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'Disneyland for Combat:' Gamepod Combat Zone

By Kelly Church

What do you get when you combine combat training and a growing extreme sport? Answer: Gamepod Combat Zone in Antioch, CA. This training arena is 120,000 square feet of floor space designed to adapt into any potential on-site threat that law enforcement may encounter. Gamepod Combat Zone is also available for public entertainment and open for airsoft gun amusement Friday through Sunday.

"Our primary mission and business is to provide law enforcement with a comprehensive training environment," says CEO Craig Levy. "The public events are our way of connecting the airsoft community with law enforcement and military personnel in a fun, challenging way."

Gamepod acts as "readiness training" for local law enforcement and various government agencies. Due to budget restrictions, the government is often responsible for providing necessary training with a relatively small budget.

This is where Gamepod's site comes in. The warehouse is designed as a "real-world" set that imitates the natural landscape of outdoor environments. There are more than 40 buildings included on the property and one-half mile of drivable streets. Buildings at Gamepod include four kill houses, a gas station, a bank, an office building, a school, a minimart, a hotel, several apartments, a full-size 737-airplane body, an air terminal, and more. By developing this type of landscape, Gamepod has allowed various branches of law enforcement a safe and realistic environment to train for the field.

"The goal is to provide the proper 'real-world' environment where they can hone and perfect their responses to virtually any contingency with the best possible outcome," Levy says. "These training sessions are invaluable and allow them to work every possible scenario in virtually every possible contingency until they develop the best possible procedure for the best possible outcome."

Levy even says he was able to see one of Gamepod's clients training snap into effect when in the field. In a recent hostage situation in Antioch, a SWAT team that frequents the training facility was able to end a several-hour standoff without any harm to them or citizens.

"We can't be more proud in how they went the extra mile to end what could have been a drastically different outcome through incredible planning and execution of well-thought-out contingencies," Levy says.

The real world scenarios are not limited to law enforcement training. Patrons are allowed to enjoy the facility on weekends and experience their own "real-world scenarios" in which they would be responsible for the safety of others.

"The best way to describe it is Disneyland for combat," Levy says. "Players are given several challenging tasks to complete in an allotted amount of time.The pressure and timeliness create situations that require everyone to come together as a team and work together towards a common goal in order to accomplish their objectives."

Overall, Levy says that airsoft weapon experience is beneficial. Not only is it one of the fastest growing extreme sports, but it also allows for low-cost, safe fun - grown-up make believe, if you will.

"The positives of airsoft are so numerous they are difficult to list," Levy says. "Suffice it to say nearly 90% of people who try the hobby get hooked. We attribute this entirely to our fellow enthusiasts who make this extreme sport what it is - an incredible weekend adventure!"

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