Monday May 20, 2013
Everyone has to start somewhere with paintball. Many players' first experience comes with rental equipment at a field or by playing with borrowed gear on an outlaw field. In either case, a significant part of the first paintballing experience is the gear that is used. If a player spends all day with a gun that is chopping paint or doesn't fire at all, then they will likely leave with a bad taste in their mouth. A problem with this, though, is the accompanying challenge that most rental equipment and loaner guns are not the highest quality. How, then, do you make sure a player has a good experience while still not breaking the bank on equipment? I have a few suggestions.
One of the quickest ways to ruin a first time paintball experience is when the player can't see. This usually occurs with a mask that fogs. If possible, provide new players (and all players, for that matter) with a thermal lens that is less likely to fog.
Beyond the mask, choose a gun that shoots well and is reliable. Players can deal with a gun that isn't perfectly accurate, but a gun that doesn't fire consistently when the trigger is pulled can really turn people off to the sport. While there's no gun that is perfect, Tippmann 98s are often a good choice (though individual guns may have problems) because of their reliability. A disadvantage, though, is that these guns are relatively heavy. For younger or smaller players, a Spyder or Azodin may be a good option. In fact, most newer, entry-level guns perform adequately for an average game of paintball. Older guns that were designed for the entry-level player have a tendency to chop paint and I generally wouldn't recommend them.
One other option is to let the new player try out something a little nicer, such as an intermediate gun. The player will likely have a very good experience with the higher-end gear. One slight concern is that if they do go and purchase their own equipment, they may find that the gear they buy will be a downgrade.
In the end, the goal for a first-time paintball player is to make sure they have as good of an experience as possible. If you are introducing someone to the sport of paintball, provide them with equipment that will work, work well and will not be a hindrance to players wanting to play again in the near future.
Thursday April 25, 2013
Sportsmanship is not very popular to talk about. Not only do people not really get excited to have another sportsmanship lecture, but they don't go and read about it on their own. (I know that because I can look at page views of my articles, and sportsmanship articles are never very popular - similar to safety articles.) It is, though, something that people need to be reminded of, so here I go again.
Sportsmanship is a big deal in sports. It refers to how players interact with other players and how they act on and off the field. It's also a big deal in Paintball. Particularly when players carry a paintball gun that can literally hit someone from a hundred feet away, they need to be good sports and play the game as it was meant to be played. This means that you play fair, play nice, treat others, and yourself, with respect, and you always play safe. Sportsmanship is not simply a one-time event, but it is a process where you continually try to better yourself without belittling anyone else.
To look at it from another side, nobody likes a poor sport. People that are unsafe, unfriendly, overly competitive or simply too full of themselves are not fun to play with or to be around. People who come just because they think its an excuse to party or come to show off their manly abilities are not good for other players or for the sport.
Friday March 22, 2013
A somewhat unique aspect of paintball, compared to other sports, is the sophistication of the equipment that is required to play the game. Even an extremely basic setup requires a gun with many moving parts, a hopper, a mask and a tank filled with high pressure CO2. A higher-end setup will likely include a motor in the hopper, a high pressure air tank (basically a small scuba tank) and a sophisticated circuit board in the gun. Because paintball requires these complicated parts working together in harmony, you have to keep everything running in peak condition, which requires some effort.
The key to taking care of your paintball gun is to take the time, get the right tools and just do it right. After a day of playing, it's really easy to throw everything in your gear bag and forget about it, but you just need to adjust, maintain and fix when the problem arises. Of course, you could choose a simpler setup that requires less maintenance, but even the most basic guns will require regular lubrication and new o-rings. If you have an electronic gun, don't forget to have batteries with a full charge. And whatever you do, make sure to keep your gun clean at all times.
Paintball maintenance isn't all that much fun since it's the grunt work of tinkering. It is, though, something that has to be done. Take care of it and your equipment (and your performance on the field) will thank you for it.
Saturday February 23, 2013
Most people think of warming up as it relates to getting ready to play a sport: stretching, jogging, etc. For me, though, warming up means that it's getting ready for paintball to begin. Not in a matter of minutes or hours, but in a matter of weeks or months.
I'm well aware that people in the south and along the west coast of America generally never have a time of the year when they can't regularly play paintball in the great outdoors, but for those of us that live in the Midwest (and many other parts of the country and world), there's a long period when paintball is hard to play due to the cold. In fact, in Ohio where I live, there are about four months of the year (middle of November to the Middle of March) when paintball is almost impossible to play. It's not that it's too cold and snowy that whole time, but on the few days when it is a bit warmer, the field is so wet that it turns into a soggy mud puddle by about the second game.
Because of the long winter, it always gives me a little breath of fresh air when I can sense that the season is finally changing. It's not that there's just a warm day, but there's something in the air that makes it feel like the end is in sight. With the warming up period, it really feels like the weather is warming up for paintball season. Just like you warm up before you play, the season is getting ready to begin.