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Five things that you can do to have a better day of paintball..

Paintball is a pretty simple game, the good guys (you of course) shoot paint filled gelatin balls at the bad guys and if you hit them, they take the walk of shame. Like everything simple though, the devil is in the details, whether it's gear preparation taking care of your body, there's a ton you can do to ensure that you have more fun.

1- Make sure you have everything. You've spent a lot of time and money to procure all of the kit that makes you the player you want to be, but if you're anything like me, your stuff can get scattered throughout your car, job, house, garage, etc. There's nothing worse than getting to the field and realizing that you're missing a shoe or your hopper. The best way to defend against this is being really organized and keep all of your stuff in one place, but since that isn't realistic, we'll go with plan B. A week before your play date, gather up all of the gear you plan on using, lay it out and make sure it's all there. In fact try it all on, make sure it fits and you remember how to use it. A week sounds like a long time, but it provides plenty of time to either find or buy anything you may be missing.

2- Make sure everything works correctly. While you've got all your gear laid out, take a few minutes to make sure that everything is clean, has been lubed and that if need be, the batteries have been changed. If you're not sure, spend the 10 minutes to re-clean it. Same thing with batteries, if you're not sure when the last time you changed them is, do so, and don't be cheap! Spend the forty cents extra on good batteries and you'll have infinitely better results. If you're not technically minded, and the thought of using tools scares you, head over to your local paintball shop and drop your marker off for a full service. Doing so will cost you less than $20, which is well below most of the park fee's you'll be wasting if things don't work.

3- Get there early. One of the most common mistakes we see groups make, is not giving themselves enough time for registration and getting their equipment ready. For myriad of reasons, signing in, loading up and getting on the field takes an unexpectedly long time to get done. Most of the time, it's because you're meeting up with friends and family and the excitement leads to conversations, which leads to time ticking away, which cuts into your play time. Whether it's a birthday party of first timers, or the most hardened tournament player, for some reason minutes just disappear when you get to the field, so arrive 20 to 30 minutes earlier than everybody else, stretch your muscles out, get your gear on, tanks filled and paperwork taken care of. This will reduce your stress and make getting on the field less hectic.

4- Switch it up. Playing paintball stimulates almost every part of your brain, from problem solving, evasion, hunting and even fight or flight responses. No matter your level of experience, solving the "how do I get myself or a teammate into position to win" is the puzzle we're all trying to figure out, all while avoiding the opponents and thwarting their attempts to do the same. As crazy as it sounds, even this can get boring, one of the things I do to keep paintball fresh is switch things up every time I play. From using a different type of marker, to joining in with a different group of people, I try to make every day of play unique. The most drastic way is explore new parks, a field trip with friends a couple times a year will really help to make new memories. The beauty of paintball is the friends you'll make and the moments you'll create with them, changing your play style or the gear you use now and again will enhance both of those.

5- Keep it together. I've alluded to my personal fight against disorganization and it's a real problem, I'm willing to bet that I've lost enough paintball gear to set up a divisional team. I once "misplaced" a pump gun in my own gear bag for over a year, I'm that guy. Over the past few years, I've focused on that part of my life and the simple answer is this- Keep everything in one spot!! If you're a normal person, you've only got one set of equipment, so this is easy, get a bag to transport it in and leave it in there (once your marker and clothing are clean and your mask is aired out and dry) You don't need a paintball specific bag to be organized, but they are designed to carry what you're putting in there, so they do work better. To take it even further, I've incorporated a 99 cent laundry bag to my kit bag. When I pack to go play, I put my pants, jersey, pads, headgear and gloves in, once I get to the field, I empty the contents onto the parts of my body in which it's most comfortable and go shoot bad guys. Once the slaying is over, I put all that filthy gear back into the laundry bag, thus not losing anything and having it prepared for washing. Since this plan was instituted, my gear is either on me, in the wash or in the bag. I now have matching gloves and both knee pads every week, on top of that I smell Downy Fresh!!

All it takes is a few minutes of preparation before you head to the field to ensure an easier, more fun day of play. I promise if you follow some, or all of these steps, you'll enjoy playing paintball even more than you do now.


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