Hey everyone!

Welcome back to the blog! If you’ve been following myself and Unicorn Leah on socials recently you will have seen that on the weekend of 5-6th October we flew out to Houston Texas to visit our friends over at Evike Outpost: Highground Airsoft! Now Leah has spoken highly of her previous visits to HGA so I was really excited to visit one of the biggest purpose-built Airsoft arenas in Texas, but CQB in the US is very different to how it is in the UK so I had some questions: would I enjoy it? Or is it just another American Airsoft arena built for speedsoft?

HGA is located in Spring, Texas, and opened their doors in 2015 after outgrowing their original premises. Walking up to the doors of HGA you’ll notice the signature gun handles that are typical of the Evike brand. The storefront is fully stocked with airsoft and tactical gear and when I say fully stocked, I mean FULLY. The walls are lined with AEGs, GBBR’s and bolt action rifles. The shelves and racks are well stocked with tactical gear such as plate carriers, chest rigs and even BDU’s. They of course also stock all the game day essentials such as BBs, gas etc.

Beyond the storefront is a door that leads to the players' lounge - which has plenty of tables and chairs for airsofters to prep their gear on and get ready for the day. It’s air-conditioned so even in the Texas heat it’s a comfortable place to set-up. It has a party room, a spectators room and both male/female toilets. The players' lounge also has a snack bar that sells candy, drinks and even hot food, which I was pretty impressed with! The hot food includes hot dogs, pizza and my fave, hot wings!

Onto the arena: the arena has a total playable area size of 27,000 sq ft that is purpose-built for CQB carnage. At the heart of the arena is ‘Main Street’ which has a high street theme and close interconnected rooms and hallways that go approximately 90 feet back on both sides. All the walls are decorated so it isn’t just a plywood warehouse, each room also has its own theme and vary wildly - from ‘Grandma’s House’ to a skate park, a bar, a jail etc. The arena is really aesthetically exciting. The ‘dead zones’ or respawns are dedicated areas that are separated from the rest of the arena by plastic curtains and have red/green LED lights that are controlled by the staff so players know when game on/endex has been called - a feature that I haven’t seen at any other site but is SO helpful especially when it’s hard to hear the marshalls when they are wearing paintball masks and are quite far from the dead zones.

All players are given a comprehensive safety brief explaining the rules and regulations of the site before they enter the arena to ensure safe gameplay. The brief covers everything from Chrono limits, what do to when you get hit, emergencies, pyrotechnics and MEDs. One of the things I dislike most about American sites is the MED and bang rules - in the UK we don’t have MEDs and we don’t operate a bang-bang rule so going to a site that implements a MED of ‘if you can reach out and touch them with a rifle you’re too close’ but otherwise crack on was a really pleasant surprise.

The games played include a variety of deathmatches and objective-based games - most of which is just 10 minutes long which means the games are fast-paced and keep players on their toes. The objective-based games included rescuing mannequins and relocating them or defending them from the other team. There are various props the team use which all enhance gameplay as well. The site itself plays well and isn’t geared towards speedsofters which is pleasantly refreshing. It is a mix of close corridors and open spaces with cover which makes it a varied site to play. The Marshalls do a good job of keeping the games running smoothly and explaining the rules to players but a couple of them are a little shouty, which in one respect I understand - airsofters can be loud and don’t listen to briefs but in another respect sometimes it’s unnecessary. My gut feeling tells me these were new members of staff who are just trying to find their voice as a Marshall and this will more than likely settle over time as they find their feet as a Marshall and get the support they need. The storefront staff are helpful and nothing is too much trouble for them!

HGA is to date my favourite CQB arena that I’ve played in the US. The facilities are spot on - the hot snack bar and sex-specific toilets were a particular hit with me! The site itself is fun to play and varied with tonnes of different game modes to keep the gameplay interesting and players on their toes. I really enjoyed my time at HGA and I would like to extend a huge thank you to the staff and players who made me feel so welcome!

Photos courtesy of @theairsoftcorrespondent

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