MadBadger @ Dragon's Lair

Posted by Unknown On Saturday, August 03, 2013

Dragon's Lair
Brentwood, Essex
- Report by Mad Badger Airsoft

This week’s report from The Southern Scene by Mad Badger Airsoft is on what was a spectacular event at Dragons Lair Airsoft in Brentwood, Essex.

DL BriefingDL TeamsDL Team TalkDL DefenceDL RelaxDL Assault StyleDL AmbushDL Tora Tora!DL Girls Play ToDL Sniper NestDL Airsoft GirlsDL Airsoft GirlsDL SLRDL PlayersDL Take Aim
Dragons Lair is situated next to the Secret Nuclear Bunker facility & museum nestled in the Southern countryside near Brentwood, Essex. It was started by the Cain Family back in 1986, when Ray and Jean Cain secured the land. The entire Cain family has grown up on the site, and many have played paintball on the site before it became an exclusively airsoft venue. Many of the Cain's were champion paintball players. This includes the women of the Cain family, and this heritage of championship women players has a legacy today, where Jean Cain continues to be one of the mainstays on the site, running sign ins, registering players, doing the paperwork and being a full partner in running the site daily, with her husband Ray. This strong influence on the site has resulted in the encouragement of women players and today, you see more women playing at Dragon’s Lair than any other site in the region. On Sunday, I counted approximately half a dozen female players fighting it out with the men, and often getting the upper hand! This is a great site for women to actively get involved with airsofting.

Dragons Lair is a family site, where all of the family are more than welcome, and even if members of the family cannot play for some reason there is tea/coffee, a good place to sit in our out of the sun or rain for the day, the museum with its coffee shop next door, a kids rope climbing and other adventure sports place next door, sometimes a local flea market in the fields on the other side of the A128, and many nice walking paths through the various woods. The area the bunker is situated in is a historic area with lots to see. The local town, Brentwood, is about a 5 to 10 minute drive to the High Street where there are the usual array of chain shops, and a supersize Sainsbury’s with a lot of parking. For those who wish to watch the play as family members are involved, there are several vantage points. People sitting in the safe zone will often have Jean or Ray pop up and ask them if there is anything they need or if they would like a tea or coffee. The toilets in the safe zone are very clean, and in the woman’s there is an area for changing (the author has not visited the men’s). The Cain family on site consists of Ray, Ray Junior, Jean, Nathan, Amber, Lisa and others from time to time. Ray and Jean run the site and safe zone, with Ray Junior and Nathan as marshals, and Amber usually playing in the field. Ray Junior is Head Marshal and has always been involved in the site from day one. He is a set builder by profession and the site has gained from this experience as Ray has constructed many features, such as a village, with more to come, using his experience and talent. The family put Health and Safety as the number one priority and often spend a lot of time “policing” the ground and trees to make sure that there is no risk to players. Structures on the site are built by the family, using their “day job” experience to ensure that they are fully and properly fabricated. Nathan and Amber are the next generation of the family, being teenagers at present. Nathan very maturely marshals at all game days, and Amber is known as a bolt of lightning who fears no person, as she ruthlessly tears up the enemy before they can get off a shot at her!

Dragons Lair moved into airsoft approximately two and a half years ago, and since then they have built a solid reputation. Last year they threw in paintball to concentrate on the developing hobby and sport of airsoft, and since then the site has developed leaps and bounds. As stated, it is a very safe site for the entire family, with marshals extremely strict on players who might get carried away either missing hits, or becoming verbal with others, and especially bullying. With the many years of experience in paintball, the family has seen all sorts of behaviour, and this has gained them the experience and techniques to recognise bad behaviour and to deal with it in a mature and professional manner. This, along with their dealing with any players who break these standards, has led to a very friendly site suitable for all. This has had the spin off benefit of creating the site in the region that has more female players than any other.

The site has always encouraged input from regulars and visitors on game play, and the running of the site. In a chat last week, Ray and Jean Cain stated that, in their decades of being involved in such sports, they have learnt that the customer, and the customer enjoying their day, is the central aspect to everything in business, and is the core basis of Dragons Lair. This can be seen from the arrival of the first player until the leaving of the last, at any game day. There is never enough that the family can do for players to make the day just that bit better an experience.

The team at Dragons Lair, and here I must not forget the two other excellent marshals Jamie, who has worked at the site for 15 years, and Trevor, who is ex-army and who commenced work at the site last year, is outstanding. It is a vote of confidence in the site that the local airsoft industry support the site, with companies such as Mad Badger Airsoft and Airsoft Zone directing their cliental towards the site for Sunday skirmishing and the staff at both companies being regulars at the site, happily shooting at each other or with each other. It is the only site outside of the up and coming Essex site, Dropzone Airsoft in Waltham Abbey, where there is up to half a dozen airsoft businesses with staff on the site playing or working there under contract, at any Sunday skirmish. It should not be understated how uncommon this is, and it is a direct result of the good management skills of Jean and Ray Cain that has resulted in such an outcome. The industry could learn from what goes on at Dragons Lair, and from the way that two sites in Essex, Dropzone and Dragons Lair both have independent industry support through staff playing at the sites and or working side by side, not just the site management being the only visible and financial interest on their site, or banning competition or staff of competition. Due to almost 30 years of experience dictating a better way, the Cain Family has supported and encouraged local airsoft businesses to support the site by making them welcome with their customers.

Sunday was a payoff for all the hard work the family has put into Dragons Lair. With 127 players on a hot Sunday, it was a vote of confidence by Essex Airsoft Community of players in the hard work that Dragons Lair has put in over the years they have been involved in airsoft. After a few ring arounds, the author has discovered that it is probably the largest attendance of any site in Essex to date this year. Ray Cain Junior and his team had put in immense work to have the site ready for the day, and after a recent experimental single shot day with Mad Badger Airsoft, had put in play initiatives from that and other input, to ensure that players gained the most that they could from the day. There was a new CQB area, where single shot only and a specific single shot game was played and very much enjoyed by the players, and there was fast and furious play all day, as players moved up and back all day across the site. Taking other ideas and advice from players, there was an excellent sniper game with snipers going out in the field, burying themselves with spotters, and then the rest of the players attempting to move around the site obtaining objectives and taking out the snipers. This was a fantastic start to the afternoon gaming, until the author (a spotter) ended up being shot and missing a few minutes of play.

In summary, the day at Dragons Lair was started with a first class breakfast of bacon butties or other similar, very tasty food, followed by a briefing at around 10am. During the briefing, the goals of the site were mentioned and special attention was given to making sure all regulars helped out the new players and assisted them during the day. Everyone was welcomed and it was highly stressed that Dragons Lair is a friendly place where everyone comes to have a laugh, and play airsoft, and the regulars all know each other and are a great bunch, so please join in with the Dragons Lair family and enjoy the day. Following the briefing, the staff were quick to get everyone in the field as fast as possible. There followed a very intense and action packed first game, following the fallback format. After a re-load, this was followed by a territory style taking game, where one player turned to the author and stated how fast the day was going! Single shot was the order of the day here, and as a recent single shot day on the site had proven, it broke up choke points on the site and created a very fast paced, dynamic, with players moving all over, having duels with other players and the CQB area becoming the scene for fast, accurate and furious shoot outs. Ray Cain Junior deserves special mention for incorporating the experience of the single shot day into the regular gaming in such a successful manor. When one walked around the safe zone following the game, the success of it was the talk of the safe zone. This was followed by lunch, and as all regulars at Dragons Lair know, this is quite an event on the site! The food is not your usual affair on sites. It is, for want of another word, gourmet. After consuming lunch, there was the sniper game, and this was followed by another fallback game. All in all, and according to player feedback both on the site’s Facebook pages, and calls to the site management, as well as feedback to the author, players thought it was the best £20 spent on a Sunday in a long time. The fact that players came as far as Wales, and phoned the site management whilst driving back to compliment the day and say that they would be back, is a good sign of both the success of the day and the future of Dragons Lair.

For those who are in the Essex region, you should seriously take note of the Call of Duty 2 Day coming up at Dragons Lair on the 11th of August and the coming night game. The author will be reporting from both events, and you will hear about them first on Airsoft Odyssey.

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This review is copyright 2013 by Yosser's Airsoft Odyssey©/MadBadger Airsoft and may not be copied or reproduced without permission. Pictures copyright 2013 by MadBadger Airsoft©. You may link to this page


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