There are things you absolutely HAVE to have, in order to make your paintball day a pleasurable experience. There are pitfalls you can't avoid. Running out of luck, getting outclassed by other players, having no innate coordination, being old and feeble, lacking the brains to know what is a good move and what is a bad move, falling on your . . . wait . . . that's just ME. Sorry.

Anyhow, there are things you can control, whatever your personal shortcomings. Here's what you REALLY need.


Marker problems are the WORST. I know, I've had my fair share. If you don't have a marker that works, you might as well just wear a blindfold under your goggles and hope for the best.

Luckily for you, there are many markers to choose from, and the lion's share of markers available today are robust, easily maintained and reliable.

Pay careful attention to the manual, if you have one. It's that booklet that comes with your marker, the one that tell you how to operate and maintain it. I know, I know, you're real smart and you don't need no book from the folks who DESIGNED the marker to tell YOU how to operate it. Trust me, I'm real smart too, I read the manual. Try reading it, you'd be amazed.

Also, try cleaning it. Try using oil. Try not to fling it around like it's a war club. There aren't too many markers that can't take punishment, after all they're made for us ham-fisted paintballers. That doesn't mean you can use it to break open coconuts and expect it to work. Watermelons, maybe; but never coconuts. (Not that I'm speaking from experience in either example, it's just something I KNOW, okay?)


Once you have your marker in good working order the next stop is your loader. It's job (in case you're wondering) is to feed balls into the breech in order for your marker to shoot them at your opponents. If you have a pump marker or an older semi, there's enough vibration to stir the balls up and make them feed. If you have a newer model semi, you might need a motorized loader. Ask the manufacturer, they'll know. However, don't buy a motorized loader if your marker does not require one, it's a waste of money.

You see, the most difficult things to make flow down a smaller tube from a large container are spheres. Cubes and other three dimensional shapes readily flow. That's why sand flows through an hour glass so well. Also, the shells on paintballs can also get slightly sticky. Of two balls can meet over the hole, they're supposed to drop through, and jam -- they will. Harmonic vibration helps to prevent that from happening. The motorized loader takes the place of harmonic vibration in newer markers, especially the electro- pneumatic ones.


Fogging is a major problem for some people, or some areas. Climate and perspiration take their toll on goggle lenses. Get anti-fog lenses (the double paned ones), or anti-fog sprays or inserts.

It's amazing how well you can play when you're not looking through waxed paper.


The barrel plug should fit tightly into the barrel. Here's my rule of thumb for plugs. If you don't grunt when you take it out, it's not tight enough. Some barrels may need their own plug. When you buy a barrel, try some plugs in it, at the store. Buy the plug that fits tightly.

Barrels with slick interior surfaces, like teflon and industrial hard chrome need the plugs to be tighter still. The slick surface not only allows the ball to slip through easier, it allows an improperly fitting plug to come out easier as well.



I don't care WHO made the paint. If it wasn't stored properly, it's almost worthless. Now, there isn't much you can do but go to fields who store their paint properly, or buy it from stores who do.

If the shell is dimpled, have flat sides or is brittle, chances are it was stored improperly. It is your right to complain about this, but politely. Don't let folks sell you paint that's been in their cousin Skeeter's truck over the winter. Many paint manufacturers now put the "birth date" of the paint on the case. Check it.


It's not that much fun to play with a bunch of yahoos who won't play safe. Not only is it a health hazard, it's uncomfortable to sit in your hot car, with the windows rolled up, between games and at lunch. (I've been there. If this happens to you, as long as you're in your car, start it up and go home.)


The military taught me something very important. There are two things no one can take away from you: your birthday and your sense of humour. (I can stand not to have another birthday, but I like to maintain a good sense of humour.)

Things WILL go wrong. It is the one cardinal truth of paintball. As long as you can see the lighter side, you'll be okay.

Be prepared. A poorly functioning marker, a loader that jams, fogging goggles, loose barrel plugs, crap paint, unsafe players or a bad attitude will ruin your day. Anything else that goes wrong is just a minor problem.