Spies Like Us
Playing the paintball field is as important as playing the game of paintball. When you're playing in the woods, you have a lot more space to work with than you do in an arena. Plus, you have a lot more stuff that you can use as both hard and soft cover. What this means is that woods paintball can be a game of stealth and patience. Keep in mind that the first paintball game ever played was won by a guy who didn't fire a shot. He used stealth, taking opportunities when they presented themselves.
If I just lost you, do a little research and read about it. It's probably on the Internet somewhere.
In the past we've covered camouflage and the basics on how to use it. What we're going to do now is basically "Ninja 201," or "how not to be seen while you're stealing someone's flag." I'll talk about scenario games, but these basic techniques work in walk-on games at your local woodsy fields against the weekend warriors. In fact, that's a good place to practice. The fields are smaller, and the price of failure isn't as bad. Translation: You only get shot by three to five people instead of 50 or more.
First let's cover gear. You don't need to buy anything else than you probably have right now. Really, you don't. Part of the stealth mentality is traveling light. Don't carry anything more than you need, if you can help it. If you only need four pods, that's all you should carry. If your air tank only has enough for three pods, only carry three. I know, "Duh." But sometimes, people need to be whacked with the "common-sense clue-by-four." You should carry a watch you don't mind trashing. You should also have knee and elbow pads, a pair of decent gloves, and sensible shoes. Beyond that, you can do all these stunts in your old BDUs. Actually, I have. And if a big fat guy can do all this stuff, you can, too.
Camouflage has been discussed a lot before, and I don't think I need to get into post-mortem equine sadism to make the point. But if you're serious about stealth, you'll have a bin full of camouflage. I know I do. I can pick out a specific color scheme to match what the woods looks like that particular weekend. How do I know? I cheat. I live near a forest preserve, and what it looks like is about 90 percent true to every field in the area. If you don't happen to live near any trees, just use common sense. The colder it is, the less green you'll see. Or just wear BDUs and hope for the best.
Now the fun part: the techniques. You can literally practice these in your house, if you don't mind looking like a goob in the privacy of your own home. A lot of stealth should be done by feel. It's why I used to play in tabi boots, because I could literally feel all the terrain underfoot. But after the stitches, I had a change of heart. Not to mention footwear.
So you're in the woods, you want to get over "there," and you want to do so without the other team seeing you. Sounds great. But let's answer a few questions first. How much time do you have to do this? Walk-on games are 10-20 minutes tops, but scenario games are 24 hours. Do you have a mission you need to accomplish by a certain time? Stealth isn't fast, and you need to be decent at time management.
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