Essential Paintball Equipment
Paintball is one of the more equipment-heavy sports in existence—you can’t have a game without having them all. That’s why it’s important to invest in good quality paintball gear. Here are some of the things you need to get started in paintball, and tips on shopping for the best.
Choosing the right gear is essential to getting started in paintball. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s better to invest in good quality equipment that to scrimp and get substandard ones. Cheap paintball gear is like a used car: it’ll get you from point A to point B, but you won’t enjoy the ride. Read on for some useful tips on choosing basic paintball equipment.
Paintball markers or guns are used to fire the balls at your opponent. They work much like air guns, using high-pressure air or CO2 to force the ball through the barrel. Most are designed to launch paintballs at 300 feet per second, the maximum speed for official games.
There are three main marker types: manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic. Manual guns require you to load after every shot. Semi-autos automatically reload after each shot, so you can shoot as fast as you pull the trigger. This is the preferred type in most tournaments. Full-autos can shoot multiple paintballs when you hold down the trigger, but are not allowed in gameplay because they pose safety concerns.
Hoppers are small containers that load paint onto your gun, much like a magazine loads a rifle. You place a hopper on top of your marker and it keeps your barrel full, as long as there are balls inside it. There are two types of hopes: gravity feed and agitated feed. Gravity feed hoppers rely solely on gravity to feed your marker; that is, the balls simply fall through the hole. This sometimes causes delays when two balls reach the opening at the same time and block the way. A quick shake usually solves the problem. An agitated feed hopper, continuously moves the balls inside the hopper, so that no two balls are at the opening at the same time. This will effectively prevent blockage, but may use up more power than usual.
Paintballs aren’t really made of paint; they’re just soft capsules filled with gelatin, vegetable oil, and food color. This composition makes it safe for gameplay, as it’s not uncommon for players to accidentally swallow the stuff. Paintballs are made so that they break upon impact, thus marking your victim’s clothes.
Be sure to keep your paintballs in a cool, dry place—heat and humidity can slacken the skin and keep them from breaking upon impact. If you notice your balls bouncing off the target, try chilling them for about half an hour before playing.
Paintball pods and harnesses
Paintball pods are optional tanks that carry extra paintballs for reloading. They are usually carried on the back and can hold anywhere from 10 to 200 paintballs. Harnesses can hold several pods at once, as well as a gas tank if you’re using a remote line. The harness is commonly used in prolonged games, typically lasting more than 90 minutes, while single pods are meant for the usual 20-45 minute game.
Protection is required in all paintball games, official or not. Paintballs literally pack a mean punch, and although they won’t launch beyond the prescribed speed, they can still injure you at close range. Paintball masks are a must for all players, even those who are simply passing through the field. Also called goggles, paintball masks protect your face and eyes from impact. Paintball suits also protect you from hits, although tournament rules prohibit thickly padded clothes as they’ll keep the paint from breaking. Other essential gear includes gloves and paintball boots. Footwear may be designed for rough terrains of woodsball or the smooth, limited surfaces of speedball.