Playing Paintball At Night
Paintball doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down. Ever since the earliest days of the game, players have taken to the field in the dark, sneaking and shooting in the shadows. More and more weekend long paintball big games and scenarios are popping up all over the world, and a night paintball game is now a common part of the event. Playing paintball in the dark has its own set of challenges but victory can be yours with a little preparation and safety.
What kind of illumination is on the field? The light of a full moon can be enough light to play under at times, but most fields hosting a night game will bring in generator-powered floodlights on towers. Take note of where these light sources are located, as they will be a primary factor in your strategy.
Resist the urge to dress in all black. It seems obvious that you’d dress up like a ninja, right? Wearing all black or dark clothing can actually make you stand out more! You will simply look like a black lump in a shadow. Continue to wear the same camo you would during the day, and pay extra attention to which direction light is coming from. If it is coming from the left, then play to the right of cover so you stay in its shadow. If you stick out from the left, your outline will be highlighted. Pay attention to your own shadow; its movement can give your position away just as easy. Stay as low as possible to cover, where shadows are usually the darkest. If a bright light source is behind you, then it will be glaring in your opponents eyes, so use that to your advantage.
Many organized night games require glowsticks or other illuminated identification on you or your marker. Even so, if your electronic marker or loader has an LED, LCD or OLED screen, you will want to cover it. No sense having any more light than necessary!
Always have at least one flashlight on your person for safety when playing paintball in the dark. If you get into rough terrain, drop something, or have an emergency situation then having a good flashlight can be a life saver. A second flashlight with a red filter is handy to have, as the red light won’t give your position away as easily or dazzle your vision if you need a bit of light to see where you are going. Many night players like to mount a flashlight onto the rails of their paintball gun, usually with a pressure switch to allow fast activation. These lights are very useful. They allow quick access to light when needed, they can be flashed to dazzle and ‘night blind’ an opponent’s vision, and illuminate your barrel cover as you are walking out, so others can tell you’re eliminated.
Speaking of blinding your opponents, one old dirty trick for playing at night is to carry a cheap camera with a flash. When you’re getting shot at and need to rush a position, you hold it out at arm’s length and fire off the flash. This will have them blinking and seeing spots for a minute, buying you time to move! Another dirty trick is to have a teammate get behind cover a short distance away and hold out a flashlight, shining it at the other team. People naturally fire directly at a light shining on the field that they know is coming from an opponent. While they are distracted by that, you and others can make your move upfield.
Pay attention to sound as much as sight! Anything rattling or squeaking is sure to give you away in the dark. Before you head out onto the field, take a minute to hop up and down, and go through all the typical motions of shouldering your marker, crouching, etc. Listen for any loud noises and try to find what’s causing it. Sometimes you may need to space things more apart, or move them to a pocket, or simply leave behind. On the field, wait for other firing or loud distractions before creeping forward. Remember that a full hopper or pod makes less noise than a partial one.
Prepare for a slower pace of play at night. You won’t be able to run through terrain like you do in the daytime. Since you can’t see your shots in the air as easily, it is harder if not impossible to walk your shots on target. Instead, move slower and concentrate on taking shots with a higher chance of hitting so you don’t recklessly give your position away.