How To Be A Paintball
Sniper, Part 1
“Paintball Sniper”… those two words can ignite a debate
amongst a circle of paintballers. Some say it is theoretically impossible while
others claim to be one. The nay-sayers
argue that because all paintball markers shoot relatively the same range with similar
trajectory there is technically no such thing as paintball sniping. Well, that is all fine and good if you define
‘sniping’ as accurate long-range shooting beyond the capabilities of your
opponent. Military history and theory considers that to be a Designated
Marksman or Sharpshooter. However, a more accurate definition of a ‘sniper’ is
one who fires at the enemy from a concealed position, as historically it’s not
so much the distance as their unknown location that makes them so feared and
effective. An experienced and concealed paintball sniper in scenario games can
throw a major push by the opposing team off-balance, disrupting their advance
enough to allow teammates to adjust to the situation and block their advance.
It is a lonely and often painful way to play, but the personal rewards are
beyond words when you take out an unsuspecting opponent with one shot. Yes,
paintball snipers do exist and to be one requires the right equipment, specific
skills and the proper mindset.
Customers often come in to our showroom, look at the wall of
markers and ask “Which one is a paintball sniper rifle?” The honest answer is “All
of them”, but some are a little more effective than others. The golden rule is
that you need to be comfortable and confident with your paintball marker to the
point that you can hit your target with one shot at a variety of ranges. Every marker has a different feel in a
person’s hands and how you sight in on a target. No marker, upgrade or gizmo is
going to instantly make you hit your target 100% of the time until you take it
to the target range and practice, practice, practice!
Many view a long barrel length as a ‘sniper barrel’. The
length of your paintball barrel ultimately has a minor effect on your accuracy
and none on your range. However, a long barrel length does have some practical
advantages. Longer barrels have a quieter sound signature than short barrels.
Not silencer quiet but enough to make it a bit harder to pinpoint your
location. The more holes, or ‘porting’, you have on the barrel the more quiet it will
be. The pattern of the holes is not important, what matters is ample porting.
The farther down the length of the barrel, the quieter. Markers that operate on
low pressure tend to be more quieter than blowbacks and higher pressure models
as well. The other advantage to a long barrel is its ability to slip through
brush, branches and cracks in bunkers to sneak shots through. With a short
barrel you often think you have a clean shot only to have the paintball break
on a twig or other obstruction just past the muzzle. With those long barrels
you can shove just the tip through cover so you stay concealed and hidden with
only the business end of your marker poking out.
The layout of your marker… shoulder stock or none, red dot
sight or open sights, etc… is really up to personal preference. A red dot sight
is a favorite for scenario snipers for both a nice aim point in dim/ dark
conditions as well as just a cool visual to add to the milsim experience!
Remember that you’re probably going to be crawling around in some thick brush so
try not to carry a lot of unnecessary items that will get snagged on branches
and brambles. When in sneaky sniper mode it may be preferable to use a smaller
sized air tank screwed into the ASA. A coiled remote easily catches on things
while belly crawling through the bush. A compressed air (HPA) tank is
preferable to CO2. Compressed air provides more consistent velocity, resulting
in consistently more accurate shots, and there is very little vapor cloud at
the muzzle to give away your position. Obviously, if one is using a stock class
or other marker that operates on CO2 cartridges you don’t use HPA… but you’re
used to taking single shots!
Dress head to toe in drab-colored clothing or camouflage.
Don’t get too hung up on specific patterns or if everything matches, just be
sure that you don’t completely clash with the environment. For example, don’t
wear dark green in arid brown brush or tan desert patterns in lush spring
forest as you will be easily spotted. It’s a good idea to camo your marker and
gear as well. It doesn’t have to be complete or permanent. Some strips of
drab-colored cloth or burlap wrapped around your marker and loader is easy to scrounge
up and incredibly effective. A few pieces knotted around and left shaggy looks
like leaves and breaks up the outline.
Many players consider the ghillie suit to be the end all, be
all sniper wear. A select few people can really use a ghillie suit effectively.
The rest run around aimlessly looking like green Wookies. A ghillie suit
doesn’t render you instantly invisible just by laying down on the ground, and overzealous
would-be snipers with their ghillie suits get stuck in thorn bushes like flies
caught in a spider web. Using a ghillie suit correctly will be covered in Part
Paintball Sniper Gear
You’re going to spend a lot of time on the ground so be
prepared for it. A proper fitting set of knee pads and elbow pads make crawling
and crouching immensely more comfortable. A good set of full fingered gloves
are worth their weight in gold. The hands are going to be pulling you along and
moving brush with sharp pokey bits out of the way. A few minutes of crawling
through rough terrain without gloves will destroy your hands.
You’re going to be in action for a while so be sure to stay
hydrated! Never take to the field without a hydration bladder and pack, or a
bottle of water stowed away. Some sport water bottles fit great in a pod pouch
on your harness.
Think about how you are going to carry all your gear onto
the field. Remember that you’re going to spend a lot of time prone and belly crawling;
what you wear on the front is going to stick you in the gut or press
uncomfortably into the ribs and chest when you ‘go to ground’. A paintball pod
pack that carries pods on your lower back is ideal. Pants with cargo pockets
are convenient for carrying smaller items comfortably yet with easy access.
Just keep in mind that the more pouches and bags you carry, the more there is
to get hung up in brush.
That’s it for Part One.
Next installment will be Part 2 on Paintball Sniper Skills and Mindset !