How to Aim and Shoot a Paintball Gun: Beginner’s Guide


Paintball is among the most popular team sports. Although the game is mostly characterized by opponents shooting at each other to make hits, it relies heavily on strategies. Similar to most types of guns, you’ll need a bit of practice to learn how to aim and make a successful shot, so how does one aim and shoot a paintball accurately?

To aim and shoot a paintball gun accurately, it greatly depends on your body position. Your upper body should be stable enough such that it’s not affected by your lower body movements. Always maintain your head in a steady position and aim with both eyes, looking at the center of the marker’s barrel.

Are you a newbie looking to learn the basics of paintballing? Then look no further! In this read, we’ll provide proven tips on how to aim and shoot a paintball marker.

Spraying paintballs at a single target.
New paintball players often do a mistake and spray the whole hopper of paint on a single target.

Choose the Right Marker

With several markers to choose from, it is highly advisable to choose one that suits your status as a newbie. Let’s take a quick look at some of the popular options and whether they’re good enough for a first time paintballer.

  • Machine gun marker: Arguably one of the most advanced and premium paintball markers you can lay your hands on. This marker isn’t an actual machine gun. However, it allows you to release the paintballs at a very fast rate.
  • Fully-automatic paintball marker: This bad boy is highly advanced like its cousin, the machine gun marker. However, this gun stands out due to its ability to fire several paintballs at a single press of the trigger. Although popular, this gun isn’t commonly used in tournaments, meaning you’re likely to find it in an ordinary paintball arena.
  • Semi-automatic paintball gun: As one of the most popular paintball guns, chances are you’ll spot it being used in your local paintballing arena. It’s pretty simple for beginners to use as one pull results in one fire, so you’ll need to pull a trigger whenever you want to hit an opponent.
  • Ramping paintball gun: This marker isn’t advisable for beginners due to its fairly complex mechanism. However, it can work to the advantage of players who understand its functionality. It releases paintballs based on how often you pull a trigger in a second. That is, if you pull a trigger twice in a second, the gun will fire two rounds the next time you pull it.
  • 3-shot electro-pneumatic paintball marker: Although not the most popular paintball marker, this gun comes with a 3-round burst firing mode. The unique firing mode allows the gun to release three rounds with just a single pull of the trigger.
  • Electronic paintball gun: Also referred to as electro-pneumatic guns, these guns cost quite a fortune to acquire. It is battery operated and comes with various firing modes to justify its high cost. Learning how to operate this gun can prove quite challenging for first-timers, but you can learn to use it pretty fast after several rehearsals.
  • Pump paintball gun: These markers are among the most basic when it comes to paintball. Its manual operation means you’ll need to push and pull its pump handle to place the next ball in once you make a shot.

Now that you have a slight understanding of the main types of paintball markers, you should be well placed to choose one that best suits your skill. It is also highly advisable to go for standard-sized guns as some extra short or long ones can prove problematic to handle, especially if you have no prior experience.

Don’t hesitate to inquire about the extra features of paintball markers on display. Long and slim barrels are usually instrumental in increasing overall accuracy and can come in handy when used correctly. If you can avoid guns with attachments, then you’re more likely to take better shots as heavier guns are harder to handle.  

Here you can read more about the most accurate paintball guns and which to buy.

Try Your Paintball Marker Before Play

This tip applies to both pros and beginner paintballers. Experts will insist on testing paintball markers before entering the battlefield. While it might appear irrelevant for some, testing your marker allows you to determine whether it’s clean enough.

Dirt pile up in the barrel will almost certainly affect your shots by altering the direction of the ball. Besides interfering with your aim, dirt in the barrel can also reduce the speed of the balls.

It’s best to try making some shots in order to predict your in-game performance and ability to make accurate shots. Head over to a serene location with no people and pick a target. Take a shot and observe the trajectory of the ball once fired. Understanding how your marker works will allow you to adjust your aim accordingly, thus enhancing the chances of taking accurate shots.

Video: How to Hold & Aim a Paintball Marker | Beginner Tip |

Hold the Marker Well

Your performance in a paintball battlefield greatly hinges on how you hold the marker. Since paintballs are fed into the breach through gravity before being shot via the gun’s barrel, you’ll need to keep the marker upright lest the gravity feed system fails to work.

Paintball holding techniques more often than not determine whether players make accurate shots or completely miss the targets. Try as much as possible to stabilize your upper body, keeping it strong and stiff. Keeping the upper body sturdy means your lower body movements won’t interfere with your aim.

As a team shooting sport, you’re likely to use your lower body as much as the upper parts. Hold the marker in a stable position before bringing it close to your chest. Both hands should hold the marker with your dominant hand closer to your chest.

Try to move the gun quickly in random directions to see how your reactions will be during an actual game. If you’re struggling to move the gun rapidly, then chances are you’re not holding it well-enough. Try adjusting your hands, and remember to puff your chest out as you bring the gun closer to both your eyes and chest.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Once you’ve held the marker in position, it’s time to take your aim. Point to note: you’ll need to keep both your eyes open to aim and shoot a paintball gun successfully. Keep your eyes on the target while aiming through the barrel. Remember to bring the marker closer to your chest and shoulders, which should give your eyes a good enough view.

Your eyes should always be locked on the target and not on your gun.

A common novice mistake is when first-timers keep checking the gun instead of observing and aiming the target. Once you aim, don’t hesitate to shoot as it’s normal to miss, anyway.

If your shooting from behind field objects like bunkers and trees, you’ll need to act fast to hit your target. Keeping your upper torso stiff is important since you’ll either be crawling or even running when taking shots behind objects. Whatever you do, keep your chest, arms, and shoulders stiff as failure to do so will reduce the effectiveness of your aim.

Judge the Trajectory After Firing the Marker

As you look to prove your wits in a make-believe shooting game, remember you’re not dealing with actual bullets. Actual bullets have a streamlined shape and are fired at insanely high velocities, something your paintball marker cannot achieve.

The round size of paintballs means they’re likely to arc or drift depending on the range. This means you’ll need to understand the flight trajectory and how the ball behaves once released. The good thing is that this step should be fairly easy if you did some practice earlier on to gauge the marker’s performance.

Keep trying until you understand the trajectory of your shots. Another important factor to keep in mind when battling it out in a thrilling game of paintball is to avoid unnecessary movement when taking a shot. 

Avoid movie-like stunts such as rolling on the ground when taking shots. Not only will unnecessary movement affect your aim, but it also increases the chances of error since the barrel is likely to hit an unwanted target.

Remember That Patience and Focus Is Key

Improving your shooting skills in paintball is not just about handling the equipment. Even top snipers miss when they fail to concentrate enough on their targets. The most important thing is to remain fully focused on the game.

However, as a beginner, it’s only natural that your focus will mostly be on your shots and how inaccurate they are. If you can gather yourself and focus on the game and its dynamics, you’ll have several opportunities to take out opponents and consequently buff your confidence.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to take shots, but that doesn’t mean you take forever, either. Examine your targets and their physical behaviors before determining the best one to aim for. 

Get Closer to Your Targets

Ideally, you should aim for close targets since shooting at distant targets repeatedly means you’re likely to expose yourself, and you don’t want that. After everything is said and done, your aim might still be whack, especially if you’ve never handled a paintball gun or any gun before.

Not knowing how to aim like the pros shouldn’t worry you. Instead, you should aim to reduce the chances of error by getting as close to your targets as you can. While the prospect of moving towards the line of fire might be daunting, it can go a long way in helping your team win, especially if you know how to move covertly.  

Getting too close might leave you exposed, but if you move strategically closer to your opponents, chances are you’ll manage to get a close aim at an unknowing target, which is priceless in paintball.

Practice As Much as You Can

While this might not qualify as an in-game tip, regular practice can significantly improve your aim in paintball. The first step to enjoying the game of paintball is by playing with similar-skilled opponents. Playing against skilled opponents might not give you the chance to practice enough since you’ll be constantly eliminated.

During your practice sessions, try starting with stationary objects. The objects shouldn’t be too far away since, after all, you’re still learning the basics of the game. Once comfortable with your aim, it’s time to graduate to moving targets. 

A great way to shoot at moving objects is joining an actual game and doing so as frequently as you can. You’ll notice your skills improving as you gradually transform into a paintballing expert (provided you’re consistent).

Video: How To Aim A Paintball Gun Correctly

Important Paintballing Tips for Beginners

Always Keep Your Gun Clean

To increase your performance when playing paintball, be sure to clean your gun after every game. Burst pellets are notorious for reducing overall accuracy and even preventing the marker from firing. Since you’ll probably be running, jumping, and leaping around, the chance of having one or two cracked paint pellets is usually high.

Once a pellet cracks or breaks, it’ll cover the other functional pellets with paint, making them stick together.

Stuck pellets often lead to misfeeds and even gun blockages, so you’ll want to check inside your hopper after each game. 

Don’t hesitate to remove the hopper and clean it in the neutral zone if you notice there’s paint inside. You should also wipe your gun once it becomes muddy to prevent it from malfunctioning.

Don’t Be Tempted to Pick Pellets

As a beginner, you might be tempted to pick pellets that didn’t break upon impact. While this might look safe on paper, it can severely impair your performance and shooting ability. This is because paintball pellets usually have gelatin shells that absorb moisture pretty quickly once exposed.

Inserting a used ball in your hopper might lead to blockage or even a blocked barrel.

However, if you dropped a couple of pellets when loading your gun, you can still put them to use if they’re clean and dry, but if they fell on mud or a puddle, it’s safer to leave them and make good use of the ones you still have.

Avoid Rapid Fire

It’s normal for beginners to waste almost all their ammo on a single opponent and still miss the target, but if you want to add value to your team, then holding your fire until you have a good aim is the way to go.

If you’re using a semi-automatic gun, you’ll need to allow the trigger to go forward before your gun fires again. If you’re struggling to pull the trigger quickly, using your middle finger might come in handy since it’s usually stronger and faster than the index finger.  

Keep Gravity in Mind

Paintball guns should be carried upright to allow the balls to flow from the hopper to the marker breach. Failing to do so might lead to dry firing, meaning you’ll miss your target and expose yourself in the process. 

Therefore, whether you’re leaning on a barricade or holding the gun on your side, be sure to keep the gun upright for your pellets to load successfully.

Use Defensive Tactics

While you might not be an expert paintball shooter (yet), you can still survive by using defensive tactics. Make yourself a difficult target to hit. For instance, if you’re exposed after missing a target, your best bet is to run in the opposite direction.

However, if the opponent is well-skilled in shooting from range, chances are he will make a hit, eliminating you in the process. As a result, it is highly recommended to make mazy runs to confuse your opponent and make it hard for him to aim.

Don’t Overcrowd Your Teammates

Clustered team members make easy (and irresistible) targets—exactly why expert paintballers tend to ride solo. It’s better to move safely using barricades, trees, and other obstacles as your cover. If you follow the more experienced teammates, you might end up exposing them as it’ll be easy for opponents to fire at one target.

Spreading out means opponents will have to focus on separate targets, making them conscious about their pellet usage.  

Keep an Eye on the Marshal

Although not guaranteed, observing a marshal might help you know where a firefight is brewing or about to brew.

If you notice the paintball marshal moving towards you, it could be that you or your teammates are surrounded, and an intense fire battle is about to ensue.

While keeping an eye on the marshal might make you aware of an impending attack, your focus shouldn’t be on the marshal. Instead, focus on understanding the game and its dynamics. Knowing where your opponents are is a lot better than monitoring the marshal’s movements.

Video: How To Drill In Paintball Like A Pro

Winding Up

Before you transform into a paintballing guru who rarely misuses his pellets, you’ll need some regular practice. After choosing the right gun, you’ll need to try it out and see how it functions. This can help you learn a lot about the trajectory and how to increase your overall accuracy.

Remember to check on your posture when holding the paintball marker. Your upper body should be stiff and stable enough to hold the gun in place as you move, run, or crawl.

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