Monday, January 19, 2009

Advice to the New Paintballer

Just a quick update on the paintball thing. I played this evening with my new(used) Tippmann 98 Custom. As I mentioned before, either I was going to make the Spyder work with the new hopper, or I was going to make the Tippmann work. As it turns out, I had yet more trouble with my Sonix. Tonight it wouldn't fire more than 20 or 30 yards and had no power behind the shot, so I put the new force feeding hopper on the Tippy and off I went. We played three games before it got dark. Straight up capture the flag. The gun performed admirably considering the sub-freezing temperatures. The paint was cold, the gun was cold, and the CO2 just made things more cold, but it still fired well enough and only broke one ball, at which time the gun continued to perform without a hiccup. I didn't even notice the one broken ball until after the game was over. And the bonus is that tonight, on our third game, I actually won the game by getting the opposing team's flag and returning to base with only a hit to my hopper and one in the right leg, which as we play was not a kill! So GO ME! :) So what can we learn from this little outing? A few things. Tips, if you will, from the slightly experienced fledgling paintballer to the very new, perhaps unschooled paintballer to be. There is little I can offer in the way of tactical advice, but I can give you a good boost on beginning gear. This is that boost: 1. What to Wear: Largely dependent on where you'll be playing. Woodsball means trees, brush and probably brambles, mud and a host of other difficulties. It's a total blast! Cover your arms and legs, not just for the sake of staying away from prickly or itchy things, but because paintballs sting! :) I wear normal clothes under a $15 army surplus mechanic's cover-all. It's quick to put on, covers everything, and is a little loose. This is a good thing too. Loose clothing is less likely to burst a paintball on impact. This is good, because "No Dye, No Die" :) My cover-all is jungle camo as well. I recommend a good camo, but really any forest colors will do. Blacks, browns and greens. Wear gloves that you can still fire your gun in. Two reasons. It can be cold out there, and again, paintballs sting, but more so if they hit your hand! My footwear is a $30 dollar pair of Brahma hunting boots. forest camo. Nice and warm and so far quite water resistant. Something reasonably comfortable and sturdy should work fine. Clothing aside there is one thing you MUST have to play. Get a mask and goggles made for paintball. You can get cheap ones at Wal-Mart, but resist the temptation. For about $20 you can pick up a V-Force Mask that is all the mask you will need. Why the V-Force? It will not fog up when you start to breath into it. I've tried several cheap masks and inside of 10 minutes you can't see through them for the fogging. Trust me when I tell you, that'll ruin your game. Should you decide you want to step up and increase your peripheral vision and reduce paintball breaks on your face, you can go up in the V-Force line. But I absolutely recommend this mask. Like the Tippy 98, it just works. 2. What to Shoot: There is a huge field of acceptable paintball markers out there. Some manufacturers make entry level, some make high end professional guns, and some make a whole bottom to top line. Consider Kingman, Smart Parts and Tippmann to name three of a large crowd of companies. Honestly the selection of your first gun can be a fairly daunting experience. Without the advice of some experienced players it can be a crap shoot. Here is my recommendation. If you can manage, play before you buy anything. Borrow a friend's gun, or go to a field and rent one to try. If you can't, or don't want to do that and you want to jump right in, then my next suggestion is to buy a used gun. You'll save money which is always good when picking up a new hobby. Trust me. I know about picking up new hobbies. Look for someone on Craigslist or eBay who is selling their gear. Usually you'll pick up an air tank, a mask and other essentials in the deal. If you want to buy a brand-spankin'-new gun, I suggest the Tippmann 98 Custom. Just about everyone I play with has this gun, myself now included. It works very well without causing problems and in my opinion that's what a new paintballer needs to truly enjoy the sport. Trouble free paintball. 3. What Else Do I Need: All you really need is a mask, a gun, an air tank and some paintballs to get started. As for paintballs, I'd really recommend that you get something from a local paintball shop if you have one. They are more likely to have cared for them properly. It amazed me the first time I used paint from my paintball store, versus Wal-Mart's paint. It didn't cost me more, but due to proper care and shipping, the paintballs were less prone to chopping and also much more accurate. I'll never buy Wal-Mart paint again if I can help it. As for the air tank, if you buy the right gun, you'll probably get a tank as well. I'd suggest that method of acquiring the tank because it's usually a better deal, but various sizes are available to buy on their own, the 20 ounce tanks costing about $25 to $30. Other than a spirit of adventure, and the willingness to be shot with a projectile that feels like being snapped with a wet towel, that's all you need to get on the field! If you haven't tried paintball, I recommend it. It's a lot of fun and good exercise, not to mention a great way to build friendships with your "war buddies". It never fails that after a game there are stories of heroic moves, of stupid moves, and of hilarity. Also, if you're in my area, the Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky Tri-State area, Then you have a great paintball supply store on Fourth Avenue in Huntington, WV. Go here: Voodoo Paintball & Supply. The owner, Steve and his wife run the place and he is a very knowledgeable person to talk to about what you need. His prices are excellent and he deals in some used guns as well. I know this was a long one, but I wanted all of you budding paintballers to have a good foundation to start with! Have fun and DUCK! -J

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