Following the direct flight from Toronto to London, England’s “Gatwick” airport, the Shoreline Rangers very own Scarlett Rose swooped in to collect the Cat and the Fox. We were quickly whisked along narrow winding roads witnessing the olde English countryside and its quiet villages, passing by quaint English cottages and Manor houses through Sussex to arrive at the campground where we would spend the next three days.
Thursday was spent setting up camp and interacting with all the teams and individuals that were piling in from across Europe and beyond. The site had a fantastic pub on location as well as a few vendor tents to peruse all manner of paintball goods courtesy of BlueWater Paintball, Envy Paintball and Fat Bob’s.
Friday morning it was go time as we donned all our camera gear to begin filming our first European event, Tippmann Challenge UK at Holmbush Paintball just outside of London. The field itself was massive, great pines, rhododendrons and ferns complimented the many field features across the acreage. On a footnote I could almost understand how it was the legendary Robin Hood evaded the Sheriff of Nottingham in Sherwood Forest as the English bush itself was thick and next to impossible for troops or horses to penetrate effectively…. or for that matter, for me to succeed on a good flanking maneuver.
While hot, the sound of the horns signalling game on did not deter the almost 400 paintball players from having at it. Divided into 8 factions with two factions working together at any one time to achieve goals and objectives made the game interesting to say the least. The German teams making up the Teutonic Order as well as the Maroon Goons of the CEF quickly showed their strength on the field, in some cases overrunning their opponents with apparent ease. Spectacular was the heavy use of smoke bombs and flash bangs that added a real battle element across the board. I often found myself jumping repeatedly as the flash bangs would go off nearby.
Saturday was overcast and bit more bearable although the temperatures were tamer in comparison to the heat through parts of North America. The teams battled it out all day in earnest. Saturday was a pivotal point for many teams and some found themselves terribly outgunned resulting in wider point spreads. Saturday evening we stepped out to a nearby pub for a delicious dinner with Paul Banks and company of Tippmann Sports and BZ Paintball as well as Simon Cole of Maxx International and his son Ethan. Big props to the boys at Tippmann for keeping those markers going through the weekend.
As Sunday hit, it was decided that both Friday and Saturday the Catshack had collected enough media to set the cameras aside and get our own game on. Joining Simon and Ethan Cole, the Cat strapped on an NXE pack and loaded a Tippmann Crossover. the battle lines formed mid field where the flags were situated. An interesting addition I found super were the electric flags that with a flip of a switch would light either fluorescent blue or red according to your side. Within the first twenty minutes I made it to the flag BUT …. being unfamiliar with it could not locate the switch in time before being eliminated in a hail of paint. Thereafter we rounded up a small group of twelve or so crazy players like myself for what we called “Operation Meat Shield” All of us made another mad dash for the flag forming a shield while a couple of players fell in behind us which we would deposit at the flag to flip it. While lacking success on the front ….. it was a BLAST and I did have some real fun playing some ball with all of the people there.
A now a few words from Colin Townson in attendance at TCUK alongside a strong number of CEF, those Maroon Goons that strike fear in the hearts of those that would face them.
“Primary objective is the flag, ” I replied. “Goons, lead Bangor and Devil’s Brigade to the left. Dog Soldiers take the right. Jackals are going up the middle.” The site is Holmbush, the event is Tippmann Challenge United Kingdom 2013, and the CEF was on the move.
Ahead of us, dug in around the flag, old friends awaited with markers raised. The Shoreline Rangers, SPS and their allies were sure to put up a spirited defense, but the maroon goons were hungry. A heartbeat later the battle was on. A hundred markers opened up, barking and chattering as players worked their triggers, filling the air with ropes of paint. Moving fast and hard the CEF assaulted the first line of bunkers ringing the flag, storming forward under a withering base of fire that slowly ground down the defenders. But our own ranks were thinning too.
A sharp chemical hiss filled the air as the attacking goons deployed smoke to mask their movements, inching ever forward. For a moment there was silence, as the defenders attempted to lay eyes on their quarry through the swirling clouds obscuring their vision.
The loud booming thud of a detonating flashbang announced the renewal of the assault. Maroon goons stormed forward, emerging from the clouds like demons out of hellfire, markers pouring out fire on the entrenched defenders. More flashbangs detonated, clearing bunkers. Shouts in Dutch, English, Flemmish and French sounded back and forth across the field. The outer ring was breached, and the flag was at last within reach. Radios crackled, announcing the arrival of reinforcements arriving from the respawn point and, for the briefest moment, the battle appeared to be well in hand.
Shouts of alarm from the forward bunkers heralded a massive enemy counter-offensive. Swarms of opposing players emerged from a distant tree line, rushing forward to reinforce their beleaguered comrades. The hammering of markers was deafening, punctuated by the sharp cracks of near misses as incoming paintballs smacked against the bunkers, trees, and rocks behind which the CEF had entrenched itself. From my vantage point in the middle of the line, near the opposing flag, I poured streams of fire toward the oncoming rush of players, dumping pod after pod of paint into a seemingly endless horder of attackers. All around me, maroon goons raise their hands, hit, and move toward the rear of the line bound for the respawn. The line thinned. Shouts become desperate cries for reinforcement. Ammunition ran low. Air tanks emptied. Fire slackened. The enemy advanced.
The thunderous battle cry erupted to our rear. Dozens of CEF burst out of the tree line at a sprint, markers raised – a solid wall of maroon and gold rolling toward the objective like a tidal wave, relentless and undaunted by the fierce resistance mounted by our opponents. The chatter of markers got louder, a deafening roar puntuated by the sharp reports of flashbangs and the battle cries of the advancing CEF. In my bunker, I turned my marker on our opponents, emptying the last of my rounds at their position, watching in awe as my team mates surged forward, sweeping through our battered line and onward, smashing into the next line of bunkers like a battering ram.
Peering through the haze of smoke, blinking the sweat from eyes, I looked towards the flag and I allowed myself a grim smile. The electronic lights burn a bright and fierce red. We had taken the objective. Ahead, our opponents were falling back in disarray as still more maroon goons rushed forward. Heart pounding, breath short and shallow, I glanced at my watch. We are precisely 12 minutes into Tippmann Challenge United Kingdom 2013. Three further days of such brutally intense and high-paced competition lay ahead.
Shaking my head, I secured my weapon and headed back to our lines to re-arm and air up. The first engagement was ours, but our opponents would be back. How any of us would make it through three days at this level of intensity was a worry for some, but not for me. Why? Simple. For the next three days I had the unique privilege of leading some sixty men and women of the CEF and its allies into battle, including some of the best scenario paintball players I have ever encountered. As I headed to the dead zone, I left the field secure, awash in a flood of maroon and gold, a tide already surging onward toward yet another objective.
The CEF had made its presence felt, and would go on to do so repeatedly over the course of the event, finishing in third place after being edged out by a pair of worthy opponents for the top and second positions in the final battle of the tournament. We left TCUK 2013 exhausted, battered, happy, and proud. We faced hard-fighting and determined opponents, in sweltering heat, fighting over arduous terrain, competing to achieve complex and dynamic objectives. It was everything a scenario paintball player could have hoped for, and we were pleased to be a part of it. Next stop the CEF 2013 European Campaign: Staargate.”
I concur with the level of intensity. I was quoted on location on how aggressive I found the game to be overall. There was certainly no worries about finding footage that was action packed as the teams repeatedly clashed over the entirety of the weekend.
Prior to the final battle the Catshack took the stage to speak personally to all the people in attendance. We shared a small anecdote regarding one of our 90 second segments for “The Paintball Show” that aired across Europe last year. The segment (which never made it to air) highlighted many of the great moments throughout this publications history and ended with a challenge. “One of these days I am crossing the pond and when I do, I am coming for you Harry!” was stated as some minor humor about Harry Potter. Two days later a news report hit the airwaves that the Taliban were threatening Prince Harry of the Royal family. At this point it was decided we might look towards re filming that part so it became “One of these days I am coming across the pond and when I do, I am coming for you Tim Barnett!” … the one on one challenge was issued!
Immediately following the challenge, the Catshack Reports awarded a number of the younger people we had already found throughout the weekend with Tippmann gear and swag courtesy of Tippmann Sports. Young Ashley Cowey not having much in his kit got himself a brand new NXE gear bag to stow his gear, we hope you put it to good use Ashley!
The final battle was most spectacular! Shoreline Productions employed the best of their pyrotechnics and as both teams took their sides …. tons of smoke filled the field to accent 8 lesser and one massive explosion as shown in our video production below. Even from some 75 feet one could feel the concussion blast that accompanied a huge fireball of flame and smoke.
Final ceremonies were chalk full of all the necessary thank yous to all the people who took part in seeing what I felt was a great event go off over the course of the weekend…. but it still wasn’t over just yet! As per the challenge accepted, both myself and Tim of Shoreline took the field amidst some pretty humbling cheers from a huge crowd that had assembled as onlookers. Tim won the coin toss and chose his side of the field. Catshack raced up the field at the go and exchanged paint with Tim “The Hitman” Barnett but wound up taking one off the top of the head for the elimination. The crowd immediately demanded more insisting on the best of three. Not wanting to disappoint Tim and I agreed and switched sides. Once again as game on the Cat moved forward jumping into a trench for position on Tim managing to plant some paint on him for the win. Yes it came down to a final round with both parties now feeling the heat. Taking the original end it was sooo close as paint whizzed by both parties in a good gun battle. For a moment I lost sight of my quarry but once I picked up on him again a full hopper was unloaded. On re load we went balls to the wall in an effort to bunker, Tim was not to be taken like that as he snapped out of his trench position to hit me square in the chest to win. YES a rematch has already been declared as Mr. Barnett is looking towards our Wasaga Beach Big game in August 2014. To me I think the match itself helped end the TCUK 2013 on a good high note. As my English counterparts would say … the whole thing was brilliant, just brilliant!!!
Special thanks to Shoreline Paintball and staff, a splendid job of putting together a great weekend of paintball for all to enjoy. Pssst, I understand some of the venues being lined up for next year promise to be absolutely amazing. Be sure to watch Shoreline Paintball carefully in order to get your tickets for those ones!
More thanks to Darlene St Georges for her assistance in gathering media on this one. Also thanks to Andre Faria for some coffee and help with transport to the site.
Overall a fantastic experience that others ought to consider incorporating into a “paintball holiday” …. a great European Shoreline game coupled with some sight seeing through Europe … why not!!!
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