Skip to main content

Review of Socom Airsoft Arena, Inc. Indoor / Outdoor Airsoft Arena in Ocala, FL

Socom Airsoft Arena, Inc Logo

Ocala and it's residents are a fortunate bunch. Known throughout as Central Florida's hive for the best and top rated Airsoft locations. With that it comes to no surprise that Tom "Gravel" Pennay, Victor "Arc Angel" Puig and the rest of Socom staff choose this as the place to open their 13,000 squarefoot indoor airsoft arena. This review spans my personal experience and time spent within about a 6 month period at Socom Airsoft Arena

Socom Airsoft Arena Review Update
In the process of writing this review I noticed that their web page began to change and some great updates were performed. I leave the original review intact but an Addendum will be added to those portions that have been corrected. It's almost like they knew this write up was coming.

The Battlefield
When you first step foot into Socom Airsoft Arena you may be slightly overwhelmed by the tall ceiling, building structures, vehicles and massive gallon drums. There's a smell in the air, a smell that a massive onslaught war just happened on these grounds only moments ago. Evidence of the battle that took place lay on the ground with massive amount of spent ammunition and holes in the surrounding walls. You'll quickly start to think of your best case scenarios, hiding methods and deployment procedures throughout the small city before you. Before any of that happens you'll take notice on the massive catwalk that bridges the east and west side of the facility yelling for you to lay prone staring down the barrel of your sniper rifle weapon of choice. Before you can even ask, yes that is in play and fair game. Along with the indoor arena before you, you may be lucky enough to participate in an event consisting of both indoor and their newer outdoor woodland field . Until recently this was a unique feature to find in Central Florida Airsoft, although you may notice it more often than not if you make your rounds onto the other great playing fields available in Florida. I couldn't tell you how much acreage is available for outdoor play exactly. What I can tell you is that the field including indoor and outdoor is perfect for any game consisting of 50 players or more. In my experience when the infantry count shrinks the battlefield should shrink as well. The Socom Airsoft Arena staff are excellent in planning on the fly for such a scenario change and I believe they understand that if there were any fewer players, only either the field or the indoor arena should be used.

Usually I like to leave this part as a surprise, but it's likely that even if you have prior knowledge it will still catch you off guard and surprise. Socom Airsoft Arena in Ocala, FL are not ones to hold anything back when it comes to surprises. Hollywood style effects, with many surprises will keep you on your toes if not jumping and dodging sound effects and explosions. The staff creatively and almost in perfect timing will set off random loud, concussive fireworks. Along with the pyrotechnics you'll experience, what can be compared to real kidnapping style scenarios. Let it alarm you a little, but be aware that these are all carefully planned by the staff to assure the safety of those in the out-of-play areas or in-play areas as necessary. One last piece of advice, bring a flashlight and enjoy the classic sounds of war!

Staff
Socom Airsoft Arena does well in keeping the same set of staff members. Unsurprisingly, they likely have a very low turn over rate as I always see the same set of members. This will reflect well on you guys since you can expect the same expertise and experienced staff leading you through the Ocala, FL arena. Remember the staff isn't there to hinder your experience, but to give everyone an elaborate in-depth experience with everyones safety as their #1 concern. If you're playing airsoft you likely already understand that this sport relies heavily on integrity, honor and sportsmanship. Staff will often join all teams if possible to help beginners with their tactics. Or may simply consist of their own team, remember their goal isn't to dominate the field but to help your experience. You may run into them when they're in character on certain scenarios, but if you have questions or concerns do not hesitate to ask them and they'll gladly step out of character if needed to help you and guide you.


ProShop
Update: The ProShop is now back on track to being live. It looks like they renewed their domain. Note it may now be called Socom Pro-Shop but is available at www.socomproshop.com , in order to avoid confusion the name should be standardized.


Tom Gravel Pennay
Tom "Gravel" Pennay Socom Airsoft inc, Owner.
The ProShop unfortunately is partly a miss for me. Although the Socom Airsoft Arena provide spectacular customer service on products purchased or repaired, there isn't much I would purchase. It's understandable that some airsofters purchase locally for the sake of funding and supporting local Central Florida airsoft or more importantly Ocala, FL airsoft. The miss for me heavily falls on the lack of selection available and price. The miss continues with their online shop and it's organization, selection and availability. Availability as of lately of the Socom ProShop at www.socomproshop.com (dead link) is non-existing. It appears after doing a WHOIS look up, someone forgot to renew the domain all together. This is very bad for business and who ever is in charge of webmastering should never allow a domain to expire.  This has likely led to a high turn over of online customers. What I am fond of is the actual gun tech(s) available. It's true we often have a friend in our circle of airsoft players that can commit to repairs, but you're often left with the feeling that you owe them something. Some friends on the other hand are just outright bad at it and shouldn't touch a gun. That's where the Socom Gun Tech's come into play! Fortunately I've never had an issue where I required their service but those who have used them praise their workmanship. Workmanship isn't everything, Socom Airsoft Arena also stands behind it's work with satisfaction guarantee's.


Price
Update: Socom Summer prices are coming up starting March 26th, 2011. Summer prices are a great way to save some money and really get your moneys worth of trigger time.

Unfortunately Socom Airsoft Arena pricing is another miss in my book. This one doesn't appear to be getting any better any time soon either. From the first time I took a visit until just a few days ago at my last visit the prices continue to climb. Don't get me wrong, I understand that running such a business is expensive and there has to be a balance. Maybe the profit margins need to squeeze down. Lower margin may mean less profit now but it'll help build organic growth and volume visits which can easily weigh out the difference. As of this writing, here are some of the pricing you can expect. Note; I won't be covering pricing for party reservations on days they're not normally open since that cost can be justified by staffing the arena on a day it's normally closed.

Update: Summer pricing below is the best time to visit and save money! Summer prices started on March 26th, 2011 with no specific end time yet.


Summer Season Hours and Pricing.

Thursday $10.00 per person (5PM-10PM) Great price and should drive more visitors on weekdays.

FRIDAY $20.00 for one or$30.00 for two persons (5PM-10PM) Another great price to beat, stick to bringing an airsoft squad to maximize your savings.

SATURDAY $25.00 per person (10AM-10PM) Better than normal day pricing, but should include 1,000 BB's at the very least.

SUNDAY $20.00 for one or 30.00 for two persons (12PM-6PM) Not a bad deal, the killer again is the shorter hours of operation. You may want to stick to Thursdays instead to maximize your savings.

Gun Rentals are $20.00 per rental and include 1,000 BBs. To be clear this is a $1 savings, normally gun rentals are $15.


Regular Hours and Pricing.
Thurs-Fri 5PM-10PM play will run you $15 a person. To compare when I first started visiting, these days were often Buy One Get One Free. The cost isn't bad on it's own, keep in mind this isn't the only cost involved; there are additional costs like ammo.

Saturday's 10AM - 10PM will run you $30 a person. This cost is a little high compared to when they originally opened; the price was only $25. Again nothing but admission is included in that price.

Sundays 12PM - 6PM is $30 as well. This one confuses me since you're only getting 6 hours of play for the same price as Saturday's 12 hours of play. Admission is definitely priced high for a Sunday.


Above is a dynamic calendar of Socom Airsoft Arena events and scenarios.

Socom Airsoft Arena does not allow any outside ammo. They state it's to avoid supporting Walmart and their cheap, low quality crappy, ammo. That's fine I can understand that but $6 for 1000 6MM BB's or 4000 6MM BB's for $20 is a little much. I do in fact agree that you should never purchase BB's from Walmart since these are likely not as well produced and contain many imperfections that can cause damage to your airsoft gun. The brand that Socom sells at their arena is an unknown brand to me, I've asked a few staff members but I've never got a straight answer. With that I cannot say I can fully trust the brand or quality of their BB's, but I will say that I've had very few jams in the single digits.

Airsoft Elite 0.20g 6mm bbs 4000 3 bag special
In comparison, ammo from most places will get cheaper by the bulk. You can get three Airsoft Elite 6MM BB bags with 4000 count each for $33 from AirsoftGI.com Yes you pay $14 shipping, but that's still cheaper than Socom's equivalent which would be $60! If you shop smart, and make orders over $100 at Airsoft G.I. the shipping would be free anyway!


Along with their ammo, only Socom grenades, smoke, food & drinks are allowed. Their grenades, and smoke are actually reasonably priced if you consider the convenience of getting them on site, so no disagreement in that aspect. Food and drink is also understandable, but I assume this does not include water since I always, and will always bring this on my own for safety reasons.

Safety
If you're visiting on a normal day with no events or scenarios scheduled then I'll call this one a pass. The Socom staff does an excellent job of not only explaining, but teaching newbies and kids the rules. Don't get me wrong adults need a reminder too! The rules may seem strict at times, and if you're repeat offender you may feel like they're raining down on you but I assure you this is not the case. This is purely due to the dangers involved in airsoft and keeping you on your toes. Believe me, from experience, you'll thank them in the future. So parents, if you're wondering if airsoft is safe for your children. Look no further and take a visit to Socom and hear them out during the rules briefing, stick around and watch and you'll notice that this is a great way to teach responsible gun handling. Also, keep in mind while you're watching, you'll have to follow the rules as well and wear protective gear!

Scenarios based games are a whole different bag. It's hard to tell if this is due to "first time scenario" syndrome, but I can appreciate them taking feedback from recent events and making an effort to improve.


Road to Improvement
Update: Socomairsoftinc.com has update their page to include more needed and relevant information which I stated below was necessary. The annoying background music was removed as well. No blog or public viewable forum as of yet, but I am hopeful.


Which conveniently leads me to the perfect segway. There's a lot that Socom Airsoft Arena needs to do to not only be the best place to skirmish in Ocala but to be the top in Central Florida. Let's start with their website. Although you can visit their main website at www.socomairsoftinc.com to get very basic information, you will be sadly mistaken to think you will find much more than the basics.

For whatever reason they decided to create this "Spacebook" for the forum, blog postings and members. What they failed to realize is that their turning away a large amount of potential users and future visitors. People naturally do not want to sign up for an additional service or social network of sorts. They would just as easy pass it on, unfortunately for Socom Airsoft Arena this means that they're missing out on a large customer base. It would be more intuitive to host their blogs on a public portion of Socomairsoftinc.com that way any visitor can see the latest and greatest. Not only that but search engines would actually be able to crawl the site and make the content available for the public, raising their search rankings and increasing foot traffic and web traffic. For the rest and members only sections, that stuff already exists and works well so why try to reinvent the wheel.

Use Facebook, it does everything needed from planning events, to forum discussions. Before this can happen you need to clean up your web presence, at the time of this writing there are two separate Socom Pages for an unknown reason! There is https://www.facebook.com/socomairsoft which appears to be the most updated and recent page as well as https://www.facebook.com/pages/Socom-Airsoft-Arena-Inc/271617301538 This leads to segmented traffic and misinformation if users are accustomed to checking one site over the next. The latter also has totally wrong hours listed!


Take back control. During indoor games, Socom staff know everything that's happening, when it's happening, due to the nature of being indoors. During a scenario game with outdoor play, there is a lot of cursing for a family-oriented based business. I personally don't mind it, but others may.

Along with taking control, advocating self control is equally as important. The constant shouting of "call your hits" is demoralizing. I see plenty of Socom Operators available on the battlefield but I never notice them nearing or inspecting a persons lack of hit calling.

Get rid of Socom currency. This complicates transactions and from what I can tell infuriates parents and confuses younger players. Unless there is an underlying benefit I am not aware of, this is of no real use. If it is decided to keep this terrible idea it's a good idea to include detailed information and exchange rate on the public side of their page to avoid parent frustration.

Lastly, communications. This goes onsite and online. I have question that still sits unanswered. As a business that choices to operate on multiple social network platforms you must strive to communicate on all grounds.


Scenarios: Operation Oath of Freedom

Originally I intended to post a detailed listing of what this event consisted of and included but due to disorganization the event details have been removed from their site. Just another way of proving that better organization will lead to good things for Socom Airsoft Arena.


Briefly, this was an event planned by Socom with heavy advisement from Victor "Arc Angel" Puig. Unfortunately he passed away a few days before the event. This lead to an onslaught of understandable distraught but the Socom staff managed to put on the event and skirmishes that Arc Angel would have wanted. I must give them respects for handling such a sensitive matter in an honorable way. They even held a memorial before the event which you can read more about on Ocala Starbanner.

To start off, I brought a first time Airsofter and guest to this event to show him what this sport was all about. Naturally I was late. A larger portion of the parking area and residing business were blocked off for this event and I was instantly confused upon arrival. It was my understanding that there would be pick up rounds, this never happened and I eventually made my way towards the separating nets and ask for direction. Once registered, I was surprised there was no chrono? I should of been concerned at this point but I knew that for myself I don't shoot hot, and I'm more concerned with accuracy and range. I assume and hope that everyone was chrono'ed in the morning before the start of the event. After asking for further directions I was pointed in the direction of our operating base.

I received what I guess you could call a briefing and immediately placed my self and my fellow newbie airsofter into the in-progress battle. The first set of games went great and I was happily surprised that the times between skirmish's were low. This has always been one of my major complaints when it comes to other production companies and trigger time. Socom likely realized this early on and circumvented the situation by making breaks short and sweet.

At this point I'd like advocate the well trained and quick to respond Socom safety staff. After experiencing a shot from a sniper rifle no more than 5 feet away to the teeth, the Socom staff were quick to come to my aid. I did in fact chip a massive 1/4 of my front tooth. I was heated and couldn't even face the person that caused it. I walked away and Socom staff got with me fairly quickly. After cooling down I had the chance to speak with "Noble One", the player that shot me. Through a fat lip I was able to reassure him it's ok and we all know the risk we run when we play this sport or any sport. He was very apologetic and I appreciate this as much as the Socom staff stopping the game to make sure I was fine and chrono the remaining guns to make sure there weren't any hot guns. I will say that more staff need to be available to supervise players, especially the youngest ones, but more importantly real chrono's must be performed. Firing and listening is not enough, and if your focus is safety then this isn't one to skip out on.

Neoprene Woodland Airsoft Mask
So I would definitely recommend something like a neoprene airsoft mask but I'm not sure if that would of stopped the BB anyway.

Airsoft Half Face Mesh Mask

Instead I'll be sporting one of these from now on! It's a half face mesh airsoft mask. Beats the $375 I spent to fix my tooth!


Without going into any further details about my personal anguish and pain I'd like to pick back up on the airsoft scenario and skirmish.

Socom Airsoft staff did something different that I've never seen in any other scenarios I've attended in Central Florida. The price for admission and rank within Operation Oath of Freedom varied depending on teams and rank. This is a terrible and bad idea without any in-depth thought. I'm a huge advocate of team balancing and preregistering, Mindgame Productions comes to mind as the best example. The ill effect that was caused by this decision is unbalancing. Everyone who is new to airsoft or low on funds regardless of skill ended up on the lowest paid team position, the GLA. Along with that poor decision anyone who had parents with a little money to spend could pick a role as a leader regardless of experience as long as they had the cost to cover it. This is exactly what happened with the GLA, the commander was clearly an inexperienced leader running around with a clear springer pistol trying to command a team. The General in play at first was doing a decent job due to his experience and being a nonpaid position. Unfortunately he left shortly after the third game before break due to Socom's improper wording and morale dropped and more players left. This is why it is a unique position that should only be held by reputable experienced leaders and players, not just a kid with their parents funds. Fortunately one of the Socom Operators known as "Reeping Fear" stepped in as General. Reeping Fear did an amazing job at motivating the team and getting everyone on task, delivery an awesome experience to what was once, for a short moment, a demoralized team.


This leaves me on my last bad note. I hope this review isn't coming out as negative, I honestly intend to provide wanted feedback to help improve everyone's experienced at Socom Airsoft Arena. Leo5 is a local airsoft team that consists of Law Enforcement Officers. My experience as a whole with this group of players has been a good one. Leo5 from my understanding is not directly associated with Socom besides helping administrate games. With such an important role comes great responsibility while administrating, although the particular Leo5 member may not be staffed by Socom directly, he should take pride and be held accountable to the same level when it comes to customer service. This particular member has zero respect, humility, and customer service to the patrons of Socom Airsoft Arena due to a disagreement because of how badly worded the Socom website was when it came to what was included with any paid admission level. Socom should know that this persons actions were unacceptable and should be addressed if he is to continue to administrative and represent Socom Airsoft Arena, Inc. as a business.

At this point you're likely asking if I would recommend Socom Airsoft Arena as the place to play or take your family for a game. It's a mixed bag, but I would generally say yes. Some aspects need to improve, the way that scenarios are managed need to match the level of respect, humility, controlled environment as their regular indoor play. This is a family oriented business and that's been reflected on a normal indoor play, but must continue on scenarios as well if one is to succeed as one of the best places to play airsoft in Central Florida.

Ocala, FL is the place to enjoy quality airsoft and Socom Airsoft Arena can provide that with their continued customer service excellence.

Popular posts from this blog

From Pirating To Spotify To Spotify Premium For Free

Is it even worth pirating music anymore?  Spotify Spotify (60 day free trial) has caused many "pirates" to ask themselves the same question and the answer is up to you. As for myself, no, there are just too many benefits and conveniences for a monthly paid service that outweigh taking the time to find torrents, download, organize and create playlists. Even for the price of $4.99 or $9.99 a month is worth it. Most people spend the same amount, if not more on more useless stuff. If you're cheap, a student or just can't get past paying for music and supporting the artist, then you'll want to read this guide in getting Spotify Premium for free every month.

Why Spotify over Rdio, Pandora, Moog, etc? It's a personal preference I made due to the features found on Spotify over the competition. Starting with playlists; after collecting a large library of music it becomes hard to stay on top of your favorites. Rdio, Moog, and Pandora likely have similar features, but m…

Best Buy Geek Squad Black Tie Protection aka Extended Warranty vs Squaretrade

As a previous Best Buy Geek Squad employee I use to say "eh, maybe" to extended warranties when asked by many of those who purchase electronics and such from Best Buy. (They use to force us to say "Geek Squad Black Tie Protection" but we all know what it really is). Note, the Geek Squad Black Tie Protection GSBTP was previously known as PSP or Product Service Plan. Even I personally purchased it on some items like notebooks. Although I can repair any defects that may occur, I could not pull parts from my hind end.

I now redact and advise all to consider the alternative. Don't get me wrong, I've never had a bad experience and they do cover what they say they will cover. Assuming the sales person gave you correct information, or didn't bend the truth to make their individual goal sheets look better.

My reason for the change of heart is an alternative company who covers more , for less. Sometimes they even have sale pricing on warranties. Best Buy'…

Free or Cheapest Method To Buy Battlefield 4

Find The Cheapest Place To Purchase Battlefield 4 Don't bother ordering BF4 from Origin, there are cheaper and/or free methods of getting Battlefield 4 if you have some time to spare. The best places to purchase BF4 by far is either Green Man Gaming or Amazon.com which both offer a discount.
Amazon.comBlack Friday Deal: Battlefield 4 is $34.99, link below. Amazon is offering Battlefield 4 for the normal price of $59.99 plus a $5 credit. They also take Amazon Gift Cards as a form of payment obviously, use the guide below to get the necessary credits to get it for free or at least way cheaper than Origin. If you're looking to get Battlefield 4 and Premium, Amazon has the best deal on it for $109.98 plus a $10 credit. You'll need the guide below in order to get enough gift cards to cover the remaining balance or make it free.


Green Man Gaming Green Man Gaming has Battlefield 4 for $59.99 but has a coupon code TAREM-4PLAY-VOUCH) that can be applied to bring it down 20%. They …