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Old 06-23-2014, 07:16 PM #1
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Debunking Paintball Myths

This is a thread about the common paintball myths we see from time to time here on PbNation, why they exist and why they are myths. From frozen paintballs to open bolts are more accurate I've tried to cover all the different myths about paintball here.

I may have missed some so feel free to add to more!

I'm posting this in the New Players forum because I think it will help out new players the most. Thus, keep in mind I've written this as though the person reading it may only be slightly familiar with the game. If you're a new player and don't understand something we talk about here please feel free to ask for clarification so I can tweak the content and make it easier to follow for other new players.

Each myth will be it's own post just because overall this is a post that would break the character count for one post and, organizationally, it makes it a bit easier to read.

Myths:

Frozen Paintballs
Longer barrels mean better accuracy and longer range
A marker shooting CO2 is inconsistent
Spyders/Tippmanns are horrible shooting guns
Snipers do/don’t exist in paintball
Speedball is all about Rate Of Fire
Paintball is dangerous to play
Closed bolt and pump guns are more accurate than semi-auto open bolt markers
CO2 is dirty and will ruin your marker
Rain short circuits electro guns
Rifled barrels shoot paint much more accurately than smoothbore barrels
Rifling is the same as backspin
Best Marker for Woodsball?

Last edited by Robotech : 07-10-2014 at 01:46 PM. Reason: Links to Topics added
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:17 PM #2
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Frozen Paintballs

While I can go on a ton about how being able to freeze paintballs just is not possible but also the oldest myth in paintball, I’m going to leave busting this one to the pros:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DxR7YRBEQ4

That really does cover it. Short version, not only don’t paintballs freeze but they become more brittle when they get colder. If you try and shoot paintballs that have been stored in the freezer chances are when you try and shoot them they’re going to explode in your marker.

Where then does this myth come from? When I started playing paintball in the late 80s, stories of frozen paintballs were common but even then, paintballs couldn’t really be frozen. The answer as to where this myth comes from really is unknown but I suspect it got started and perpetuated by new players. When new players get hit by a paintball and it doesn’t break many times they are dumbfounded. It hit me, how did it not break? For many, their go-to reasoning is the myth that you can freeze paintballs and obviously a paintball that doesn’t break must be frozen. What they don’t know is as paint gets older, or if it is left out in the sun too long, the shell becomes more rubbery. The more rubbery a shell is, the less likely it is to break.

As well all know, a paintball that doesn’t break is a paintball that bounces and a paintball that bounces, hurts!

Last edited by Robotech : 06-23-2014 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:18 PM #3
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Longer barrels mean better accuracy and longer range

As with most myths, paintball and otherwise, this one has some basis in truth. In the early days of paintball, before organized fields were commonplace, guns had very short barrels. They were about 4-6 inches long for almost all markers. These short barrels meant there was still a pretty big charge of air exiting the barrel right behind the paintball trying to accelerate it and the paint could easily be misdirected upon leaving the barrel.

Taking a cue from real firearms, players started increasing the barrel length. It was found that when you went with a longer barrel, the shots went further and more accurately up until barrel length got to about 8 inches. Thus players felt that if they went with a longer barrel, they would get more range and accuracy. Past 8 inches accuracy would still improve but only up until barrel lengths reached 14 inches. With people firmly believing the idea that longer barrels meant more range and accuracy, factory barrel lengths continued to grow and some reached lengths between 20 and 25 inches.

While the length of a paintball gun’s barrel does play a role in accuracy, today longer isn’t always better. A paintball takes 6-8 inches of barrel length to fully accelerate. Thus, the increased range players were seeing from barrels going from 4-6 inches up to about 8 inches was because the longer barrel allowed the paintball to accelerate to a greater speed. With the advent of chronographs and field speed limits, players now understood that their paintballs had been leaving those early short barrels at far lower speeds than they had with the longer barrels.

In addition, they also found that as barrel length got longer, they had to start using more air to propel the ball down the longer barrel. However, there were accuracy gains to be had by using a barrel longer than 8 inches. It is theorized that the length of barrel beyond the first 8 inches allows the ball and fill to stabilize from the accelerative forces of the air behind it and helps guide the ball out the barrel onto a more consistent trajectory as the air charge dissipate in a more controlled fashion behind it through porting. Once barrel length passed 14 inches accuracy did not improve though there was still an increase loss in air efficiency with every inch added. This loss of efficiency lead standard acceptable barrel length to settle between 10 and 14 inches and most paintball markers today come with a barrel that falls within this range.

Today the myth is perpetuated by new players taking real firearm principles and applying them to paintball without fully understanding the concepts behind the principles. (Thanks to Ahura Mazda for reminding me to add this.) In real firearms, the force firing your gun is the expansion of gas created by burning gunpowder. Slower burning gunpowder can make for a greater amount of gas to propell the bullet. By lengthening the barrel, the extra length gives the gas more time to accelerate the bullet and thus extending the range of the gun. With real guns, the muzzle velocity is unregulated and thus on gun may fire at 700 fps and another at 1000+ fps. With paintballs, we're limited to 300 fps (or less depending on the field) and since all guns today with a 10-14 inch barrel can reach that speed, there is no benefit to giving the ball more time to accelerate to a higher speed in a longer barrel.

As for the accuracy myth, that gets perpetuated today by two things. One, real firearm sniper rifles generally have longer barrels. Since many people equate sniper rifles with being the most accurate of firearms, they equate this accuracy to their longer barrels when really, it's the quality of the barrel (along with MANY other factors) that contributes to the sniper rifle's accuracy. Secondly, almost every player can tell you that one of the first things you can do to improve your stock marker's accuracy is to go with a better barrel. Old players know that like the real sniper rifles, it's the quality of the barrel and not the length that improves accuracy. New players however will often times equate a longer barrel as being a "better" barrel for accuracy and ignore the true reason why a better quality barrel, not longer, may be an upgrade for their marker's accuracy.

Last edited by Robotech : 06-24-2014 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:19 PM #4
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A marker shooting CO2 is inconsistent

If you compare your normal CO2 tank pressure to that of a High Pressure Air (HPA) tank, the HPA tank will deliver a more consistent pressure over different conditions. To say this is the case on every marker, or more accurately, every individual setup is false. A marker using CO2 can be just as consistent as when running HPA.

CO2 is stored in your tank as a liquid and has to convert to a gas to be used by your marker. HPA is stored as a gas to begin with at high pressure, hence the name. To convert CO2 from a liquid to a gas requires space and heat. The design of the tank and marker give it the space but heat comes from the air around it. The hotter it is, the more liquid is converted and the higher the tank’s output pressure. With HPA, the tanks hold the gas at 3,000 – 4,500 psi and then regulate that pressure down to 800 psi for the marker. It’s not that we couldn’t design a marker to operate on 4,500 psi of pressure but because the velocity of our marker is tied directly to the pressure of the gas propelling it, if we started at 300 fps at 3,000 psi then by the time we shot enough rounds to drop the tank pressure down to 1,500 psi our paintballs would be traveling at 150 fps.

It is this link between pressure and velocity that gives CO2 a bad rap. CO2 tanks come unregulated unlike HPA tanks. Because CO2 needs heat to convert from a liquid to a gas, a CO2 tank that produces 1200 psi of pressure in weather that’s 90 degrees may only produce 850 psi in 40 degree weather. That’s a 33% reduction in pressure. In addition, when you fire a paintball using CO2 you use some of the CO2 gas to do so. That means the volume and pressure of the gas in the tank drops a little bit. Drawing a bit of heat from the air around the tank, some liquid gets changed into a gas to take the place of the gas CO2 you just used. If you shoot a paintball gun running on CO2 rapidly, it is constantly drawing heat out of the air around it to keep converting liquid to gas. As it does this, the tank begins to get colder and this also chills the air around it leaving less heat for the CO2 to use to convert liquid to gas. This means less gas is produced and again, the pressure of the tank drops. This is why CO2 is known to have consistency issues in today’s high Rate Of Fire (ROF) markers.

Under the right conditions, liquid CO2 can get into the marker. This usually occurs when the temperature is cold and the CO2 tank is mounted parallel to the marker. (Anti-siphon equipped CO2 tanks can help with this issue but we won’t get into that too much here. Just know if you’re using a CO2 bottle on an ASA under your grip, it should be an anti-siphon equipped CO2 tank.) This is really bad for the marker because once that liquid gets inside your marker and you fire, the space for that CO2 expands quickly and the liquid CO2 in your marker will quickly change into a gas. Because a little liquid CO2 becomes a lot of gas, your marker that shot at 300 fps on a bottle pressure of 850 psi due to shooting in cold weather now rips off a 400+ fps round because the liquid CO2 spiked the pressure up to over 1200 psi!

So this isn’t really a myth, right? Wrong. HPA is regulated, CO2 is not. By adding a regulator to CO2 such as the Palmer’s Stabilizer, you can keep the pressure of CO2 going to your marker more constant. The Stabilizer also does wonders keeping liquid CO2 out of your marker and preventing big velocity spikes. By regulating down the CO2 pressure, each shot takes less gas out of the tank and thus less liquid CO2 needs to be converted to replace it. This makes it far more stable in high ROF conditions and in the cold.

Adding a second regulator to your marker, or buying a marker that already has a regulator, helps CO2 be more consistent as well (though remember to only use CO2 on markers able to use CO2) by further reducing the pressure required for each shot and thus further reducing the amount of liquid CO2 needing to be converted.

Properly regulated, CO2 can be equally as consistent in pressure as HPA.

Last edited by Robotech : 06-23-2014 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:20 PM #5
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Spyders/Tippmanns are horrible shooting guns

Really these markers get a bad rap. They are inexpensive and more expensive guns may shoot better, but that doesn’t mean these markers are horrible or cannot be made to shoot much better than how they come out of the box. Most however feel that even with a better barrel, HPA and good paint, these markers are still hopelessly bad shooters.

The biggest reason for this myth isn’t the design or quality necessarily of the guns themselves but rather their reputation for being markers requiring very little maintenance to operate. Most Spyders and Tippmanns that I’ve come across where the person is complaining about how poorly it is performing display a severe lack of proper maintenance. While Tippmanns are known for “taking a couple drops of oil in the ASA, pull the trigger a couple of times with no paint in the gun to get the air to blow the oil through it, then throw it in the closet” maintenance routines, the fact is that this is not properly maintaining even these nearly indestructible markers.

While sure, this is all that’s needed for the gun to always fire a paintball, more maintenance is needed to have the marker fire the paintball well. Dirt, grime and, most importantly, paint will get into the insides of a marker and cause it to shoot poorly. Leaving it in there over time will deteriorate o-rings causing them to harden, leak, tear and eventually fail. Dirt, oil and paint can get blown onto each ball causing them to travel erratically upon leaving the barrel. Dirt and debris can scratch the fine surface of the barrel and cause it to produce more friction against the ball as it travels down the barrel making the marker less efficient.

Also, many Spyders and Tippmanns fall into the hands of beginning players that don’t understand the value of purchasing quality paint. They buy inexpensive paint which isn’t consistently round, consistent in size or shape, and then blame their “cheap gun” for not shooting straight. Good paint shoots better than bad paint. Then they get a “better” gun and start shooting better paint and come to believe the other marker was their main problem.

A properly taken care of Spyder or Tippmann with a good, clean barrel and properly regulated can shoot just as well and as accurately, if not as quickly, as some of your higher end markers. I have seen a Spyder clone with cleaned and polished internals shoot good paint over a chrono at +/- 1 fps that could stack paint one on top of another at 90 feet…and that was on double regulated CO2.

Now, does that mean we should all be shooting inexpensive guns? No. Higher end guns tend to shoot smoother, weigh less, have devices to prevent ball breaks in the marker, have higher rates of fire, and generally come apart quickly and easily to make them simple to maintain. These are all features Spyders and Tippmanns usually do not have going for them. Also, when you get into the very expensive high end markers like your Dye DM line, they include all the bells and whistles that most players upgrade on lesser markers such as grips, barrels, bolts and the like straight from the factory.

Last edited by Robotech : 06-24-2014 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:21 PM #6
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Snipers do/don’t exist in paintball

This one could take up a master’s dissertation and the argument exists for both sides depending on conditions. This myth generally comes from an era where speedball ruled the paintball world and all markers fired the same type of paintball round. While even in the days when all paintball was woodsball snipers did exist on the paintball field, new technologies have further dispelled the myth that paintball snipers cannot exist. On the other hand, there are players who still believe that they can sit in the back of a speedball field and “snipe” other players without being seen and eliminated. That kind of sniper really is a myth in paintball.

In speedball sniping doesn’t happen in the traditional sense. You start off in view of the other team and most fields have no kind of low brush or other vegetative cover to conceal your movement. Man-made bunkers dominate the field with fairly good lanes and sight lines making unobserved movement between them nearly impossible. If you were to get in a position to line up a single shot elimination, chances are you’ll be spotted and eliminated yourself fairly quickly.

In woodsball, they can (and do) exist. We’re going to include scenario and big games here too as they have similar characteristics to woodsball played on very large fields where the two sides start well out of sight of one another. Here, there is more natural cover to conceal your movement and getting that well placed single shot elimination is possible. In addition, the Tiberius Arms First Strike Round can deliver accurate single shots at ranges outside standard paintball rounds. These rounds alone have done much to make paintball sniping a reality.

Last edited by Robotech : 06-23-2014 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:22 PM #7
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Speedball is all about Rate Of Fire

“Oh speedball, that’s all spray and pray.” This myth takes one aspect of speedball and uses it to define the entire game. In speedball, it is advantageous to prevent your opponent’s players from moving from one bunker to the next by shooting enough paint into the empty space they would need to traverse in order to advance. In the military, we call this suppressive or cover fire. (The difference being if you are just shooting to keep their heads down which is suppressive fire or if you are shooting to keep their heads down while your team mate moves into a better position.)

In speedball, what would be considered suppressive fire is referred to as “shooting the lane”. This act of dumping continuous ropes of paintballs at seemingly empty space is what leads people to believe Speedball is just spray and pray gameplay. What people don’t understand is that this is a necessary tactic (regardless of whether one thinks it is good or bad) of the sport.

Speedball also sees snap shooting and the use of cover fire. Cover fire will allow a player to move closer to the other side to get a better angle on an opposing player and “snipe” them out (sorry, had to) by quickly popping out of cover, taking a single shot, then getting quickly back into cover before they get shot out too.

Also, because of the nature of the game, players will put a lot of paint into the air when someone pops their head out because round paintballs fired from a not so well supported firing position tend not to be all that accurate. Remember, SPEEDball is all about SPEED and to hit a fast moving, briefly exposed, relatively small target usually requires a couple rounds in the air. Even in regular combat soldiers in a firefight will often times put a number of rounds towards their target as their hit probability under such conditions is low.

In addition, the myth assumes that woodsball is NOT about ROF when, in many situations, woodsball presents the same challenges as Speedball and thus the same tactic of firing copious amounts of paint to pin an opponent down while your team mates move into a better position is still necessary. It is important to keep in mind that Speedball came out of the woods as a way to remove what many considered the “boring “ aspects of woodsball such as walking for 10 minutes before seeing someone or getting eliminated by someone camping out in the woods and then having to wait 20 minutes for the turnaround game to start and keeping just the exciting “firefight” part of paintball.

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Old 06-23-2014, 07:23 PM #8
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Paintball is dangerous to play

This one comes from parents more than players but just because we know it to not be true, there is some basis for the myth.

Let’s set one thing straight, just because we as players know that, with the proper safety gear, our sport sees very few major injuries (injuries that would require a trip to the hospital or missing a day of work) that is not the same as saying paintball can’t be dangerous. Serious injuries make good headlines though so it only takes one to make the papers. Here are just a couple of examples:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=127944

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/135753.php

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/201...all-in-oakland

In most of these stories, the people being injured were not wearing proper eye protection. In each story the author states that “most” of these injuries occurred without the injured wearing proper eye safety equipment. Even though they never give examples of anyone being severely injured with proper eye protection, the wording of the article leaves the reader to assume that you can still be injured while wearing proper eye protection. It may be a matter of semantics but the way the evidence is worded when presented can skew the reader’s perception of the safety of our sport. These reports as well as the welts we so often proudly display to friends and coworkers along with the common sense “someone shooting something at me must be dangerous” thought process leads many to perpetuate the theory that paintball must be dangerous.

If someone delves a little deeper and reads the medical studies that focus on paintball injuries one finds a lot of information showing that this isn’t the case. Below is a link to a medical paper going over the injuries doctors can expect from paintball participants. It is stated in the article that there has never been an instance of eye damage reported when the participant was wearing approved safety goggles. In addition, the paper further states that non-eye injuries suffered in paintball are mostly injuries that are suffered in any other physically active sport such as sprains, tears and broken bones. Lastly, there have been only two fatalities and six serious injuries directly related to paintball. The two fatalities both occurred when full air/CO2 tanks were unscrewed from their valves and struck someone in the head.

http://www.jabfm.org/content/25/1/124.full

This article seems to directly reinforce the famous Minnesota Safety report which included statistics from the National Injury Information Clearinghouse of the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington D. C. (NEISS). This report from 2003, often quoted in paintball communities, states that out of 5,000 occurrences where someone plays paintball (that’s one person playing 5,000 times, 5,000 people playing once or any combination thereof) you will see 1 injury that requires a trip to the emergency room or loss of work. By comparison, football would see 19 injuries, baseball would see 7 and running would see 3.

http://www.paint-ball.org/paintball/safety_report.htm

So these reports tell us what we, as paintballers, already know. If you wear the proper safety gear, paintball is no more dangerous a sport than taking a jog around your block. In actuality according to the statistics, it may be even safer.

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Old 06-23-2014, 07:25 PM #9
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Closed bolt and pump guns are more accurate than semi-auto open bolt markers

For a long time the belief that a closed bolt marker (a marker where, when it is at rest, the ball has been pushed into the firing position by the bolt and thus the “breach”, where the ball drops down into the gun in front of the bolt, is “closed” when the trigger is pulled) was more accurate than an open bolt marker (a marker where, when the trigger is pulled, the bolt slides forward pushing the ball into the firing position and then fires the ball) since the ball was not “moving” forward when the trigger was pulled. If you haven’t been around paintball for a while, you may not be as familiar with this myth as some of the older players but it still shows up from time to time as “pumps are more accurate than semi-autos” debate.

Where it comes from is pump players. Generally, pump players are renowned for their ability to quickly snap shoot and eliminate a player with one shot since this is often times all they have. Many players believed that somehow a pump marker is inherently more accurate than a semi-auto marker and in an attempt to explain it they focused on the pump’s firing cycle. A pump, by nature, is a closed bolt marker. To load and fire a ball, the operator pulls back the pump opening the breach, a paintball drops in, and the operator slides the pump forward which pushes the bolt, and thus the freshly loaded paintball, into the firing position for the next shot. Since early semi-auto markers of the day would keep their bolts open until the trigger was pulled which would cause the bolt to slam the paintball forward then fire the paintball all in one motion before having the bolt slide back open and lock waiting for the next trigger pull players believed this violent firing sequence of the early semi-automatic guns was to blame for their seeming inaccuracy.

Thus to bring together the best of both worlds, the Autococker was born; a semi-auto marker that fired from a closed bolt position. Ever since the debate has raged over the superior accuracy of the close bolt marker vs the open bolt marker. Finally, warpig.com did a test to see which was more accurate. They took a marker and modified it so that it could shoot as both an open and closed bolt marker. This eliminated as many factors as possible from the test and isolated just the bolt position when it came to determining accuracy.

http://www.warpig.com/paintball/tech...osedopen.shtml

Going into the test Warpig figured the closed bolt system would prove to be more stable than the open bolt. What they found was that no accuracy advantage was to be had between the two systems. Not only did this debunk the myth that closed bolt was more accurate than open bolt but also that pump markers were more accurate than semi-auto markers.

The myth continues even today because pumps seem to be more accurate than semi-autos but the reality has nothing to do with the guns themselves. Generally speaking, pump players need to make their shots count because they cannot put 10-15 balls in the air to make up for poor aiming. This means pump players often try to move in for closer shots and also have shot their markers enough to be very good marksmen with them. It’s the style and the skill of the pump player that gives other non-pump players the idea that pump markers are more accurate than their semi-auto marker when, in reality, they’re just getting out-gunned by a better shooter.

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Old 06-23-2014, 07:26 PM #10
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CO2 is dirty and will ruin your marker

I’m not even sure where this myth got started but it goes something like this:

"CO2 tanks are not clean and since they draw the CO2 liquid from the bottom of the tank all that debris and dirt can get sucked up in the siphon tube and deposited in your tank. This debris is then going to enter your marker and destroy its internals. CO2 is also an inherently dirty gas and also has contaminants in it that can turn to acid and eat your o-rings."

Or something like that.

Some of this is very true. CO2 can be a dirty gas. The tanks that our CO2 is stored in are more vulnerable to corrosion than food grade tanks. Note that some of the information on the internet may get you to believe (as it did me, thank you to idontknow2007 for the correction) that there is a difference between the CO2 used for food processing, such as beer and soda, and industrial CO2. The reality is the gas itself is the same just the tanks they are stored in are different. Chances are the tank that your local paintball store or field uses to store their CO2 isn't food grade and thus contaminants from the tank may find their way into the CO2. This part of the myth are sometimes true.

That said, most fill stations in paintball stores have filters on them that will keep this grime out of your personal paintball tank. Even if your own personal tank starts to corrode internally, the amount of grime that comes off it should not damage your gun beyond basic wear and tear levels. The stories you hear of people having their guns get filled with gunk from CO2 tanks are usually the result of getting a fill from an improperly maintained CO2 fill station and not directly because of the CO2 itself.

As for turning into acid and doing major damage to your marker, I can say that I have a 10 year old marker that has tens of thousands of rounds through it and as never ran on HPA. It still shoots today like it originally did and all of its no wear hard parts are still original. In my time playing paintball (which I started playing in the late 80s) I’ve never heard of a marker being damaged by acid created by using CO2.

Last edited by Robotech : 06-26-2014 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:26 PM #11
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Rain short circuits electro guns

We all know water and electricity don’t mix so this seems more like common sense than a paintball myth but the reality is much different. Modern day paintball markers have a number of safety precautions to prevent the shorting out of a board due to moisture. Boards get treated with a water proofing coating to prevent water and paint (which is far more likely to get on your board that water anyway) from shoring out the electronics.

To further protect the boards, these electronics are often times buried in the body of the marker to keep the likelihood of paint or water reaching them very low. More importantly keep in mind that it’s not water and electronics that don’t get along but water and electricity. Thus if your board does get submerged and your marker starts acting funny, turn it off and let it dry out completely. Chances are when you turn it back on again it will work as it should.

Having played in the rain with an electronic hopper and an electronic marker I tell you from first-hand experience that today’s markers are very rugged and manufacturers have taken into account that we use them in an environment where liquids will get everywhere. They have taken many precautions to ensure that the electronics in our high dollar markers will perform even in the rain.

Last edited by Robotech : 06-24-2014 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:24 PM #12
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good read. Thanks
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:32 PM #13
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Awesome post! There's so much good information here, but I especially like the parts on snipers and longer barrel lengths. I can't tell you how many times I've heard kids talking about needing an extra long barrel so they can sit in the back and snipe out the other team, lol.
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:29 PM #14
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Perfect place for this information! I'd like to see more on "rifled barrels" in paintball.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:33 PM #15
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Rifled barrels shoot paint much more accurately than smoothbore barrels

This one slipped my mind because it’s only half myth. This myth comes out of the fact that there was a time when standard firearms were firing .50 caliber balls out of smoothbore muskets and when those muskets were rifled they could accurately hit targets at longer ranges. It has been theorized then that the same should hold true of round paintballs.

To understand this myth one has to understand what rifling does. To load a round ball into a smoothbore musket, the ball had to be dropped down the barrel on top of the wad and powder. In order for the ball to do this, the size of the ball had to be slightly smaller than the size of the barrel otherwise the ball wouldn’t slide down the barrel. When the gun was fired, the ball would be propelled out the barrel. The technique was no different when a rifling barrel was used. The problem is that the rifling didn’t engage the slightly smaller ball all that well and while the rifling would spin the ball, it didn’t spin it much and the accuracy improvement didn’t add a lot of range to the effective distance of the ball.

The other thing one has to understand is why rifling makes a round more accurate. Rifling imparts a spin on the ball like one would when you throw a football. This “spiral” type spin gyroscopically stabilizes the ball so that outside forces have less of an affect at throwing it off the ballistic path the gun had put it on. What made the round ball benefit so little from rifling was its shape. Round balls are aerodynamically inefficient and their shape results in a great deal of aerodynamic drag. This limited their range and since it didn’t matter which way the ball was pointed in regards to the air it was moving through, gyroscopic stabilization had little effect.

Just like their real firearm counterparts, round paintballs do not pick up a lot of spin from barrel rifling and suffer the same aerodynamic issues as lead balls meaning their accuracy at range is only marginally improved by rifling . When we say marginally, we mean so little that you can’t even really measure it. There are so many issues causing round paintballs to be inaccurate that the slight amount of improvement imparted on them by riffling fails to make up for the other glaring accuracy issues. The biggest issue that negates improving accuracy with rifled barrels and paintball isn’t the mass of the paintball but rather the inconsistent size difference of paintballs. Since some will be much smaller than the barrel’s bore they will receive less spin than a tighter fitting ball. Also, if you go too tight of a fit the grooves in the barrel will break the paintball in the barrel. Once paint is broken in a riffled barrel, the spin they’ll put on the ball will cause it to fly in a very wild trajectory.

As I said earlier though this is only a half myth. With regular paint rifled barrels impart no significant advantage in accuracy just as it helped only slightly with real firearms. Real firearms solved the problem by going with a more aerodynamic round in the Minie Ball. The Minie Ball had to be fed into the barrel a particular way. The leading side of the round was pointed to cut through the air easier. The back of the bullet was extended to reduce the aerodynamic drag that the round ball suffered from. However, to fire such a projectile out the barrel, aerodynamic forces wouldn’t be equal across the surface of the round and it wouldn’t stay pointed in the right direction. As the bullet “tilted” off its access in flight, aerodynamic forces would further shift and the round would start tumbling.

This is where the rifling came in. The gyroscopic stabilization the spin from rifling imparted on the round would keep it from tumbling in flight just like it does on a football. This allowed the round to take advantage of its improved aerodynamic shape and extend its range exponentially while achieving even greater accuracy. However, since these rounds were still muzzle loaded they had to be smaller than the barrel bore in order to be properly loaded but once again, this meant the round wouldn’t engage the rifling groves very well. This would reduce the amount of spin and the round wouldn’t be properly stabilized. To solve this, the back of the bullet was hallowed out a slight bit. When the powder would go off behind the round, the force of the powder burn would expand this hollow section forcing the soft led of the bullet out into the grooves and thus providing the proper engagement of those groves resulting in the round receiving the proper amount of spin for stabilization.

In the paintball world, up until recently we only had round paintballs. Now, Tiberius Arms provides us with First Strike rounds. These rounds have the same shape as the Minnie ball. There are small fins on the back of the round so that when the ball leaves the barrel the air passing over the ball will impart a spin on the ball. Just like the Minnie Ball, the First Strike Round needs to be gyroscopically stabilized in order to fly straight and take advantage of its aerodynamic shape. The fins on First Strike Rounds (FSR) allow these rounds to be shot from a smoothbore barrel most paintball guns come with while the Minnie ball had to be shot out of a rifled barrel.

There is a price to be paid for shooting an FSR out of a smoothbore barrel though. Because the ball isn’t spinning when it comes out of the barrel, the ball can wobble a bit off its original trajectory until the fins impart the right spin on the ball. Shooting an FSR out of a rifled paintball barrel (with the proper twist direction…some rifled paintball barrels have their riffling twisting the wrong direction compared to the FSR’s fins) will mean the ball hits the air already stabilized and won’t wobble off course.

This is why rifled barrels have shown a substantial improvement in accuracy of FSRs at longer ranges when compared to FSRs shot from smoothbore barrels at the same range. Because a little deviation at the barrel changes where the round hits very little at short ranges but increases inaccuracy as target distance gets longer, the accuracy improvement of a rifled barrel will not be perceptive at short ranges but will gradually improve as the target distance gets longer and longer.

Last edited by Robotech : 06-26-2014 at 01:07 PM. Reason: Spelling corrections
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:35 PM #16
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Rifling is the same as backspin

This is a related myth to the above myth about rifling not working for round paintballs. Many people believe that because rifling doesn’t help improve range and accuracy to a paintball then backspin barrels don’t work either. This myth is perpetuated because people believe the two types of spin do the same thing. Reality is, they don’t.

We talked above about what rifling does, imparts a gyroscopic spin on the ball. Gyroscopic spin is the kind of spin that keeps a top up when you spin it quickly. A backspin, while generating gyroscopic forces to be true, does not use those forces to improve the flight of the ball. A backspin will generate an aerodynamic effect on the ball called the Magnus effect. The backspin on the ball causes the air moving over the top of the ball to speed up while the air moving under the ball slows down. Physics dictates that the faster air moves, the lower its pressure so the pressure on top of a back spinning ball is less than the air on the bottom. This means the higher pressure air on the bottom pushes the ball up. We call this force lift and it’s the same force that makes airplanes fly.

This is what gives a paintball with a backspin more distance and a flatter trajectory than FSRs and paintballs without a backspin. The lift generated by the backspin counteracts the effect of gravity on the paintball. This backspin also provides a slightly better aerodynamic profile and thus results in slightly less drag. This also contributes to the greater range of a paintball with a backspin. Just know that this increased range is slight and nowhere near the improvement seen with a FSR.

It is important to note that a backspin does nothing to increase the accuracy of a paintball. As a matter of fact both barrel types that induce backspin, the Apex and FlatLine barrels, have shown to reduce accuracy probably because of the way they induce the backspin. To date, the only backspin barrel I’ve seen to maintain the accuracy of a standard barrel has been the Warsensor “hop up” barrel that was only available on the WS-66 paintball marker produced by Warsensor.

Last edited by Robotech : 06-26-2014 at 01:07 PM. Reason: Spelling corrections
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:20 AM #17
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Excellent write-up!! I've heard so many of these myths over the years.

I predict this thread will be on the front page soon.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:54 AM #18
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Thanks guys. Would be very cool to see this on the front page.
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:33 AM #19
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:09 PM #20
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Robo I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to nerd out with you over a drink, but I have I point out your description of lift is pop-science.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift_(f..._on_an_airfoil
TL;DR Physics does not actually dictate the faster air/slower air lift thing w/out assuming more things that are a bit nebulous.
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:42 PM #21
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We're trying to keep this simple CuLane. LOL

However, I'm not sure what you are stating. From the article you posted:

Quote:
Whenever a fluid follows a curved path, there is a pressure gradient perpendicular to the flow direction. This direct relationship between curved streamlines and pressure differences was derived from Newton's second law by Leonhard Euler in 1754:

dp/dR = ρ(v^2/R)

where R is the radius of curvature, p is the pressure, ρ is the density, and v is the velocity. This formula shows that higher velocities and tighter curvatures create larger pressure differentials and that for straight flow (R → ∞) the pressure difference is zero.

From what I am reading there, air velocity does have a direct affect on air pressure. The chart attached to the article also shows that higher velocities on the top surface of an airfoil have lower pressure than the flow across the bottom. If you look at the wake behind a backspinning ball the shape of the air flow is identical to that of an airfoil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_effect
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