Camouflage in Paintball
In most environments, by using camouflage effectively you can dramatically decrease the chance that an enemy will see you and so increase your ability to use stealth and eliminate opponents when they don’t expect it...
This article contains content mostly taken from the Paintball Warrior Tactics book (Chapter 3, Paintball Warrior Skills, Camouflage).
Camouflage in Paintball
In most environments, by using camouflage effectively you can dramatically decrease the chance that an enemy will see you and so increase your ability to use stealth and eliminate opponents when they don’t expect it.
But don’t lose sight of the fact that once you are seen, or start firing your marker, camouflage instantly becomes completely useless. Stay realistic about the use of camouflage.
Camouflage in paintball is one of those areas where real military knowledge does make a difference. So let’s look at what the military can teach us about camouflage.
There are six variables to try and control when you are camouflaging anything (including yourself and your gear). Let’s go through these and discuss the practical applications of each in paintball.
Man-made shapes are “out of place” in the forest. The human eye picks up on straight lines, sharp corners and very flat surfaces easily and identifies them quickly as out of place. Even more noticeable than that however is the shape of a human. We are pre-programmed by evolution to immediately pick out the human form from surrounding foliage and it is the most easily identifiable “object” in the world to another human.
Break up shapes on your person, gear and marker – but only if you can do it without compromising your ability to move quickly and silently through bush, make dives, crawl, shoot off-handed, use your radio, reload and not increase your target profile.
Loosely wrapping or draping a large camouflage or dark colored scarf (aka: durka) around your head and neck is a fairly good way to change the shape of your head (the most commonly seen part of your body).
There are some camouflaged “3D” jackets and pants available that have a layer of ruffled cut leaf patterns sewn onto the garment that break up your silhouette a bit. They are much lighter than full ghillie outfits, but still fairly effective at breaking up the edges of your body shape.
If you are waiting motionless (in ambush) for an enemy, change your body position into one that a human rarely takes. There are many positions where you sit, squat or lay down with one leg bent under you or in front of you, curling your arms around your marker that will dramatically change your shape. Drape your durka scarf over your head, shoulders and arms while waiting in this position to further change your shape.
Choosing the right camouflage pattern is an easy task. Look at the local military. They will generally be outfitted in the best “all around” camouflage for your part of the country. Wear what they use.
There are very few shiny things in nature and virtually nothing that has a “specular reflection” except the surface of a still body of water. A specular reflection is the kind of reflection that comes off a mirror, or a shiny piece of metal or a goggle lens for example. Other non specular sources of shine are your skin, shiny hoppers and markers and some gear.
Face paint is not realistic – don’t bother. Mainly because most of your face will be covered by your mask, and the mess it makes all over year gear is simply not worth it. Do not listen to anyone that tells you to wear face paint.
Wearing gloves is a good idea from a safety standpoint as well as to eliminate shine from your hands.
Don’t buy a shiny marker or hopper. Leave the colorful shiny markers and hoppers for the speedball field. Flat black is best. Virtually every high-end electro marker and hopper comes in flat black. Try to get “flat” black or “dust” black because these finishes reduce shine the most. Covering the marker and hopper further with a “gun rag” or “gun sock” is OK to reduce shine, but I have found it is not worth the hassle it causes (reloading, switching hands, clean up, etc). Just get a gun set up that is as flat black as possible. If not, don’t worry, gloss black realistically is not much different in most situations.
Don’t use a laser sight. It may look cool, but it is the shiniest thing in the world - by definition; and it doesn’t help your accuracy in paintball. I love it when a guy shines his laser sight at me from his concealed position, thinking it makes him more accurate. I smile and think, (1) it doesn’t and (2) he has about two more seconds to live.
The shadow you give off is human shaped and out of place. Watch where your shadow lies or it will give you away. Also, you will be much harder to see if you stay in the natural shadows of the environment. Stay behind the shadows of natural objects like trees or buildings when you are trying to hide.
Watch where you place your shadow. I have eliminated opponents that thought I didn’t know they were hiding around the corner of a building because I saw their shadow on the ground. Move in the shadows of the trees, bunkers and buildings when you can. If you have no shadows to work with, get low – it reduces the size of your shadow.
I consider this element to be a stealth skill; however the military traditionalists will disagree. So I include it here too. Sound will alert an opponent quickly that there is “something out there” and most likely give them a direction to work with. Be quiet. See: “Stealth” and “Stalking”
Movement is the first thing that the human eye sees when trying to detect something hidden. Above all the other elements of camouflage, movement is the most important variable. Even a player who is not wearing any camouflage can remain unseen if they stay completely still; while a player in the same environment that is wearing a full ghillie suit the size of small car will be spotted immediately if they move at the wrong time.
When you are within the FOV of an opponent and they have not seen you yet – freeze. If you are laying in ambush, remain completely still.
When you do decide to move, move slowly and smoothly. Avoid quick sudden movements as these are more easily seen.
Take your cues from the local military force for choosing the color and pattern of your camouflage clothing. Different camouflage patterns and colors are appropriate for some areas but not others.
Wear comfortable camouflage clothing appropriate for the terrain you will be fighting in. Avoid colorful paintball jerseys (speedball type). Avoid colorful markers or other gear. Black almost always is appropriate (except for maybe the open desert or snowy tundra.
The next article will be on the highly related topic: "Hidden and Camouflaged Enemy Detection”. Stay tuned for more and please tell a buddy about this newsletter.