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Paintball for Newbies: A Beginner's Look

Introduction

Paintball is a sport that mimics scenarios like police raids and military engagements. In these, players take their weapons (paintball guns usually, although there are others as well) and head out in to a field to fight against one another. This is an exhilarating battle and can be a ton of fun, but there is a lot to learn before jumping in as well. Through this article we are going to be looking at the information a complete newbie needs to know prior to getting involved, and in future ones we will be looking at other information in more depth. This should help gain a stronger feel for the game and how to enhance your own playing and become a much better player!

Protecting Yourself

Being that paintball deals with guns, it often brings about the fear of being hurt. When playing properly this is not too much of a concern, although you do always need to be prepared regardless. Before you even think about stepping out on a field, you will need the following items:

  • Mask (it is actually a full face mask)
  • Pants and jacket (these are thicker than normal and are usually pretty loose, to help keep the impact of paintballs from having too much of an effect)
  • Boots (these are needed to help protect your ankles, and a lot of fields have terrain you want to wear proper footwear for)
  • Gloves (protect your hands!)

Each of these items is needed for their own purpose, but they all have the same goal in mind: to protect you from taking hits directly. Paintballs move at a pretty fast pace, and you could easily end up with a lot of bruises and welts if you are not properly geared before throwing yourself out in to the firing range!

If you are not really sure whether or not you want to play paintball long term (and want to just give it a go once to see how you like it), you can usually rent the equipment at paintball fields. This will allow you to check out the game, get a feel for it, and decide if going with the full investment is worth it to you. If you think you will play more in the future, it is a good idea to get your own set of gear because you will be saving money over time and you can also get items that are comfortable for you.

Paintball Guns

The next thing you need to get is a paintball gun. This goes along the same line as the other gear, where you can rent it if you are unsure if you will want to continue playing, though you are better off purchasing your own if you want to play for the long run. Picking a paintball gun to buy can be a tough process, though, so let us look at what you need to know.

The first step you need to decide on is if you want an automatic or not. While automatics have the thrill of being able to fire off tons of paintballs over a short period of time, they are not all they are cracked up to be. When it really comes down to it, there are two things that lower their feasibility, at least until you get more accustomed to paintball and get better at playing:

  • Their cost can be huge (we are looking at the paintball cost here, as you will be firing off tons more than normal, which adds up quickly. Paintballs are not cheap, and wasting them is not something you want to do unless you just have a ton of extra money laying around – in which case you can just send it to me!)
  • They are not very accurate. As you might be able to gather already, automatic weapons fire at a high rate which means you are dealing with a lot of recoil. Rather than setting yourself up and aiming again after each shot, you are just firing in the hopes that something will end up hitting your target. Against someone that is using a normal paintball gun and can aim, this is a sure way to lose the battle

As a newbie player, it is recommended to go with a semi automatic instead. While most fully automatics will allow you to tone down their firing rate, it is way too easy to get caught up in the moment and decide to go all out. You really want to keep this from becoming an issue the best you can, and in most cases the fully automatics are not something you will be using out on the field anyways (so there is no real reason to buy one at the beginning in the hopes that you will use them later). We will look at them a bit more in a separate article, as to when they are a good idea, but for now let it suffice to say that you do not want one.

Picking the Right Weapon

This can be one of the hardest things to do, and it involves a bit of sacrifice. You will need to decide between a few different things and try to balance them out the best you can:

  • Looks
  • Price
  • Features

While looks generally are not a big deal (you are firing the weapon, after all, not staring at it!), they can be a huge part of what makes some players go for theirs. It does not impact the game play at all, but it is something to be aware of.

Price is usually a huge point. Depending on how much you plan to play paintball, you may or may not want to spend too much. In the beginning, I usually recommend that people go ahead and buy a cheap gun rather than a more high quality one. This grants a couple of different benefits: it gives you an exit strategy in case you decide not to continue playing, and it also allows you to get a more hands on experience on how the guns handle. This in turn allows you to make a much better decision on what type of weapon you want, and what makes you feel the most comfortable. It is at that point that you will want to spend a bit more; this way you are not spending a lot on a quality weapon that you end up hating once you take it out on the field!

Features are something you may not be aware of. All too often people that are new get caught up in the other two aspects, and do not realize that paintball guns come with some great features that can make the game much more enjoyable. For example, there are feeding tubes that use lasers to ensure that paintballs are fully in the chamber before firing, which is an awesome addition because it cuts down on the number of broken paintballs, decreasing the cost of playing, the amount of down time while playing, as well as how often you have to clean the weapon (and as part of that, it extends the life of it). This is a pretty much must have if you are going for a semi automatic, as paintballs will often get busted up otherwise. Another great feature is the type of feeding barrels. There are many different ones, and what you want is one that efficiently allows the paintballs to flow down in to the barrel. Cheap little plastic ones will often end up getting multiple paintballs lodged near the exit of it, blocking anything from going in.

While the features looked at above are considered as must haves, you can skip them if you are still trying to decide if you want to play the game for the long run, and just grab a cheap weapon. If you think there is even a chance you will want to stick with the game (and therefore your weapon), though, you will want to be sure to follow both of those recommendations. People at the paintball shop you go to should be able to assist with finding the right fit for your budget.

Paintball Fields

The majority of your paintball playing will be out on an official field of some type. These can be found by doing Google searches and looking in the phone book, and there are usually quite a few to choose from (although it may be a bit of a drive to get to them). There is a bit of stuff you need to consider before heading out to one though.

Indoor or Outdoor

If you are in an area where you are going to be able to choose between an indoor and outdoor paintball field, you are in luck. Which one you will want depends on the weather and what you are most interested in, so we will look at each of these separately.

Indoor fields are usually climate controlled, and you of course do not need to worry about rain or anything in them. On the down side, they are smaller, though the size of field you want will usually depend on what type of game you are wanting to play anyways. A good thing about being indoors is that they are usually full of inflatable obstacles, giving a lot of areas to hide and attack, such as within bunkers, rather than having to rely on trees and open terrain.

Outdoor fields are almost always a lot larger and are cheaper than playing indoors, just because they are cheaper to maintain. This leads them to being cheaper to play on, and they also have other benefits. Some fields, for example, will have castles and other buildings, or even vehicles that can be used in the paintball games. Along with this, they are much more open to the more “tactical” weapons, like paintball rocket launchers and grenades. Of course, you end up dealing with things like weather (especially heat, due to the bulky clothing you need to wear), although for some players things like muddy games are what they look forward to.

The best plan is to think about what type of player you are, and what you are looking for in a field. From here, you can compare your local options and find the best match based on their features and pricing, to better match yourself up.

Accessories and Consumables

This may not be something on the tip of your mind when you are thinking about fields, but you want to go to one that has consumables (like CO2 air refills, paintballs, etc.). This will allow you to play for longer periods in case you run out early, without having to take off to a paintball shop or something in order to buy back in.

The majority of paintball fields should have these things by default, although you never know. Fields are just like any other type of business; each owner is able to choose what they want to carry or not carry, and they could also run out as well. To be sure that they have what you will need, be sure to call them up ahead of time. You should also look in to the pricing for all of this (some fields will have free air), and compare it to what you get normally through paintball shops. Sometimes you will find that you can even get cheaper stuff out on the fields!

If you are taking the route of renting gear, rather than purchasing it at the beginning, you will want to call that in as well, to see what the pricing is like. Usually this should be pretty cheap, although again, you never know. It is possible that you may save money by just buying some items on your own through second hand shops and such, and really all of the paintball gear you wear, assuming it fits fine, should be good. Guns are a bit different, but that goes on a case by case basis. Just make sure whatever gear you are using is comfortable to you, or it could destroy any fun you would otherwise have!

Overview of Game Types

There are many different game types available for paintball. We will be looking at each one in more detail on their own in future articles, but for now we will go over an overview of them to help get a decent understanding of what they are and how they work.

Capture the Flag

Capture the flag, often called “CTF,” is a game based on two bases with room in between them. If you play video games a lot, you may already be familiar with this game style, as it is in most first person shooters. The goal is to get to your enemy's base, grab their flag, and return it to your base. It may seem easy, but it can be a tough, long battle. There are a couple of things you have to be aware of:

  • You can not capture an enemy's flag unless you are in control of yours as well. You are able to hold theirs, but you can not finish the match until you take down their flag carrier and return your flag safely to your base
  • These matches can involve long distances between the two bases. Generally, the more area there is, the better it will be as it requires more planning and strategy in order to capture the enemy's flag

This is by far the most popular game to play with paintball, because it is highly competitive and allows players to use real teamwork to achieve their goals. It can also be a lot of fun, but it can last a long time!

Death Match

Death match is probably the most familiar style of paintball for newer players. This involves putting two teams against each other, with the only goal being to tag out enemies (or “kill” them). While it does involve some strategy, there is not a lot, simply because it is just you trying to keep alive and protected while you take down your enemies.

This is the most common game played for messing around, as it allows you to learn personal maneuvers and lets you get better accustomed to your gear. It is arguably not nearly as fun as capture the flag is, though this can be played pretty much anywhere and it gives the thrill of taking down your enemies, rather than just working towards an objective.

If you are fresh to the scene and want an easy way to learn how everything works, going in to death match is probably the best idea. It allows you to get used to things without having to worry about specific objectives, and it will also teach both offensive and defensive strategy that will help out when you move in to other game types.

King of the Hill

King of the hill is a game type that you may not already be aware of. This one is interesting because it involves a single area, usually with a small circle around it (this can be marked or inferred). The goal is to get inside this circle and keep your enemies out of it. Another way to look at this is as a conquer mission, where you want to rush out to an area and hold it for as long as you can. The match ends when a team has reached an agreed upon time (which could be a few minutes or could be longer) of total time while holding the point.

This game type is made a bit tough because you are like a sitting duck when you are holding the capture point; every enemy knows where it is, and you have to be very close to it in order to keep gaining time, so it makes you an easy target. The door also goes the other way, of course, but regardless, someone is always at a major disadvantage.

Making Your Own

While there are some game types that are common among players of paintball, that in no way means that you are not able to make up your own! Players make up their own rule changes, adaptations and entirely new games all the time. You can get creative and come up with the next big thing! Just be sure that any rules that are made are organized and are laid out in such a way that everyone fully understands what is going on. Paintball is like other games in that if you are unclear about things, it can cause a big rift between players and it can turn an otherwise enjoyable game in to one that is not so good. Try to avoid this at all costs!

Conclusion

Through this article we have taken a look at paintball from a newbie perspective, to cover all of the basics that you need to know prior to heading out to a field and getting involved in the game. In further articles, we will look at things much more in depth, such as strategies for the different game types, other types of weapons, etc. to help you get a much more solid understanding of paintball and how it works. Please keep in mind, though, that you learn a lot more by doing than you do by simply reading. As such, you will benefit much more if you are putting what you learn here in to use out on the fields; you will become a better player and it will help to concrete the information for you and clarify things you are otherwise still a little confused about!

Paintball


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