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The Top 10 Paintballing tips

From the Former UK #1 Paintball player, World Cup Winner and GO Paintball London owner, Tommy ‘Gun’ Pemberton

Tommy ‘Gun’ Pemberton, former UK #1 Paintball player

Top Ten Tips to play the best, get shot the least and get the most out of your day of Paintball.

1. Vision


Without a doubt, your most important piece of equipment is your goggles. If used and maintained correctly, your goggles will not only keep your eyes, face and ears protected, but they will also give you an unobstructed view of the battle field. If your vision is impaired due to a sweated or steamed up lens then it doesn't matter how good of a shot you may be. Most paintball games are won by players using their eyes rather than their guns and this is where I want you guys to have your first advantage.

Listen to the Events Manager in your Operations briefing, as he will show you the correct ways to apply anti fog coatings if needed, and how to manage your layers/clothing best to minimise sweating. Make sure when you put the goggles onto your face snugly and securely, with the strap sitting higher up on the back of your head. This will ensure that the foam around the nosepiece of the goggle will sit flush to your skin. The more gaps between your face and the foam on the goggle frame, the more chance there will be of the goggles fogging up as hot air from each breath will go straight up into your lens.

Once your goggles are fully fitted and you have managed your layers, you are ready to receive your call onto the gun range.

TOP TIP – Taking a beanie with you, or a reversed baseball cap will not only protect the top of your head, but will also help to soak up sweat that can also cause your lens to fog.

2. Gun Basics

Paintball gun basics

The roots of great paintball play start here; how to hold your paintball gun and how to utilise it to its fullest.

All guns are gravity fed so holding it upright when firing is a must, that way paintballs can feed down from your loader into the breach of your gun. Even though it may look pretty cool, tilting your gun too much or side shooting will lead to miss fires and a high chance of shooting blanks.

Once you have your gun set up fully and is comfortably in your hands it is time to take a few test shots to get a feel of how it'll shoot.

Pull the guns air-system into your shoulder if possible. This is to be used like a rifle stock as a pivot point to control all movements and to stabilise the gun after each shot. Raise your gun up so that you can look straight along the top of the gun and aim your barrel at a target. This will enable you to clearly and accurately see where you are aiming. Now grab the front of the gun, usually by the fore grip for extra sturdiness.

To do this you may need to turn your chest inwards towards the side of the gun, especially if you have shorter arms or if you are using a particularly long gun set up.

Take a shot and keep your gun level. Near where you hoped? Readjust and take another… Readjust again then take another… Getting there?

This is the best and most accurate method of getting a shot on target. To judge the distance of objects perfectly you need both of your eyes, so make sure that you keep both of your eyes open and looking down the gun when firing.

Remember, paintballs are not shaped like bullets and are inherently inaccurate by nature, so you may have to raise the barrel up to hit the required distance. Small adjustments will change the target destination massively, so work in smaller increments until you are spot on, and when you are, don't be afraid to unleash on the trigger until you see paint breaking where you want it.

TOP TIP – When moving around a game zone, keep your gun up and ready to shoot at all times. This will allow you to react quicker to any killing opportunities or any nasty surprises!

3. Using Cover

Using cover

Playing paintball can often be described as "hide and seek with guns", and I think it is that phrase that works as a great analogy for what I am about to say. When you step onto a paintball field, every barricade, tree, bush, vehicle, building etc, that is big enough and thick enough to hide your body behind can be used as 'cover' from the opposition. Obviously with that, the angle and size of the cover is crucial, but also equally crucial is the way that you hide behind it. In Paintball a toe shot is as deadly as a face shot so you need to make sure that all of your body is fully behind your chosen cover at all times. If you cannot hide fully from an opposition's position, you need to find a better or bigger piece quick!

When behind cover, you are not only hiding from enemy paintballs, but also from their eyes – so they cannot see what you are doing. However, in the same vein, you cannot see what they are doing which means that you are susceptible to them moving on you and gaining an advantage.

In order to be effective behind cover you will need to engage the enemy by shooting at him but without exposing too much of yourself from behind the cover. It can be very tempting to step right out and take many shots but this will often lead to you taking hits.

Be quick with your movements, and be unpredictable, always returning your full body to your safe spot to hide again.

TOP TIP – When behind cover, look down at your feet and legs to check that your body position is right for that type of cover. Often you will have to get on your knees or even flat on your belly just to stay alive.

4. Objectives


Every game you will play will involve completing objectives to win missions, and it is those objectives that the smartest of players will plan for. Listen to your head referee closely as he explains the mission and if you are unsure on anything; do not feel embarrassed to ask. Being clear on what you need to achieve could well be the difference between your team winning and loosing, or you being the hero or zero.

The team Refs will also know the fields very well, so speak to them before game on to find out where the key spots are on the field and where they think you should push to. There may also be some other more experienced players in your group or people who have played the field before. Any information gained about your surroundings and the mission ahead will make it easier for you to achieve them.

TOP TIP – The refs will know where a certain game is won from, or how it is usually won. Ask them, they may reveal a gem.

5. Playing Aggressive

Playing aggressive

Here when I talk about playing aggressively, it has nothing with dropping Kung Fu kicks or flying elbows; it is about making the most of opportunities that present themselves in a game.

In any game of paintball you will be faced with the option of sitting back in a safer position, or getting up into closer quarters and causing some chaos.

Without a doubt the best thing you can do when the 'game on' is signalled is to run forward as fast as you can into the playing field and toward the enemy, to gain as much ground as possible. As simple as it sounds, this is the best way to set up for a win as it'll enable your team to control your chosen attacking spots and make it much harder for the bad guys to push up through the field. When you get to your chosen spots up field, the main thing in your head should be to live, not to battle carelessly or to expose too much of yourself. Remember, you do not have to win the game within the first couple of minutes. Shoot your gun where possible to dominate the opposition by keeping their heads down and suppressing any possible moves.

Also remember, if the enemy has their heads down, they often wont be able to see what you are doing so use these chances wisely to sprint further up the field, gaining more ground and thus making your shots easier. Whenever you make a move to a further piece of cover, you may have opened up some better angles on bad guys across the field so make sure that you check off both sides first for easy kills.

It'll always be tough to master; the only true way is having the guts to try moves and learn through trial and error. When you can grasp the ideas of playing aggressively and can earn the results from that, I'm sure you won't want to play any other way. To help out, try to keep your head up to spot opportunities. Also, stay on your feet where possible as it'll enable you to react quicker and move when those opportunities present themselves.

TOP TIP – Lightweight football boots are a popular choice if you have them, as they will give you plenty of grip without being a heavy burden on your legs.

6. Teamwork

Paintball teamwork

Paintball days are often sold on Teamwork ideals, or used for team building exercises. This is where our sport really shines, as it highlights the need to communicate and work with your team mates for the greater good; not just before the game but during and after too.

Make sure that you spend time before any games discussing how you would like to play the field. Having a decent idea of the terrain in front of you and where individuals or groups of people would like to play is a huge help. Maybe nominate a captain for each game to make any final decisions on behalf of the team if needed and talk together to formulate a basic plan of initial moves. Once that plan has been made, stick to it! If you don't, you will not only be letting yourself down but you'll also be letting down the guys and girls around you (and I am sure they will let you know it fully when you get back into the safe zone)

TOP TIP – Play outside of your comfort zone where possible, you will have a much more rewarding day if you do so.

7. Tactics


Many people will have their own ideas of tactics in any paintball situations or on certain paintball fields, but luckily for us, there are certain simple ideas that can be used across any scenario.

First thing, to make sure your team is not susceptible to being flanked, you need to ensure that players are spread out fully across the game map from tape to tape. Even numbers across that line is also a safe bet, but you can try stacking players up onto areas with lots of cover and good opportunities to move for a quick advantage.

The players at the side tape boundaries will often have the most emphasis to attack, and this works well if they are smart at taking their kills.

By shooting across the field diagonally from behind your chosen cover, instead of shooting straight ahead, not only minimises the chances of you being shot but it'll also give you some easy side and back shots on the opposition across the field. If you can help to kill a few guys across the field, then your team mates on that side will find it easier to move up and do the same for you… Sound simple enough?

In case it all goes wrong, it is worth holding a smaller number of players about 10-15 metres back from the front line. These guys can snipe at the opposition to keep their heads down whilst acting as reserves to fill empty positions or to fall right back into good defensive spots for a last stand if everything crumbles.

TOP TIP – It is easier to attack up a side tape than through the centre as it cuts down the amount of angles bad guys will have on you. Battle for the tape with your life as that is where most games are won (and lost).

8. Communication


Simple communication always works very well in a game of paintball, as the heat of battle and the 'red mist' means that most people may struggle to understand their own name let alone a full on coded signal. Essential things to know are: Where are the bag guys? How many guys has your team killed? Where are they weakest or have the least players? Talk to each other on the field and then shout out what you have learned to other Squad mates to pass it on. Good Intel coupled with solid teamwork will have your team winning all day long, so make a concerted effort to talk to one another, especially during a game.

TOP TIP – Many Maps have ‘dead boxes’ or ‘Respawn’ areas on the edges rather than at the back. Take a note of how many players the opposition have before the game and if it gets confusing mid game, run near to the dead box and count how many people your team have already shot! Just don't forget to tell everybody so they know the score too.

9. Advanced Gun Fighting

Advanced gun fighting

To kick it off, a good gunfighter has picked up the ability to shoot at and earn kills without getting shot himself. How he does that is not so simple and can take years to master, but the basics can be taught and understood for a first days play even if the execution may remain a little raw. Read below and we will be well on our way to making you a ninja with a gun in no time.

As highlighted in the 'Using Cover' section above, when shooting your gun you want to show as little of yourself as possible from behind your barricade. To efficiently shoot your gun in this way you only really need to expose your head (to see what you are shooting) and your gun (to shoot what you are seeing). Whenever you have your gun raised you should have your head firmly locked behind it with both eyes open, looking down the gun to see where your barrel is pointing.

Stand fully behind and front on to your barricade with your knees soft. Instead of jumping out from behind cover, keep your upper body solid and your gun gripped firmly; Roll your upper body out sideways from behind cover and take a shot. If anyone shoots back at you, quickly pull your upper body back in behind cover to dodge the paintball. You can repeat this movement as many times as needed, preferably as quickly as possible. Vary your height and angle that you play your bunker. Be unpredictable and you will not only get the drop on your opposition, but you will also minimise the risk of getting shot yourself.

This rolling movement can be practised at any time in the safe zone or at home and the more you do it, the more competent at it you will become. This is technically known as the 'Snap Shot'.

When you are running around a game zone or moving forward, keep your gun up ready. If you see a target as you are running don't be afraid to take some shots before you get into cover yourself. The technique to gaining an accurate shot whilst running also involves keeping your upper body solid and your gun gripped firmly. Bend your knees and use your legs as suspension to negotiate any bumps or dips whilst keeping your barrel tip pointed where you want it. More emphasis should be placed on chucking a load of paint their way when running instead of some timely aimed shots.

On the flip side, if someone is running around when you spot them remember that you will have to shoot in front of them in order for the paintball to reach them at the time they pass. Try and guess where they are going and shoot for a point ahead of them so they will have to run through your paintballs in order to get to their target. Again, accuracy by volume is the key here.

TOP TIP – Never stick your gun around a bunker and 'blind fire'. Not only will you waste your paintballs but you are guaranteed to hit a ref (don't know why but this is always a certainty). It is ineffective as it is very unlikely that you will hit any bad guys and most players will not be phased by it in any way.

10. Field Awareness

Paintball field awareness

Being fully aware of what is happening on a field and reacting to it positively is the final feather in a Paintballers' cap. Players that have this ability have the uncanny knack of turning up just in time to defend an area, or magically appear behind the enemy line when least expected to go on to shoot them all in the back. A lot of this comes from playing experience, having played many games and encountered many situations; but on every rental day, there always seems to be one guy or girl who just 'gets it'. I'm not even sure how they do, or why, but it really is a incredible thing to watch…

To start, lets break the field into zones, say left, centre and right for simplicity. The biggest thing about awareness is knowing what is happening in those zones, or at least the nearest 2 zones to you. These are your areas of opportunity. Using your eyes to take in as much information as possible and your mouth to communicate with your teammates, try to build up a picture in your head about what is happening and how those situations could play out. Go with your heart on this one… If you feel that you could push through a certain area and do damage, or if your friends need a hand in another area, don't wait a second, just go…

TOP TIP – Paintball is fought on instinct and wits to outsmart your opposition, and to truly make use of yours you will need to let go of any inhibitions or worries about being shot or making a mistake. Spot those areas of opportunity as you see fit and run with it. I guarantee you will have a better day for it and you never know, you may even walk away the hero for a day.

Happy Hunting,

Tommy ‘Gun’ Pemberton
GO Paintball London

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What are Tommy ‘Gun’s
Top 10 Tips?

The Top 10 Paintballing Tips from the former UK #1 Paintball Player, World Cup Winner & GO Paintball London Owner, Tommy ‘Gun’ Pemberton.

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