The Sharpshooter

The Sharpshooter

Whenever you get to a rec-ball field, people always talk about the "sniper"-type guys. It usually starts when someone claims to be a "sniper," and they tell all sorts of lies about how they "killed" a dozen guys with the last five balls in the gun, or how they left their "ghillie" suit at home or something. Pardon the bluntness, but most of these guys are bald-faced liars.
I don't like the term "sniper" in paintball terms, even as a term of convenience. Mainly because in paintball, I maintain there's no such thing as a sniper. If somehow you had a paintgun that could shoot, oh, 500 feet farther than anyone else, then you might have a point. But because of range, mission and field restrictions, "sniper" is a term, not a position.

THAT BEING SAID, yes there are sneaky SOBs on the paintball field who own ghillie suits, who could sneak up on deer and tap them in the nose. And there are hundreds more who don't have ghillie suits but have done that for fun, or practice. And there are people who are military trained as snipers. Take it from me: Most of the paintball people who call themselves "snipers" would never make it through the first week of training.

So even though I'm going to be using the term "sniper" in this article, it doesn't mean you're a sniper. It's a term that's a lot shorter to say than "sneaky guy in the weeds who's wearing the weird camo suit and picking guys off one at a time." There, I said it, I feel better. Move on? Move on. Good.

I want to first talk about camouflage. The fabled "ghillie" suit is the standard wear of the sniper-style player, and in fact it almost defines them. If someone comes to the field looking like a shaggy bush, you pretty much know what they're going to be doing on the field of play.

There's one thing I want to hit about ghillies, and that's personalizing them. There is no such thing as an "off the rack" ghillie. You either make it yourself, or you get one pre-made and you mod the hell out of it. Why would you do this? "C3".

Color is very important. Any ghillie that's perfect in summer is going to blow chunks in the fall. Green in a brown woods is almost as conspicuous as wearing a yellow jersey. So the real sniper players mod their suit for year round-play, or they might have "fall," "summer" and "spring" setups ready to go.


Comfort is key to playing well. If you're sweating under your ghillie hood and fogging your goggles up, you're not going to be comfortable making it into position. Vent your suit out for air, make a sleeve a little longer, small things you'll need to do if you want the suit to fit you well.

Concealment is something you should do all the time. Add leaves to your head net, and if you leave cover, ditch the leaves. Think of your camo as a constant "work in progress" while you're playing. You don't need to do it, but consider that your camouflage is the only thing you've got that will hide you in some places. You better make sure your camo is happy.

If you decide to make your own, there are a lot of resources available on how to do this. One word of caution, however. If you make your suit out of burlap, string, or anything made of frayed cloth or fabric, use a fire-retardant on your suit. There are numerous injuries and deaths every year from people being careless in a ghillie. Everything from walking past a campfire that popped an ember to dropping a cigarette onto a ghillie suit can cause it to burst into flames. Safety first: Use a fire retardant on your suit if it's flammable.

One more thing about ghillies. Some fields do not allow them at all. Some fields have special rules regarding the ghillie players. When you get to a field with your suit, ask about special rules. It's your responsibility to find out the rules, not theirs to tell you. Plus, you don't necessarily NEED a ghillie to do some of the things I'm going to talk about. Do they help? Yes, if you do it right. But are they needed? No.

I want to touch on other gear that a sniper player should have, other than a funny costume. You can get away without the ghillie, but there are a lot of things you really should have. We'll start with a radio. A hands-free radio is vital if you want to stay in touch. FRS radios are stupid-cheap these days, so there's no excuse to not have one.

Second is your paintgun. In all honesty, you don't need to buy another gun. If you like your current marker, there's no need for you to get another one. You're not going to buy more range by buying a "sniper gun." All paintguns are regulated to the same speed, meaning that 300 fps out of my paintgun is the same as 300 fps out of your paintgun. Simply put, your gun shoots just as far as mine. So you don't have the fabled "sniper range."

"What about hop-up barrels?" Yes, backspinning the ball will buy you more range, but anyone who's ever been shot at by someone with one can tell you that accuracy is out the window. The backspin does some wicked things to the ball in flight, including making it drift left to right. This is assuming the paint is perfectly round. If there's a dimple, it can end up anywhere! If you want to suppress the opponent at long range, backspin barrels are fun. If you want accuracy and range, you need to relearn a lot of shooting technique.

Other gear that's good to have is knee and elbow pads. These, along with a good pair of gloves, will make all that time you spend sucking dirt a lot more comfortable. Not to mention they'll keep the "skin shine" away. Then there's the other stuff you should stash somewhere too, like squeegees and swabs, and all that good stuff. It's like playing normally, but not.

Comments here