First of all, in my 18 years of experience playing paintball and training in stealth, camouflage and movement it’s become crystal clear to me that it’s not about the gear. You can be loaded to the nuts with a tactical vest, the hottest barrel, the slickest marker and the latest in digital camouflage tactical paintball gear doo-dads but I’ll take a guy with patience, cunning and a banged up ol’ Trracer pump any day.
It’s about having the mindset of a tactical paintball sniper. That being said, to be effective there are a few pieces of gear that elevate your game when combined with that mindset.
Reliability takes precedence over looks and price any day. My best little sniper paintball rifle is my Tippmann SLII-68. I put a quickie camouflage paint job on it and outfitted it with a 50 round hopper. It’s light, fast and very durable. I know how it shoots and can put a shot on the center mass of my target at 15 yards 9 times out of 10. But with this marker, I have to be committed to the mindset of shoot once and lay low. Discipline, patience and a good hide.
A stock 8″ barrel is not a good choice. But neither is a ceramic or carbon 20″ ported barrel. The happy medium is around 12″ to 14″. After that, your gas efficiency drops and the amount of friction over the length of the barrel actually begins to reduce the accuracy and distance of your paintballs. Yeah, it looks cool but it really ends there. Again, what’s your mindset?
You know, one of the things I love most in life is camouflage. I love studying it. I love wearing it. I love testing it out. I’ve been within inches all kinds of animals, two and four leggeds alike and it always comes down to two things. My camouflage and, you guessed it, my mindset. I love the latest patterns. I think the digital woodland and ACU patterns rock. I like the multicam pattern even more. I also love a tan and brown plaid lumberjack shirt and tan or grey pants. Excellent camouflage. But, if I get out there and move like one of my resident bull moose during the rut, I don’t care what I’m wearing. I’m going to be spotted and shot. Camouflage isn’t there to make you invisible. Donning a pair of BDU’s isn’t like Harry Potters cloak. It’s there to make you look not human and trick the eye. So, yes, wear camouflage. But don’t ignore the basics of stealthy movement.
This one is huge. In nature, there are two things that stand out on a human try to hide in the woods. The first is their outline. Deal with that. The second are the eyes. And there’s one piece of gear in paintball that we must deploy that makes the eyes and head stand out even more and that’s our mask. The black, goggled form is an instant identifier. We can’t get rid of it so we have to hide it. I have a V-Force Profiler that I absolutely love. I popped the lenses out and gave it a tan spray job. I criss-crossed it with a little bit of greys and browns to break it up further. This reduced it’s visible footprint by about 80%. A little bit of ghillie in the form of jute twine hanging over the lens, enough to break it up but not enough to obscure vision, finishes the job.
Again, mindset trumps materials. Less is more especially when you are dedicated to the basics skills. I’d challenge you, in you next role as the tactical paintball sniper, to lighten your load. Try the minimalist approach. You’ll love the freedom of movement and the focus it takes to elevate your skills. The right gear will complement your skills but too much becomes a crutch.
If you’ve read this far, it means you get jazzed about the skills of the tactical paintball player, particularly skills like camouflage, stealth movement and one-shot eliminations. That’s what I love too.