History of early Paintball in Norfolk
We’ve been involved in Paintball now for nearly three decades and started the very first paintball site in Norfolk. So here’s a little history about paintball in Norfolk and how it all started.
The county of Norfolk was in the forefront of paintball, being one of the first counties outside the Home Counties to open a paintball venue way back in 1987.
In those days there were only two major players, Skirmish Paintball Games which was a British Company, using British equipment, and The Survival Game using American equipment.
Other companies came into the market place as years passed, such as the Great Adventure Game and Mayhem Paintball.
In these early days of paintball the major franchise companies in the UK had tied up the supply of paintball equipment and paintballs with all the major suppliers, so it was impossible to open a paintball venue unless you bought a franchise from one of the major players.
As years passed and the popularity of paintball increased more companies started to manufacture paintball equipment and these suppliers started selling direct to paintball fields and the general public alike.
The first Paintball venue to open in Norfolk was Skirmish Paintball Games, which opened on the 1ST March 1987 at Foxcovet Wood, Necton, just off the A47 between Swaffham and East Dereham.
Set in 50 acres of deciduous woodland this remained Norfolk’s major paintball venue till its demise in 2014 when its planning permission had ran out and moved operations to the new Skirmish Paintball venue on Plumstead Road East in Norwich.
The Necton paintball site was a major player in UK paintball; it developed the concept of themed paintball maps that became standard on UK paintball scene.
It also was the first paintball venue to bring in a proper training scheme for paintball marshals which was later copied by the UKPSF, the governing body of paintball in the UK, which was then spread out to UKPSF sites.
The Survival Game was the second paintball venue to open in Norfolk in 1988 under the name of Q.E.D. Paintball in woodland adjoining Cromer Road and Green Lane.
The site experienced several difficulties with planning permission and when Ian and Ivan found a new venue near their home of Downham Market at a village called Methwold they moved to the new site.
By this time paintball equipment was freely entering the UK and they opened purely under the name of Q.E.D. Paintball. Ian and Ivan were major tournament paintball players and operated monthly tournaments from the venue, which became the major venue for the paintball teams in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.
Ellough Paintball Games was the next company to set up based at the old Beccles Airfield and was the first truly independent paintball operation in Norfolk. It was a small venue operated by two guys from Great Yarmouth, Mike and Brian. It ran on and off for several and its demise was caused by the sad death of Mike.
The next paintball company to be set up in Norfolk was by one of the last franchise companies, The Great Adventure Game, this was in woodland off the Hevingham Road, B1149 just after Horsford.
The company ran successfully by its founder who was an insurance broker by profession. He did much to brake the old franchise monopolies allowing the franchise operations to trade on a more even bases with the independent’s that were opening up and down the country.
Unfortunately his heart was never fully in paintball and once the business was flourishing he sold it to two of his customers who did not run the business with the same professionalism. The business floundered and eventually closed.
The last of the early paintball venues to open in Norfolk was East Coast Quads on Plumstead Road East Norwich.
Originally they started off as a Quad Bike centre in the middle of woodland and after being approached by one of their major suppliers of customers, Anglia Activity Breaks, they approached their landlord, leased 30 acres of woodland and opened a paintball venue next to the quad bike track.
This gave Anglia Activity Breaks a venue with two activities that at the time were the major experiences booked by stag parties. Unfortunately for East Coast Quads (Anglia Activity Breaks) went bankrupt which reduced drastically the volume of customers to the site.
By 1995 the venue was in terminal decline and was handed over to the receivers to dispense of.
After a battle between Delta Force Paintball and Skirmish Paintball Games the venue became part of the Skirmish Paintball network. The venue was closed for six months while it was totally revamped, and reopened in the spring of 1996 as Skirmish Paintball Norwich.
In December 2014 the Skirmish venue at Necton closed and merged its business with the Norwich venue.
Today, operating as an independent business, we have two sites; Norwich and also Ipswich. At the same time we remain part of the Skirmish Paintball community, consisting of other (now) independent Skirmish Paintball sites across the UK.
If you’ve been around on the Norfolk Paintball scene for some time you may remember some of the names mentioned above.
It’s been a fascinating couple of decades, watching paintball grow and continue to flourish. Despite claims of a ‘short-lived-trend’ Paintball has grown an international community of players, fans and followers.
If you’re looking for the best paintball experience come and meet us, Skirmish Paintball, the original and still the best, as we’ve been quoted by others.