Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Paintball, sometimes called the national survival game is a sport that is a high tech version of the kids game capture the flag. Invented by Bob Gurnsey, Hayes Noel, and Charles Gaines, the first game of paintball was played in 1981 in New Hampshire as a type of capture the flag but with special guns (used to mark cattle or trees with paint) To mark people out instead of taging them. By 1983 the first tournament with a cash prize was held.
The game of paintball
The term paintball can refer to any one of several game variations where two or more players fire paintballs at each other from a paintball marker. A player is marked if a paintball contacts, bursts and sheds its colored "paint" on him or any equipment carried by the player. A typical rule of thumb is that the splat left after a hit must be the size of a US quarter (25 mm).Depending on the rules in the area of play, paintballs that do not break are not counted, as well as splatter from paintballs that broke before reaching the player (ex. firing through dense brush). In other instances, people also play by being hit more than once in a game and keep playing. Referees are also in the sport like any other to enforce the rules and ensure safety for players of all ages. They are also there to make sure that no one is violating the rules and to check players on the field for hits. Violators are usually thrown from the game.
In addition to paintballs and markers, players also need a hopper (the unusual kidney-shaped blob that appears above paintball markers) to hold their paintballs (this also includes the use of an agitating hopper that feeds the marker faster for a steady rate of fire) and an air source (like a small tank of carbon dioxide) to propel the paintball from the marker. Nitrogen or High Pressure Air can also be used to propel the ball. These are also held in a bottle-like container. Because CO2 becomes a liquid when compressed, it needs to expand to a gas to be used by the paintball gun. This expansion is not adiabatic and requires energy, causing the tank to cool as heat is used to expand the liquid CO2 into gas. Eventually, under sustained fire, and especially in cold weather, the tank can become so cold that ice crystals form on it. If the CO2 bottle does not have an `anti-syphon' tube fitted, or is shaken while firing, the liquid CO2 may enter the gun. The liquid CO2 then passes through the gun instead of the tank, evaporating and causing the gun to freeze. This occurrence is made obvious by the large clouds of CO2 vapour ejected from the gun upon firing, caused by the liquid CO2 evaporating in/around the barrel. This is known as `drawing liquid'. This can cause damage to internal seals and may put the gun out of commission for some time while it warms back up. When nitrogen is compressed, it remains a gas. When it expands, it also cools the tank, but at a far lower rate because it does not have to transition from liquid to gas. Therefore it is viewed as a superior source of propulsion. However, because High Pressure Air is stored at up to 4500 lb/in² (31 MPa) while liquid CO2 is stored at 1200 lb/in² (8 MPa), tanks for HPA are more expensive. Nitrogen tanks can ether be filled with pure N2 or compressed air, which is 79% N2. These air sources are primarily used by people who play often and have tournament-grade markers.
Players must wear a paintball mask and goggles (preferably goggles with thermal lenses to avoid fogging) to avoid serious injury to the face, ears, and eyes. Regulated fields require masks, goggles and marker plugs or barrel covers to play on the field. The plugs and covers are used to prevent accidental firing of a paintball while not engaged in a game. Most fields take these safety precautions extremely seriously and will eject players for violating safety rules. Paintballs travel at about 300 ft/s (90 m/s) or 200 MPH and getting hit with a paintball usually stings and leaves a welt or bruise on the skin. In general, getting hit by a paintball from far away hurts less than getting hit at close range, because of wind resistance on the paintball. Also, getting hit can hurt more if the ball does not break, and instead bounces. A paintball can break exposed skin, which is why it is recommended to have all skin covered with some kind of cloth. Getting hit by a paintball may hurt; however, paintball is one the safest sports with very few injuries. Very rarely are bruises more than superficial. Generally the adrenaline surging through your body during a paintball match makes the pain fade quickly.
Styles of Paintball
Woodsball is the most common style of paintball played because it can be played in any wooded area. Most woodsball fields are large enough to hold dozens of players on each team and usually have some pre-made bunkers along with the natural cover. Since there are usually lots of people and not all that many safe places to be, woodsball games are generally slower and less organized than other styles.
Speedball is much faster and more team-oriented, usually played on a much smaller field. Most speedball fields use inflatable bunkers and are large enough for teams of 3 - 10. Since the opposing teams are much closer together with more cover, there is a lot of movement and a lot of "bunkering", or shooting an opposing player who is stopped behind a bunker from a close distance.
X-Ball is a faster, more aggressive and simpler format of Speedball designed to give paintball an extreme sport turn. It was created by Procaps paintballs factory and has its own sports league, the NXL (National X-Ball League). 5-man teams play continuously for 50 minutes in a hockey match-like style. Teams get one point for each match won. At the end, the team with more points wins the game, having scores like, for example, 10-5, 20-18 or 15-2. Recently, ESPN licensed the X-Ball format to be featured in national TV.
Scenario games are often giant re-enactments of historical battles involving hundreds of people, such as the Battle of Normandy, or modern day scenarios such as storming a building and rescuing hostages. Scenario games can last hours to days, and bigger games often have player re-insertions at set intervals.
Gauntlet generally is a one on one in a narrow area with little cover. These are very simple very fast games that become very competitive.
Duel is a simple game between two players. The hopper is generally removed and each player loads one paintball into the marker. Standing back-to-back, they walk apart until the referee (or a chosen player) yells "turn" or "fire". The players quickly turn around and fire at their opponent. The scenario repeats itself if both players miss each other.
Types of markers
Meaning that the firing system is all controlled electronically. This allows for firing of the marker with less effort than it requires to click a button on your mouse. It also enables markers to have several different firing modes such as 3 shot bursts, 6 shot bursts or even fully automatic. However, virtually all tournaments and paintball fields only allow semiautomatic mode (1 trigger pull, one shot). Because of this, some high end markers ship with a control board only allowing semiautomatic, and for fully auto modes the board will need to be replaced. Others rely on LCD screens to indicate that a non-semiautomatic mode has been selected. Many newer electropneumatic markers incorporate an ACE system, or anti-chop eyes which use lasers to detect whether or not a paintball is in the breech when the trigger is pulled in order to prevent ball chopping. This system is usually made in two systems, either reflective (in which the laser bounces off the ball), or break-beam, in which the laser penetrates the ball and hits a receiver at the other end. Examples include the Bob Long Intimidator Series, the Dye Matrix and DM5, various WDP Angels, the AKALMP Excaliburs and Vikings, Smart Parts Shockers and Impulses, and Eclipse Eblade Autococker.
The action is controlled solely through mechanical means. Many mechanical markers have a hammer which when cocked is held back by a catch connected to the trigger. It will also have a spring trying to push the hammer forward. When the trigger is pulled, the catch is released and the hammer is allowed to slam in to the valve. This diverts the flow of air from the tank, through the bolt and into the paintball, propelling it out the barrel. Excess air not used to propel the ball is then used to recock the hammer. This type of marker is called a blow-back design and is the most common approach used. Common examples of blow back markers are the Kingman Spyder line of markers.
- Open Bolt - This means the bolt is back when the gun is cocked, leaving a paintball in the chamber at all times. The bolt is the internal part of the marker that the CO2 or N2 travels through to propel the ball. On these blow-back markers (the blow-back mechanism is the most common open bolt mechanism) when you release the trigger sear it allows the bolt to move forward. At the bottom of the bolt is a hole allowing air to travel through it, so when the bolt is released and moved to a certain point the air will travel through it. Most markers, high end or low end, work this way.
- Closed Bolt - The exceptions to typical open bolt markers are the pumps and autocockers. On these markers the bolt is forward, or closed, when cocked. Once the shot is fired the bolt moves back allowing another ball to drop in the chamber and then moves back to its closed position. In a pump marker this recocking process would be done by hand. An autococker is very similar to a pump, the only difference being that the autococker has parts called the 3-way, the ram, and the LPR (low pressure regulator), which is used to cock itself. This system is believed by some to improve the accuracy of each shot because the bolt does not move when the air is released. There have been numerous tests on the subject, but the most scientific ones (using machines to fire rounds instead of humans) have shown there is negligible, if any improvement in accuracy and consistency of shots.
A hybrid approach, where the mechanical firing of the marker is actuated via an electric coil. This allows for the short light trigger associated with electronic markers on an otherwise mechanical marker. Common examples of this are Kingman markers using their ESP trigger as well as the E-Mag by Airgun Designs.
A discussion of markers is not complete without reference to types of barrels. There are three general types of barrels - One Piece, Two Piece and Three Piece as well as Specialty Barrels.
One Piece barrels are just as described, machined from one piece of material, usually aluminum. The standard paintball size is .68 caliber (0.68 US inches) and these barrels are honed to have an inner diameter anywhere from .68 caliber to .69 caliber.
Two Piece barrels are made from two pieces of machined material. The parts are the Front and Back. The Back is what attaches to the marker and is machined with a pre-specified inner diameter usually .682, .684, .686 or .688 caliber. These barrels are machined with varying dimensions to better match the size of the barrel to the size of the paint being put through it. A closer match in size means a more accurate shot. The front is usually made to be the same ID as the largest back the manufacturer offers.
Three Piece barrels are similar to the two piece with a front and back section. What makes these distinct is the use of sleeve in the back so that the user can select which sleeve ID to ball match they prefer. The front is then screwed on to keep the sleeve in place. Sleeves are generally offered in either aluminum or stainless steel. This type offers the most flexibility in that the user needs only one set of sleeves and a rear for each marker they own. They can also select front sections to make the barrel length they prefer. This type also generally offers the widest selection of barrel diameters to match paintball size, usually .680, .681, .682, .683, .684 ... to .690 caliber
There are few Specialty barrels out there. The two that stand out are made by Tippmann and are called Flatline Barrel Systems. These are made specifically for their Model 98 and A-5 markers although slightly modified versions can be found on guns such as the autococker. What makes these unique is the slight curve that the barrels are made with and the top part of the inside of the barrel is slightly roughened to induce the spin. This curve causes the paintball to enter an intended backspin as they leave the barrel. Tippmann claims that this backspin increases the effective range of the paintball by 50%. Many complain that at long ranges, some of the shots bounce off players instead of breaking (thus not being considered a legit hit). These critics fail to mention, however, that the flatline is currently the only barrel that can shoot paint that far, and without it, the shot would not even have a chance of getting to the target. The other common misconception is that the barrel is inaccurate, which is not true. The flatline system is just as accurate as any other barrel in the same price range (approx. 120 USD)
Types of players
Players usually fall into two categories: recreational and tournament players. Tournament players take the game seriously, investing in excess of US$2,000 in paintball gear. They also attend tournaments in teams consisting of 3-10 people. A common tournament team game is "Speedball", where players play on an enclosed field with a single central flag and take cover behind small scattered walls and barrels. A top of the line paintball marker can cost US$700 - US$2,000. A recreational marker can however be purchased for US$80 to US$300.
There are many types of recreational players, ("rec ballers"). Many, if not most, play games in commercially licensed and insured paintball fields. Paintball is often played by casual or first-time players who play with an organized group, for example, office and birthday parties and team building exercises. Sometimes, if there are not enough players, "walk on" players who are not part of the group may join in to even the teams. "Renegade" players use unregulated fields often in wooded areas, many times without the owner's knowledge. It shouldn't be thought that these "Renegade" players are unsafe or breaking any laws (only exception is where strict firearms/air weapons laws are in order, such as the United Kingdom, which using a air weapon within a 100 ft (30 m) distance of the queen's highway is illegal). There are many people who don't play on regulated fields, however they do abide by all the safety rules the fields enforce. Finally, "scenario" players are ones that gather at paintball fields for "Scenario games". These can range from a simple game of "cops and robbers", to elaborate full scale military style conflicts which may last for days.
Common Rules of Play
Depending on the field you are playing in make sure to find out their own "field rules" and follow them. The following are usually assumed to be common knowledge while at a paintball field.
Barrel plugs/covers/condoms: These are to be in whenever you are not on a field. They prevent an accidentially discharged paintball from leaving the barrel to ensure that no injury is caused by an un-intentional discharge. Forgeting to replace it after leaving a game and entering a safe zone will usually get you a warning followed by removal from the field for repeat offenders.
Picking targets: Do not shoot at people who have already been tagged, referees, or anyone who is not wearing a paintball mask. Avoid friendly-fire in team games by knowing who is on your team, usually distinguished by a colored armband in less-organized games.
How to know if you are marked/hit/tagged: Generally if you are marked (hit) anywhere on your body or on anything you are carrying (marker, hopper, pods) and the paintball broke upon impact you have been marked. If you believe the paintball broke before impacting or you cannot see the area to confirm a hit then you should call for a paintcheck (by yelling "paint check"). A referee will come over and make a judgment call. You can still be shot at while you are calling for a paintcheck, so stay alert.
Announcing that you have been hit: If you have been legally hit you announce it (by yelling "Hit") and raise your hand or marker above your head. You then proceed to a specified location (affectionately known as the "Dead box") for the marked (hit) players, with your marker still above your head. If you bring your marker down or take too long getting off the field players may think you are still in the game and may fire at you. Note: Once you declare yourself hit, you are out, even if you discover after that you were not hit (ex. the paintball didn't break)
The X foot (meter) surrender rule: Some fields require if you are within X feet (meters) of an unaware opponent, you must demand their surrender (by yelling "Surrender!") before you may open fire. If your opponent complies (verbally or by raising their hand or marker), they are considered marked and are out of the match. However, if they attempt any hostile action (such as turning to fire at you) then you may fire at will. A commonly used term for this type of situation is Rambo. For instance you just Ramboed someone or you just got Ramboed.
Surrendering: You may surrender at any point that you wish either verbally (yelling "I surrender/I give up") or by indicating you are out (raising a hand or your marker). At this point you are out and must leave the field as if you have been tagged.
Note: Safety while playing paintball is strictly enforced. This means wear only paintball-specific goggles and facemask at all times while playing, even if you are out. Under no circumstances should you remove your mask while on a live field!
General Strategies and Advice
These General Strategies are designed to be used in friendly play where the players are not professional paintballers. Keep in mind that these strategies work best when the other player is not an expert paintballer.
Basic Shooting A paintball marker essentially fires a projectile around roughly 200 mph. Because the barrel is usually smooth-bore and the paint is not a solid gel slug, getting any amount of accuracy from a gun is fairly difficult. Usually only higher-priced markers can reliably hit targets from longer distances. As such, a basic rule of thumb is to use a marker to 'pin' your enemy, an act which entails shooting quickly and steadily at his/her position. This encourages him/her to hide behind their cover completely, giving you the opportunity to advance without fear of being shot. Ultimately, this brings you close enough to get an accurate shot and eliminate your opponent.
Cover Cover is one of the most important aspects of paintballing. It essentially entails a player using any sort of terrain, be it a hay bale or tree or inflatable bunker to hide behind, preventing him from being caught in the open and eliminated. Knowing what cover is good to use and what is bad to use is important- trees and multi-walled bunkers are usually some of the best cover, wheras trellises and sparse brush tend to be the worst. There is also a technique of "using" your cover, to fool your enemy. Popping your head out and seeing the enemy then popping out again to take a shot at your enemy in the last place you saw him. Your enemy now thinks he knows where you are. He will start to fire at where your cover is. That's when you move to another position behind your cover, and since he's firing where you are not, you know where he is. Pop you head out, take another few shots at him then duck behind cover again. Your enemy will come after you in your new position. Generally this causes a huge amount of distraction and makes them think that there are more of you then there really are. This also allows your team to close on him and mark him out.
Flanking Flanking is a very important tactical maneuver in paintballing, as it negates the effects of cover. Essentially, it entails one 'flank', or side of the field, being overrun by another team. This allows them to attack their opponents from the side as well as the front, preventing them from taking effective cover and most likely eliminating the team. It is usually difficult to repel a dedicated flank charge, provided it is done quickly and skillfully.
- 3/5/7/10 Man - The most used format of play, comprising of 3, 5, 7, or 10 man team respectively.
- XBall - Format of play currently used by the NXL (National XBall League)
- Airsoft is a sport similar to Paintball, but uses a different type of projectile and gun.
- Scenario paintball is type of role playing paintball game played over one to three days.
- Much more information can be found at warpig (World and Regional Paintball Information Guide), an old and fairly unbiased site for paintballers.
- PbNation.com - The largest internet paintball forum on earth, and one of the largest net forums in general. Over 120,000 paintball players discussing every imaginable aspect of the game.
- Paintball Ratings and Competitions International Paintball product review and news magazine.
- Paintball 2Xtremes General Paintball magazine.
- Paintball Games International - International Paintball magazine.
- PBReview - Field and equipment reviews, by players, for players
- Online Paintball Museum
- History of Paintball
- Multilingual Paintball Wiki
- National XBall League
- NPPL US National Tournament League
- PSP US National Tournament League
- NCPA - National College and High School Association and League
- Centurio Circuit - Eastern European paintball league
- New England Paintball League
- UK Paintball Sports Federation
- UK Paintball Association (PA)
- FACE FULL - First Worldwide Paintball Magazine
- WARPIG.com World and Regional Paintball Guide
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