There are two main things that affect paintball accuracy, paintball, and barrels. But there are also a few other things like the paintball gun and skill that can also play a role.
Using good quality paintballs is the key to accuracy. You could have the best paintball gun, the best barrel, and be the best paintball player in the world, if you have bad paintballs the gun won’t shoot straight.
High-quality paintballs are round, consistent in size, break on target and mark well.
Getting a good round paintball is the most important part of the, if the paintballs are off shape they will shoot funny. Having a round paintball lets the airflow uniformly over the ball allowing it to fly true. A lopsided ball will catch the air, start spinning, and not stay on target.
Having consistently sized paintballs is the key to consistent velocity. When each paintball is the same size there is a good seal on the paintball and barrel. That good seal makes sure each paintball is very close in velocity. Having each shot have a similar velocity means that each paintball is going to go the same distance every time. so you aren’t left guessing how far each shot is going to go.
This isn’t accuracy, but it’s also important. You need paintball to break on your target, great if you hit someone, but if the paintball bounces off, then they are still in the game, so you are going to need something that can break. This can be a little tricky though, I’ll cover it more in the gun section.
When that paintball does break on target it needs to stand out. Some of the cheaper paintballs, while sometimes a great deal, they mostly have inadequate fills. The cheaper paint fill is watery and the paint inside has duller colors, ideally, you have a super bright vibrant fill that is thick so it’s visible and stays in place.
Below is a great example of a higher-end fill compared to a lower-end fill. You can see the difference, one fill is much easier to see and it’s not running like the other. It’s more visible and it stays in place.
With paintball, you do get what you pay for. For $40 you will get a paintball that may not be round, vary in size, might be hard, and will have a dull fill. Buying name-brand paintballs from companies like Valken, HK Army, and GI Sportz is also a good way to play it safe, there are many paintball companies out there but sticking with the bigger names is a good way to make sure you get better quality. Freshness can also affect paintballs, they are made of gelatin and 100% biodegradable so they will break down over time. It’s best to store paintballs inside at room temperature, and flip the box over once a week this will stop the different liquids from settling.
Paintballs I recommend and use
Making sure you have a good barrel also plays a role with accuracy. I’m not one of the people who thinks barrel brand makes a huge difference, I feel that if you have a well made barrel it’s going to shoot just as well as any other well made barrel. While paintballs are super complicated, barrels are just tubes on aluminum.
The biggest factor to think about with barrels is the bore size. The bore size in the internal diamiter of the barrel.
In general, all paintballs are made to be the same size .689 caliber. Since paintballs are made of gelatin they are affected by the weather. If there is some extra humidity in the air either when the paintball is being made or when you open the bag the paintball can take on some of the moisture and swell making it a bit larger than the desired .689, the opposite can happen if the air is dry the ball can shrink. We are talking very small amounts here,.689 to .685 which is only 0.00127mm, a human hair is 0.08 and 0.1mm. Even that small amount can affect accuracy.
The solution to varying paintball sizes is the barrel kit. Barrel kits like the HK Army LAZR have a three-piece design that has different bore size sleeves to accommodate different paintball sizes.
When using a barrel kit, I like to use a size that is the same as the paintballs. I want the paintballs to barely get stuck, so I have to very lightly blow it out. If the ball gets stuck and I have to use a swab to push it out it’s too small and if the paintball falls out the barrel is too big. This is how I use a barrel kit, and it’s the most common way. You can also under or overbore, but I feel these can lead to paintball breaking in the barrel and I don’t like either method.
Above was about normal paintball barrels, a traditional barrel, the kind that come on all paintball guns, but there are two barrels that will greatly affect how far the paintball gun shoots, the Tippmann Flatline and the Apex Barrel.
Both of these barrels work in the same way adding backspin to the paintball. The backspin makes a low and high-pressure area on the paintball, and the ball gets pulled along kind of like a sail. There’s no question they shoot further, but they also aren’t accurate and break paintballs. By adding backspin you are adding the thing that quality paintballs and good barrels try to eliminate. Adding spin in the backward direction does not affect accuracy, only distance the problem is with the Flatline and Apex that doesn’t happen. For example, if you get 90% backspin and 10% spin on the side, the pressure zone if going to change the ball is going to pull to that side. Sometimes it is 100% backspin, sometimes 80% so it’s hard to tell where the ball is going to go.
Both the barrels work but making the paintball hit a ramp which adds the spin. The problem is paintballs are made to break, so they can break when they hit that ramp. It’s not ideal.
I like to say that guns don’t affect accuracy, that’s kind of true. The big picture they don’t, all paintball guns shoot the same velocity and use the same paintball. If you have a 170R and a Tippmann Stormer, both have the same barrel, same paintballs and the velocity is the same of each shot both guns will have the same accuracy.
The last part is key, the one thing that the 170R can do that the Stormer can’t have very consistent velocity. Taking one shot it’s impossible to tell a difference in accuracy, but when you start shooting the guns back to back the 170R consistent velocity is noticeable and the paintballs gun the same distance every time. Wherewith the Stormer the velocity varies more and the distance change is more obvious. Typical for a velocity fluctuation on the 170R would be +/- 5 FPS, whereas the Tippmann Stormer would be around +/- 15 FPS.
Make no mistake paintball is a very skilled game, it seems like anyone should be a good shot. You just point it and shoot right? Yeah, but there is for sure a skill difference in players.
I know some players that I will never be better than, no matter how hard I work. Some people have a natural shooting ability that I was not born with. Some professionals have been playing pro for over 20 years and have honed their skills.
Practice makes perfect.