Becoming the Very best (Like no one ever was) - A guide to becoming a BETTER paintball player.
One observation I have made over 20+ years in this sport is that people who play better paintball tend to stick around longer and from a “best for business” standpoint more people playing means we can keep the lights on longer. Paintball is a sport that for the most part regardless of skill level you can have a GREAT time playing EVERY TIME. In this article I'm looking to enhance that experience and talk about things I've done over the years to make myself a better paintball player. I'm not going to dwell on individual skills as many of the tips I'm going to give you will ultimately lead you down that path. I promise you if you follow these pointers you will eliminate more bad guys and your rate of “Victory Royales” will increase substantially.
Play with better people - Don't be afraid to be afraid to ask for pointers
Ric Flair (Woooooooo) said it best “To be the man….. You need to BEAT the man”. The same rule applies for paintball. After years of dominating (in my mind) at my local outdoor field I finally unlocked the ability to drive. This allowed me to travel to other fields and play against other players. Real quick I learned the lesson that I was a “Big Fish playing in a small pond”. My swagger was instantly taken away when I learned there existed people who were REALLY GOOD!!! Ultimately I realized the only way to play at that level was to learn from these people so that is what I did. Week after week I continued to play with these skilled players. Some of them took me under their wing and helped me refine my game. After no time at all that skilled rubbed off on me and I was able to hang as just another member of the gang. Head down to your local field or even take an adventure to your second closest place to play and see how you stack up against the best competition there. Once you have absorbed as much information as possible head back to your local field and pay it forward. Not only will you have a great time being the best on the field but being a mentor is really cool. Everyone wants to be friends with top dog and who knows maybe you'll even start your own pack.
Create Your Own Challenge
Looking back at my paintball career the most fun I've ever had was about a 2-3 year period where I essentially exclusively played pump/mechanical paintball. Not only was this a high point of actual fun playing but from a financial standpoint the limited paint consumption really served my college/highschool bank account. Playing pump paintball you are no longer able to hide behind your gun. Over time and out of sheer necessity for survival you will sharpen an entirely different set of skills vs. what you use when you have a space gun (electronic marker). These skills include accuracy, snap shooting and the ability to read a field to know when is the right time to make a move. I credit my time playing with a pump gun turning me into the field tactician that I am today. Not only will your skill set substantially broaden but pump/mechanical paintball is aesthetically cool and a great conversation starter. I can't tell you how many times people have stared at my markers pump handle and said “is that a shotgun?!?!” Or “wait you have to pump that EVERY TIME?!?!?!?”. Its also cool to automatically be labeled “The Sniper” without even saying a word.
Live the Paintball life (it's like being a skateboarder except way cooler)
I always here the expression “Dress for the job you want and not the job you have”. The same can apply for living the paintball lifestyle. Immerse yourself in the culture that surrounds paintball. When it comes time to shop for some new t shirts or when its back to school season paintball shirts can be found generally on the cheap from your local retailer and from the interwebs. Dressing with some paintball style will make you feel part of a community but it will also increase exposure for the sport and yourself. Suddenly you might be at your local slice joint and discover the dude who makes a wicked Chicken Parm is a real ninja in the woods or some of the kids at your local school had heard about paintball but weren’t aware it was a local option until they say you wearing your field shirt. Dressing the part will also make you feel more confident. When I walk on the field looking good and feeling good it will generally translate into the game im playing. My shots will seem straighter and my moves will be that much more sweeter. The internet is also a valuable tool when it comes to living that lifestyle. Social media is chock full of similar people who enjoy similar things. You can bounce tips off each other and even learn about some things you never knew existed. Being a paintball player is just as much about the time you aren’t on the field as you are.
Treat everything ive talked about in this article as loose directions to get you where you want to go in this sport. Most importantly never lose sight of why you picked up a marker in the first place. It’s all about having fun!
You can check out www.Shopcousins.com for some great paintball apparel or check out www.Cousinspaintball.com for information about play dates, Clinics and Big games happening in the Tri-State / Dallas Area (Yeehaw)