Paintball has many permutations and many variables. No one tactic will work at any given time. The things you did last game to survive will get you eliminated in the next game. With all these inconsistencies, it's hard to know what to do.
There ARE some stable elements in paintball. These areas are well suited for routines. These routines, when practiced on a continual basis, will become second-nature to you.
Check to see if your marker is loaded up (full hopper or full stock tube). It's really embarrassing to rattle off twenty shots of air.
Make sure all your loaders/stock tubes are full and in your harness. There's nothing worse than grabbing your very last (or any) tube only to find it empty.
Check your goggles. Make sure the lenses are secure and undamaged. I found a couple of cracks in my lens one day. Luckily I check before every game. Luckier still, someone had an extra pair to loan me.
So, three things when you're in camp: Load your marker, load your tubes, check your goggles.
HEADING OUT TO THE NEXT GAME.
Make sure you have all your stuff. You won't know you forgotten it until the very moment you desperately need it. Avoid the: "Dang! Where the heck is my . . .?"
Check your marker. Make sure there are no problems with the marker. If it will make you feel better; go to the range and fire a few rounds off. You don't want to have marker troubles during the game. I'd rather sit out a game and fix my marker than to get whacked because I didn't check it.
Put your goggles on. Do this BEFORE you leave the "no shooting" area and go into the "shooting" area. This should NOT be done AS you are entering the "shooting" area, and CERTAINLY NOT after you've entered the area.
So, three things to do when you're heading out to play: Check your kit, check your marker and put your goggles on.
ON THE FIELD -- BEFORE THE GAME STARTS.
You should have your goggles on, already. Especially if you followed the last routine. (If you don't know why you should already have your goggles on, shake your head. Hear anything? It sounds like a fish bowel with a bean in it don't it?)
Pull out your barrel plug. Make sure everyone else has too. Nothing is more embarrassing, especially if the opposition sees your plug in and knows you can't hit them.
Make sure your marker is cocked and ready to fire. Take the marker off "safe". Hey, we've all tried to fire an un-cocked marker. (Well, not me. Really. Honest. NEVER. Not once. Well, there was that time when I was a newbie, but that was over a DECADE ago. It NEVER happened again. Really. Honest.)
Take your position in the flag station/starting point. If you are going down the right side of the field, be on the right side of the starting point. That way you won't be tripping over anyone trying to get to your first position.
So, three things before the game starts: Plugs out, marker ready, and take your position.
AS THE GAME IS BEING PLAYED.
There are only three things you have to remember. Really. They are the constants in any situation. If you don't do these three things, any other necessary tactic will be useless, 'cause you'll be out of the game.
Keep your head up. Take notice of what is going on in front of you. Keep track of where the opposition is. Know where your teammates are.
Check over your shoulder. Always check your back door. Some sneaky player could have managed to get around behind you. I don't know about you, but I don't like getting shot in the hind-quarters. It's not only embarrassing, it smarts. Given the choice of getting shot in the backside and having a lobotomy -- I'd rather have a lobotomy. (I've never had a lobotomy -- no REALLY -- but I'm sure it would be better than getting shot in the fanny.)
Take good cover. Make sure you are completely behind cover. A boot or elbow sticking out makes an excellent target for a good, or lucky, shot.
So, three things to do during the game: Keep your head up, check behind you and take cover.
WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED PLAYING.
Now this could either be because you managed to last the game, or you were eliminated. If anyone has, in fact, managed to finish an entire game, I'd appreciate you telling me about it. (I'd like to know what it's like.)
Clear your marker. Know how to manipulate your marker so that there is no ball in the barrel, ready to fire, and that the marker will not fire again until it is cocked or the safety is deactivated. This is done so that if the trigger IS accidentally depressed, the marker will not fire.
Plug your marker. Put it in BEFORE you leave the field of play. Many players forget to put their plugs in. Make this part of your routine.
KEEP YOUR GOGGLES ON.
This is the biggest mistake you can make. The game is over and players will remove their goggles. There is no reason for you to remove your goggles until you get to camp. No reason whatsoever.
So three things to do when the game is finished: Clear, plug and KEEP YOUR GOGGLES ON.
WHEN YOU ARE IN CAMP, AFTER THE GAME.
Remove your goggles. I usually keep my goggles on until I get to where my gear is, in camp. It doesn't matter how safe the field is, there is always some idiot who waves an unplugged marker around. If you see someone doing this, do EVERYONE a favour: Kick them. Kick them HARD! Tell him it's from Durty Dan. (It's YOUR eyes they're going to shoot out, you know.)
Reload. Top up your hopper and refill empty tubes.
Sit down and talk about all the cool things you did that game.
So, three things to do when you get back to camp: Remove goggles, reload, and lie your little heart out.
These routines have helped me. I've adopted them because I am complete "no-mind" sometimes. I've forgotten my goggles and I've forgotten to reload. I've shot at least three times, in one game, with my plug still in. I've walked into camp with my goggles off and literally run into an unplugged marker. I've been shot in the back. I've tried to shoot an opponent with an un-cocked marker and with the safety on.
You see, I get caught up in the excitement of getting out to play paintball with my targets (er, I mean FRIENDS) and sometimes I forget the simple things.
Of course, there are some things that never change, no matter how vigilant I am. "Oh, man! Anybody got a spare squeegee? I forgot mine in camp," is Durty Dan's battle-cry.
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