Ballahack Airsoft who are you?
Ballahack Airsoft Field is a 99-acre airsoft site in Chesapeake Virginia, owned and operated by father and son Chris and Christopher Wratten. The field currently averages 300-400 players each weekend and holds multiple large operations every year, some reaching over 600 players. The AO has a nice blend of wooded terrain, swamps, marshes, trails, clearings, ditches, and ambient bunker sites, with a centralized MOUT site at its center. It also features a four-story rappel tower that is frequently used by Military and Law Enforcement. Our Pro-Shop is onsite in our 4,500 sq. ft. staging area.
When did the field open up for its first day?
Ballahack was born from struggle. We needed a way to save our land. In July of 2007 I drew up flyers and walked around from store to store passing them out to anyone who might be interested in playing airsoft. To my surprise we had 60 players show up our first day. Then began the long, arduous road of city permits, regulations, insurance, and the mountain of everything else involved in establishing an airsoft field. Seven years later, we have one of the highest consistent player count fields in the US and are growing fast.
You guys rock an amazing field, what’s your secret and at what point will you say it’s complete?
Our success is due to our focus and development of the community at Ballahack. The community is the backbone of an airsoft field and must always be the priority. We have also pushed to take out any overly competitive nature in the sport and try to focus on players’ experience.
We have witnessed the collapse of several fields due to their lack of doing things the right way. Shortcuts will always hurt you in the end. Doing it right isn’t easy however. Though people travel from all over the country and even from other countries, we are still nowhere near as developed as we plan to be. We always intend to build new structures, add new and exciting props, enhance safety features, and provide a better experience
How Fast has Airsoft grown in the USA over the past few years?
Airsoft is still an infant in the United States. It is growing rapidly but still has not found all of its roots. The industry has nowhere to go but up and we want to be a part that growth and hopefully be an example, at least in some ways, of how to do it right and safely. We need more fields that respect the potentially dangerous technology we are using.
Your field has been retailing Enola Gaye smoke grenades for a few years now, how important is smoke to your game play now?
Hot burn smoke is not allowed on our field. This is where Enola Gaye has stepped in and saved the day. We are allowed to use cold burn smoke and, recognizing it as something that radically changes the environment and dynamics of gameplay, we have exploited it to the max. We have used thousands of Enola Gaye smokes on the field and there is seldom a game that players aren’t utilizing them for concealment or that we are not incorporating them as an objective of some sort.
With the wide variety of colors, and now the release of the burst smokes and the EG-18’s, you don’t need much imagination to find cool ways to incorporate them into gameplay. They can be used as “demo’s” to mark blown objectives, “nerve agent” eliminating anyone who comes in contact with it, signal smokes, simple concealment, and so much more.
We use the smokes heavily in every large op as well, including American Milsim’s Operation Blue/Gray, Airsoft GI’s Tim vs. Bob, and many others. At one point during Tim vs. Bob there were close to 100 Enola Gaye smokes going off simultaneously. We stick with Enola Gaye over any other company because of the consistency and reliability of their products.
Humility aside, have you visited any other fields that you aspire to or is Ballahack leading the way?
Ballahack has sort of grown in a bubble. This has helped us focus on what we believe is right for our field and its growth. It has prevented us from suffering the sin of comparison. In other words, we don’t lose sleep because of what other fields are doing, and instead we focus on those who matter most to us: our community and our players.
When I was asked to put humility aside and compare our field to other fields I must first say that I support the growth of any field. However, when I do visit other fields or events, I am encouraged to see that we are more developed than most, that we do focus on safety and structure more than most, and that we love and respect our community.
Would you give it all up to be in a rock and roll band or are you happy as Ballahack?
Would I give up Ballahack to be in a rock and roll band? Hell no! There are few things more satisfying than being able to support our families while building an exciting community, keeping kids active and socially involved, giving adults the perfect stress reliever, helping build friendships, and giving people thousands of awesome stories they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. We are proud that Enola Gaye has been a part of the Ballahack experience.
Thanks Ballahack, we are really enjoying watching your venue grow. EG
All pictures courtesy of Ballahack Airsoft
Article taken from Grenade Magazine