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.
Paintball Sniper Equipment
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!
Paintball Sniper Barrel
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.
Paintball Sniper Marker
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!
Paintball Sniper Clothing
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 2.
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 !