Paintball-The Beginning
By Jim Brown

             First off, I would like to introduce the subject matter…yes that’s right…. PAINTBALL!! More importantly where to begin, and how to get started on the right foot so to speak.

            I have been playing this sport now for over 4 years, from a fairly early age. Though I did not begin with some of the better known “old school” markers out there such a Sheridan, Palmer, or Nel-Splat, or any of the other well known fathering markers of the sport, I respect and am happy to say proud they are part of our sports history. Without them, we would probably not be playing paintball the way we know it today, if at all!

            Next, I would like to say I’m here to answer some commonly asked questions, and cut off some of the bad habits I see “newbies” having problems with, as well as to disprove a few myths here and there. Though I’m sure I wont get them all this time around, I hope it is of great help to those reading and a jog down memory lane for those that have gone through it.

 Before I even begin, I’m going to stress safety. WEAR GOGGLES, good ones, they are THE most important equipment you will ever have, yes, even more so then your marker. When in a none safe zone, these are usually well marked, PUT THEM ON AND KEEP THEM ON, do not for any reason take them off till you are back in a designated SAFE ZONE.  Barrel Blocking Devices (BBD); like a barrel sock, or barrel plug; should be used at ALL TIMES WHEN NOT IN PLAY! I cant stress this enough, and it is a rule at ALL fields, the goggle rule stated above is at every field I have ever seen and would play on, due to safety reasons. Paintball in itself, when played properly is pretty much THE safest sport out there, safer then bowling and fishing, just to name a few that fall above it in the statistics showing injures per 1000 participants. Lets be safe and follow the rules… OK?

  A short explanation of paintball goes as follows: two or some times more teams, usually with different color arm bands or hopper tape, with a distinct bright color so you may tell who is, and is not on your team, thus helping to prevent accidents (shooting YOUR own team, not a good thing!), an objective such as capture the flag, or simply eliminating the other team, and each team their own starting points or general locations.

I will start off with a simple woods ball game: two teams of around 5-10 players get there arm bands (which are usually kept until teams are switched around) start in two different locations with a general goal of eliminating the other team, lots of cover, a good time to have environment appropriate camouflage. It is a good idea to stick in pairs so you have someone watching your back at all times, as generally you may not see the other team come up on you till its too late, and visa versa. You must be aware of everything around you, and generally play stealthy, possibly work into a formation that would other wise trap the other team, you should have a lot of trees, brush, rocks and other natural cover to use to your advantage. Paint, with such cover, little twigs and branches can wreak havoc on your shots, harder shell paint such as Vipers or Inferno can be an asset. Generally too expensive for the beginning rec-baller such as yourself, oh and yes, they tend to bounce more and leave bigger welts, but be aware of their availability and usability. This brings me to my first major tip, and a word from the wise: DO NOT over shoot an opponent. If you can help it, especially from less then 20 feet or so, BE NICE if you can, take a marker shot or pack shot rather then unloading unnecessarily on ones person. I have seen fights break out, due to this, be courteous and generally they will be nice to you as well.

 Communication in paintball is key no matter whether you are playing in the woods or on a concept field, however they are quite different as to how you approach it. In the woods, you will need to be silent, use hand signals primarily, and not quick noticeable ones such as jumping up and down pointing, it will get you eliminated, possibly your team as well, and you a lot of grief from it!

Try not to yell in the woods, use hand signals, and again, check for armbands CARFULLY before taking a shot, namely if they don’t know your there, but I don’t suggest openly asking this or giving yourself away to do so. If there covering there arm, take the shot, again be courteous and take a none person shot if your close, they will thank you for it, of course if they were on your team they might not be so happy with you none the less.

General equipment tips: Carry a few pods/tubes of paint with you, you may need them, make sure your hopper lid is securely closed, tank screwed in properly…and before the game shoot one round safely into the ground to make sure everything is good to go. Make sure all pods are closed and secured, and you have your mask and it is clean, barrel plug in till you get out of the safe zone, and marker on safe…

Speedball tips: COMMUNICATION is the key here, be LOUD, and know your role depending on position. Speedball is the rage now it seems, paintball has come put of the woods onto man made fields, these are generally inflated bunkers, wood, plastic, spools of some sort, buildings etc. all classified as speedball fields.

Were as in woods ball, you have no idea were the opposition is, speedball, you tend to know where everyone is, and them know where you are as well, for the most part anyway. Think of speedball as chess, fast pace with little paint filled 3-gram balls flying at you at about 200 mph in the process with a lot of yelling! Very fun, very challenging, great game, you will love it!

The three positions of paintball are as follows:

Front: Your basic pawns, they are guided and tend to be the fastest players that advance to and past the 50 (center of the fields) as fast as possible, again guided by their back players, they are the glory boys of sorts and make most of the flag pulls.

 Mid: They play between the front and back players, they help the front and back players advance, call positions, and are the primary position on the field so to speak, posting, doing run through, and all sorts of important stuff, they are also guided by the back players.

Back: These guys are important, they are the puppet masters of sort; they call positions and pinch the other players as well as pick them off when possible. Off the break (start of game) they are the ones you see simply shooting non-stop from the beginning attempting to pick off the other team as they run to their bunkers. These guys shoot non stop through the whole game most of the time, keeping the other team from advancing, and protecting their front and mid players, as well as making sure their guys know where the opposition is. With out these guys, the other two positions are sitting blind in the water, not a good thing; the back players should also be the last people still live and know how to play in 2+ VS 1 situations.

             The goal in speedball is generally to eliminate the other team while getting the center flag and taking it across to their starting station, this has to be done in a certain time limit, usually being five minutes for a five man game, to fifteen minutes for a ten man game.

 Again in speedball, you can often sneak up on people, some fields have a mandatory surrender rule in which if you get within 10 feet of them and yell surrender…they are generally out and must exit the field. Some fields however do not, and shooting them from close like that, is called bunkering, where as this can be quite fun and an adrenaline rush like no other, I suggest being courteous again, and popping them in the foot, mask, marker, hopper or pack and not shoot them harshly in the body from that close, it can cause many problems off the field as well.

 Paint: bring lots, lots of pods of extra paint and make sure your hopper is full, you will need it, especially your back players, they use an insane amount of paint per game. Back players also go through the air, make sure your tank is full if it is small, or at least enough to get you through the game, make sure you have plenty though. Back players generally need a bigger tank as they use more paint. Paint usage tends to follow a sliding scale, from least used to more used we have: front, mid and then back using the most paint out of the three. With that the same goes for weight issues, the backs don’t need to move fast and thus can afford to carry the extra weight, the front players generally go for the lighter markers, hoppers, tanks, and smaller packs to further adjust to there style of play.

 If you have any questions or suggestions concerning the above article you can contact Jim at I will be more then happy to answer whatever questions you may have about the game, or any of its components.