Introduction to Paintball

Most beginners play paintball in the woods.  You've been invited to a birthday party or corporate event.  This guide will truly help you, I guarantee it. Here is why. For the past three years I have played at a woods ball field and week after week I help first time players play comfortably, even excel. I am not a professional, but I play three times a month and I do also play speedball (air bunkers) at other fields, I can and will help you.  Here is how...

Woodsball paintball the Great Equalizer

Before we begin understand that woods ball as it is called is the great equalizer.  You can hang with great players and get away with being a beginner paintballer when playing in the woods.  Why?  Because of the trees, the branches and various unforeseeable objects that get in the way of shots.  In some respects, you have the advantage because a seasoned player can’t play his game in the woods like he can on a speedball field.  This is one reason Speedball paintball players are snobs towards playing in the woods.

First rule in Paintball 

Understand that the fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain.  This means a lot. But to put it short, if you don't want to get shot you won't.   It also means you play just aggressive enough to be comfortable with that level. 

 

Real Paintball Tips

Let’s get down to the real details now.  Don’t lie down! Not if think you have the least bit of trouble getting up.  This is called a “prone” position.  Don’t go prone.  Why? Because standing up allows you to flee quickly if necessary.  Keep your marker (paintball gun) up.  Don’t drop at it your hip.  It takes longer to draw on someone if it is hanging at your side.   Be sure not to leave your paintball hopper exposed.  At most fields a gun hit counts. Hoppers point out further than any other part of your marker and that could be your opponents chance to take you out. 

If you are playing in a bunker such as a wooden pallet or stacked wood, don’t come over the top of the bunker, you are an easy target.  You see while you are up shooting, your opponent is most likely still in cover, coming out from the side of a tree allowing himself  to remain out of range while you are still exposed until you drop down, and you can longer shoot.

There is no front line

Unless you are playing on a field so wide that you can’t communicate with fellow players in any way, you don’t need half your team bunkered down at the flag station.  Everyone should be at the front line.  I’ll detail that later, but take my advice here.  Don’t bunker down in the back.  When the rest of your team is gone, you’ll be a duck waiting for 10 other players to pluck you off.  No fun.   Get out there and support your team with additional shots, even if it is from just behind the front line.

Use Trees for Cover Properly

Be sure to use tree’s properly for cover.  Don’t stand wide on a tree, stand sideways offering the tree as much opportunity to cover your body as possible.

Run to trees from behind if you can help it; not from side to side.  If you run up on a tree you can use it as cover as you approach an opponent. Remember that people run from tree to tree much of the time, I know I just said not to do that but your opponents most likely will.  Think ahead.  As you are in your little skirmish shooting at them, trading shots you’ll realize both of you may be at a standstill.  One of you is going to make a move. Let it be your opponent if you are provided good cover on your tree.  Think ahead.... What trees around them will they most likely move to?  Once they dart out, start shooting ahead of your opponent just before the tree they are running towards.  They will run into the paint and be out.  If you try to follow them with your shots they will most likely always be a step ahead of your shots. 

Paintball is a game of Angles

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about the game of paintball itself is that it is a game of angles.  You may have heard of the term “flank”.  It means to come around broadside on your opponent, that additional attack position now causes them to lose focused attention on one area of offense and now puts them in a defensive position having to protect themselves at two points of attack.

Now you don’t have to full on flank an opponent in paintball to take them out. No! All you need to do is spread out your attack. For instance if you have two players on your team and there is one player remaining on the other side, all you need to do is work with your remaining team mate to spread out.  The tree your opponent is on now offers him less and less cover.  Eventually you’ll sneak a shot in him for a break.  Game over.

This of course works with many players too.   Remember to spread your attack on your front line.  These tips should start all coming together for you now. 

One way to protect yourself from those angles is to work the edge of the field.  There is generally a marked off side to each field, called the “ropeline” or “tapeline”.  If you are working up the tapeline, no one can flank you from that side.  The can only attack you from the remaining open field side or from directly ahead. 

You should never waste paint in a gun fight.  If you are head to head with an opponent and not getting anywhere, one of you must move if a team mate can’t break the stalemate from a better angle.  If it is you that moves, remember you need an better angle.  My hot tip is this.  Take a few shots to pin your adversary’s ears back, as soon as you stop shooting or shoot while you are running and he is back in cover... run to your next tree. Take cover, don’t let them know you have a new position.   Give it time, perhaps 30 seconds or more.  Peek out just enough to establish they don’t know you’ve made a move and size up where they should come out.  Time your move and when they are out, pop around from cover, draw on them quickly and make your shots count.  That element of surprise will generally allow you to be out and ready for them so that they expose themselves to a shot. I do this often and also move up on players nonchalant to closer trees.  If I’m moving up, I don’t get a better angle but I do get closer allowing me to take a more precise shot.  If I move first, my opponent may get concerned and make a mistake as they fear I’m closing in. 

Your Marker (paintball gun)

Have a reliable marker.  That is all you need.  You don’t need a paintball gun that shoots 18 shots per second.  Why?  It is woodsball and all you really need is a marker that shoots straight (reasonably) and won’t jam or break paint in the barrel.  The reality is electronic markers are great for speed, but those that buy them end up paying more money to have that speed WITH RELIABILITY.  They too still need a marker that won’t break paint.  A pneumatic marker (no electronic parts) is the mainstay of the woodsball.  A Tippmann A-5 with cyclone feeder is the choice of seasoned woodsballers.  It will set you back chump change compared to an electronic marker and it too can spay paint fast with it’s cyclone feeder system. The cost is about $300.00 tops. 

Understand this, it is never the gun, it is the player shooting the gun that makes them a formidable adversary. 

Learn the Paintball field

While it is generally not possible to walk the field before you play, you can seek out a team mate before the game starts that has played the field before.  

My advice, tag along with them the first round.  Ask them for “recon” on the field.  They will tell you how to play it if they are cool about it. 

Knowing the field can be key.  Some fields are so narrow you should not press the middle of the field as you can get shot from the sides, so you stay out of the middle.  It can be impossible to know this sometimes until you are on the field trapped in the middle taking shots from both sides.  So ask questions before the game to know the little quirks about each field.  Is there a ditch ahead that the other team is using?  Do they have a lot of brush behind their flag station allowing them to set up a mini-defense should they take too many lost players?  Is there a bunker way ahead that both teams will want to take off the break creating a mad rush for that one strategic position?  These questions can be answered before the game by someone that has played there first. 

This should put you in a great frame of mind for your first visit to a paintball field, or if you have just been learning... this advice will take you to the next level.  See you on the field, stay away from DangerMan. ;)