Game on as Jake plans to open combat centre

David Bailey, right, and his grandson, Jake Bailey-Sloan pictured in what will be one of four indoor paintballing areas at Blacker's Mill. INPT31-219.
David Bailey, right, and his grandson, Jake Bailey-Sloan pictured in what will be one of four indoor paintballing areas at Blacker's Mill. INPT31-219.

A young entrepreneur is set to turn his hobby into a business with a plan to convert a disused Portadown mill into an indoor combat games centre.

Blackers Mill, which was last used in a limited capacity around 14 years ago, has been taken over by Tandragee teenager Jake Bailey-Sloan (19).

Jake, who had been living with grandparents David and Valerie in South Africa where they run an orphanage, had originally returned home to study engineering at Queen’s University.

However, it was when he couldn’t find anywhere local to play paintballing - a favourite sport when he was in South Africa - that the business idea took root and “sort of snowballed”.

The 45,000 sq ft premises on the Bleary Road will consist of four arenas for airsoft (a realistic combat game using BB guns), paintballing, Nerf (shooting with foam darts) and Splat Attack (low velocity paintballing).

Up to four full-time jobs will be created as well as up to six part-time positions.

Jake, who lived in South Africa for nine years, said each of the four arenas will accommodate groups of up to 20 people.

However, interconnecting doors mean that three areas can be used at the one time, to accommodate bigger groups.

The airsoft and paintballing options can be played by ages 12 and upwards while Nerf and Splat Attack are geared at ages six and over.

The sports centre, which will be called The Mill, will be up and running once final planning permission is approved.

In anticipation of this, Jake and his granddad, a builder by trade, have already been hard at work converting the premises.

Said Jake, “There is nothing like this in the area. There in only one other indoor paintballing site in Northern Ireland and that is in Belfast.

“The Mill will be the biggest indoor paintballing arena in Ireland.”

The planning application has been lodged with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and includes room for parking.