What’s it like to drive a tank?
It's like riding a bike! No, hang on, that's remembering something you have done before. Scrap that!
Firstly, there is nothing to worry about. Not many people turn up here to their experience day with any prior knowledge of driving a tank. In fact, the vast majority have never been near a real life tank before, let alone been in charge of the controls of one.
Your instructor will guide you through the process of learning to maneuver a tank, but it is pretty straight forward once you know the basics.
The tank moves using a track system around the wheels. There is an accelerator pedal, which causes the axel to turn and thus the wheels to go around. There are two sticks which the drivers seat places you close to which are held one in each hand. These are breaks stop the tracks on the side that you pull towards you and take the brakes off by pushing away. To move forward, you have to press the accelerator pedal and push both sticks away from you.
To turn right, keep the accelerator pedal pressed in and pull the right hand stick towards yourself. This stops the right hand wheels and track and therefore turns the tank to the right. Pushing both sticks away from you and then pulling the left hand stick towards you will turn the tank to the left. Simple!
Climbing into the tank is a bit of a mission, but everyone enters from the back of the tank- as much for health and safety reasons as for ease of maneuverability, from here everyone in the crew takes their initial positions; two sit in the turret to man the cannon and the driver heads forward and into the driver’s seat. You will be given a microphone and headset to put on under your helmet so you can hear your instructor giving you directions.
Your instructor will advise you on not only how to move the tank but also how to improve, but within a couple of minutes, all of our visitors, however nervous they may have seemed at the offset, are heading Gung Ho towards the biggest puddles to be found on the track, whoooooping so loudly down the microphone that the instructor has to turn the volume down!
After you have conquered the controls, it’s change over time and you get to sit up in the turret and enjoy the ride as your crew members take it in turn to drive. Once everyone has had a couple of loops of the track under their khakis, it’s off for some target practice.
The cannons that sit atop the FV432 tanks we use for tank paintball battles use compressed air to shoot ping-pong balls filled with paintball paint. There are two roles in the shooter turret positions; the first role is to load the paintball and to charge the cannon with compressed air. The second role is to aim the cannon using a crosshair on a sighting panel and once in position to call ‘FIRE’ to which the loader responds by releasing the giant paint-splatting ping-pong ball, hopefully avoiding any passing cows as it shoots past!
After completing some target practice and really getting to grips with the angles required for a direct hit, it is back to base to decide amongst your crew who has the best skills for each of the roles in a tank paintball battle.
After a quick stretch and having picked a fight with another crew, it’s off to the track in your chosen positions and on to battle. The battle starts at a single position, your driver and the other crew’s driver will negotiate the track to have you lined up at the same point. From there it is a straight race to the first position. Once at the first position, your loader and aimer will do their best and you will have two shots to take at your opponent. One point per hit, your instructor will keep score and as soon as the second shot is fired it’s full steam ahead to position 2. Getting into position first is a definite advantage as you can shoot from stationary at your enemy before the have arrived. Heading off first means that your enemy then has to shoot at a moving target to release their two paintballs before they can move on.
The battle is played out across 6 shooting positions meaning the score is out of 12. Our instructors are a competitive lot who keep score across the whole of the season so be prepared for pep talks and advise throughout!
Back to base, and it is bragging rights time for the winning team and smiles all round. The best fun you can possibly have in a muddy field and it really is for everyone! We have seen a competitive streak played out in people you would never expect it from and we have the widest variety of people come and join in. If you have people under 16 but over 8 years old with you, they can also join in the fun, heading into the tank as passengers for the event. Anyone else can also join in as a passenger too. To avoid disappointment, book your passengers in with our team in advance of your day.
We are very excited about the official start of our season on the 2nd April- the track is ready, the tanks have all been through the workshop, the Instructors have had their training day to refresh them and so it is full steam ahead.
See all you tank paintballers soon!