Hidden Valley Paintball and MX TrackI regularly play with a group of folks who have basically "grown up" at Hidden Valley. They have been trying to get me and my team to go there for a couple years now. I have heard nothing but great...
I regularly play with a group of folks who have basically "grown up" at Hidden Valley. They have been trying to get me and my team to go there for a couple years now. I have heard nothing but great things about the field, besides maybe a couple warnings of a little dis-organization. No big deal.
They have their two major "big games" annually. The Alamo, and Battle of Bocage. I missed the Alamo game this year and the reviews and recaps I was given by a few of my teammates that attended were sketchy. I finally decided that I needed to check this place out for myself. So, I signed up for the Bocage game.
The Bocage game is a two day event that allows people to start showing up on Friday night and lets them camp on the property through the weekend. Pretty loose group that lets you have bon-fires, and no real curfew as some places have. They also allow alcohol consumption on the property. Not a problem in my book, as long as it's controlled by the individuals. Some may find it a problem though which is why I mention it.
The safety briefing before the game started..........you all know the drill. Barrel blockers, masks on at all times, no bunkering, no over shooting, blah, blah, blah. Not this one. This one mentioned to not shoot at the remote controlled airplane because it was going to be taking pictures. This one mentioned not to disturb a huge bees nest right in the middle of the playing field because the owner's brother collects bees nests. That's right, don't shoot the bees nest or disturb it in any way! Did anyone ask if there was anybody that might be allergic to bees? No. I only heard a small fraction of the normal "rules" that usually accompany a paintball game. This gave me an uneasy feeling and only led to problems throughout the day I feel.
I arrived saturday morning. I was told per the website and other sources that the game was to start at 09:00. We were on the field waiting to start at 10:30. Again, not a big deal in my book.
The particular field we played was a valley. Flag station on each side on top of the hill. One side had a corn field for cover and a couple bunkers. The other side had washed out over-grown ditches and trenches for cover. Woods on the borders were out of bounds. The dead box that was shared by both sides was at the 50 yard line just out of bounds. Nice dead box. Simple, but effective. It was manned by a ref who was holding a clock in his hands timing the 15 min. re-insertions. Out of the dead box, you were supposed to get back to your base to tap in. This rarely happened on both sides from what I saw. From one side of the field, you had only a frontal assault. The other side of the field was given the option to sneak through a corn field to the back side of the base, and come up on their 6. Added an interesting element to the game. However, after the lunch break, and there was a "switch sides" directive given (typical), we took the field. Not until we got to the top of the field did a couple people mention that the option to go around the back side was gone now. They said it was unfair. So one side had the option, but when switching sides you take that option away. Changing the rules on the fly.....this is the dis-organization I was warned about. The game was halted to take up the matter with the field owner. He overturned the points gained using the option in the previous game. Then started the game without one whole side not even having masks on. One side came charging towards the valley shooting, and the complete other team didn't have their masks on. I overheard the head ref screaming at the field owner that he did not call game on. Scary.
As far as referees, they were in short supply. One in the dead box, and four on the field........sitting on quads near the side lines. One ref was dead center and he did all of the work. He was the head ref. Great guy, WAY overworked for no good reason. There were between 80 and 100 people on the field with at least 6 flag stations. Not nearly enough reffing staff. That is the first "major" problem I noticed here which stemmed other problems.
Cheating was an issue on both sides. That happens anywhere and is a problem with the sport more than the field. More reffing staff would have helped contain it a little bit, but not completely.
Field staff. The field owner is the dad. The daughter and son-in-law (head ref) run the show. I did my best to offer advice which was asked of me. The daughter was quite compassionate about the sport and helping her field grow. If you offered advice to the dad, you were scrutinized and labeled as a "cry baby.".....which many were that day. Some did come off in that fashion, others like myself, were only trying to help. We were also told from the field owner that he "doesn't care if we ever come back. He doesn't need us." And I quote. In short, because I could go on all day, too many chiefs, and not enough Indians.
I was given an exclusive tour of the rest of the property by the daughter of the field because I had not seen the rest of the field at that point. VERY NICE FIELD!!! They have a lot of time, money, and effort into the property itself, that was obvious. It was almost breath taking for a small town field in Wisconsin. If only that same kind of passion was put into the other critical parts of the game this place could easily be hosting 300-400 person games on a regular basis.
The Alamo game from the spring of 2010 was apprx 40 people. This Bocage game was apprx 90 people.
A number of people who have played this field for years were driven away during this game because of how they were treated by the staff. They assured the owner they would never return to which the owner replied, "perhaps the games will have to be invite only from now on." I feel they should listen to their players, their customers.
I've been paintballing for 20 years now. I have played fields from one end of the country to the other. I am a business owner, and a team captain/owner. The efforts of some of the staff were tremendous. Only to be forgotten by the treatment from other staff. Nice field, I hope they can find a way to listen to the feed back instead of pushing it away.
I am in no way attacking Hidden Valley. These events are truthful and they did happen. I only want to see paintball as a whole grow, and that includes paintball fields in general. This one included. However I for one, will not be returning.