Adventure Girl samples an Adrenalin Day Out Near Brighton, East Sussex, Part 1

Published on Jun 21, 2010

First time for everything

There’s a knack to axe throwing. Forget about aiming, think of an ex and then throw with intent, chances are that you’ll hit the target, if not the bull’s eye, four out of five times. I know this, not because I’m an ex-Hell’s Angel but because I went along with a mixed group of colleagues on a totally enjoyable day out.

My experience day began with Rage Buggy speed trials

For the uninitiated think cages on wheels that look as though they’re built from Meccano – the aim of which is to get round the large and bendy track in the fastest time possible. It’s not the controls (right foot control for brake and accelerator) or the unfamiliarity of wearing a crash helmet (I feel like a lollypop!!) that fazed me, oh, no, it was trying to naviagate my way round a large and rather bendy track that is marked out by tyres. It’s no surprise then, that at one point, I leave the designated track entirely and launch out cross-country style, cutting a huge corner and send rubber flying all over the place. However, I find my way back and once I get used to the configuration, come in at a respectable time

Later, back at mission control, when relating navigational issues to Husband, he retorts he’s not surprised, as on several occasions I have been known to drive on the wrong side of the cones during motorway road works.

Anyhow, this aside, once I’ve been round the course once, I get to grips with the configuration now what’s on my mind is speed. I don’t want to be last, I don’t want to stall (you know who you are!), I want to kick up some dust. By the time I’m on lap three, I am feeling pretty sexy, this feels good and my handling is pretty fluent. MY inner Stig is released, I could go on for a while, but am flagged down. My time, you’ll be pleased to know is pretty respectable, and not half bad for a woman who buys thermal vests from M&S.

My verdict: I really enjoyed it and can see how it could work well with groups of friends and corporates, especially if you have heats and trophies. Also, I drove in the heat and dust, but you know what rain and mud would be really good too as the driving experience, as well as visibility, would be much more difficult. Must remember to rebook for an autumn visit and try it out – wearing a thermal vest naturally.

Then it’s on to the Quad Bikes. They’re chunky, heavy and wide too, a motorbike on steroids body set on four wheels. Just sitting on a Quad is an entirely different experience to the Rage, no cage, no seat belts, no confinement, just me, the beast of the bike and the great outdoors.

Instruction, rules, warnings are given, helmet on – so far so good. Then practising of going forwards and reversing using the brakes and accelerator that are of course attached to the handlebars, jerky, very jerky, but hey its early days. The first half of the team go off in a row. They practice in the so-called nursery field before being allowed to get serious and try out the steep peaks, troughs and bends of the deeply rutted wooded Safari track.

Everyone in our group loved the Quads and all were judged to be competent enough to take the vehicles into the wooded safari – everyone that is except me. I was a jibbering mess. I couldn’t steer or control the bike at all. Sitting down I was gripping the seat so hard with my inside legs that my back was screaming in pain. Trying to drive standing up made me so tense and rigid I thought I was going to snap in half. I felt so exposed, every time we went over a bump (all the time) I thought I was going to fall off and get squashed by it. I nearly shot into a post, into a ditch, into a bush, nearly washing-lined myself as I came dangerously close to a fence at high speed. One minute I was sweating, the next I felt really cold. I forgot where the brake was, I forgot where the accelerator was. I was a disaster, and I was on relatively flat ground. Imagine steep inclines, slopes and mud. While I felt inwardly hysterical both in mind and body afterwards, everyone else without exception loved the Quads and found them really exhilarating especially on the Safari track. I have now scratched off the ‘travelling through Arizona on a motorbike experience’ on my 100 Things To Do Before I Die List.

My verdict: Hell, thy name is a Quad Bike. Everyone else’s verdict: Better than a Rage, bring on the mud. Can we do it again!!!

After the Quads, I was more than happy to forego vehicles for a while and weakly smiling my way through the abuse from my fellow teammates, wobbled towards the archery area. I have always fancied archery, there is something noble and romantic about it, I could really get into it. However, like all these things, it’s easier said than done.

Most of us in the group found it quite difficult to get the technique right, but once you did, it was satisfying to hit the target. I was as good and as bad as everyone else. To begin with every time I went to shoot my arrow, it just sort of fainted off the bow onto the floor in front of my feet. But hey, once I realised that you have to let go of the arrow, pull back the bow and then twang it at the same time, my arrow took flight, and I managed to hit the target a few times (unlike fellow teammates who had arrows flying over the trees behind). The Archery was a welcome antidote to the terrors of the Quad and I think I would have relished more time to try and get better results, but as I was on a taster event, that wasn’t to be.

My verdict: The archery was good to try and worked as a good accompaniment to the Quads and Rages.

Next to the refinement of the Archery was the more anarchistic Axe Throwing. Five trees, five targets, we used five double-headed axes, although there was also Tomahawks or single-headed axes available which of course are harder to throw. The axe throwing had us all in stitches, as all of us visualised someone we’d like to murder. It was surprisingly easy and quite liberating to hurl that axe hard.

My verdict: I like throwing axes, must set-up a replica course in my back garden.

The one activity I had really been looking forward to was the Clay Pigeon shooting. I was quite concerned about how painful it would be to shoot a large sports gun, worrying about the kick-back but it really wasn’t a problem. If you’ve never seen a clay shot, just imagine a thick brown ridged saucer and whilst your teammates are firing, it’s a good idea to wear both ear protection and stay in the wooden shelter because falling bots of saucer out of the sky could hurt.

I really enjoyed the shooting and while I didn’t actually hit my target that was because I didn’t have enough time as it was a taster event only to get into my stride. Everyone on the team enjoyed the shooting but saw the way it is set out here as a supporting activity in the way the archery, and axe throwing is to the vehicular events. I came away thinking I would really like to do a full, mainstream clay pigeon shooting day. I could see that acquiring the skill of shooting accurately would be a great buzz. Also, at dedicated shooting sites, you get clays that mimic different types of bird flight that I’d really like to experience.

My verdict: trying out shooting here made me want to go somewhere else to really experience the sport in greater detail. However, as part of an adventure day/afternoon, it works very well in the overall mix as an accompanying activity.

The last activity was my absolute favourite, which is irrationally surprising given the short but intense panic and a burst of terror I had experienced on the Quads. If you’ve never been on an Argo Cats otherwise known as a Maxcat then you’ve simply got to try it. Terrifying and fabulous fun, for me the Argo was the highlight of the day. Again if you’ve never come across one of these beasts think of a small, six-wheeled, open-topped tank, controlled by two joysticks, one of which had an accelerator attached to it. Pulling the appropriate joystick backwards makes the Argo turn left or right, pushing them forward together makes the tank move forward, pulling them both back makes you stop. The course, resembles a swamp, lots of muddy puddles, twists and turns, bushes, tree stumps, hillocks and downhill runs. Where I couldn’t handle a Quad Bike, I found the manoeuvring of the tank logical to my brain wiring, and while I screamed my way around the course as me and the instructor rumbled ourselves about, it was really thrilling. Maybe because one is strapped in, and it has six wheels, there is a sturdiness about it that made me feel secure, even with being thrown about during hard bends descending into giant mud puddles. To be honest, I’m not a handbag car kinda girl. I like big cruisers with lots of metal between myself and everyone else, maybe I should get rid of my VW Sharan and trade it in for a Challenger II.

My verdict: I want an Argo for Christmas, and so did everyone else!

Overall verdict: A fabulous and enjoyable day out can be had for about £130 per head partaking in all the above activities with lunch, which to my mind is real value for money. If you have a large group you’ll need to break down into competing teams and start different events at different times, otherwise, you’ll find yourselves hanging about, while others get their turn. Alternatively, an afternoon or a morning with three activities would work well too.

The vehicle activities are the main focus of interest while the shooting, axes and archery are ancillary to these. If, as a group, you book for a single event you’ll find yourselves wishing you had gone for more, and my advice is you absolutely should.

You can create a great day out whether you’re a stag or hen party, a group of friends or a corporate by really going for the competitive edge awarding competing teams, certificates, trophies or just making the losers buy all drinks in the pub later.