When it comes to paintball equipment, you will find there are basically two types corresponding to the two different types of games played. One type of game is called woodsball (or scenario paintball) and is played outside (in the woods); their equipment is very specialized for a rough, natural playing environment. Woodsball players wear camouflage clothing and follow military style missions in realistic war simulation combat. They use realistic replica paintball guns that resemble actual assault rifles, machine guns and tactical pistols.
The other type of paintball game is called speedball (or Xball) and is played in competitive tournaments on a closed course. Matches are often timed with teams of 3-5 players trying to eliminate each other while taking cover behind inflatable bunkers. Speedball is a game that requires fast action from beginning to end so equipment must be lightweight, easy to move in and paintball guns are extremely fast and accurate. Players often wear professional jerseys and uniforms that are well ventilated, baggy but not too bulky, protective and yet still comfortable to wear.
Before going out and getting completely outfitted, it's important you understand the distinction between these two games so you end up with the right gear. While tactical paintball markers are preferred for woodsball, any style gun will do (including speedball tournament style guns). However realistic replica paintball rifles have no place in competition speedball as they are too heavy, slow and cumbersome. Competition paintball guns and equipment are yet further broken down into gear that's best for beginners, intermediate or advanced level player with corresponding prices ranges.
Eventually you will want to get decked out from head to toe with the best equipment, however most players start with the gun. When shopping for the best paintball gun, it's easy to get intimidated by the large number of style that are available, especially if you don't know what you're looking for. As a beginner, choose a starter model paintball marker with a low price point so it doesn't cost a lot to try the sport and find out if you will want to play again. Fortunately, most basic model beginner paintball guns have the cheapest prices as they have the least number of features and technology. This also why they are very easy to clean and maintain, excellent for learning how to play paintball with. It's also smart to choose your first competition paintball gun from a reliable company like Tippmann or Spyder. Well known companies such as these have excellent service and warranties on their products.
As your skill and experience level develops, your need for high performance becomes more and more prevalent with tougher competition. For an intermediate or advanced level competition paintball marker, prices are the easiest way to find the best gun for your experience level. While paintball markers best for beginners are the simplest made and have the cheapest prices, intermediate and advanced level guns contain more technology and have correspondingly higher prices. Try not to bite off more than you can chew by getting a tournament ready marker that's too advanced. While top level competition paintball guns definitely offer higher performance, they can be fickle and more complicated to care for.
Most beginner tournament paintball guns are semi-automatic, while more advanced markers are electronic, offering numerous different trigger options including fully automatic. Shooting a faster paintball gun than your opponents will definitely give you a tactical advantage however will also require more expensive accessories, like an electronic loader. Cheaper, traditional standard gravity fed hoppers that simply drop paintballs into your gun will cause extremely fast electronic competition markers to sputter and miss shots as it shoots faster than the hopper can load. Electronic loaders have small motors inside that fire paintballs into a marker at a high rate of speed and are the only way to satisfy a tournament paintball gun's appetite. While they are much more costly, the best electronic hoppers have settings you can adjust to customize the speed of their loading with the speed of your marker.
While most paintball guns can use CO2 or compressed air as their power source, the best electronic tournament markers must use high pressure air exclusively. Higher end competition paintball guns have more sensitive technology and fragile internals that can become damaged by the wide temperature fluctuations of CO2. With the fast action and rapid shooting that's common in tournament speedball, CO2 tanks can freeze up, making your gun temporarily incapacitated. Equipment malfunctions such as this in timed matches almost always leads to elimination or loss. Even though high pressure air tanks cost considerably more, they are a must have accessory for top rated markers and consistent performance.
Most speedball competitions demand almost constant firing of your weapon, leaving you with a voracious appetite for ammo. The dilemma most players face is carrying enough ammunition while still staying as lightweight and agile as possible. The answer is yet another piece of specialized gear – the pod harness. Pod harnesses are elastic belts comprised of a series of pouches to carry multiple pods of paintball ammo. Most harnesses fit around the waist or the thigh to provide quick access to more paintballs for speedy reloading of your gun. Paintball harnesses for tournament speedball allow easy, convenient carrying of up to eight 140 round plastic ammunition pods and can be found to match most professional paintball uniforms. They are necessary for both beginner and advanced athletes with no differentiation of models for different experience levels.
After your initial marker set up, pod harness and mandatory protective mask, all other tournament paintball gear is extra, however also makes a great difference. Wearing a professional looking paintball jersey or complete uniform will improve your performance both physically and mentally. Matching paintball uniforms makes your team stand out and lends an experienced, professional look even to less advanced players. 'Act as if' you were a professional competitive paintball athlete by looking the part and you will automatically perform better physically as you move with more confidence. Jerseys and pants specifically designed for tournament paintball will allow you to move faster, be more agile and play much harder with more intensity. The best paintball clothing also provides extra padding and protection over impact zones that allow most competitive players to go without any other protective equipment.
One of the best things about paintball is as long as you have a basic marker, air tank, mask and some paintballs you can play any type of game you like. The fact is however you will be easily beat if you show up with the wrong equipment for that particular game. When you're just starting out, make sure not to bite off more than you can chew by getting an expensive high tech electronic marker that's too advanced. Start out with cheap basic gear to learn the ropes of the game and how to properly care for your equipment, then replace it with faster, more advanced supplies as your skills progress. This strategy will not only save you aggravation but also money!