South Africa Adventures !

Imagine our delight when Hardie and Elaine from The Paintball Shop, our South African Distributors, called up our Manchester office one rainy afternoon and asked if we would go out to Johannesburg to attend the Africa Cup event with them, meet some of their customers and generally see the work that they are doing to spread knowledge of Eclipse and our products throughout their continent. Flying such a long way and only being able to stay for a long weekend, it was imperative that we made the most of our time in South Africa, so having been met at the airport when we landed on Friday morning by Hardie, Jason (owner of The Paintball Shop in Port Elizabeth) and Llewelyn (SA photographer and illustrator extraordinaire) it was straight off to the field where the Africa Cup was to be played only a short 15 minute ride from the airport.

 Still slightly groggy from the overnight flight and full equipped with our hoodies and jeans it was time to break out the shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops and sunscreen and embrace the good weather. Having unloaded the contents of Hardies Vito we made sure that everything was secured away in preparation for opening the booth early the following morning, and hit the road once again so that we could check out their main store and headquarters in a town called Centurion, approximately 40 minutes outside of Johannesburg. Whilst the transportation was modern, seating arrangements were not and I got to travel "Africa Style".

The Paintball Shop Centurion is well stocked and offers customers the chance to get hands on with the entire Eclipse range; including the latest HDE clothing and our new Etha marker. It was immediately evident how enthusiastic all the staff were and whilst we had the tour of the facility, the shop staff attended to customers with requests ranging from wanting information on the latest home defence gear to wanting to purchase top of the range tournament markers. As a manufacturer it's important to get a handle on the diversity of our marker and it's often not until you physically go and visit customer and see the pro-activeness and hard work of your chosen Distributors that you really appreciate what they are working with and against. In that respect, day one had already ticked a lot of boxes! trusting our stomachs insistence that it was time to eat we devoured some pizza and boarded the Vito once more to take it some of the sights this time in the form of a Game Drive to a nearby Lion and Rhino Reserve. Game Drives in South Africa make a mockery of the animals that we see in Zoo's over here in the UK as everything is roaming round a huge area of private land in a natural environment. Obviously carnivores are separated from herbivores but the sheer variety and closeness of the animals was breath-taking! In only a couple of hours we not only got to see Rhino, Zebra, Lions, Warthogs, Cheetahs, Wild Dogs, Impala, Kudu, Wildebeest and Buffalo but we also got to go and play with real lion and tiger cubs!

Friday night saw us be treated to a "Braai"; South African for BBQ, and we were joined by Jason's team mate and colleague from Port Elizabeth; Michael along with his girlfriend Nicola. Possibly the biggest steaks we have ever seen in our lives greeted us and we got to sample the local beverages in the form of Castle Lager and the formidable Stroh Rum; which at 80% certainly saw to the jetlag and made sure we had no issues sleeping! Saturday morning rolled round all too quickly and it seemed like only seconds since we'd closed our eyes the night before, but after a quick sort out it was off to the field for the start of the Africa Cup. The Paintball Shop had a set up that incorporated a fully stocked sales booth as well as a tech support booth. Whilst many might be fooled into thinking that players would be using out of date equipment; everyone was fully aware of what the latest Eclipse gear was and eager to get their hands on the Etha and shoot it for themselves. Having the luxury of having a couple of demonstration Etha markers on hand, meant that we could go through the technically aspects of the marker with any players who wanted more info and were also able to loan them out to any players wanting to shoot them in a game. Needless to say we were overwhelmed with requests and whilst the markers performed faultlessly it was a struggle getting them out of one players hand into the next!

The event was well attended with over 40 teams split between the 3-man competition and 5-man competition which saw teams travel from as far afield as Namibia to give the event a truly international feel. South African paintball is not dissimilar with European paintball. Players have access to all of the same resources that we have and infact have the advantage of a more favourable climate in which to play than certainly the UK. Whilst the climatic conditions are stable, the economic ones are not and paintball is still relatively young with the main players slowly but surely beginning to work together to build an infrastructure that can support paintball in the long term and ensure that the players needs are met. The Africa Cup was a solid step forward in the process as it allowed various wholesalers from within the South African community to cohabit the same event and ultimately the players to benefit as there was a greater variety of product available to view and purchase. Aside from Eclipse's involvement it was great to see the likes of KEE and HK also send representatives across to the event to not only promote their products but show the South Africans that as an industry they are important to all of us.

Saturday night was a more sombre affair; or at least we thought that it was going to be! After freshening up we went out to a restaurant owned by Nicola's father; 'More'. Knowing that there were foreign visitors in town only added to his already mischievous attitude and he soon proceeded to involve us in some bizarre ritual that incorporated a head-lock and being forced to drink an overwhelming quantity of liqueur - less than ideal for some of us! Fortunately the food was beyond awesome and if you're ever in the area it would be criminal not to try out the Biltong Pate starter! Sunday morning arrived before we knew it and we were back on site ready to see how the South African division of our Emortal army would fare. In the 3-man Play Division Golden Boys came out on top beating EspireE Carbon in the finals, whilst in the 3-man Elite Division; Revolution (SARPL) beat Durban Corruption (KPPL) to take the title. In Division of the 5-man Eclipse sponsored Firestorm won the event beating newcomers HPB Wicket in the final, who were playing there very first event! Firestorms victory was made even more impressive by the fact that they did not drop a single point throughout the entire event! In the 5-man Pro Division our old friends Dynamix had a hard fought battle against Reaper to take the win and the series title - congratulations to all the teams that took part in the Africa Cup 2011; you did yourselves and South African Paintball proud!

With only one night remaining on South African soil we elected to play it safe and avoided and last minute controversy. Monday saw us taking in our final hours of Winter sunshine whilst checking out downtown Jo' burg under the watchful eye of Hardies' Special Forces chum Japie. Japie did offer us the chance to take part in his works' "Bring a friend to be a hostage day" but we politely declined in favour of returning home in one piece! All in all we had a fantastic time in South Africa; Hardie, Elaine and Jason do a sterling job for Eclipse out there and if there is ANYTHING that you need to know about our products do not hesitate to get in contact with them via:


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