
All of a sudden, a riot of gunfire goes off, as a couple of us make a dash for it.
I’m just hiding behind what looks like a real-life, colourfully paint-stained relic of a London black cab, weighing up my options...
I could stay right here, trying to pick off my opponents one-by-one (with absolutely no success, if the last
ten minutes are anything to go by), or make a dash for it and be the heroine of the day.
With that in mind, I tap into my inner G.I. Jane and make my move, stepping out with trepidation from behind my safe-zone in a valiant bid to win Team A the round. A mere millisecond goes by and… SPLAT! I’m shot in the face. The world has gone orange and I stumble away, paintball gun held high in the air to signify I’m out, head bowed low in my shame.
Admittedly, I’m not very good at this. Fifty seconds later and it seems my colleague (and rival for the day) Emily has had the same idea, except she manages to not only secure the flag, but also take it safely back to base without a single paint mark.
Team B wins. It’s one-all.
For me, it’s a pretty similar story throughout the four games we play. I run back and forth, from the front to the back of the car, or I crouch low behind an open window, poking the tip of my gun out, ready to fire at the sight of even the slightest movement.
At one point, as a foolhardy opponent saunters from one cover to the next, I send a hail of gunfire in his direction (or near enough), only to find I’m shooting blanks – the paint pellets are stuck in the gun (and I’m pretty sure I didn’t notice that was happening for at least five minutes).
A couple of times I bravely venture out, only to get hit. I take a pellet to the shoulder, two to my knee, one smack-bang on the top of my head. I won’t lie, it hurts. And each time I sustain an injury, I timidly return to safety.
Luckily, my two teammates (and I’d like to point out at this point that we’re three against four) are having more luck. We go on to courageously win two out of the four matches, smashing both rounds of open-fire, as we (well, my teammates) go all Rambo on everyone. Aside from the Capture the Flag round, we also lose the mission to shoot their President, but not without a gallant effort,
I might add. If you think our bruises are bad, then you should see the other guys’.
You learn a lot about yourself on the paintball field – like how brave you are under the threat of open-fire, for example – and it’s a great way to find out more about your colleagues, or your other half (funnily enough, mine clearly believes he’s in an actual Call of Duty campaign).
Pain threshold notwithstanding, whether you’re playing in the outdoor fields, which are complete with aircrafts, bunkers and tunnels, or inside in the smaller, air-conditioned facility that’s decked out to look like the streets of London, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself and get swept away in the moment.
Trust me, it’s only a matter of minutes before you start envisioning yourself as a real-life Mad Max (or Imperator Furiosa), no matter how bad you actually are.
From Dhs100 per person (bronze package: 100 paintballs over two games). Open daily 10am-midnight. Golf and Shooting Club Sharjah, www.paintballuae.com (050 203 2288).