Thursday, November 18, 2010

Getting Started in Paintball.

In this F.A.Q style article we will try to guide you towards starting up in Paintball if you live in Malta.

I want to play paintball what do i need to do?
If you would like to experience Paintball the quickest way is to join up with a group of friends and go to one of the Commercial Paintball fields available in Malta. However if you are really interested to practice paintball as your sport this is not the right long term approach. MAAC PB from time to time organise such events in local commercial fields, if you like to join us just email us on and give us your details so that you will be included in our contact list.

I want paintball to be my sport but its too expensive to play on a regular basis at commercial fields ?
You 've been hooked by paintball, then yes its true playing in commercial fields will lead you to nowhere. It will prove too expensive to practice on regular basis like 1 time a week. Commercial fields are good for a start, but not practical if you really want to go for it. A 5 game session can cost you between Euro 28 to Euro 40. If you decide to play once per month that around Euro 480 a year or more. There is a better way to enjoy paintball and remain within the legal frame work. DO NOT PLAY PAINTBALL IN AN ILLEGAL WAY, DON'T FALL TO THAT TRAP. With the amounts paid to play paintball in commercial fields you can invest in your equipment and join in a club of enthusiasts, hence paintball games are guaranteed.

Tell me about it ?
In Malta you can own your paintball marker legally also, but there are laws on how you can do that. If you are Maltese, 18 years of age and have a good conduct you may be granted a Target Shooter - B (airgun) licenses which entitles you to purchase, keep and use air operated guns in approved ranges.

What do I need to get a Target Shooter B license, because I really want to make paintball my sport?
If you really into Paintball after you tried it at the commercial ranges then you are welcome to join MAAC - PB.

Commercial PB fields charge you Euro 28 plus extra balls at a certain rate usally Euro 5 per 100 paintballs, basically every one gets extra paint especially rookies, hence you easily end up paying Euro 38 for one session.

Joining MAAC - PB will cost you Euro 30 as membership and insurance for one year .
Your membership entitles you to attend a specific course for your Target Shooter B (airgun) license. This is a 3 to 4 hour course showing you all the ins and outs of safe handling, range procedures and law requirements plus detailed information on the sporting activities you will find within MAAC. Once the course is done MAAC will recommend you for the Target Shooter B license to the Police Authorities.You will also get a 1 year shooting 3rd Party insurance hence you are safe of mind and you fulfill a requirement stated in the Maltese Law.

What will happen after the course ?
Once you complete the course MAAC will issue you with a Letter of Recommendation that is required by the Weapons Board and the Police for the process of issue of the Target Shooter B (airgun) license. You will present the LoR at your local Police District Station and file an application. Your application will be processed within the legal time of 2 months. In due course you will be asked to attend for an interview by the weapons board. If all is OK and there is no objection towards your application the Police will issue the Target Shooting B (Airgun) on presentation of Club membership ID as required by the Maltese Law. With this license you can:
a. Purchase and own any number of air operated guns including:
1. Air guns
2. Airsoft guns
3. Paintball Markers
b. Carry and use these guns in approved target shooting ranges.
c. Use these guns for Target Shooting Sports Only.

So OK I join MAAC-PB and do my course, in the mean time what will I do?
In the mean time you can do a lot.
You intention to join is to have your own equipment and to be able to take part in activities and tournaments the MPBA will organize. Hence most will start dreaming of their Paintball marker immediate purchase. NO WE DON'T RECOMMEND THIS UNTIL THE TS-B LICENSE IS ISSUED.

For playing paintball you need some kit so start buying off your kit, below is a list in priority order of the kit that you need to purchase. Each piece of kit if bought wisely can be used even at commercial fields until you get your paintball marker and will work with every marker you will own. Follow our recommendation you will not be disappointed.

A. Paintball Mask.
This is the most important piece of equipment you need to get.
Make sure you purchase Paintball Approved mask. When you play paintball safety is crucial and the MASK is the most important piece of safety equipment because it protects your face and your eyes. NOTE paintball can seriously harm or kill if the correct eye protection is not worn. I don't want to alarm you because paintball has quite a safe record but its is safe as much as you make it safe. Don't fool around you will get hurt or injured and you will lower the sport that we all love.

There are a large number of companies (of which you find links in our link page) that produce masks for paintball. The masks come in various shapes, colours and many have interchangeable lenses and other additional features. Masks price can range between Euro 25 to Euro 100. What you get depends on your taste. The intention of MPBA is not to make free adverts but we will evaluate and recommend equipment to our readers.

The criteria for a good mask are the following.
1. A protective shell that covers your face totally including your ears, the shell should be comfortable and flexible.
2. The lens area should seal around your face to prevent any splashes from direct hits on the mask to reach your eyes.
3. There should be a range of lenses that give you a choice in both colour and thermal properties.
4. Easy to maintain
5. Spares availability
6. Good price
One such Paintball Mask that offers all and at an incredible entry level price is the Proto Switch Model. There are variations of this mask. Our suggestion is to get it with a thermal lens which helps prevent fogging. This mask can also be fitted with a cooling fan unit as a extra. Surely Proto Switch is a mask that beats value for money and beyond.

Once you have your mask adjust it to your specification and start using it and not the rental ones. Take care of your mask and lens clean it as recommended by the maker and always keep a spare lens. Inspect the lens regularly and if there are any irregularities in the lens don't use it replace the lens at once.

In paintball the MASK is compulsory however other protection is recommended to all players.
For those into Woodsball the following gear is recommended.
a. Armoured Vest (Protects the Torso and Back)
b. Neck Protector or Scarf
c. Knee Pads
d. Elbow Pads
e. Gloves.
f. Boots

For those into XBall there are body protection clothing that can be worn under the XBall gear.
This includes :
a Chest Protectors.
b. Elbow Arm Protectors
c. Gloves
d. Slide Shorts and groin protector.
e. Knee protectors and sheen guards.

C. Your Team Clothing.
If you joining MAAC-PB or a team within MAAC-PC you need to look as part of a team.
If you playing paintball you need to dedicate clothing for such events.
The most straight forward is a boiler suit, however as we all know players playing Woodsball tend to wear Battel Dress Uniforms which are easily available from online shops.
Some players might want more sporty and more comfortable X-Ball clothing.
The choice is yours MAAC will not dictate what you would like to wear or use as clothing but MAAC motivates the formation of teams. For those into Woodsball MAAC has a standard kit list should they wish to follow.

D. The HPA Tank.
The next item you should purchase is the HPA tank. Buy the best you can afford. A 1.1 Liter HPA 3000 PSI tank with fixed regulator or variable regulator is ideal. If you want to be lighter go for a carbon fiber tank if weight you can handle then go for an aluminum tank which is 1/3 the price.

E. PODS and POD carries.
During paintball games you paintballs are stored inside your Hopper however there are times where you need more ammo because you will easily run out of it. The only way you can carry extra paint is to store in specially designed quick loading pods. These come in storage sizes of 50, 100 and 140. If you are a woodsball player make sure to get the right sized pods for fitting into your vest pockets or purchase extra car ring pouches that can hold your pods. If your into XBALL then you prefer the XBALL pod carry belt systems which are also available for woodsball players.

The hopper is the paint carrier magazine that is connected to your marker. For most markers there is a standard connection. Most markers have standard neck feed for gravity or electronic feed hoppers. Now we need to make a distinction.

Gravity feed hoppers.
It just a bowl with an opening to connect at the neck feed. The balls fall into the neck by gravity.
The bolt of the marker picks up the ball as presented.

Electronic feed hoppers.
The balls are agitated and pushed into the feed. Hence the rate of feed is much higher. The electronic hoppers come with all gizmo's to prevent over feeding and synchronization with your marker. The basic ones have feed speed settings, others activate feeding by sound or RF basically feeding the gun on a trigger pull or shot sound.

Which one to get ?
Gravity feed hoppers are very cheap so it will not burn a hole in your pocket. However electronic hoppers can go expensive. If you think that you will go for ultra fast paint guns in the future then by the best you can afford cause this will work with every gun you will get.

Note: If you in ted to use the Tippman's range of guns you can go for a feeding upgrade. This is called CYCLONE feed, basically it uses blow back gas to cycle the paint into the gun. Seed upgrades also exist for CYCLONE which is purely a mechanical / pneumatic system.

The easy way.
Go to a dealer that has a range of paint ball guns. Select your marker. The dealer will give you a transfer form to be submitted at your local police station. Within a week maximum two weeks the transfer paper work is ready. You will then pay the weapon transfer fee and a document is given to you. This document shows that that gun serial number is combined to your TS-B license. You can now present this document to the dealer to take your marker and start using it.

The hard way.
If what the dealer is offering is not what you want and there is no way to convince him to get you that product, then the other option is to order from online shops that can deliver the item to Malta. Make sure that the item can be delivered before ordering or committing to an order.
If you find the marker that you like, then communicate with the online shop before purchase. Request if :
1. The dealer can send you the Serial Number of the gun once you confirm payment.
2. If he can keep it on hold shipment after payment, until you give him a go ahead to ship.
If he agrees then you can purchase it online and do the following.

1. Go to the trade office in Valletta and pick up a 1 time import license form.
2. Fill the form correctly.
3. Prepare a specification sheet for the marker (see example) including photo and serial number given to you by online shop sales.
4. Go to your local police office and open an temporary import license file. You need the license application form, copy of your TS-B license and if the item is imported from an EU country then you need to fill the EU import form.
5. The police will add this paper work to a Blue request file and it will be delivered to the Police GHQ for approval.
6. Once the approval is issued about 2 -3 weeks then contact the online shop to ship the item.
7. When the package arrives the post office will withhold the package due to the contents and send you an info document to retrieve the package with a ballistics officer present.
8. Then you inform the Police Ballistic office that your marker has arrived and you set appointment for inspection and retrieval.

What type of Marker Shall I go for ?
That is entirely you choice but if you want a quality marker with value for money and ideal for Woodsball we suggest the following:
1. Tippmans Sierra - One (AR-15 Look)
2. Tippman Bravo - One (M-16 Look)
The Bravo one is available also in the electronic version giving you capability of single, bust or full auto. For those mechanical buffs that hate electronics there is also the T98 response trigger kit that fits both markers. The E-Board is also available for converting a mechanical Tippman to E-Grip. If yo go for this model then also invest in the CYCLONE upgrade kit to assist feeding to your marker.

We suggest this marker for many reasons. The main reason is that it has a realistic look at a realistic cheap price and it is one of the best low entry markers. The other reason is that this marker has a range of ad dons and upgrades and is compatible with the T98 line of barrels.
If you want the an X-Ball entry level Marker then the choice is a bit different and so are the prices. A good entry level marker that can be upgraded to higher level system is the SM Vibe but unfortunately is not manufactured any more so if you find it and want one don't hesitate.

For those wanting an entry level marker with vast horizon to upgrade into a full replica Military rifle look, then Tippman A-5 is a must. This relatively small marker can be kitted out and upgraded into almost all the most common military assult rifles by adding stocks, forgrips etc.
If you want an AK, M-16, AR-15, UMP, HK MP5, HK 416, Barret AR-50 or even MK48 SAW apart from others companies like OPSGEAR offer these full metal ad don kits which convert the look of this small marker into a beast of a rifle.

For those who want the ultra realistic look in woodsball then you need to go for magazine feed markers but remember that each magazine is limited to small number of paintballs. MILSIG and RAP4 produce such markers while there is also conversion kits available for the low end markers from Tippman.

What about beefing up your marker?
There are two schools in beefing up the marker. Its either for performance or for looks.

These are upgrades that either enhance the rate of fire, like electronic boards, lighter bolts, and re manufactured parts that en hence the performance of your marker.

The look can be beefed up with accessories that might be only looks or comfort, such as grips, rail covers, and other attachments.

With regards to Woodsball gear the military look guns are needing sights. Some guns have sights but not suitable because when combined with mask its difficult to aim. Some times with the help of raisers you can solve the problem.
Some want to have more elaborated sights like Red Dot Scopes or Scopes. Well they make the gun look nice and if correctly set they can be of valuable help but all carry one draw back. These are optical lenses if hit by a paintball first you've lost the field of view and 2nd they can break.
Make sure you dont rely much on these gadgets.

A barrel can make difference to the performance of your gun, but the paint you use is dependent also. A longer barrel can help increase accuracy. Some stock barrels are to much oversize and combined with more accurate paint the result is inconsistency of the grouping. On the other hand if you get and after market barrel with smaller bore for more accuracy you need to test it with your paint or change paint to adapt to the barrel. A smaller bore barrel helps lot in accuracy but paint is more liable to break if not matched to the bore size. Long or short barrels depend on the role you play Woodsball, a very long barrel can reduces you maneuverability in those tight corners but it helps you with the long shots so check it out.

XBall guns.
Performance wise there is more upgrades directed towards performance in XBall guns. To increase rate of fire, softer and quicker triggers, light bolts to improve performance etc.
Look wise these XBall guns do not offer the features to install sights or other military type ad dons.