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Things I Wish I’d Known Then – Part 5

Posted by Eric on 27.04.10

What’s This Stuff For Again?

So now you’ve got your gear and a few games under your belt.  “What’s next?” you ask.  Now comes the fun part of actually playing.  There’s no perfect way to do it, everyone picks up and develops their own style and methods.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things every player should incorporate into their game.

SAFETY FIRST!

That sticker on your paintball gun that says “THIS IS NOT A TOY” isn’t lying.  Paintball is a contact sport and you need to know some basic rules to keep it safe.  It may seem silly to you reading this, but it amazes me how many people ignore basic safety rules.  First, treat your marker like a firearm.  Don’t point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot and keep your finger off the trigger when you dont intend to fire.  When you’re not playing, keep your barrel pointed down and engage your safety if your gun has one.  Treat every gun as though loaded until the hopper is empty, the breech is clear, the gas source is removed, and any stored up pressure is released.  Even then don’t take it for granted.  Always use a proper barrel blocking device, or BBD, whenever you’re not in a game. A swab stuffed down your barrel or a glove over the muzzle is not good enough.  They can fall out and one or two accidental shots will send them flying

Always use a chronograph before playing to make sure your marker is shooting at a safe velocity.  Different fields have different requirements but 280 feet per second ( fps ) is commonly considered the maximum safe velocity.  Many indoor fields have a lower limit due to the closer firing ranges, usually around 240 fps or less.  It’s good practice to re-chrono your marker throughout the day, particularly if you use CO2 in warm weather.  Remember that CO2 will increase in pressure as it heats up and this means your muzzle velocity will also go up.

Never remove your mask during a game, ever.  If something happens and your mask comes off, immediately drop down, cover your head, and try to signal a ref.  Likewise if you notice this happen to someone else, call out the situation so all players around you know to stop shooting.  Masks should only come off in designated safe zones where everyone else has put their guns on safe and BBD’s are in use.

Try to avoid shooting people at point-blank range.  Many fields have minimum shooting distances, usually around 10 to 15 feet.  If you happen to sneak up on a player within that range, give the person a chance to surrender first.  If they try to make a move on you then you’re allowed to open fire, but try to hit them someplace it won’t hurt too much, like on a boot or in the pack.  If you’re ever caught in that situation, don’t make sudden moves since it might be interpreted it as an aggressive action.  Just calmly put your gun and hands up.

Remember that every field may have their own particular rules so always check with refs and staff for any rules you should be aware of.

If you play “outlaw” ball on land that isn’t part of any designated paintball field, it never hurts to check with your local law enforcement agency first.  Politely ask where you can and can’t play and don’t try to push the issue.  Be respectful and even if you can’t play on your first area of choice, they may direct you to another area where it is allowed.

Finally, a paintball marker is for paintball only.  It’s not for shooting the neighbor’s cat, plinking birds in your trees, or otherwise shooting anything outside a paintball game.  It’s very easy for paintballers in general to get a bad rap because a few people decided to be stupid.

Check Your Ego

By the time you read this, hopefully you’ve already played a game or two.  Even if you have a general feel for the game, you’ll still have more to learn.  Be patient with yourself since you’re in for a long, but enjoyable, learning curve.  The truly good players know that everyone started somewhere.  They’ll let you know if you’re doing something wrong or unsafe, but they will never insult anyone for playing poorly.  Instead they usually take new players under their wing to help them learn the game.  If this happens to you, leave your pride at the door.  You can learn something from anyone regardless of age or playing experience.

If you’ve yet to play your first game, it’s perfectly normal to be nervous or even a little scared.  It hurts to get shot with a paintball, I’ll admit it.  It can be more than a little nerve-wracking not knowing if you’re about to get pegged on the other side of that tree.  But the thrill of scoring that first elimination or capturing that first flag quickly erases all anxiety from your mind.  When starting a new match, try to be a team player and ask what you can do to help.  If you’re asked to do something during a match, don’t blow it off.  Give it your best effort even if you don’t understand why it needs be done.  If it doesn’t work there’s always the next match.

Learn the Rules

Every game format can be different so make sure you fully understand the rules before the game is underway.  Too many game variants exist for me to list them all here.  The two most common variations are deathmatch and capture the flag, both of which will be familiar to you if you play online action games.

Like your average action video game, a deathmatch is a straight shoot ’em up.  The only objective is to shoot out every opposing player.  This can be played every man for himself, but is more often between two teams.

Capturing a flag usually means grabbing a dirty rag hanging in a tree instead of an actual flag.  CTF is usually played with one or two flags and always with teams.  With one flag, it’s placed somewhere in the middle of the field.  Both teams then try to get the flag and return it to their side of the field.  This version of CTF is usually called “center flag.”

You can also play CTF with two flags.  Each team has a flag and keeps it in an area designated as their base.  The object of the game is to bring both flags into your base, so you not only have to attack the opposing team, you have to guard your own flag too.

Play With Honor

Sportsmanship is a dying value unfortunately.  Don’t add to its demise.  This is just a game after all and the point is to have fun.  If you’re hit, you’re out.  You don’t make a judgment call about whether it should count.  You never wipe it off, ( and yes I’ve been tempted a few times too. )  If you get hit from behind or where you can’t see, call a ref over and they’ll check if you got hit or if the shot bounced off.  Congratulate the other player when they shoot you out.  You’ll be surprised what that does for your mood while playing.

Getting shot multiple times isn’t fun so don’t try to plaster your opponent.  Likewise if you get lit up don’t get in a huff.  For all you know it was accidental.  When you get shot at, chances are about 10 balls are in the air heading towards you.  Even if the other player stops shooting the instant the first ball hits, that ball still has a few friends trailing right behind it.  It can be hard to hear much of anything over the noise of a firefight so don’t expect all fire to cease the instant you’re hit.  If you’re hit and under heavy fire, don’t stand up and try to walk off the field just yet.  If it’s not immediately obvious you’re hit, run to the nearest cover and duck down.  Try to raise your hand and/or gun from behind cover and yell that you’re out.  A ref should come running to escort you off the field if you’re still taking fire.  Again, don’t blame people for overshooting you.  Everyone who plays this game will be on both ends of this type of exchange and any respectable player feels awful when they accidentally bonus-ball someone.  Cursing them out doesn’t help the situation in the slightest.  If you feel it was blatant, respectfully ask the ref and/or player about it.  Yes, emotions run high in this game and I’ve lost my temper a time or two.  But still try to keep it civil.

Never argue with the refs.  They’re likely not getting paid much, if at all, and they’re doing the best they can.  They don’t see everything and they will miss a call every now and then.  When two players exchange fire, it’s sometimes impossible to tell who shot who first.  Just accept the fact that you traded out shots and you’re both out.  If you think you hit an opponent, politely ask the player to check themself before asking a ref to do it.  It may sound trite but are you worried more about having fun or winning?  And no, they’re not the same thing.

Have Fun!

And so my young padawan, you’re on a long and enjoyable road through the world of paintball.  And so I say to you, “Welcome to the addiction, say goodbye to your money.”

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