How to Play Woodsball

How to Play Woodsball

Woodsball is the backbone of paintball. There was a time that woodsball didn’t have such a specific name – it was simply “paintball” because that was more or less the only place paintball was played. The woods is where paintball started, when a dozen friends played the very first game of organized, documented paintball in New Hampshire in 1981, and the game grew to become an international phenomenon through the eighties with players putting on camouflage and creeping amongst the trees enjoying the most incredible adrenaline rush they’d ever experienced! As paintball has grown and evolved, other forms of paintball have come into existence, from speedball played on arena-style fields to urban, tactical paintball played between teams of operators equipped with magazine-fed paintball guns. However, at the end of the day, most paintball is still played between groups of friends creeping, crawling and stalking one-another on a wooded playing field and thanks to a resurgence of paintball tournament competition played specifically on wooded fields, woodsball is more popular than ever!

Playing woodsball is simple enough, but as a player grows to learn the game and understand its nuances, they will grow to be a better and better player. Most players learn this through trial and error, learning what works and what doesn’t in the woods by trying different things and getting shot with a paintball when they don’t work, or eliminating opponents and winning the game when something clicks. The basics of playing paintball in the woods, though, remains a basic skill set any player can master.

At a basic, individual level, players can tune their gear and equipment to optimize it for woodsball play. For example, no matter how good that bright red and lime green jersey might look in the mirror or on a speedball arena field, in the woods it will quickly become a paint magnet. There’s a reason camouflage is worn by hunters, soldiers and even paintball players in the woods – it helps someone not be seen. If camo isn’t an option, dark colors such as green, brown or black also help a player blend in the woods. The sound of a firing paintball gun is an easy way to find someone in the woods. Players can use a longer barrel with plenty of ports to help make their paintball gun fire more quietly, allowing them to shoot at opponents without announcing to the entire world that they’re “over there behind that big tree.” Finally, as wooded fields often include bunkers and cover made from stacked logs, brush and other natural cover, many players will choose a long barrel, sixteen inches or more, allowing them to push their paintball gun through that brush to shoot while remaining behind cover, more difficult to shoot! Finally, woodsball is often a game played at a slower pace than other styles of paintball. This means players can spend more time holding still and that means less air moving through their facemask and goggles, increasing the possibility that goggle may fog. A thermal lens is absolutely critical for a serious woodsball player because nobody can shoot an opponent they can’t see.

Woodsball is most often played on a large field, with rolling terrain, dotted by bunkers of varying construction and large trees to hide behind. Players wear camouflage to help them blend into their environment and help them move and shoot without being seen, and because the field is generally large and the terrain can vary, no one player can see everything happening at once. This means communication between teammates is absolutely critical so players can know as much about what’s going on during a game as possible. A player creeping and crawling through brush can’t know what’s happening a hundred yards away, but if a teammate standing up behind a big tree fifty yards away can see more of the field, and yell this information about where opponents are hiding and which way they’re looking to his teammates, everyone will know more about where the other team is, and how to move and shoot to be most effective.

Paintball is, essentially, a big game of chess played between two teams who happen to have paintball guns. That means movement and angles are essential. No team will ever win a game of paintball by simply running to the first big tree or pile of stacked logs and sitting there waiting for the other team to show up. Rather, movement in the woods is important as it allows a team to position their players in spots on the field best suited to eliminating opponents by marking them with paintballs. As games of woodsball are longer and fields larger, this allows players to employ fieldcraft, or the ability to creep, crawl and move unseen into position to make shots on opponents. While players on a speedball field have only moments – mere seconds – to make a move from spot to spot, players on a wooded field have the luxury of time to take things slow and move carefully, using folds of the land, trees, thick brush and other cover to keep the opposing team in the dark as they move. Woodsball players should almost never simply charge across open ground at a full run. Rather, part of the art of playing woodsball is the ability to crawl, unseen, from spot to spot, or creep across a wooded environment positioning trees and other cover between himself and an opponent to block line of sight.

Like any other form of paintball or most other sports, while individual accomplishment and skill is important, it’s teamwork that truly makes the dream work. Woodsball teamwork is, in addition to communication, the ability to eliminate opponents by two or more teammates working together, one shooting to suppress an opponent while another moves into position for a better shot. Learning to work with teammates to keep an opponent’s head down with fire while moving around for a clear shot is a critical portion of woodsball that simply can’t be accomplished alone. Teamwork in the woods also means working with the entire team to ensure critical spots on the field are taken and held, and that the left, right and center portions of the wooded field are controlled and observed by members of the team – don’t leave holes for the opposition to come through by forgetting to send someone to the left, for example.

Paintball in the woods is where most players begin their paintball adventure. While other forms of paintball exist and are incredibly fun, the thrill and rush of stalking and creeping through the woods and outwitting opponents to win the game is what keeps most players coming back for more, in love with the game. By using the right equipment, a little fieldcraft and teamwork, anyone can learn to be a successful woodsball player and win!

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