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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's With All the Markers

Do More Markers Make You a Better Player?
By Bruce 'Charon' Johnston

originally published in the March 2011 issue of Shooting Hot

Most players are as defensive of their marker choice, and style of play, as a mother bear protecting her cubs. Just log on to any on line forum and read about how this gun sucks, and that style of play blows and you will know what I mean. That is why when I show up at the field with a crate of markers I always get a few puzzled stares.

Rather than selling last year’s marker and buying the next, latest and greatest, I find a marker, or markers, I like and keep using them all. I use them all because I know that different types of markers require different styles of play for the marker to be effective.

When I go to the field I carry an old milk crate full of Tippmann markers. I have a SL68II, 98 Custom, A5 and Phenom. The milk create is actually the perfect size to carry all the disassembled markers, loaders, barrels and tanks. And since the milk crate is square and made of tough plastic transportation and storage is easy. Best of all you can usually get a crate for free if you ask at your local store.

I use the markers the same way every time. The Tippmann 98 Custom with electronic grip, center feed, on/off, macro, air through is used for xball and speedball scrimmages and practices. I don’t use the 98 in the woods because I don’t often have the need to shoot a lane in the middle of a forest.

I use each of the other three markers during a regular day of woodsball and I don’t normally shoot any more than a case of paint in the woods.

The Tippmann X7 Phenom is the first marker out of the crate for the day. With the Phenom I like to hang back and hammer away on full auto. Provide cover fire for the faster players to rush up and make the elimination. While playing back I get to asses how the field is playing and he skill level of the opposing side.

When I am down to one bag of paint (500 balls) I switch over to my Tippmann A5 with a mechanical trigger. With the A5 I tend to play in the middle of the field, ready to fill in up front or provide cover fire as needed. I find a mechanical marker is the best kind to use if you want to learn to play all parts of the field. My A5 grip is set up similar to my xball 98c so I can get in lots of snap shooting practice while in the woods.

I know what you are thinking. Why not just switch the Phenom to semi? I like using the mechanical A5 because I have to use my head more while playing. With a mech marker I won’t be tempted to switch over to full auto, and start dumping loads of paint to force my way out of a jam like I could do with the Phenom. When shooting a mechanical marker, or pump marker, you are forced to use your head when you get in a fight, rather than relying only on volume of fire.

When I have only one pod of paint left (180 balls) I break out ‘old faithful’ my Tippmann SL-68II pump marker. With a pump marker you have to learn to take selective shots, move effectively, make yourself a small target, keep your head on a swivel, and trust the players supporting you. With a pump you must have heightened situational awareness because the opposition could pop out anywhere. Using a pump forces you to make short moves or crawl to remain unseen.

The three main reasons to use multiple markers: 1. I am forced to learn other styles of play, which takes me out of my comfort zone and makes me a better player
2. I can play five to ten more games each day by switching to the semi auto A5 and the SL68II. The last bag will last one or two games using the full auto Phenom
3. Now that I have taught myself to make eliminations by sneaking and peaking with a pump marker, I know I will be able to wreak considerable havoc sneaking and peeking with my Phenom.

Will having more than one marker make you a better paintballer? – Absolutely. More markers will make you a better player, only if there are differences in the markers that force you to change your style of play and grow as a player.