Keith in his bunny costume

Keith in his bunny costume

Harry Pope


‘Keith’s getting married, and he’s having a full stag adventure day.’

‘Oh goody,’ I said. ‘Where are we going?’

‘Knockhatch Adventure Park. They’ve got a separate part at the back, go karts, paint balling, quad bikes, it’s a knockout. We are having breakfast at 9am, then onto Knockhatch for eleven. Two activities, then finish about four thirty.’

Keith proudly showing his costume, your writer before he has been attacked

Keith proudly showing his costume, your writer before he has been attacked

Apparently these activity centres are even more popular when it’s raining and cold. Men like to feel the elements as they are participating, but don’t include me among their number. I was just grateful that it hadn’t been raining for a few days.

I will tell you all about the go karting in another article, I wanted to share the paint balling with you. Completely over rated.

First, the clothing. They provide you with something resembling a boiler suit, and boy do you boil in it on a warm day. There is a technique how to get into it. Sit on a bench, and place your legs inside your own clothing inside the bottom half. Don’t take your shoes off, that is pointless. Then stand, wriggle your torso, until your arms can be placed through the upper part of the one piece suit.

This is where it can be difficult if you are attempting to put on a boiler suit that is one size too small. Or two sizes. Fortunately, mine was just a snug fit, and there I stood, ready.

Keith’s best man had arranged a special suit for him. A giant yellow bunny rabbit. With very long tail that could be confused with a male appurtenance if swung round to the front. A good target, though.

Real men before setting off on their adventure

Real men before setting off on their adventure

One and a half hours later, we were being given our pep talk. That concerned safety, and the guns. ‘Don’t fire at anyone if they are less than six metres away.’ Erm, that’s twenty feet in old money.

‘If anyone has told you that these paint balls don’t hurt, then they were lying. They do’.

‘You will be wearing a protective helmet. That does not cover your whole head, the top is exposed.’ I am bald, and the sun reflects off the top. This was to prove particularly attractive to the opposing side.

I wear glasses. The protective visor would not fit over, so all the time I was ‘playing’ blind.

There were seven games. That’s right, SEVEN. How they managed to make this last for two and a half hours, I have no idea, but they did. We were divided into teams, but we joined in with another group, some of whom were young lads of about 14-16.

‘safe area’. No guns allowed. My favourite place

‘safe area’. No guns allowed. My favourite place

Primed with 100 small paint pellets in our compressed air guns, we had to attack a hut, surrounded by the opposition. One of them reached the target of my right leg. Ouch, that hurt. Strangely, I found myself in the rear of the attacking forces.

This game allegedly lasted for ten minutes, but it seemed a lot longer. All too soon, the roles were reversed, I was a defender. Much better, lots to hide behind.

During the next five games I was hit many times, even one hitting the top of my bald head. Now that REALLY hurt.

One of my team, unknown to me, hit one of the boys while too close, and was sent home in disgrace. They take the safety aspect very seriously.

But the ‘games’ were not over. There were two bridegrooms to be, and two best men, and as a means to using up the remaining paint balls, they were led into the trees, backs facing the troops, who proceeded to empty their guns at their stationary backs.

Not very sporting to me, I fired to miss. I was the only one.

Finally, it was the end, we disrobed, and went home. That night, Pam examined my body even more closely than usual. Lots of bruises, and a nasty score right in the middle of my bald patch.

Would I do it again? Certainly not. Childish boys playing at being men.

But I was in the minority.

30 guns firing at four backs. Hardly sporting.

30 guns firing at four backs. Hardly sporting.

Knockhatch Adventure Park, Hailsham Bypass, Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 3PR –
Telephone 01323 442051