Now that you read Part 1 and got your gear together and camouflaged head to toe, you are ready to be the silent stalker on the field! Being a paintball sniper is a physical and mental challenge that requires a different set of goals, expectations and mindset. The thrill is not how many eliminations you rack up, it’s how you get them.
Cover Vs. Concealment
When you are working on your field craft you will learn to identify what constitutes cover and concealment. Cover is just that; it blocks incoming paintballs from hitting you. Getting behind a tree, a bunker, or thick brush are all examples of cover that will stop a paintball. Concealment is terrain features that hide you from an opponent’s observation. Tall vegetation, large objects between you and them, and ‘dead ground’ or blind spots below their line of sight are classic examples. Concealment won’t necessarily stop a paintball, but it blocks you from their observation or breaks up your outline.
Movement Is What Gives You Away
You can have the best camo that blends into terrain possible, but it is worthless when you are in motion. To effectively use your camouflage you need to keep still and not move. You’ll be amazed how often the opfors (Opposing Forces) will pass you by when stationary! When moving, try to keep low with your knees bent and hunched over as low as comfortable. If you spot an opponent don’t make a fast drop but slowly sink to the ground. Unless they are specifically looking for you, most players on a mission are briefly scanning their surroundings as they hike across the field. Even if you think you are totally exposed just have some faith in your camouflage and stay still; if they are in a hurry odds are they won’t spot you unless you move!
Look Ahead and Plan Your Route
As you move around hunting opponents you need to consider the ground or terrain you are passing over. Areas full of dead leaves and dry twigs will rustle and snap as you try to cross them. A trail full of branches can shake the bushes and broadcast your position. Every 30 feet or so you should stop, look ahead and figure out the best path to take that will minimize your noise and keep you concealed. Get into the habit over looking at the ground for a few steps, then looking around slowly turning your head as little as possible, then repeating. If you have to move through patches of dry leaves and twigs you can sweep your foot to the side right before setting it down, brushing them aside. Avoid moving along a hilltop or ridge line that will leave you silhouetted against the sky. Stay behind or below the crest and use the concealing terrain.
Place Yourself Where You Can Do Damage
As we said before, the whole point of a paintball sniper is to take out opponents without being seen. When the action starts, guess where they will be looking? Straight ahead. To be effective, you have to get out on their flanks or behind them. If you’re ‘lone wolfing’ it you will probably want to stay to the edges of the field unless there is plenty of terrain that will conceal you up the middle. A good tactic is to get into an area unseen where the opposing team will eventually pass by, giving you time to find a good sniper hide and wait.
If you are moving up with another squad of players then you want to stay back. When contact is made and the action starts, you need to assess the situation and figure out if going left or right is the best course to take. Stay low and move from cover to cover. The opposing team will naturally be focused on the noise and movement in front of them so use the distraction to your advantage.
Remember, if you can hear the other team then they are going to have a harder time hearing you. If you hear them yell out your position then the gig is up: time to start shooting or get out of there! A player’s memory on the field is often very short; if they are not actively being shot at from a certain direction then they tend to forget about it and concentrate elsewhere. If some shots land near you but you don’t hear your position being called out, then freeze. It could be some stray shots, or they think they saw something and put a few rounds in that direction to check. Hunker down and be patient. If it’s obvious they saw you then retreat into some concealing brush and wait. If they are still actively fighting the rest of your team then they will probably forget about you after a minute or two. Hang tight for a bit and then continue flanking around on a different route.
Find A Place To Hide and Don’t Overshoot!
When you have reached a good spot on the opfor’s flank then it’s time to find a good sniper hide or shooting position. Where you choose can determine your survivability after that first shot. Take a moment and plan an escape route. Once they figure out where the shots are coming from you have two choices: try to shoot it out (if you’re outnumbered then expect to go out in a blaze of glory!) or get out of there fast. You can retreat a safe distance, hide, and then wait until they move on so you can do the whole thing over again.
Ideally you want to be on higher ground to reduce their line of sight on you as well as make shooting at farther range easier. Pay attention to the sun; a well-lit area highlights your body’s outline and makes you stand out against the background. Try to get the sun at your back in the morning or evening, so the glare is in their eyes and not yours. The farther back you can shoot from concealment, the better your odds of them not locating your hide. This is where a long paintball barrel really shines. You can slip it through brush and branches, take the shot, and then withdraw the muzzle back without exposing the rest of you.
Accuracy is the name of the game here. Only take one shot, or a fast follow up shot if you think you can get away with it. Most players today have gotten so used to streams of paintballs flying at them from the front that they rarely notice a single ball coming from the side. If you’re shooting at opponents engaged with the rest of your team, pick someone who is shooting, yelling or just distracted in general. If you’re out there on your own then wait until everyone is looking away or talking. If you miss with your first shot they may not notice it, and when you hit the surprise and fear factor will be that much greater! Resist the temptation to shoot the player on point or those out in front. They are expected to get hit. Instead, let them march past your position and pick off players from the middle or rear. These are less on their guard, fewer eyes to see where the shot came from, and the confusion and fear of having someone behind them will cause panic. This chaos is the perfect time to take another shot or slip away quietly.