Behind These Walls – UCAP ‘The Wing’ Site Report by Tim M
It’s no surprise that like many others, UCAP’s brand of Airsoft, MilSim and even BattleSim, is a personal favorite of mine.
So, like the rest of the UCAP faithful, when a buzz began to grow surrounding plans for yet another site to be added to their already impressive portfolio, I too waited with nail biting anticipation to see what was in store …
So, when The Wing was announced, located at HM Shepton Mallet Prison – we had to get the inside scoop …
However, to perhaps give a more objective based review we sent out one of our plucky readers, Tim M from Unit 13 to investigate and report back, albeit his brief tenure in incarceration, what its all about … S23
TM: The opening of the new UCAP’s site “The Wing” has been generating a lot of interest on the various Airsoft forums since proprietor Andy Stevens announced they were opening a new venue a few months back. After the closure of “The Virus” and local opposition to prevent use the former hospital site of HMS Haslar, Stevens and his team struck upon HMP Shepton Mallet as their new site (history – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HM_Prison_Shepton_Mallet). After a frustrating “guess where we will be” campaign online (which included some shocking acting with Andy and Russ from Combat South reproducing a scene from Total Recall), the venue was announced and the buzz intensified.
So it was with excited in-trepidation that I set out towards the wilds of Somerset, effectively trying to get into a prison that once held the Kray Twins. I left the rubber shiv, picture of Raquel Welch and soap on a rope at home, hoping they wouldn’t be needed.
UCAP have secured D Wing. I thought the venue would be a little bit more ‘Hollywood’ vis Alcatraz/Shawshank/The Walking Dead locations (The Rock anyone? s23), but this wasn’t to be. You certainly would know it was a former prison though. 15 metre fences topped with razor wire, thick glass windows and bars on numerous doorways visually remind you of that, but obvious prison cells, there are not. The wing is a four floor block, the bulk of which presumably formed part of the stores, education and rehabilitation section of the prison.
You arrive into a spacious safe zone, complete with the usual amenities, free tea and coffee with ammo and cold drinks for sale. No disposable pyro though – this site doesn’t allow it, due to issues with smoke, however, solid state ‘grenades’ are allowed and UCAP will let you rent an OshiBoom for £10 complete with 20 primers, so at 50p a bang, it’s an absolute bargain. Get in there early as there are only 10 available, and in a place like this pyro is a must.
Safety brief was pretty much spot on 10am and Andy kept it short, concise and humorous before we headed out for the first game. Unlike other UCAP sites, which don’t require booking, Andy has presently capped this at 60 as, with it being the first day, he didn’t want to overload it. What his plans are for the future, I’m not sure. However, I would say that number is about right – a lot of the action took place of narrow stairwells and corridors which quickly get busy.
The building itself is a mix of areas. You can move from large, open plan areas into ablution blocks, offices, workshops, stores, stairwells and corridors. Whilst the majority of the old furniture has been cleared, things like shelving and racking have been left in some to improve game play, and UCAP have added barricades, pillars and other obstacles to aid game play.
The game play was based on the fairly traditional attack/defend, secure targets type scenarios. I was particularly impressed with how reactive the UCAP team were to problems. For example, the pre lunch game developed a frustrating stalemate as neither team could progress. Over lunch the boys went out and made a few changes to improve game play. The game was repeated after lunch, problem solved. The game flowed much better.
It’s always a gamble being on the guinea pig game at the opening of a new site. You have to go with an open mind that it may not work as planned and problems may arise, but, as Andy told us at the brief, they are an established company, they know the game, they have run tests and there shouldn’t be problems that they can’t deal with and I think that was the case.
The day finally drew to a close around 1700 hrs, but if you want to leave early, you can’t, the car park was rammed and the large entrance gate was shut for the duration so just enjoy the day.
UCAP have got themselves a unique and interesting site. Speaking to Andy after, he knows that the site is on the developer’s hit list and that it is only a matter of time before it gets turned into flats. Indeed, he even talked about how they were going to develop it. But I didn’t ask how long they have. I thought it doesn’t matter, we all know it’s a risk with all CQB sites. We need to enjoy it whilst it’s there, and after yesterday, I can see this site is going to be big hit.
So to paraphrase that great prison movie, did the game and the site feel like we were “crawling to freedom through five hundred yards of s**t smelling foulness I can’t even imagine” or we were Ray Winstone coming away from the day feeling like we were the “Daddy round here” or living the like of the Good Fellas in prison? Definitely the latter.
UCAP have got a great site on their hands here. Yes it’s a bit of a trek for some people but if you want a unique venue, owned by an experienced company I can see this place is going to be big hit this year.
… further to this on site field report, local media, The Shepton Mallet Journal, spoke with proprietor Andy UCAP to get an objective insight into what it takes to secure, set up and deliver a standard setting Airsoft Site, read it here …
Games are running every two weeks and, due to size limitations to ensure all round game play – pre booking prior to attendance is required.
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