Kelvin Gaffney has been a member of BKi for as long as I can remember. He was one of the few guys always fielding me questions, sharing videos with me, and sharing the knowledge he learned with his teammates. He was a great listener and had an amazing work ethic. He absorbed everything on the site and any advice I’d give him on the side. With that said, I was really excited to meet him at a clinic I taught in the UK. It was a real chance for me to see if everything I worked so hard for (building BKi) could pay off and actually help create real talent.
To say I was not let down is an understatement. His skill, field awareness, and game knowledge was head and shoulders above the rest that day. Because of the videos he’d always share with me, I saw him truly transform into a dangerous player and that rainy day in England was proof. It was validation that if someone is willing to put in the hard work, they can become a professional in this sport. I was honored I got to play a small part in his journey as he was recently given an invite to play with Manchester Firm in the CPL.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Kelvin Gaffney, 25 and play for team Manchester Firm. Currently situated out of Cannock in Staffordshire with my partner and soon to be son.
Funniest thing about my life is it’s a normal life, I workout, I go to my job, cook, clean. When it comes down to it we’re all just average joes when we’re not wearing a mask.
When did you start playing and when did you make it a goal to become a professional in the sport?
I was 14 when I first played, my uncle worked at a paintball site and I came down to Ivybridge (Devon) to stay with him for a little while. I remember him telling me it would be like nothing I’d ever done. I mean we’re talking woodsball playing as a customer. Stinking black overalls and horrible full head JT masks that had been worn by 100’s of others.
I remember him giving me a bag of 500 paintballs and telling me that was my allowance for the day and I made sure I used them all.
I later ended up moving down for good and moved in with him, he was trying to help me with some personal issues and between him and this new sport I’d found, that’s where I dedicated myself. Suppose one of the best things that drew me to paintball was it was natural, nothing felt forced in what I did. I’d be there every weekend, working for pocket money, saving up for my first ever paintball marker, my good old trusty A5. That thing was a beast!
I hadn’t really hear of tournament paintball much then, it was always referred to bling flingers or dirty cheats. Was all about the woodsball life.
We’d hold our own little woodsball tournaments or site marshall days and we’d have a field which was a speedball type but made out of drums. Few of the guys had played speedball before but I was still the woodsball guy but when playing on that field,I just felt alive. It was faster, harder, stronger. That’s what I wanted, I’d travelled all over the uk playing massive scenario based games and I wanted something more.
I will always remember my first tournament day, first time I’d taken a trip to the famous CPPS in Penkridge, was back in 2013 . Me and a friend Scott had offered to guest for our buddies over at Dog Soldiers (we’d all met through scenario) as they were taking part in a tournament in the new break out division.
We went on to win that event, coming in a close up finals match but just taking the lead. This pretty much started off my career in tournament paintball.
What’s the biggest hardship you faced when trying to achieve this dream? How did you overcome it?
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to let go of was doing it for myself, I started up a team with a group of friends and we entered into the breakout division. I’d gone to a training day with a higher division team and got offered a spot so I took it.
Something just didn’t feel right though. I could hold my own and I wasn’t finding it overly hard but I wanted to be with my friends and the team I’d started. Well turns out I got asked to make the choice between the teams and chose my friends anyway.
I kinda had already been told by this point that I’d only get higher and further by breaking those ties, doing it for myself. But I wasn’t prepared to turn my back on my friends.
I ended up finding about BKI on a facebook post and instantly signed up. I knew this was what me and the team needed to get better and progress, I was using the drills and techniques and making our own drills days from them. Still do now.
Came to a point though where I had to choose, myself or them.
I’d gone to GB trials (a tryout for the Great Britain Nations cup team) day back in 2015 and instantly got the attention of people, some unknown kid on the field. Remember when I got my first message off Markie asking me to come play for Manchester Firm back then but I was more concerned about my team.
Decided to make the step up start of 2016, needed to progress myself more to keep the rest of my guys getting better so I made the jump and ended up playing for a division 1 team.
Where did you draw motivation from to achieve this goal?
One of the things I always try to do is set myself goals at the start of the year, my main goal for this season was to be playing in the highest division in the UK league. Either with the team I was with or by trying out for others. I was very open about this goal so I kept pushing for it. I had the perfect people around me to keep me motivated, I was getting great feedback and tips from the higher players and everyday was a school day to get me to my goal.
My true passion and motivation was due to a life changing event.
Just before my 21st birthday I lost a friend of mine to a car accident, This mixed with other stuff which was happening in my life sent me on what can only be described as the darkest parts of the human brain.
I was bad for some time. I went through a lot of rough patches and dark spaces.
Then something clicked, Paintball was the only thing that got me out of that dark space.
I swore from that day that I’d play hard and enough paintball to live the life for both of us.
I pushed myself harder than I ever had before, Trained more than I ever had before and started making a name for myself.
Every time I step on a field it’s never just for me, It’s for him as well. He’s with me everywhere I go, everyday I wake up.
I had to go into a very dark place to get that motivation, And I’d never wish that on anyone. But damn did it drive me to get to where I am now.
What drill do you think had the most impact on the improvement of your game? Did anything else have a big impact on your improvement?
I love snap shooting and 1v1’s. I’d happily keep playing 1v1’s until all my paint is gone.
Back in 2015 I tried out for an elite team and we ended the day with them, I remember hearing feedback that they were hand picking the best players through the day to play me.
Winning a 1v1 takes patience, good field awareness, and domination. You make that field yours and you show it.
Any advice for others trying to achieve the same goal?
Commit, don’t ever stop. It takes time, training, the right mind. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is achieving your goals but you can never give up. You open your own doors and allow your own future. Remember that.
You can now call yourself a professional in the sport, what’s your next goal?
Fried chicken, got to love fried chicken, and saying y’all more.
But in all seriousness, I want to help bring others up. My friends that have come with me through the ranks and are so close to achieving what I have. They’re my next goal.