First and Only - The Mall - Jan 11

First & Only, The Mall Jan 9th 2011

9/1/11 saw the Black Scorpions first game of 2011, and what better place to start the year than one of the most talked about airsoft sites in the country, 'The Mall'.

Taken from First and Only's website, 'the site is a self contained L shaped mall spread across 3 levels with over 250,000sq Ft of shop space, walkways, stair cases, lower ground storage rooms, service corridors and loading bays. Whether you like your action up close and personal or over bigger areas with lots of sneaky play, ‘The Mall’ has everything.'

On arriving at the site, which was easy to find, we were greeted by a marshal who guided us to the car park. The car park is part of the site and provided at no extra cost, this is great as the site is in the middle of town and parking would otherwise be expensive for the day.

The safe zone is in the basement of the complex with plenty of seating and tables around the perimeter of the room. On one wall was a large TV playing a DVD, a nice touch, in the next room were the offices of the site staff and a shop which had a large selection of guns as well as bb's and gas.

'Chronoing' was well organised, the site had two chronos set up with a mag for most guns with .20gram ammo, leaving no way for people to chrono hot guns with heavy weight ammo. It would be nice to see more sites do it this way. Once chronoed, each gun passed had a zip tie attached.

Safety precautions were the most stringent I've come across which I certainly applaud. At the end of each game, players had to unload and walk back into the safe zone with their weapons held up, marshals then checked magwells were clear of bb's and that weapons had their 'chrono pass zip ties' before allowing players into the safe zone.

All players were taken down to the middle of the play area for the H&S and games rules brief. This covered everything you could think of, and although lengthy was given with enough charisma and humour to make it much easier on the ears than some other droning briefs I have been in.

The first game had a handful of the local regular players attacking about 50 other players who were spread out amongst 4 points they had to defend. Once a defending player was killed, they would respawn as an attacker which gave people a good opportunity to see a lot of the site before the longer games would start.

Throughout the day, several interesting and uncomplicated objective games were played allowing players to fight in just about every part of the expansive site.

The site itself is very good for playing airsoft and it feels great to walk around an actual mall shooting at each other. We only found one drawback to the site. Off the central 'main drag' all the shop fronts are full of large glass panes with nothing obstructing the view into the shops, this led to opposing players being able to see each other without being able to fire at each other creating many stalemates and slowing play. Our team found the best way to avoid this was to make most of our progress through the maze of corridors that linked the rear of the shops. Curtains or whitewashing the windows would prevent this in my opinion.

On the site there are areas that are full auto and some that are single shot only, as it was our first time there we did find it a little confusing at times as to what was allowed and where. As far as I can tell, if you are on the main drag it is full auto, the stairs and service corridors are single shot, if firing from the main drag into a shop or corridor and vice versa, it is single shot. There are signs dotted around the sight to let you know if you are in a 'single shot zone'. Some of the games we played were single shot only which we found we enjoyed the most during the day as it required more skill to score a hit and removed any fire selector confusion.

There were 10 marshals, who the site owner explained were all paid, trained professional marshals, I must say they were very good. They all wore hi-vis vests and armbands with 'First & Only' printed on them, making them the most coherent and official looking marshals I have ever seen.

Lunch was provided and included in the walk on price. A large hotdog, packet of crisps, a chocolate bar and can of drink made up the meal which we felt was good quality and a decent amount of food. Once everyone had eaten, the staff offered seconds from the surplus of hotdogs.

The site provided both male and female toilets which were clean and well stocked as well as multiple charging stations.

The walk on price is £35, more than most sites charge, however, we felt the price was worth it, the site had clearly had a lot of work done to make it in to a great skirmish site, the food was good, the facilities were good, there were lots of decent marshals and the level of organisation was very good, probably the best I've seen at any site. Needless to say, we had a great day at this site and would recommend that you play at least one game there whilst you can. We certainly will be going again.

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