Tactical Paintball Skill - Stalking
Good "field-craft" skills are a huge advantage in paintballl. A core field-craft skill you should master is stalking. Stalking is the ability to move quietly in the woods, detecting opponents before they see you - and strike in a coordinated manner, catching them off-guard.
This article contains content mostly taken from the Paintball Warrior Tactics book (Chapter 3, Paintball Warrior Skills, Stalking).
Stalking in Paintball
Stalking is moving in the CQB stance at various speeds while you remain undetected. It is used when you have not been seen, and are moving in or through a high danger zone.
To stalk, move quietly and slowly in the CQB stance. Pictured right, this player has kis knees bent, weight forward, lean forward, back straight, shoulders squared towards his direction of movement / opponent and head and gun up - ready to fire.
When you see someone that has not seen you and is not moving, do not frantically fire off a huge volley of paint. Freeze, slow time in your mind - then, aim, make sure you have a shot (check range), and take it. Shoot one ball only if you are 100% certain of the ball breaking on the opponent; otherwise, fire a sustained volley until he calls hit.
If there are multiple opponents nearby, but you have managed to come very close to the opponent, then prefer to mercy kill him. This is a good way to eliminate an opponent AND remain undetected by the rest of the enemy team. When you do this and your opponent calls himself out, quickly and politely gesture to your eliminated opponent to stay quiet and walk off the field. Dead men don’t talk, so this is just a quick polite reminder.
If your cover is not blown, but you do not have a shot, wait – slowly and smoothly lower your body position. Silently tell your teammates your new information with hand signals if possible. Try to ensure your teammates at least know where you are.
Depending on the fire-team leaders approach to the situation, you may try to move in closer. In this case, try to get closer without being seen. Maintain the CQB stance if appropriate.
Don't Blow It - Pick Your Moment
Move when you think the time is right, but move slowly, smoothly, nice and low and while aiming but not firing your marker at your opponent(s). If he turns and sees you, keep moving, speed it up, and start immediately shooting at a HROF. You may even decide to change direction if this happens. Regardless, get to cover while you eliminate him with a HROF stream of paintballs and communicating with your teammates. While moving you are more vulnerable because you will be less accurate with your marker and are almost certainly out in the open - so let your marker rip. You must push the opponent down immediately or you will probably be shot.
Keep It Moving
If you are stalking through a high danger zone and have not been detected, you should move as quickly as you can without making a noise that could be detected by the nearest estimated enemy location. If you spot a nearby opponent (who has not seen you) and you choose to move across his FOV, but through heavy concealment to remain undetected - move slowly and smoothly. If he looks in your direction – freeze.
Trust that your camouflage will work. (Next 2 articles will be on 1: "Camouflage" & 2: "Hidden and Camouflaged Enemy Detection”.)
Tip: Being unseen is a much bigger advantage than being unheard. Being seen gives the enemy a target, while being heard gives the enemy anxiety. Of course prefer to be unseen and unheard.
Remember that motion is the first thing the human eye sees. Go as slow as possible to ensure you remain undetected – but no slower. I have seen lots of squads get bogged down stalking. When a squad gets bogged down stalking, it is usually in extremely close-quarters situations or 360 degree engagement. Squads that get bogged down generally place too much weight on individual eliminations or not being detected compared to achieving a remote objective. The scenario or game may dictate “over-caution” if individuals are worth big points for example. But in most situations, if you have somewhere to go and have not been detected yet – keep moving.
On open clear terrain (like short grass or a soft wide path) you can almost run without being heard. But if you need to move quickly in the forest, try to stay on the best possible terrain or a path.
Try to avoid anything that will make noise while you move over or through it like dense bushes or lots of broken branches, etc.
Check Your Gear
Keep your pods tightly filled. Partially filled pods on a pod-harness rattle loudly when you move. This rattle may give your position away when stalking. If you are careful to keep your marker level, a half filled hopper may not rattle that much, but keep it in mind. Buy pods that are smaller than your hopper, so the entire pod can be consumed at once. This prevents you having to completely empty your hopper to reload and also prevents having to put back partially filled pods in your harness.
Attack = Communicate
Once you open fire with more than one shot, the opponent(s) will probably know where you are anyway, so no sense staying quiet any more. You should be trying to communicate with your teammates verbally, but without necessarily giving away their position. Yell out what you see.
Check out this video of Ted and I stalking the Ravine at Panther paintball. About a 30 minute game compressed into 7 minutes - but you will get the idea. Although I get taken out in the end - we did some serious damage before I made two critical mistakes
Next Articles The next two articles will be on 1: "Camouflage" & 2: "Hidden and Camouflaged Enemy Detection”. Stay tuned for more and please tell a buddy about this newsletter.