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How to aim a paintball marker
How to aim a paintball marker

Image courtesy of 2.tbo.com

According to our guys in the field (and also according to Google), this is one of the most frequently asked paintball questions. Paintball must be like riding a bike, as it’s the sort of thing that you either know or you don’t, which is probably why I’ve never covered it before, as it seems so obvious. Anyway, a lot of people are after the inside scoop on how to make the most of every shot they fire so, pay attention, here it comes.

I’ll start with the easiest option and then try to cover various insider hints and tips that we’ve heard and used over the years, as everyone’s different I’m afraid! First of all paintball, like every game or sport or pastime, requires a level of skill. For scenario paintball, you really don’t need a lot, as the emphasis is on having fun and getting stuck in, but you obviously still need to be able to land a few good shots to make your game time last. So, with this is mind, don’t expect to walk onto a course and immediately be Van Damme-ing everyone in sight; you might actually have to try a few practise shots in the shooting alley first (most sites have a little patch of ground where you can warm up or practise your aim against a bunch of targets).

So assuming you’re willing to put in at least a minimal amount of practise (like 2 minutes a with target before entering the game zone) then you should quickly get the hang of the particular marker you’re using. However, if it’s your own marker and you want to get maximum hit-per-shot from it, then there is an obvious solution: get a sight. Most markers comes with grooves on the top (or occasionallythe side) of them which are for fitting sights. Just like on a real gun, a sight gives you something to look through to focus your aim. However, a sight can be anything from a simple tube that has been aligned with your marker, to a laser red dot or even a compact magnifying scope which lets you see, and therefore aim, much further. If you decide to use a sight or a scope, you need to make sure it is tweaked and adjusted until it is perfectly aligned with your barrel and, once it is, you’ll see massive improvements in your aiming capabilities.

However, most scenario players don’t use sights, and even tournament players tend to rely much more on their own skill than their markers’ sights. So is it just a case of firing blind and hoping for the best? No, not at all. If you don’t use a sight then you actually have far more options to rely on. The most common is to simply use the marker itself as an elongated sight. When you bring the marker up to your eye-level to aim, just line it up and then run your eye down whichever side of the barrel is available to use. Tip the hopper so it’s covering one half of your face, and then use the other half to aim – a very useful tip indeed. Here’s a little video about the subject. The guy kind of undermines by theories a little, but he talks funny, so I thought it was definitely worth sharing.

As paintball is a fast paced action game, you have to remember that you’re actually at your most vulnerable when you’re aiming. When you’re busy lining up a shot, all your focus is on that and, theoretically, your body might not be covered very well, so for a couple of seconds it could be open season on you. For some reason, this makes people forget the basics in an attempt to aim better. Holding your marker sideways to get a better aim? No, stupid idea. Not only does it make no difference to the aim or the marker, but it actually creates a larger surface area for your opposition to hit. Like I said, tilt the hopper over much of your face, therefore reducing your overall profile. Also a lot of people bring the marker up towards their face but, instead of aiming with it, they nestle it into their shoulder as if it was an assault rifle. Again this is a pointless thing to do, as there is absolutely zero recoil on a marker, so no need to rely on your shoulder for support.

Probably the most common way to aim a shot though is by using a simple technique called ‘walking the shot’. You’ve probably done this without even realising it. By using your instinct (or barrel) to aim the first shot, watch where it lands and then, using small increments if necessary, take one or two more shots to line the next one up perfectly. In a way this is trial and error, but in another way it’s getting to know how your marker performs at certain distances. By using this method (and actually paying attention to the results), you’ll find that you will intuitively start to get a far better aim in general, as you are more aware of how your gear will act over different distances.

And be grateful it’s not the old days, when stock players had to reload after every shot!