DarkPrism — The Reality of Combat



I’m crouch-walking along a claustrophobic corridor, gunfire all around.

My plucky squadron of misfits follow up behind, close enough that I can hear their breath over the sounds of a war-torn apartment block. Some I know intimately—my two cousins and best friend. Others, I’ve just met, but war tends to form bonds quickly. There’s a man screaming in the distance; could very well be the hostage we’re there to rescue. Are we in some gutted apartment block in the Middle-East or North Africa? No. We’re in Central London—Fitzrovia, to be precise—testing out the incredible immersion of Dark Prism’s training facility.

DarkPrism emulates ‘a day in the life’ of the UK’s Special Forces, with visitors learning how to clear rooms, rescue hostages and engage in close quarter battle. Founded by former members of the UK Special Forces, DarkPrism’s instructors bring a wealth of insight and knowledge from decades of global operations, offering an authentic action-packed experience.

In this particular mission, our path is pitch-black. Thankfully we’ve been kitted out with NODs (night optical devices). These along with ThruDark ghost range attire, ballistic helmets, ammunition-packed chest rig and MPU5 radios complete our kit. It’s the same equipment used to train those working in emergency services and security sectors, and only an hour previous, I had no idea how to operate my SAS-issue UKSF weapon system. That was before I was put through my paces by our instructors. Due to ongoing sensitivity pertaining to the work of DarkPrism’s personnel, full names are not disclosed. However, these operatives (with backgrounds in the Royal Marines, Special Boat Service and the Special Air Service) have done tours in pretty much every modern warzone on the globe. they have completed dozens of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.

Their methodical approach to training us, along with a constant reeling off of warzone anecdotes speaks to the supreme authenticity of DarkPrism. As do the many scenarios on offer: The ‘Operator’ experience is a specially designed advanced firearms and tactical training session, providing visitors with a taste of joining a Special Forces operation. A ‘Blackout Experience’ heightens adrenaline by enacting the experience through night vision goggles, while the ‘Corporate Experience’ focuses on enhanced leadership and teamwork, based around Special Forces skills and scenarios.

These simulated missions are plucked straight from real-world conflicts – and are used in the training of real operatives. For our purposes, though, they can be tailor made to any sort of group dynamic (company team building exercises, stag dos, even the hiding of a birthday present). There are hundreds of different scenarios, themes and locations that DarkPrism can simulate with their impressive tech and professional operatives running the show; all of which are completely bespoke to the customer.

Our group is being treated to the ‘Blackout Experience’. We sally forth, frothing with adrenaline and completely uncoordinated in the dark. Posters of terrorists line the walls and we fire, driven on by the smell of victory. Our real-life adversary—a battle-hardened SAS operative—appears out of the shadows and lets off five or six extremely accurate shots. I’m hit and it hurts. Ball bearings don’t explode on impact like paintballs and the full force of the metal fired out of a high-powered rifle has me shooting wildly at thin air.

I scream to the left of me for support. No reply. The battle intensity is real, too real for some – most of my squadron has found a corner to cower in. Only one of my teammates stands firm and we set to replicating the ‘pie’ method we were taught earlier. This involves two soldiers breaching a door and clearing a room as quickly and casualty-free as possible. Oftentimes, these doors will be booby-trapped with mines, or else a terrorist will be hiding in a corner ready to start blasting. In a hostage situation, however, recovering the target takes precedent above all personal safety, or desire to stay alive.

The sound of gunfire and screaming is growing louder. Time is running out. Our platoon is effectively stripped down to a two man operation. We both give nonsensical hand signals to each other and say something like “stay frosty” or “check your six” – not part of our training but we’ve seen it in films. After a beat, we muster the courage to advance. A door stands between us and our objective and we burst, guns blazing, into the final room – the contents of which are unfortunately classified.

DarkPrism offers something completely unique and bespoke to their customers and the few hours I spent in the catacombs beneath Fitzrovia belied a near-endless arsenal of experiences available. The authenticity of the offerings is matched only by their sheer adrenaline-inducing chaos. Be sure to bring your best squad.



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