Carson "Squeegie" Jenkins
The flag hung from the pole slightly peppered with spray. The mad push to take the fort and their most valued prize had proved futile. Costing many players and several hundred rounds. As the base security peers through the walls of the bunker, all seems clear.
Inching my way through the thick palmettos have concealed my movement so far. I bring my marker up to take a quick look around. Careful not to set a glare off the scope, I stay low in the shade of the jungle foliage. Nearly stepping on me, a ref makes his way through the tangled maze of palm fronds and knee high grass. As I scan the surrounding area, a pair of eyes beaming through a set of goggles catches my attention. His attention is drawn to his two teammates running perimeter defense. Roaming the outskirts of the base, their eyes run deep into the surrounding forest searching for the next attack. I ease down low and let a single round fly. It was a steady shot, impacting on the shoulder blade of the guard. “Hit!”, one down. The single shots are the hardest to track. The other players dive for cover, desperately searching for the origin of the round. “Sniper! Somebody find that Sniper!” seems to be the phrase of the day. Deciding to crawl in from the rear seemed to be working. Bunkers are only good cover from one direction. With the players minds expecting a frontal assault, it has become a target rich environment. The second shot rings out, biting into the 8+1 pack of the last perimeter guard. Now for the fort. Patton once said that fixed fortifications were monuments to the stupidity of man. The optics scan the fort for a clear line of fire. Through the slats the twinkle of a polished receiver reports its owners presence. The last round is sent to its final resting place. The splash-anodizing blends well with my Diablo Hellfire paint. As I walk up to retrieve my fruit of victory, the eliminated players are all asking the same question, “Where were you?!!”
So you want to be a sniper. With all the superguns available on the market, one may ask what is the point. Not everyone needs (or wants) to shoot 400+ rounds per game. The sniper role can help a player sharpen his skills on many different levels. The ability to shoot well-aimed shots does not make a sniper. Tactics, discipline, and truckloads of patience are all major factors in becoming a Sniper. In this article we are going to try and get you on the right track. So grab your Ghille suit, wipe off your optics, and get ready to get dirty. Its time for Sniper School.
First things first, you don’t need to go and dig out your old pump-gun. Pump guns are fine, but they require movement to operate. The marker that you are the most comfortable using should be your first choice. You need to know exactly what your range is, trigger pull, trajectory, etc. These are the things that will give you your accurate shots. This cant be stressed enough. A sniper relies on his abilities to succeed, not the abilities of his marker. Paintball snipers use a variety of markers from $120.00 Stingrays to $2000.00 Angels, all of which rely on the users ability.
If you are in the market for a new gun built around sniping, try and remember that the gun does not make the player. A few things to look for in a sniper marker are reliability, fires from a closed bolt position (for a more accurate shot), the ability to accept after market barrels, and a dovetail for scope mounting. Rate of fire should have no bearing what so ever on your choice. We are not out there to create a wall of paint. It takes 500 rounds to paint a bunker, but only one to clear it. Your marker should also be able to take a beating. A lot of a snipers time is spent crawling through areas that most people wouldn’t dare tread. If the marker can’t take getting dirty without jamming up, then the only thing it will be good for is waving your surrender flag in the air. Think camo, stay away from flashy anodizing and polished parts. Although they look nice, they will only draw attention to your position.
Your ability to blend into your surroundings is as important as your marker. Camouflage is not just throwing on an old pair of fatigues. Camouflage is a balance of several different elements to make you blend seamlessly with your surroundings. Your choice of camo should match the conditions you play in. You wouldn’t want a green colored pattern for use in the desert. There are several different styles available for the up and coming sniper to be. Lets start with the basics.
The easiest of them all is the standard BDU style outfit. This is your run of the mill woodland or tiger stripe camo pattern that players have donned since the games’ inception. Although they are durable and relatively inexpensive, they however do not offer a very high grade of concealment. You can pick up a pair of pants and a jacket for around $30.00 at your local Army surplus store. A boonie cap or other camo hat will help complete the package.
Your next choice is to buy one of the many outfits that have been made exclusively for paintball. There is a myriad of different patterns available to today’s player. Most of which offer quite a bit of concealment without a lot of cost. Be sure to buy matching gear (i.e. Head wrap, gloves, and hopper cover). Mismatched patterns will draw more attention. The idea is to blend in with your surroundings, so stick with the same tones and patterns that you play in.
For the ultimate in sniper attire, you can either purchase or build your own Ghille suit. Ghilles are the bushy “swamp thing” outfits that military snipers use. Ghille suits were first used by Scottish Game Wardens in the 1800’s. The officers would tie brush and foliage to their uniforms to help hide them from the poachers they were trying to catch. The overall construction of the Ghille suit hasn’t changed much over the years. Most MilSpec Ghille suites today contain dyed burlap and other such materials. Burlap is used primarily due to its ability to refract light in the same manner as leaves do. These suits will offer you the absolute best in camouflage and concealment. A properly built suit, in conjunction with other camo elements, can make a player virtually invisible to the human eye. Most Mil-Spec Ghille suits will cost anywhere between $400 and $1500. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that kind of cash to throw around, so we must build our own. Depending on how “thick” you want your suit, you can build one for around 60.00. We will cover this process in upcoming issues.
Other camo options that a player needs to be concerned with are the accessories. These include your marker, mask, etc. All the camo in the world won’t help if you have a shiny barrel or bright mask. For your marker, you can use paint or camo gun tape to help blend it in. Hoppers are another problem. Neoprene hopper covers with camo patterns are readily available. A little burlap or silk leaves sewn to the outside help breakup the outline a little more. Your headgear will be the most visible during the game. A wide brimmed hat with strands of cloth or burlap will help hide your neckline. There are many aftermarket accessories to help with the concealment of your mask. Goggle Skinz by TacPro Tactical Products are perforated film that sticks to the outside of your lens. The camouflage pattern is printed on the outside of the lens. The perforations allow you to see through the lens from the inside. Smarts Parts offers GoggleFlauge, a neoprene material that is pre-cut to fit over your mask. This helps break up your mask’s outline. Both are available in many different patterns. Gloves would be a good idea as well. Not only do they offer protection against those nasty pinky shots, but help hide your digits when you are up close and personals. Total coverage is the idea. When someone is scanning the area to find out where that lone shot rang out from, you don’t want anything on you to stand out
Once you have all your gear tuned just right, its time to learn how to use it correctly. Paintball snipers are not limited to moving inches at a time like their military namesakes. We must move relatively quickly, but covert. By using paths less traveled, you can cover more ground quicker than your counterparts. Move in a crouched position when traveling distances that are sparse with activity. Once you are nearing firefights or structures, go to your belly and slither in. Take care not to disturb branches above you. This is a dead giveaway to your position. Once you are in direct view of your target, move in slow, controlled paths. If you need to turn your head, do so at a snails pace. Jerky movements are quickly spotted. If you are spotted, stay perfectly still. Nine times out of ten, the player will become distracted and lose his sight picture of you. If you have a scope on your marker, use it to see the players’ faces. With a good scope, you can tell if a player has spotted you or is merely looking in your direction. Find yourself a good place to hide. A few things you may want to consider before choosing a "hide". Some locations can turn into coffins at the drop of a hat. Look for spots that offer a good field of fire, protection from incoming rounds, and an easy avenue of retreat should the situation arise. Don’t run for the first fallen tree. Try and place yourself in an area that would be the most unlikely place to contain a sniper. Good snipers assess the situation before taking his first shot. Choose your shot wisely. Try and take out the leaders of the game. The best way to find that out is look for the player who is doing a lot of pointing. Chances are he has the basic plan of attack and is instructing other on how to carry it out. By eliminating that player from the game, you have effectively caused an upset in the plan of the enemy. The loss of a leader can be very demoralizing, and can make the difference between winning and losing.
If your target is on the move, see if he is the point man for a larger force. Squads offer a bit of a problem for a sniper. You don’t ever want to fight an enemy head on if you are outnumbered. The pointman is there to weed out players such as yourself. If he is not fired upon, the others are lulled into a false sense of security. Let them all walk right by you. You can eliminate as many as 3 or 4 players by shooting them in the back before they have a chance to figure out where the rounds are coming from.
Firing your first round from a hide requires an extreme amount of discipline. You have to train your brain to fire only ONE SHOT. After that shot has landed, reevaluate the area and make the choice to fire again. With every round fired, you are making it easier for the enemy to find you. Fire only when you have a 90% chance of a hit. You don’t need to bunker players, they will bunker themselves. With the indiscriminate round coming in from a location no one can pinpoint, everyone thinks they are the next to be taken out. You are in their backyard. The little bunker that was keeping them safely in game just minutes before has just become a jail cell. Now they are stuck with no where to go. All that fuss because of one little paintball.