Paintball is one of the fastest growing recreation sports in the world. At the tournament level, players require all the athletic prowess and skill of more traditional physical sports. In the US and Europe in particular, huge amounts of money are being invested in paintball athletes and teams.
Pretty much everyone comes into paintball at the recreational level; it’s a fun day out and a chance to outsmart the other side. If you are just getting into paintball, here are some ways to get the edge over other new players and even the odds with more experienced players. These tips aren’t going to get you on to a professional paintball squad, but they should help get you beyond ‘newbie’ status.
* Use cover effectively *
So here’s a tip from the army – don’t look over obstacles or cover, look around them. The shape of a human head peering over a barricade is easily recognized. If possible, look around the base of the bush instead; it makes you much harder to spot. Sometimes you may want to be spotted, if paintballs are flying your way it helps your team locate the opposing players. If you do stick your head up, then, limit exposure to a maximum of two seconds.
That advice is only useful, however, if the cover that you have selected is appropriate. Make sure that you are adequately hidden; a shot to the foot in paintball will still put you out of the game. A couple of roots are not enough cover and paintballs can still hit you through grass!
* Identify Your Target First *
If you have been on a paintball field a couple of times, you will most likely have:
a) Shot at and probably hit a member of your own team.
b) Been hit by a stray or deliberately aimed ‘friendly’ paintball.
Everyone does it, but mostly when they first start playing. Most people react to the first scenario by pretending it wasn’t them and the second situation with righteous indignation.
You can reduce the incidents of friendly fire in a paintball game (at least the ones that you cause!), by making sure you have properly identified your target. It’s difficult with paintball masks that steam up and an adrenaline high, but it’s one of the essential skills that you need as a regular paintballer. Nobody wants a player on their team who has a reputation for removing their own team mates.
And remember, just because a player is running towards you shouldn’t just assume that they are on the other team. If you are playing a ‘Capture the Flag’ game, that might be your team mate trying to get back to your end of the field with the enemy flag.
* Play With Your Team! *
In casual, walk-on paintball games you will always find at least one self styled lone gun, determined to win the war on his own. Don’t be that player!
Paintball is a team sport and you can’t win without supporting your side. If you want to move forward through the opposition, you can place a few paintballs near their cover to keep their heads down while your team mates move forward. They can then do the same for you. This is the paintball equivalent of passing the ball.
Try getting all the way to an enemy flag on your own, if you must. Unless the other side has been almost eliminated, the closer you get to their flag, the closer you are to their defence squad. That means paintballs coming your way soon, Rambo!
* Try To Stay Mobile *
If you pick a barricade or any other type of cover that is difficult to leave, once the opposition figures out you location, you will become a paintball magnet. Try to select cover that has more than one line of retreat. Don’t always shoot from the same spot; keep changing the location and angle you are firing from. Keep the opposition guessing where the next paintball is coming from.
If a paintball comes past you in a near miss get moving, another one will be along soon and you want to be somewhere else.
And whatever you do, don’t try to climb a tree! I’ve seen people do it. You’re not going to get down in a hurry, there usually isn’t enough foliage to hide you and once you fire your paintball gun, everyone knows where you are. From then on it’s a duck shoot until you are down from the tree and that usually isn’t before you get at least 20 nice paintball sized bruises.
* Don’t Cheat *
Wiping the evidence of a hit away is as low as you go in paintball. If you do it, you will eventually get caught. Analyse what happened and take the experience to the next game instead. Don’t give anyone reason to doubt you.
Remember – it’s just a game!