Adrenaline rushed through my veins as I ducked for cover behind some rubber tires while red paintballs whistled past me. Most of my teammates had already been eliminated, there were only two of us left against the remaining four opponents.
The clock was ticking and my paintball supply was running low- I only had three rounds left. With a deep breath I rushed from cover to cover and fired the paintball gun. I missed, and my opponents shot me in the arm painting it pink. The game was all over but the boys and I wanted a rematch.
This was the scene, a few days back, at Ground Zero, the country's only paintball centre situated in Vatara near Bashundhara (you can easily locate it via Google Maps). The local paintball scene is relatively new yet quite popular as we had to book a primetime Friday slot nearly a week in advance. In fact, according to the co-founder of Ground Zero, being fully booked is a regular occurrence.
Either way, if you are looking for an honest review or wondering what paintball even is, I would suggest you read on.
Wait, what is paintball again?
In a nutshell, paintball is a competitive sport where players try to eliminate opponents by shooting them with paintballs (colour-filled jellylike projectiles) in teams. It combines situational awareness, strategy and shooting skills, that even for first-timers is a fun and thrilling experience.
There are multiple ways to play paintball including capture the flag, team elimination, free for all and bomb defusal, although Ground Zero only offers 2-shot team elimination at the moment.
In this mode, two teams start on opposite ends of the grounds and try to be the last team standing. The staff at Ground Zero were very helpful and informative about the rules of engagements and the specifics of gameplay.
The timer starts
We had to be mindful of how many paintballs we fired as each player is allocated a limited number of paintballs per round. Moreover, aiming the paintballs properly took a little getting used to because most of us had no prior shooting experience. There were plenty of obstacles and barriers on the ground so it was very fun hiding, moving from cover to cover and firing.
Although one can book a slot for an hour, the round actually ends much quicker especially if you are a first-timer. Players can also choose to play more rounds within the booked slot. Each round costs Tk200 per person
I would recommend layering up with a hoodie before you play to reduce the impact of the paintballs (yes, they can hurt but only as much as it would if you snapped a rubber band), although the centre provides each player with his/her own jumpsuit which prevents staining. The same goes for paintballs and paintball guns as Ground Zero is fully stocked with imported equipment.
The facility can host ten players at a time with five on each team, although four-a-side games are quite common as well. Carpooling to Ground Zero may be a good idea in that regard as it is quite far away from the centre of the city.
A foray into the paintball business
The paintball centre was co-founded by Shadman Nasir and six of his best friends: Helal, Belal, Karim, Jainul, Tabrez and Saquib. Though the idea formed as early as 2017, business only began in February, 2020.
"It took us almost two years to sort out the paperwork and get permission from the authorities. It took so long because the paintball guns looked similar to actual guns and we had to keep explaining that we were not importing weapons," Shadman recalled.
Talking about the average footfall at Ground Zero, the co-founder explained that before the pandemic the centre used to host around 25-30 games each day (each game usually lasts around 20 minutes although they can last longer), starting from 11 AM to 12-12:30 AM.
"During the pandemic, we had to take some safety precautions so we reduced the number of games played daily to around 8-10," Shadman added. This reduction in the number of slots available per day means that enthusiasts are advised to book in advance directly via Ground Zero's Facebook page, especially during weekends.
Luckily for the inhabitants of Chattogram, Ground Zero plans to open a larger facility in the port city soon, complete with a new layout, additional game mode (capture the flag), long-range weapons and even smoke grenades.
Talking more about Ground Zero's plans for the future, Shadman said, "We plan on introducing paintball as a sport in Bangladesh like cricket and football. It is quite popular in countries like the USA and Canada. They even have their own national teams."
Worth the trip?
If you enjoyed playing laser tag with your friends, you will love paintball. There are, however, a few things you should consider before booking a slot and heading to Ground Zero with your friends.
Firstly, if you wear glasses, make sure the frames are not too large as it may not fit perfectly into the face protection Ground Zero will give. Moreover, the goggles do tend to fog up so it is important to adjust them properly. Furthermore, because aiming the paintball gun does take a bit of getting used to, I would recommend taking enough cash to go for at least two rounds.
One thing I think Ground Zero should provide is protective gloves for the players although the chance of getting hit in the hands is quite low. On the other hand, you do not need to worry about your belongings as the paintball centre offers lockers to keep your phone and wallets in. There are also plenty of restaurants nearby to chill afterwards if the food court at Ground Zero is not enough.
If you are looking to have a good action-filled time with your friends by trying something new, Ground Zero is definitely the place to be. You can also check out the vlogs on Youtube about Ground Zero if you are still unsure and want to see the action unfold.