What is a Good Starter Marker?

By Jeffrey “Tigurius” Espejo 

By now you have probably already invested in the best mask you can get that suits you; now you are probably wondering what marker you should be getting.  First ask your self this, “Do I really want to play paintball often?”  If hopefully the answer is yes then please continue, otherwise it really would be cheaper for you to just rent your marker.  Next ask your self if you want to get into paintball competitively or just something to play as a recreational game, as this could affect maximizing the efficiency and cost of your style of play.

 If you have decided to go the competitive route of paintball, or think you may be interested in that in the future; just not right now.  Then you may want something that is easier to hold when playing in a tournament, as well as has more of the same type of “feel” as the more high-end tournament markers that you may eventually get into if you get really serious about the sport.  This would probably be something like a Kingman Spyder or a PMI Piranha as these two markers are very similar, common, as well as relatively cheap for a starter marker.  You can get both of these in two types, one type being the traditional “mechanical” marker, where the marker operates on the gas source working with the mechanics to shoot out the paintball.  Then there is the “electronic” marker also known as “E-Markers” which operates on the gas source working with the mechanics and electronics of the marker.  This type of marker is also the most popular type of marker when you do get into high-end tournament markers, one example of this would be a WDP Angel, or a Bob Long Intimidator.  Each type has their advantages and disadvantages when choosing the path you would like to go.

 The advantages of using a mechanical marker allow you to keep your ROF (Rate of Fire) low.  The reason for this is because with mechanical markers they do not require an electronic board to operate a switch to tell the marker when it should fire.  With mechanical markers the trigger usually needs to be longer then an electronic marker so that it can be “timed” with the sear of the marker releasing, hitting the hammer, and allowing the gas to pass through to shoot out of the chamber of the bolt to shoot the paintball down the barrel.  Mechanical markers also allow easy maintenance and quick repairs on the field with the proper tools and the proper spare parts.  Along with the low ROF, comes with it less paint costs, as well as the skill needed to aim and land the paint where you want it; instead of going straight to an electronic marker and just “spray n’ pray”, which is just shooting and hope you hit something, or shooting and watching where your balls fly while aiming through that.

However the disadvantages of having a mechanical marker is the ROF when you are playing in a tournament and just need that one extra ball.  As well as mechanical markers are easy to “short stroke” this happens when the trigger is not pulled all the way back and released.  When this happens the marker may either not operate during that cycle properly, or will cause the bolt to close too fast pinching the paintball causing a jam, or causing you to break a paintball.  When a paintball is broken in the breach it causes your shots not to be accurate and fly all over the place.  Of course in this sport accuracy is everything, and you would have to clean out the breach as quickly as possible using a squeegee causing valuable time in a game.  To over come short stroking you could practice while watching TV, or on the computer just pulling the trigger back and forth on your marker; this also helps break in the trigger so it is not so stiff on a new mechanical marker.  Though mechanical markers are simple and easy to learn to maintain they can cause a lot of hassle if not taken care of properly and mastered on the field.  This is why a lot of new players are choosing electronic markers as their starter marker of choice.  However these same new players tend to complain about the cost of the sport because they do not learn the skill they need, and shoot a lot more then they need to.

 The advantages of having an electronic run marker allow the player to have a shorter trigger stroke, have a higher ROF, and eliminate short stroking.  The reason for this is because electronic markers have an electronic board usually housed inside the grip frame.  This “brain” of the marker controls when the marker is to release the sear and hit the hammer; since it is electronically controlled it can force it to respond quicker as well as have less of a stroke length, reducing the time that is used to shoot the next paintball.  On more advanced electronic markers such as the WDP Angel, you can use the computer on board to tell you the temperature, the time, control how hard the air hits the ball, as well as tell you how much paint you have shot and on some markers control an “eye” that tells the computer that their may be a jam, or it may chop a paintball.  On lower end electronic markers there is still the factor of chopping paint while shooting extremely fast; they still offer the advantage in tournaments of putting skill with the ROF needed to compete in today’s world of competitive paintball.  With lower end markers such as the E-Spyder or the E-Piranha’s these markers are not true electronic markers, but merely markers with an electronic frame to control the sears release so it may shoot faster and without error.  This allows users who do decide to change their mind from their mechanical counterparts, to upgrade for a low cost to them.  However they do still need to be installed by an authorized air smith, or that markers respective manufacture, if that type of service is offered.

 However the disadvantages of owning an electronic marker, do not usually allow you to fix and maintain your marker on the spot, they must be sent out to an air smith or someone who has knowledge of fixing electronic markers.  Of course if you have a strong background in electronics and soldering, and how the mechanics of a marker works then you should not have any problem learning to fix your own marker, but it is still not recommended because as always an authorized air smith should take care of your problem for you.   If you are choosing an electronic marker for your first marker, just be aware of the costs.  Since the trigger pull is much shorter then a standard mechanical trigger, and on some markers can be adjusted to be 1mm of a trigger pull; these markers can be turned into such a high ROF, that they can reach 20BPS (Balls Per Second) or more.  Of course in order to reach that high of a volume you would have to be very quick with your fingers.  Shooting this much paint can affect how your budget is, of course if skill was practiced over the skill of shooting at a high ROF, shooting this much paint is not required.