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|BT TM-7 Review|
Alright, in advance, I'm going to apologize for having no pics or flashy videos to spice this up, but I'd rather get to the meat and potatoes of the review and we all know what the TM7 looks like by now. Just so that you know where I'm coming from, I've shot A LOT of different kinds of markers, from my first A5, to a BT4, Ions, SP8s, 'Cockers (both pump and semi), the Mini, etc. etc. (No, I haven't owned all of them, but have shot ones owned by teammates, friends, etc.). So I've been around the block so to speak and I have a lot of points of reference to compare the TM7 to, as opposed to the guys who have only ever shot one or two different kinds of markers before. I'm also not directly sponsored by any manufacturer, and thus, am able to review honestly without any need to censor myself in order so keep myself in someone's good graces. So without any further adieu, I offer my take on the BT TM7....
Out of the box:
The TM7 comes well packaged in a nicely decorated box, but it only gets better once you open it. Pulling the marker out of its section of packing foam causes an almost reflexive "Whoa, thats light!", and it also includes a really nice spare parts kit (with an actual case instead of a loosely assembled baggy of parts), all of the allen wrenches you need to work on it, and a small tub of lube. Ironically enough, you'll find an Invert barrel cover The barrel is 9" long, with a 1" OD which tapers to a 7/8" OD at the halfway mark (which works out to just after it emerges from the body of the marker.
Also included in the box is a very detailed manual with pictures, diagrams, along with mode charts and troubleshooting procedures. As far as marker manuals go, this one scores a 10 for the level of detail and thoroughness. Leafing through revealed exactly how much the guys at BT went the extra mile to try and assist scenario/milsim players who are most likely transitioning from more low-tech Tippmanns.
I want to start out by saying that I'm going to take as critical a tone in this review as possible, because its easy to get spellbound when you're offered a marker that looks this good and has an operating system leaps and bounds ahead of the open bolt blowbacks that MILSIM ball has been pretty well confined to. Not to say that there's a lot to criticize; I'm more than happy with my purchase and I easily see the TM7 remaining as my primary for a LOOOOOOOOONG time.
Anywho, as I mentioned previously, the first thing that strikes you when picking up the TM7 is the weight, or lack thereof. With the battery installed (in ridiculously fast fashion through an innovative trap door), its even lighter than my SP1, despite similar size. Upon unbolting the shell halves, the reason behind this is revealed. The grip frame is not individually removeable from the shell, rather, the two halves split right down the middle of the whole thing. The inside of the shell, much to my delight, features a LOT of internal webbing and support structures to provide strength, but the actual breach and operating parts are SIGNIFICANTLY smaller and less bulky the the SP1's breech and firing can. Overall, the disassembly and reassembly of the shell halves is very simple, most Tippmann jocks will find this pretty familiar to doing a full teardown on an A5, minus all the pesky springs. As of right now, I haven't gone into disassembling the operating parts, so once I do I'll add a section on that later.
The fit and finish of the pieces is very impressive, although I find the stock rear sight pretty cheap looking, and pretty much useless anyway, since there's no chance of using it if you have a mask on and the stock extended. But mold "flash" is practically non existent (although there's a teeny bit up top where the two halves of the picatinny rail meet), and the halves are remarkably straight (most likely due to the thorough reinforcement). The folding grip is "ok", but has a little bit of wobble to it, as does the stock when at full extension... I'm being really picky about this, but the little bit of wobble present isn't bad enough for me to deduct serious points, and its not nearly as bad as the Tippmann CAR stock for the X7, and in the case of the TM7, its ONLY present at maximum extension. The stock slides in and out easily enough, no problems or nitpickings on that account. My other beef with the stock, and this won't apply to everyone, is that I tend to shoulder high and sight down the side of the marker... And the shape of the TM7's stock makes it dig into your shoulder if you try to shoulder high. If it were a flat endcap like the real-steel MP7 it would be better for those of us that shoulder high.
One of the things that I love about the TM7 is how they narrowed a portion of the rail to allow the feedneck to be removed without having to slide it all the way to either end of the rail. That always annoyed me about my BT4 because once an M4 style foregrip was added, it was impossible to remove the feedneck without loosening the two front screws and wiggling the foregrip out. This also allows you to remove your hopper in a pinch without having to use an allen key to loosen the clamp. I will say though that I'd much rather have the RipClip on there, and from test-fitting my standard RipClip, I don't see how an "adapter plate" would work, as the part of the shell that covers the stock arms when they're retracted interferes with the bottom of the RC.
Alright, so enough of the cosmetic talk. Turning the marker on is the standard "push-and-hold", when the LED turns red you're On and in the Safe position. The marker WILL NOT turn on if the selector switch is out of Safe. The eyes are on by default, if you want them OFF, turn the marker on while holding the trigger in.
Airing up is simple, screw in your tank or add your remote adapter of choice. The TM7 is pre-adjusted to 200psi inlet pressure, which you shouldn't exceed, and is easily adjusted via an allen screw in the front of the reg. Personally, I don't plan on messing with this or the dwell setting unless I install an aftermarket bolt... Which isn't likely, because after shooting about 730 rounds through it, it left nothing to be desired. Shoots quick, straight, and I got all 730 rounds out of 1000 psi in my 88/4500 Pure Energy tank. I don't know if the math works out in a linear fashion when it comes to shots-per-tank, but if it does that would work out to 3000ish rounds out of that particular tank... That seems kind of high, so I have my doubts on that number, but I wouldn't be surprised to get 2500 or so out of it.
Mode switching with the selector lever is effortless, as is tourney lock engagement, which is done through a small pushbutton located in a hole in front of the trigger. Tuning is done by pushing and holding the power button, and cycling the selector from Safe, through all positions down to FA, and back to Safe again. Note that you must start moving the selector BEFORE the LED goes Red indicating that the gun has turned on. So when you hit the power button, move the lever while the LED is still Green. After that, tuning modes and firing rates is done in fairly similar fashion to any high end marker, through a combination of hitting the power button, moving the selector, and pulling the trigger. Once you get the hang of it, its very simple, and you don't need to pull the grips off to do it like you do in most mid-to-high-end markers.
Lastly, once you're done and taking the air off the marker, the regulator DOES NOT hold air in, but vents it out a port in the bottom, so you don't have to take a few shots with the eyes off in order to clear the last bit of air stored in the firing chamber. This is something that I always felt was a bit of a pain the butt on my SP markers, and it really impressed me and goes to show the overall attention to detail that was paid to building this marker.
The board is where the TM7 shines, and earns its $400+ MSRP. With a max ROF of 20 bps and several different firing groups, there's really no legitimate reason to ever add an upgrade board. Its already ridiculously efficient, has a stock built in, and comes looking like a really cool PDW right off the bat. If you really think about it, you're getting a lot for your money.
Overall, I'm going to rate the TM7 at a 9.2 out of 10. Its not "perfect", but its a GREAT leap towards it from previous attempts at off-the-shelf scenario/milsim markers. I'd recommend it to any more experienced player, but due to the expense and the requirement for nitro instead of CO2, not to mention the slight complication of tuning firing rates/dwell/etc. I don't recommend it as a beginner marker. Keep in mind, a 9.2 from me is pretty good... Comparatively speaking, my highly upped Ion that I love and would never part with except in death, I still only score about a 9. So yes, thus far, the TM7 is on track to be my favorite all time marker....
Hope that helps those of you who had questions or were interested in an decent objective review.
Jay AKA Rogue
Chairman/Co-Captain; Imminent Threat Scenario Paintball
Proudly Sponsored by Urban Ops Paintball!
|Lens Tips, Techniques, Cleaning & Storage|
|Paintball is a sport in which players eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with paint filled, breakable, gelatin paintballs shot from a carbon dioxide or compressed air powered "paintball marker".
Paintball draws a wide array of people, and the Sporting Goods Manufacturer's Association estimates that over 10 million people play the game in the United States annually, with 1.9 million playing at least 15 times a year. Insurance statistics show that paintball is one of the safest sports, with fewer injuries per exposure than sports like tennis, golf, and bowling.
Games can be also played either indoors or outdoors and take various forms, of which some of the most popular are woodsball, scenario, X-Ball and speedball. Rules for playing paintball vary widely, with most designed to ensure that participants enjoy the sport in a safe environment. The sport requires a significant amount of equipment.
A game of paintball usually involves two opposing teams seeking to eliminate all of the other team's players or to complete some other objective, such as retrieving a flag, eliminating a specific player, or other paintball variations. Depending on the style of paintball played, a paintball game can last from seconds to days, although typical woodsball games are five to thirty minutes long.
A graph showing the number of paintball players in the U.S. from 1998 to 2004.The first paintballs were created in the 1970s by Charles Nelson of the Nelson Paint Company of MI, Inc. in Kingsford, MI for use by foresters in marking trees from a distance, and also for use by cattlemen to mark cows. The earliest versions of paintballs were made from wax, but they were not sufficiently durable, and soon softgel encapsulation was identified as the best method of containing the paint in a projectile that would survive being rapidly accelerated when fired, yet break on the intended target.
In 1976, Hayes Noel, a stock trader, Bob Gurnsey, and his friends Mark Chapin, a S.W.A.T. officer, and Alex Rieger, a Green Beret were walking home and chatting about Gaines' recent trip to Africa and his experiences hunting buffalo. Eager to recreate the adrenaline rush that came with the thrill of the hunt, and inspired by Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game, the two friends came up with the idea to create a game where they could stalk and hunt each other.
In the ensuing months, the friends talked about what sorts of qualities and characteristics made for a good hunter and survivalist. They were stumped, however, on how to devise a test of those skills. It wasn't until a year and a half later that George Butler, a friend of theirs, showed them a paintball gun in an agricultural catalog. The gun was a Nelspot 007 marker manufactured by the Nelson Paint Company.
Twelve players competed against each other with Nelspot 007s pistols in the first paintball game on June 27, 1981. They were: Bob Jones, a novelist and staff writer for Sports Illustrated and an experienced hunter; Ronnie Simpkins, a farmer from Alabama and a master rhino hunter; Jerome Gary, a New York film producer; Carl Sandquist, a New Hampshire contracting estimator; Ritchie White, the New Hampshire forester; Ken Barrett, a New York venturer and hunter; Joe Drinon, a stock-broker and former Golden Gloves boxer from New Hampshire; Mark Chapin, a trauma surgeon and hunter from Alabama; Lionel Atwill, a writer for Sports Afield, a hunter and a Vietnam veteran; Charles Gaines; Bob Gurnsey and Hayes Noel. The game was capture the flag on an 80 acre wooded cross-country ski area.
Thereafter, the friends devised basic rules for the game fashioned along the lines of capture the flag, and invited friends and a writer from Sports Illustrated to play. They called their game "Survival," and an article about the game was published in the June 1980 issue of Sports Illustrated. As national interest in the game steadily built, Bob Gurnsey formed a company, National Survival Game, and entered a contract with Nelson Paint Company to be the sole distributor of their paintball equipment. Thereafter, they licensed to franchisees in other states the right to sell their guns, paint, and goggles. As a result of their monopoly on equipment, they turned a profit in only six months.
The first games of paintball were very different from modern paintball games; they often threw the paintballs at each other, and Nelspot pistols were the only gun available. They used 12-gram CO2 cartridges, held at most 10 rounds, and had to be tilted to roll the ball into the chamber and then recocked after each shot. Dedicated paintball masks had not yet been created, so players wore shop glasses that left the rest of their faces exposed. The first paintballs were oil-based and thus not water soluble; "turpentine parties" were common after a day of play. Games often lasted for hours as players stalked each other, and since each player had only a limited number of rounds, shooting was rare.
Between 1981 and 1983, rival manufacturers such as PMI began to create competing products, and it was during those years that the sport took off. Paintball technology gradually developed as manufacturers added a front-mounted pump in order to make recocking easier, then replaced the 12-gram cartridges with larger air tanks, commonly referred to as "constant air". These basic innovations were later followed by gravity feed hoppers and 45-degree elbows to facilitate loading from the hopper.
The Nelspot pistols began to lose popularity as semi-automatic markers began to dominate the growing sport. Nelspot pistols are now considered to be a collector's item.
Later, Nelson Paint Company of MI, Inc. spun off into two separate companies: Nelson Paint Company, which is still focused on paints; and Nelson Technologies, Inc., commonly referred to as Nelson Paintballs, which still produces paintballs today. Oil-based paintballs are still available through the Nelson Paint Company and are still used for tree marking and for veterinary purposes. Nelson's oil-based paintballs have been used to mark animals on every continent of the world, including Antarctica.
The Planet Eclipse Ego8, a popular tournament marker.Main article: Paintball equipment
Paintball equipment varies depending on the type of paintball game being played and the skill level of those playing. Every player, however, requires three basic pieces of equipment:
Mask: Absolutely necessary for players' protection.
Complete paintball marker: Markers usually also require some sort of loader/hopper and propellant to work (CO2 or compressed air).
Paintballs: To eliminate other players.
A full set of paintball gear may cost anywhere from under $100 to several thousand USD, depending on the equipment. Some players may invest hundreds of dollars in equipment to improve accuracy, rate of fire, weight, reliability, comfort, or aesthetics. Instead of purchasing their gear, occasional players may instead rent equipment from a paintball facility for about $10-$80 USD per day.
Most modern paintball fields enforce a 'field paint' rule; as the name of the rule implies, the participants are not allowed to use their own paint and must purchase what paint they require from the field operators. The 'field' rules are presented as safety precautions: it's common practice in commercial venues charge more for field paint than a case may cost somewhere else. However, many fields will allow BYOP (bring your own paint). The rules for paint vary by field, and players should check with the field operator before planning their outing.
A reusable ball is a rubber substitute for a paintball. Reball is a specific product line, as is T-ball, but is often used when describing Rufus Dawg Target Balls, and other brands of reusable paintball-sized spheres. Most reusable paintballs are the same size as normal paintballs but weigh less, and do not contain a paint filling. They do not break open to leave a paint mark on players, so the lack of filling makes them practical for indoor locations where accumulation of paint from broken paintballs would be a problem. A reball is more expensive than a paintball, but since they can be reused many times, they potentially have a lower cost per use. Some paintball parks have added dedicated reball fields. The primary use of reballs, as intended initially by the manufacturer, is as a practice aid for teams who wish to save money by using reusable ammunition. Other manufacturers have created similar products, such as the V-Ball, a Velcro (hence the name V-Ball) reusable paintball. Reballs are also used at a lower velocity because of their inability to break on whoever they hit. For example, a Regular paintball will normally be shot at approximately 280 ft/s, but a Reball is supposed to be used at around 250 ft/s (76 m/s).
It must be noted here that the term 'reusable balls' does not refer to paintballs that have been picked up from the ground. This 'loose paint' should not be used in a paintball marker, as groundwater or condensation might have swollen the paintball, which could cause it to jam in the barrel, or rupture and foul the internal workings of the marker.
Regular paintballs are made of a gelatin shell with a food colored filling. The gelatin shell is designed to break upon impact, however, ricochets may occur. There are many types of paintballs including two toned, high impact, and single toned.
A typical speedball field, often used for tournaments.Most players prefer to go to commercial paintball parks, which charge for admission. These paintball parks usually feature different themed fields (e.g. woods, jungle, city, or historical battlefield), as well as a complex of speedball fields for speedball and tournament teams. Some commercial fields are indoors, allowing players to play when it is too hot, too wet, or too dark outside. Commercial fields also (but not always) provide such amenities as bathrooms, picnic areas, lockers, equipment rentals, air refills, and even food service. These fields adhere to specific safety and insurance standards and have a paid staff, including referees, whose job is to make sure players are instructed in proper play in a manner that ensures all participants' safety. In order to avoid liability, commercial fields strictly monitor paintball velocity with chronographs.
Players that find commercial fields to be too expensive or too crowded sometimes play on private land, often referred to as "renegade" play or "outlaw ball". Though less expensive and less structured than play at a commercial facility, the lack of safety protocols, instruction, and oversight means that the vast majority of injuries incurred by paintball players occur in these "renegade" games. Private landowners may also be liable for injuries sustained on their property, especially if they opt to charge fees for play.
Major scenario and tournament events may sometimes occur at other locations like fairgrounds, military bases, or stadiums, essentially turning them into temporary paintball parks. The same trained staff and insurance found at permanent commercial paintball parks can be found at these events.
A recently occuring trend in paintball is that of a mobile field, where a business primarily provides paintballs and paintball related services on land that they are using only temporarily. This is often done for the means of scenario gaming, to provide different tracts of land for players to play on.
Common rules of play
The following are the most basic and common paintball rules. While there is little variation in safety rules, variation in other game rules is quite common, and players should ask about the specific rules where they are playing.
A typical paintball mask with a MARPAT cover.Like many sports, safe participation in paintball requires observance of proper safety procedure. When safety rules are followed, paintball is extremely safe with an injury rate of only 0.2 injuries per 1,000 exposures. Tennis, on the other hand, has 2.3 injuries per 1,000 hours of play.
The most important rule in paintball is that all players must wear a protective goggle system or mask at all times when they are playing or near other people who are playing. While paintballs will not cause permanent injury to most areas of the body, the eyes, and to a lesser extent the ears, are vulnerable to serious injury if hit by a paintball. Paintball masks are specifically designed for the sport, and the goggles are capable of withstanding a direct hit from a paintball traveling at well over 300 feet per second (90 m/s), the safety limit adopted by paintball marker manufacturers. The lenses of the goggles are composed of either single sheets of tough plastic, or thermal lenses, which cut down on fogging. Most masks have flaps that protect the ears, and some include a visor to shade the player from sunlight. Some players use masks that cover the entire head for maximum protection, while the majority of tournament-level players choose smaller masks that offer a wider field of view, better hearing, vocal communication and more venting. Recently, small timers were created to fit in the goggle, alerting the user to a certain time in the game.
Used paintballsIn addition to the mandatory use of masks, paintball markers must not fire paintballs that exceed a certain velocity. The industry standard maximum velocity for safe play is 300 FPS (feet per second), about 90 meters per second.
Many commercial paintball facilities mandate a lower velocity, usually around 280 feet per second (85 m/s, 300 km/h or 190 mph), with a muzzle energy of approximately 11 joules, in order to create an extra margin of safety. Due to the closer proximity of players to each other, indoor paintball facilities cap marker velocities at an even lower level, between 220-230 FPS.
Paintball velocity is measured using a chronograph. Chronographs are standard equipment at commercial paintball facilities, but should be purchased if not playing at a commercial location. Players who play without first using a chronograph put themselves and other players at risk. Changes in temperature greatly affect a paintball's velocity when propelled by compressed gases that undergo phase change, such as compressed carbon dioxide, the most commonly used propellant. Markers should be chronographed several times throughout the day. Paintball markers should also be chronographed after any adjustment, replacement of parts, such as the barrel, or paint as these changes generally affect the paintball's velocity.
Compressed air is rapidly replacing CO2 as the most commonly used propellant. This is because it provides a constant and stable pressure that isn't subject to changes in outside temperature and is also easier to refill and more environmentially friendly.
Paintball players, mid-gameTo overshoot (also called bonus balling, overkilling) is to repeatedly shoot a player after they are eliminated. Generally, it's considered a few extra shots after a successful break. This practice is frowned upon by most recreational players, but is the accepted form of play by tournament players. There is no set rule as to what constitutes overshooting. It varies in recreational play, with each field having its own individual set of rules. However, in tournament play, it is generally up to the head referee's discretion. The penalty for overshooting in tournaments is usually a 1-for-1, the elimination of the guilty player as well as another player from his or her own team, but each tournament has its own set of rules. Overshooting is more commonly also referred to as bonusballing, especially by tournament players.
To blind fire is to discharge a marker around a corner or over an object with your head still behind that object or corner, making you unable to see where you shoot. Blind firing is discouraged on many fields, for potential safety implications. As the shooter cannot see where their shots are landing, they could accidentally fire at somebody point blank, hit a referee, hit a person that had removed their mask (also a major safety violation), or otherwise cause damage or injury through indiscriminately firing paint at an unseen target, although many players use the arc of a paintball to shoot at someone they cant see over low bunkers.
Players eliminate each other from the game by hitting their opponents with a paintball that breaks upon impact and leaves them visibly marked with paint. Rules on how big a paint mark must be to count as a hit vary, but a paint mark from a paintball that breaks on some other object before striking a player, referred to as splatter, does not count as a hit. Once a player has been marked, they are eliminated from the game.
Most fields consider hits on any body part, clothing, gear, or object the player is carrying or wearing as an elimination. This includes the marker, backpack or an object picked up from the field, such as a flag or a pod. Some fields do not count hits on the marker or head or both, or other areas of the body as an elimination, such as anywhere but the torso, or require more than one hit in certain areas for elimination. These special rules are usually found in scenario paintball games. Wearing baggy clothing helps reduce the chance that a paintball will break on you.
Eliminated players walking off the fieldIf a player is uncertain whether a mark they have received is a valid hit or not, possibly because the mark is from the spray of a paintball breaking on another nearby object, they cannot see the part of the body where they have been struck by a paintball, or because the paintball may have been shot by a player who had already been eliminated, the player should ask a referee or a nearby teammate to determine whether or not the player has a valid hit. This request is commonly referred to as a 'paint check', and is most often requested by the player yelling the words 'paint check' to a nearby referee. Some game rules allow a referee to call a player 'neutral' during a paint check so that the referee can more closely inspect a player. If a player is called neutral, they must discontinue play while being checked and opponents may also not fire or advance on the neutral player.
Players may also be eliminated from the game for reasons other than being hit by a paintball, including calling themselves out by saying "I'm hit!" or "I'm out!", from paint marks from paint grenades or paint mines in games where such equipment is allowed, or due to a penalty, such as stepping out-of-bounds or leaving the starting station prior to the beginning of the game. Because players who call themselves out are eliminated even if they are not actually hit, players should always check to see if a paintball that has hit them has indeed left a mark. A paintball may simply bounce off a player’s body without breaking, which does not count as a hit. Players may also call for a paint check on another player if they believe they have marked an opponent to ensure the player is promptly eliminated from the game, especially if the opposing player may not be aware they are hit or may be attempting to hide or remove a hit. Removing a hit and continuing to play is a severe form of cheating commonly known as 'wiping' and can result in severe penalties, including being permanently banned from the playing location at a recreational or commercial facility. In tournaments, a "3 for 1" penalty may be called, where the offending player and an additional three teammates are eliminated from play.
Recreational fields often suggest a player within a certain distance of an unaware opponent, usually 10 to 15 feet, should offer the unaware player's surrender by yelling "Surrender!" (or Point Blank) before they may open fire. If the opponent complies, either verbally or by raising their hand or marker, they are considered marked and are out of the match. However, if they refuse or attempt any hostile action, such as turning to fire, the challenging player may fire upon them. Getting hit by a paintball from close range can be painful, and it is considered polite and good sportsmanship to offer an opponent the opportunity to surrender when possible instead of unnecessarily shooting at close range.It is also good policy to fire at their foot so as not to cause pain because of their boots.
This "rule" is subject to great interpretation between fields, and even between players, for a variety of reasons. A common field interpretation of the surrender rule is not to prevent two players in a heated exchange from shooting each other close range, but rather from having an experienced player mowing down a first-timer who is in shock and hiding in a bunker. Interpretation at the other end of the debate often stipulates an automatic elimination for any move where a surrender would be offered, such as surprise or bunkering. This strict variant is often called a "bunker tap rule," to differentiate it from a more lax interpretation.
New players can become packed with adrenaline in such situations, and often attempt to fire out of reflex. Thus, experienced players often decide to offer a surrender only in situations where the opponent is completely off guard, and will be too shocked to make any reflex action. For these reasons, when a bunkering move is executed, even in recreational play, a surrender is rarely offered unless field rules absolutely require it.
In tournament play there is no enforcement of a surrender rule. When a player catches an opponent off guard, they will fire until they see that the paint breaks, or until a referee calls the opponent out. Moves such as a 'run through', where a player runs down the field shooting opponents as he passes them and continuing on, have developed over time and are now important plays. Another popular move is "bunkering", where a player charges up to the bunker or barricade that an opposing player is behind and shoots them from over the top or around the side of the bunker. Players also sometimes call themselves out if they are the last player, just in plain fear of getting hit.
Some players use the term 'mercy kill' rather than 'surrender'. However, the industry itself is trying to drop the term 'mercy kill' in an effort to distance itself from a militant image.
Types of games
Main article: Paintball variations
Capture the Flag - A team must take the flag from the designated flag station, often either at the opponents' flag station at the opposite side of the field, or in the center of the field. The flag must then be 'hung' at one's own flag station or the enemy flag station, respectively.
Elimination - A team or individual player must eliminate all of the opposing team members.
"King of the Hill" - two or more teams attempt to capture and hold one or more bases. The game is won by the team that holds the base(s) for the longest net amount of time.
Main article: Woodsball
A woodsball player lying in wait.Paintball started out as a recreational game in wooded areas, with capture the flag and elimination being the most common formats. Woodsball can involve any range of players with a variety of bunker types. The size and terrain of woodsball fields make it unlikely that a player can observe more than a small subsection of the field at any given time. This limited field awareness coupled with the usually larger number of players causes woodsball games to generally last for an extended period of time. Many playing locations often have their own custom variations. Woodsball gives players the freedom to engage in any number of typical and atypical scenarios such as ambushes, assaults on fortified positions and protecting VIPs. Woodsball can be played throughout the year, although cold weather play often hinders the use of CO2 because lower temperatures don't allow the gas to expand properly. Playing woodsball in varying weather conditions further adds challenges and advantages for the players.
Woodsball is sometimes played in National Forest areas, although the same rules that apply to the discharge of firearms are applicable to paintball players.
Main article: Speedball
Speedball is a type of paintball characterized by a small field filled with bunkers. While a woodsball field may cover several acres, speedball fields are usually less than half the size of a football field, and located on level, treeless terrain. Bunkers on a speedball field are man-made, and have evolved from wooden spools and crates to corrugated sewer piping to the customized inflatable obstacles in various shapes that are common today.
Because of the small field size, and the lack of foliage or any other objects aside from the artificial obstacles on the field, players can see from one end of the field to the other, and games are usually much shorter than those played in the woods. Since players can see each other and start the game within range of each other, action between opponents is immediate and lasts the entire game. Due to the smaller field size, there are usually fewer players per team than in woodsball, commonly from three to ten players.
While speedball is presently used in tournament play far more often than woodsball, many casual recreational players also enjoy speedball outside an organized, competitive setting, especially at indoor playing facilities where a woodsball field is not an option.
Speedball is the only format of paintball that is played professionally in the three major professional leagues, the NPPL, NXL, and Millenium series.
Main article: Stock paintball
Stock paintball play has specific rules regarding the configuration of the marker, restricting the technology of the markers to mechanisms available in the early 1980s. Markers used in stock class play must use a pump action to fire, can not hold more than 10 rounds of paint with in the marker at one time, must be powered by 12-gram carbon dioxide powerlets, and must hold paintballs in a linear feed tube parallel to the barrel.
A pump action paintball marker lacks an automated mechanism for moving the bolt between the firing and loading position, and instead has the bolt attached to a manual cocking mechanism. Using a pump handle attached to the cocking mechanism, the player must slide the bolt back to allow the next paintball to fall into the marker, then push the bolt (and the paintball) forward into the chamber, requiring a total of two separate movements to cycle the marker. After the bolt has been moved forward and the paintball is in the chamber, the paintball marker is ready to be fired and expel the paintball.
A 12 gram CO2 powerlet will typically only fire 20 to 40 rounds, depending on the efficiency of the marker, before needing to be changed for a new powerlet. Because the paintballs are lined up parallel to the barrel, they will not naturally fall into the marker while it is held in a level firing position, requiring the marker to be tipped (rocked) forward or backward before being pumped (re-cocked). This complete action for loading another paintball into the chamber of a Stock Class marker is thus called "Rock & Cock".
Strategies and tactics
Paintball, like many other games, revolves more around teamwork than it does equipment or even the skill of individual players. A well-organized team working together can defeat a team whose players are in disarray, even if individual members of the confused team have better skills and gear. Communication is key to a winning team, and often presence of mind and teamwork help to win a game.
Different game types, woodsball, speedball and scenario paintball, all have their own different strategies, although woodsball and scenario paintball share many of their strategies.
A 3-man tournament team at their starting station (also known as 'the break').Organized paintball competition is nearly as old as the sport itself, starting with regional tournaments held at National Survival Game locations in 1983 and culminating in the National Survival Game National Championship (Won by Canadian team "The Unknown Rebels" from London, Ontario).
Though tournament paintball was originally played in the woods, the rise in popularity of teams such as Team Dynasty in the late 1990s saw speedball become the standard competitive format. The small size of speedball fields brings several advantages to competitive play. The artificial nature of bunkers allows each side of the field to be set up as a mirror image of the other, ensuring that neither team possesses a terrain advantage (as can be the case on woodsball fields). The flat, vegetation-free playing surface makes it easier for officials to see players and make the correct call and, coupled with the small field size, allows spectators to view the entire game at once or be televised. There are many type of tournament rules and regulations for speedball, ranging from the number of players (7 vs. 7, 5 vs. 5, etc.) to time limits.
Due to the largely artificial nature of speedball, camouflage is of little strategic use. Clothing with camouflage patterns, common in wooded play, has been largely replaced in tournament play by distinctively colored team uniforms similar to those found in other competitive team sports.
Main article: Paintball league
Professional, semi-professional, and divisional leagues regularly hold high-class, well-organized tournaments involving a large number of professional teams, crowds of spectators, and large cash prizes. Major national and international leagues include the National Professional Paintball League (United States), Paintball Sports Promotions featuring the National XBall League (United States), and the Millennium Series (Europe).
The SPPL (Scenario Paintball Players League) is a 10 vs 10 national competitive outdoor paintball league that recognizes teams who maintain exceptional sportsmanship while on their quest to become a better players. This is demonstrated by prize packages for “best sportsmanship” that are equal to the top scoring teams prize package and is decided by the votes of their fellow competition and referee staff. Though the League tournaments feature skilled, highly competitive matches, the environment surrounding the event is similar to that of larger mission based scenario games, where players and teams mingle around campfires and even share equipment and gear. Friendship, integrity and sportsmanship are the driving factors behind the success of the SPPL.
Main article: Glossary of paintball terms
Due to the unique nature of paintball and paintball equipment, players have developed a large body of jargon to describe the special kinds of tactics, equipment, phenomena, and even people found in the game. While most of the terms are neologisms, many are also borrowed from gamer and military culture.
A paintball team prepares to breakout.While paintball has received recognition and acceptance as a safe sport and is played by over 10 million people in the United States each year, it has been attacked by some as glorifying, trivializing, or popularizing war and the use of firearms. Some paintball players in the military utilize paintball to supplement military training, and in many (but by no means all) cases, paintball games and players take on a military theme, especially regarding camouflage and terminology. Incidents of both accidental and intentional misuse of paintball markers resulting in vandalism, death, personal injury, harassment, assault, etc. draw controversy as well.
Paintball supporters have combated these negative perceptions in several ways. Some attempt to de-emphasize military themes, for example by using less violent terms such as "marker" instead of "gun", or by wearing colorful athletic uniforms instead of camouflage. Media coverage of tournaments, teams, and scenario events shows that mainstream paintball possesses the same general level of sportsmanship, professionalism, safety, camaraderie and constructive competition as many other sports and activities. It includes diverse members consisting of many races, nationalities, ages, creeds, ideologies, and genders. As an organized sport, it bears no pattern of drawing criminals or inciting civil disturbance.
A professional paintball team, the Los Angeles Ironmen.Since the sport's inception, its level of acceptance as a legitimate recreational activity among the general public has increased largely with greater exposure. It is believed by paintball's supporters that greater coverage and education of the sport will settle the controversy and lead to greater overall public acceptance.
Recent research has shown that paintball is one of the statistically safest sports to participate in, with a 0.2 chance of injury per 1000 players. Looking at sports eye injuries alone, which paintball has been vilified for, an international study has shown that modern sports to include paintball are responsible for only 8.3% of eye injuries. Furthermore, a one-year study undertaken by the Eye Emergency Department, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston has shown that most sports eye injuries are caused by basketball, baseball, hockey, and racquetball. Another analysis concluded that eye injuries incurred from paintball were usually in non-commercial settings where eye protective equipments such as masks were not required.
Some cities, such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, have banned the public possession of paintball markers along with other devices that look like real guns. The concern was prompted by gun look-alikes, such as markers, being used to threaten people and the difficulty of identifying whether a person walking with a paintball marker is actually carrying a gun.
Recently, professional players have started signing contracts and getting paid. Ex-Dynasty player, Oliver Lang, widely regarded as the best player in the world, signed a 3-year contract with the Los Angeles Ironmen for $100,000. Many players see this as the next step to the acceptance of paintball as a legitimate sport.
|Scenario paintball is a type of paintball game where players play paintball according to a predefined scenario. Scenario paintball games, which generally last between 6-26 hours, are sometimes large-scale reenactments of historical battles involving hundreds or even thousands of people, like the Battle of the Bulge, or modern scenarios like storming a building and rescuing hostages.
Scenario ball can be a very gray area, since there are many different ways to play it but still be considered scenario ball. For example, in an 'alien invasion' scenario game, participants may be divided into two teams, the 'human' team, and the 'alien' team, who both then attempt to carry out their objectives as laid out in the scenario. A human objective may be to 'destroy' the aliens' mothership, which may be an object or the like which is set up for the purpose, or an alien objective may be to eliminate a certain number of humans in a given time.
Scenario ball can be anything from S.W.A.T. vs Terrorists to military attacks on an enemy base to the aforementioned alien invasion. Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb would be to describe a scenario game as a recball game with more elaborate or exotic objectives (such as rescuing 'downed helicopter pilots' or the like) and rules than traditional ones (capturing a flag, eliminating as many players as possible, et cetera).
Big scenario games like Oklahoma D-Day and Skirmish Invasion of Normandy attract huge crowds. These 'big games' can last days(skirmish) or even up to a week(OK D-Day). Some players even use paintball tanks with working turrets that shoot Nerf rockets.
To enhance the game, scenario games may also incorporate tanks, faux 'air strikes', 'helicopter insertions', 'booby traps', and an extensive intelligence network both before and during the game. The choice of the 'extras' included in a scenario game depend heavily on the scenario itself.
Like all forms of paintball, scenario paintball is reasonably safe, as long as the proper masks are worn. Because one of the most common injuries in scenario paintball is dehydration, more experienced players often have vests that hold 1 to 3 liter water bladders, that allow the player to drink water while not removing their mask, which can be dangerous when on the field.
Each team, often consisting of over one hundred players each, usually has a base of operations called a command post or "CP", which is surrounded by a system of fortifications and bunkers. Missions are called in to the command post via radio. The General, an appointed team leader, receives the mission, decides whether it is feasible to undertake the mission, and if so, which players or team elements to assign to it. Completing the mission earns points for the team, and the team that accomplishes the most missions or accumulates the most points is victorious. There are many professional paintball generals in the game today.
Eliminations have no effect on teams' scores. When a player is eliminated, he or she checks in at the team's dead box and awaits the next insertion window (usually about every 15-30 minutes). In this way, eliminated players are never out of the action for long.
Also there might be other objectives such as capturing a scenario role playing piece, like hidden treasure. Some scenerious often have little mini games inside, you might have to capture some hidden gold, or you might have to find something in the woods.
There are many different games available to play, such as capture the flag (a game in which 2 teams try to capture each others' flags from each others' bases), center flag (one flag is hidden in the middle of the field, and each team tries to return that flag to their home base) and many other games that the referees will gladly allow if asked.
When a player starts the game he/she is usually issued a character card. The character card is the proof of a player's game ID and describes what side he or she is on. Players are not permitted entrance to the CP without it. Some character cards also indicate the player's role in the scenario. For example, a player could be a demolitions expert, medic, computer technician, pilot, unarmed villager, accountant, or a mad scientist. Often, players enter scenario games purely for this role-playing aspect. Players do not have to play a role in the game, but those that accept a role to play are provided with specific goals to accomplish in the game.
An important aspect of scenario games is that while missions win games, role-players develop information about those missions that gain more points.
This role-playing aspect extends off the field as well, and it is common for players to be "in character" both on and off the field for the duration of the game. Role-players often negotiate with other teams for props and information, and even attempt to get opposing players to defect. For role-players, the event may start before the game as they talk with other players on internet BBS/forums, perform character research, make phone calls between teams, and assemble costumes. These pre-game activities may start weeks or months before the first paintball is fired.
Fields are normally much bigger than standard woodsball fields. Fields can range from a few acres to over 100 acres. Fields are normally in the woods, in remote locations. Most fields have larger brush areas with paths for tanks and easy access. Some fields, however are not deep in the woods. Every year Camp Blanding, in Starke Florida has a large scenario game, it is promoted by Mxs Camp Blanding is a MOUT facility that is an urban military training site. It has many buildings that show off the high points of scenario paintball.
In most scenarios props are incorporated to enhance the fun and role-playing aspects of the game. Typically these props are small, simple in make and design, clearly identifiable, and serve a specific purpose. Conventional examples would be a small wooden box, labeled “EXPLOSIVES,” or fake money used as currency between different sides during the game.
Props almost always have specific rules written about them by the scenario producers. For example, rules pertaining to the aforementioned box of explosives may specify that only specific role-players (such as demolitions, engineers, etc) of the game may handle or operate the prop, and that if taken to the enemy base the prop may be used to “blow up” their base thus eliminating any players inside.
Some props are randomly strewn about on fields for players to find, turn in to their base, and earn their side points. Often scenario producers will write missions for each side to retrieve or defend a particular prop from a specified spot on the field. For instance, at EMR’s Castle Conquest XXI big game, in which 200 defenders defended a three story castle against upwards of 800 attackers, the removal of any four (out of ten) props from the castle resulted in victory for the attackers.
During the last few minutes of the game, one team often attempts a last-ditch effort to take control of the opposing HQ or another strategically important area. These battles, while not necessarily important for points, are a fun way to end the match and allow players to let off some steam by engaging in a climactic final battle after hours of what is often relatively slower play.
Not all, but many scenario players prefer military simulation, or "Mil-Sim" style gear, choosing equipment that emulates real military gear in form and function. It is not uncommon to see elaborate costumes, paintball rocket- and grenade-launchers, radios, electronic bugs, and other props built especially for the game.
Because players are on the field for many hours at a time, they generally pack more gear than they would in a regular woodsball game. Players may carry a large number of items, including maps, ID Cards, smoke and paint grenades, night vision systems, and radios. Vests emulating those worn by law enforcement and military personnel may be used. Because scenarios tend to be played in the woods or in a mix of woods and buildings, camouflage jerseys and pants are often worn.
Although most paintball players use markers that bear only a passing resemblance to real guns, some players prefer more realistic-looking paintball markers like the Tippmann A-5, Tippmann X7, BT 4 Assault, BT 4 banshee, BT 4 SWAT, Smart Parts SP-8, the Kingman Spyder MR series, Ariakon SIM4, Gameface Recon E5, and the WarSensor WG-47. Apart from look and feel, most who use this style like the fact they can use a sling or holster to keep their hands free. In addition, this style of marker will have the mounting rails for lights, lasers, red dots, scopes, and night vision optics that may be used in night play. Paintball pistols, like the WarSensor WSP, Ariakon Overlord, and Tiberius 8, are often carried as backup guns. It is also not uncommon to see paintball rocket launchers (commonly know as LAWs or Light Anti-tank Weapons) that shoot Nerf rockets, or land mines that spray paint when activated.
Mil-Sim markers are not the only markers used. You can take your standard speedball or rec-ball marker on the field without a problem. In fact speedball markers are often used as support/suppressive fire positions in recball. Though the only issue is they are often flashy in color, and a give away. Most players use 2(+/-) cases (2000 paintballs per case) of paint for a 24 hour event.
There are many scenario paintball teams who run missions and are a great asset to your side. Teams consist of many different kinds of players; from players who are quick assault, to stealthy snipers. Most teams have mostly heavily armed gunners whose markers can fire over 15 balls per second. (BPS)They also may have, lightly armed players who run up the field and take the enemy players out quickly. Snipers are a big part of the game, as snipers can spook even the most seasoned veteran players to duck for cover and keep their heads low.