Players in the middle of a game at Apocalypse Paintball.
When I pulled into the lot of Apocalypse Paintball in Poynette, a smile etched its way across my face – and it wasn’t because Brad Nowell’s voice was blasting from my speakers. I knew before the engine of my 2001 Corolla quit roaring this was going to be well worth the 27 mile trek.
I couldn’t have been more right.
Walking down the gravel road to the main building, players were decked out in camouflage and strapping on gear or fumbling with guns – not a single one seemed to notice the girl walking with a giant Zumiez bag and wearing shorts and a t-shirt with zombies on the front and a zombie necklace hanging from her neck. It wasn’t until I reached the building and walked inside did I get acknowledged.
“Can I help you with something?” Meet Dave, the owner and operator of Apocalypse Paintball, Inc.
I asked for “David,” not realizing he was who I was already talking to, and once this became cleared up, so did the reason as to why I was there. Introductions were made and a stool was eventually pulled up behind the counter. Once I was seated, players began to flock in and Dave went to work, calling the boys and men “Boss”, and the older women “Mom”. My smile grew wider as it became clear to me this paintball range wasn’t simply a job to him, but more like a second family.
20 or 30 minutes later, he had the last player walking out of the building, geared up and ready to play. Armed with my pen, a few pieces of scrap paper, a 24 oz Pepsi, and a delicious ice cream sandwich, we finally allowed the interview to commence.
For those training for the war on the undead, here are some helpful tips and handy information Dave and others at Apocalypse Paintball gave during our 45-60 minute interview.
Official Zombie Training Days:
There is a zombie game which will be held on the 24th of October this year. Registration will begin at 7am, and the actual game will start at 9am and run until 5pm, which are also normal business hours. Code named "Operation Plague", this game allows the players to have full run of all fields, set their own rules, and basically wreck havoc all day. There are storylines used to keep the game going, and videos are placed throughout the field that can be watched in game which will help give more information to the players as to what is going on and how such a thing may have occured.
There is also a smaller scale game which can be played anytime, and it's just a simple zombie game of 2/3 vs. 1/3 team play, with the bigger group being the zombies and the smaller the survivors. The rules are simple enough: when the game begins, the survivors will hide in The Farm until the zombies attack. Once the zombies attack, they play until all survivors are eliminated. If a zombie is shot, he or she must go to the start of the field and is able to re-spawn. When a survivor is shot, he or she is eliminated until the game is over. The teams switch positions until every person is able to play each position at least once. The team to survive for the longest period of time wins.
Note: This is the video from 2008. It does contain some language.
Last year, 177 people showed up and registered, and they are hoping for over 200 this year. When asked if he was prepared, Dave chuckled and said he was in no way prepared, however he was building a defense up North. How far? “Not far enough.”
When it comes to training for the undead apocalypse, Dave recommends airsoft games. The annual Zombie Game is strictly airsoft, and due to the sheer size and nature of the game, no paintball games are allowed on this day. The reason for airsoft versus paintball is simple: the airsoft pellets are much smaller and lighter, meaning they can go further and zoom faster, and resemble a lot like a round from a bb gun.
Of course, the type of gun you have won’t make much of a difference if you don’t know how, or better yet when, to use it. Aiming and shooting a gun is easy, and for most, comes natural. Something that is a little bit more difficult to grasp is the way of tactics. As Dave said during our interview, “There’s a time to make a stand, and there’s a time to run.” When you’re standing at the shoreline with 5 other people, and 3 or 4 dozen walking dead are moaning and shuffling towards you, arms outstretched, don’t be a hero. Turn around and run and don’t look back.
Coming out to the fields will help you gain this knowledge, and even if an undead apocalypse never occurs, it will train you to be a wiser person in the end.
Best/Worst Fields to Train On:
The Castle is the name of the field which left Dave’s lips almost as soon as I asked the question, which would be the best to help train a player for a zombie uprising. It has 7 three story towers, a 14 story keep, and has numerous hidden doors, ramps, and even a metal gong for scenarios. The field is approximately 3 acres, and the castle itself sits on about an acre of that.
The second best was voted the Tower, however once you reach the top, there is no way out, so it could also be seen as the worst field to train on. Any of the Speedball or Hyperball fields were voted as terrible zombie apocalypse training areas because they’re either out in the open or have little area to run.
Other “Zombie-esque” Training Games:
Any 2/3 vs. 1/3 or 2 vs. 1 type of game, particularly Mob Wars. This game is built on 3 teams, each split equally between the group. There must be at least 15 players in a group, which would make 5 players on each team, though of course you may have more as long as the teams are able to be equal. A flag is placed in some sort of defensible area, and then the time bids begin. Team 1 says they can last for 7 minutes, team 2 says 10 minutes. Teams 1 and 3 join forces, wish team 2 luck, and attempt to touch the flag under the time bidded on.
The defenders win if they don’t allow anyone to get the flag in the time bid. The attackers win if they do it before the time. These 2 vs. 1 type of games are highly recommended because it gives the player a sense of urgency they may otherwise not get. This urgency helps build tactful thinking and can easily make a survivor out of anyone with the right amount of practice.
For those of you interested in the zombie wars and/or paintballing or playing with airsoft guns, Apocalypse Paintball is the perfect stop. With 12 fields and 3 more opening April 25th, it is no wonder the guys’ are going on their 18th season.
Apocalypse Paintball is located at W9496 County Road CS in Poynette, WI, which is roughly 20 minutes from Madison’s east side. Their business hours are Monday through Sunday, 9am to 5pm, and you may schedule reservations by calling their number, (608) 635-7324. Walk-ons are also allowed, so if you can’t call ahead of time, don’t fret. On that note, they also allow rental of equipment, so if you forget something, they will be there to help you out.
As always, remember, be tactful, don’t be stingy with your bullets, and when all else fails, don’t be afraid to run.
For more info: Feel free to call the guys at Apocalypse Paintball for any questions you may have. (608) 635-7324. Or shoot them an e-mail here. You can also find answers to most, if not all questions, on their website. Keep checking Operation Plague for updates on Operation Plague 4.