The lockdown period left us with a lot of time to tinker and upgrade our weapons, some invested heavily, some not as much. With a large list of sites we want to start going to though, we know we need to diversify weapons and generally have a more all around approach. I for one certainly didn’t envisage rebuilding my Amoeba and certainly didn’t expect to have a real want to run around indoors at close range but somehow I did. That tied in with a Skirmish indoor opening nearby I wanted to get some practise in.
Where: The Department LE9 3GQ https://thedepartmentcqb.co.uk/
Date played: 12/08/2020 evening game
Weather: 30+
Type: Indoor Ply crafted
Cost: £20

Arrival & Safe Zone

As you pull up to The Department, there is a small car park to the side/behind them but there is a much larger car park across the road which is free to park in. There is a strict “no visible weapons outside” policy (otherwise known as common sense) and the walk from car park to check in is shorter than most sites with on site parking. Safe zone is 2 covered rooms, each space having a bench to put your kit down on, a few scattered chairs and a sofa to chill on. A nice touch is a vending machine. There is also an outdoor safe zone but I didn’t venture out there as we’d bagged a prime location indoors.

Sign In

Signing in is done as you enter the building, you go straight on to the safe zone or you can peel off left into the shop. The shop is Extreme Airsoft so is fully stacked with everything you could want and pricing is what I’d class as on the “better” side. Before travelling I was unsure if I’d have BB’s and comparing their pricing they are generally cheaper than other retailers.

Safety Brief & Chrono

Chrono is done on a small range reachable from within the safe zone, a little odd having a mag in and being able to turn into the safe area but you just need to be mindful, marshalls are also careful to remind you and chrono readings for the day were where I expected them as I’d chrono’d in advance. Safety brief was short and sweet, covered the basics with additional information regarding some COVID19 compliance rules. The site runs a very strict 350fps and semi only policy.

Site & Playing Areas

The site is for lack of a better term, an ex industrial unit. A small single story kind of building no bigger than a 5 a side football pitch, it is totally split up by man made plywood walls, tunnels, alleys and enclosed dark bits. There is a small “open” area in one corner with some agricultural containers (3) but the general playing area is tight knit turns and small sight lines.

Games

What seemed to be a fairly new innovation to The Department, they asked if people were happy playing some 15-20 minute games of various styles, TDM, Dodgeball and a capture the room with teams turning ends so each got to play from both sides of the site. For us this was absolutely fine and I personally really enjoyed the faster paced turn around and ability to keep nipping back for a drink (it was 30+ out) and restock ammo and gas. TDM was administered by marshalls stood in the middle on higher ground and counting dead players respawning, Dodgeball was pretty much game over once every member of each a team was hit and capture the bomb/room was good with the additional bomb prop. Medic due to covid was a simple toe to toe kick which actually works really well.

Marshalling & General Attitude of Players

The marshalls were approachable from the off, being new to the site they were helpful and fair play I puzzled them when I asked if there was anywhere I could set my hopup (yeah that wasn’t needed). In game the marshalls (1 for each team) stand on an elevated platform above the enclosed area, they have a really good vision of the entire game zone and there were a few occasions I had some rusty issues (one I swapped rifle from shoulder to shoulder and managed to put it into full auto then trigger spammed, I instantly apologised, looked up at a marshall and offered to call myself out, they’d seen the incident and were fine, even shouting to the opposing team that it was an accident and because of that to continue playing). I was happy to call out and start again but a marshalling team who don’t come down on you like a tonne of bricks is a really refreshing change.
Player attitude was brilliant, there were no incidents of blatant non hit taking (at this range you’d be a moron not to), some blue on blue happened to me, I was jovial about it and the chap who did it had a good laugh. On the opposing side a small group (RUSH) were the majority who were open and not clicky, there was also an Extreme Airsoft employee and a super nice chap called Alex who rocked up with a very nice HPA pistol setup which we had a really good chat about which led on to general life chat.
One of the advantages of having smaller groups from COVID is it kind of forces you to interact more with a fewer amount of people and thats a good thing.

Overall

The Department is local enough to become a regular haunt which is a very bad thing, I really enjoyed the games, the site is built extremely well and the marshalling is exceptionally attentive. Players who I experienced were welcoming on both teams and in game play was fast paced, tense and fair. I certainly will be attending again and I will certainly be dragging some more of the Recon101 guy with me. Not bad for saying we’re more of a sniper/DMR group eh?