In the dead of winter, many of us count the days until it is warm enough to get on the paintball field. We both have winter and spring fever. But do we have to wait until it gets warmer before heading out to the paintball field?
You can play paintball in the winter, but you need to adjust your equipment, clothes, and game tactics. Keeping your paintballs warm is essential. Adjust the dwell, pressure, and bolt of your marker. Dress in layers, use gloves to keep your hands warm and dry, and beware of slippery ice.
If you are ready to learn how to play paintball in the winter, here are four tips that will help you master winter paintball.
Make Adjustments to Your Paintballs
This will be one of your topic priorities. If your paintballs break, you will be out of the game in no time. That is why if you do nothing else, keep your paintballs warm.
Paintballs are not designed for cold weather. Most paintball shells are made from gelatin or starch, which is why cold paintballs break easily. One way to keep your paintballs warm is to put them in a cooler with a heater pad on the bottom. Cover the cooler with a blanket. The goal is to keep them close to 70°F (21°C). Otherwise, you wind up with brittle paintballs that break easily.
At the end of a game, switch out any paint in the hopper. Since the paintballs get cold in the hopper, it is best if you switch them out for some warmer paintballs in the cooler before the next game begins.
Consider buying winter-specific balls. Because their shells are thicker, they are more resistant to cold. Good balls also have a fill that resists freezing. These GI Sportz Frostbite Winter Paintballs are designed for winter play. The shell can withstand temperatures of -4°F (-20°C). Other balls designed for winter gameplay include Empire Polar Ice and Valken Graffiti Paintballs.
While we are talking about the cold, here are a few other tips regarding your weapon:
- Keep your batteries warm. Many players buy fresh batteries for winter play.
- If you are still using CO2, keep it warm. Hopefully, you have switched to HPA.
Modify Your Marker
Cold does not only affect the paintballs. Putting warm paintballs into a cold marker will also cause a problem. These are numerous adjustments you might want to try:
- Use a thinner lubricant. Since temperature affects oil’s viscosity, you want a thinner oil that will reduce friction in the winter.
- Adjust the pressure. Play around with the dwell and pressure of your marker. Your goal is to have the lower pressure and a slower moving bolt.
- Underbore the barrel. Give this a try. Some players report that it results in fewer paintballs breaking because they can’t bounce around in the barrel.
Use trial and error to see which of these improves your shooting in the cold. Some players feel that thinner lubricant makes no difference for them, while others suggest that overboring the barrel works better. You need to discover what works for you.
Rethink How You Dress
Your clothes need to keep you warm without overheating. Also, they have to keep you warm when you fall into snow or ice. There is more to how you dress than your clothes. You need to think about your hands and eyes as well. We will cover each of those in this section.
Dress in Layers
Keep this principle in mind—it’s a lot easier to shed clothes while playing than it is to put on more.
When you play in warm or hot weather, you think of ways to stay cool. Winter play is more complicated. You want to cool down when you get hot from running and moving, but when play stops, you want to stay warm.
What you need to do is dress in layers. That way, if you get too hot while playing, you can peel a layer off, and when the game is over, or you are taking a break, you can put the layer on again.
Pro tip: You will blend in better with the snow if you have a light grey coat or jacket.
If your fingers are frozen, you won’t be able to shoot well, so you need to get some gloves. They need to keep your hands warm and dry while being flexible enough to let you pull the trigger.
Gloves are a personal preference, but if this is your first time playing in the cold, here are some suggestions:
- Hunting gloves. Good hunting gloves will keep your hands warm and keep water out, a significant plus in freezing temperatures. These Glacier Glove Gloves are water-resistant, breathable, and windproof. This 686 Recon Mitt is a bit more expensive, but it has additional waterproof fabric and touchscreen compatibility.
- Fleece gloves. If you want softer gloves that still keep you warm, these are a good option. And because they are cheaper, you can go through several pairs and still pay less than a good pair of hunting gloves. These Igloos Insulated Fleece Gloves are machine washable and have a waterproof insert.
- Bicycle gloves. Players who have sweaty hands prefer to use bicycle gloves. They still offer some protection from the cold but keep your hand cool.
Whichever kind of gloves you choose, do not play in the cold without wearing any. Your hands will thank you.
Expert tip: Pack some extra socks. Your feet will get cold and wet, so dry socks will come in handy.
Make Vision Adjustments
Anyone who wears glasses has the experience of having their glasses fog up when they come out of the cold into a warm house. If you are able to play using single lenses and anti-fog coating in the summer, great. But you should seriously consider thermal lenses for winter play because of the temperature differences.
Skiers wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the bright sunlight. Without them, your eyes will be exposed to extra glare. This additional glare reduces the contrast between light and dark objects, making it harder to see what you are shooting at.
For those who wear glasses and won’t have room for glasses and goggles, look into getting prescription inserts for your ski goggles. The insets fit snugly into the goggles, preventing them from moving around while you are playing. Think of them as contact lenses that go inside the goggles.
Goggles will give you an advantage over the players who have not given this much thought.
Adjust Your Game Tactics
The challenges of snow, sleet, and ice change everything. You will be moving more slowly through the slippery and wet conditions.
- Look out for dips and holes in the ground that will be covered by snow.
- Ice will be slippery, so you will move more slowly.
- Sounds you listen for, like leaves and sticks, will not be there.
- Your gun will fire more slowly, so adjust accordingly.
Pro tip: Stay hydrated. Just because it is cold does not mean you cannot dehydrate yourself while playing. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or some coffee between games, but also bring some water along.
To enjoy winter paintball, make sure you dress accordingly. If you are cold, it will not matter much if you bought winter paintballs and adjusted your marker. Once you’re dressed to stay warm, make sure that your paintballs remain warm. Winter paintball play is different, but once you have played, you will be waiting for the next snowstorm. So what are you waiting for? Get balling!