Paintball Range and Accuracy

I have heard so much about ‘xyz’ barrel gives better range than ‘abc’ and ‘nop’ barrel. There may be some factors that contribute to better accuracy and range of paintballs. Instead of going over matching paintballs with barrels, I will discuss range in general. If you wish to read up on matching, click on those links accordingly. Also, see Barrels – F.A.Q. for help choosing the right barrel for you. I do suggest that you read this article.

Range, in general, is pretty much the same from marker to marker. A marker with the best paint match, regulator that is very accurate and consistant, and how the marker is aimed (angle of the barrel relative to the ground) will pretty much go the same distance and have equal accuracy. I cannot begin to tell you all the emails from those that did there own tests and bought the most expensive barrel like the Boomstick and compared it to the CP barrel. About half the cost difference. Both performed the same. The only difference between the two is roughly $50 short on upgrades that can be put towards for the Boomstick owners.

As I said, I am not writing this article to put down some barrels while praising others. If you want to spend the money on a nice looking barrel, then that is your choice. I want to speak of range. Period! I am going to speak of an best range, effective range, and a maximum range. The text below is that of mine and offered to you out of my personal experience of playing and watching the sport.

Best Range

An ideal range is defined as having the best chance of hitting your target 9 out of 10 times or better. Not only that, but also successfully having the paintball marker the target and not be bounced off. The ideal range is considered to be out to 70 to 80 feet.

Effective Range

The effective range is that distance that the paintball has to hit a pretty solid target. A solid target can be considered as a marker, hopper, pack, or goggles. This effective range can be 70 to 80 feet out to around 100 feet. I will also mention that this ‘effective’ range can be dodged by the target if (s)he has good reflexes.

Maximum Range

This is defined as a paintball, traveling about 290fps from the muzzle, traveling out beyond effective range, and breaking on target. This will have to be on a relatively hard target to break. And if it is a live target, has to be somebody sleeping within a suit of armor for the paintball to break. This range is out to about 120 to 130 feet. The Flatline barrel offers long range shooting. However, due to air resistance, the paintball will slow and may not break on impact. Besides, my guess is that you will shoot several paintballs to score just one hit. and that hit may not break.

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I was originally not really wanting to go into accuracy in this article. But I think it fits for this discussion. I have seen some mean looking markers with huge scopes. Do these scopes work? Depends what you use them for. If you are using them to see down range potential risks, then you are using the scope correctly. If you are sighting up a target to hit, good luck. It will help some. But don’t count on extreme range shooting with the scope. Not best for effective range.

There is no need to spend over $60 for a barrel. No matter how much the manufacturer or a fellow paintball player claims that you will have premium accuracy with a barrel. It is just not possible. It is extremely hard for a paintball to consistently hit a target the same point time after time. Paintballs are not a perfectly round sphere. To minimize a paintball from going everywhere but straight, the paint to bore match needs to be correct. Matching the paint to the barrel will provide two things. This will give you optimum in 1) accuracy; and 2) efficiency. A paintball that is too small for the bore, the air will get past the paint and cause an unequal air pressure. Worse yet, the paintballs will roll out of the barrel. If the paintball is too big for the barrel, you could end up breaking alot of paint in the barrel. Length will be a factor as well. Best if the barrel is 10″ – 14″ in length. More on this in Barrels – F.A.Q..

Paintballs are a round sphere. Kind of like a musket ball. However, that is as far as the similaralities go. Musket balls are traveling at a greater velocity, a solid object, and can use rifling inside of a barrel. A paintball is light (about 30grams), limited to a fields maximum velocity (typically 300fps), and is filled with liquid. A paintball is also not a true sphere. There are some oblong shaped paintballs that can and will cause it to curve. The further the ball travels, the more the curve.

Besides, it is easier to shoot a target at ‘Best Range’ since the paintball will not deviate from it’s course that much. Better chance to eliminate the target than trying to knock off a player at ‘Maximum Range’.

The accuracy of a paintball is only affected after the ball has left the barrel. What makes a paintball curve? Several factors. One, the paintball is not a ture sphere. It may be fatter around the seam. Two, high velocity. This goes back to number one. Because it is not a true sphere, and traveling at a high velocity, it may cause lift and drag like an airplane wing. Three, the seem is just big enough to catch air and cause spin. Four, weather. Humid air may be enough to push off course. Or even wind (shooting with, into, or perpendicular). Five, foriegn object/substance on the paintball. If you oiled your marker heavily or have a paintball break in the breech, these substances may attach themselves to the paint and cause curving.

A paintball curve may start immediately from the muzzle (usually due to broken paint). But most often at longer ranges. The further down range the ball travels, the more the curve.

Super Man Effect

I like to call this the Super Man effect. Bare with me. A paintball needs a certain speed to make a clean break, as mentioned in the above section. Yet the speed limit that most paintball fields place on paintballs is no more than 300fps (194mph). That is at the barrel. There is a safety issue to stay well below the 14 lb/sq.inch of impact. According to some calculations that I have done, a paintball at that speed will travel just over 100ft with no angle of barrel. However, the speed is diminished to about 212fps (145mph) because of turbulance. At that range, you may have fast reactions to dodge the incoming paint. If you extend the range further to 150ft, you got yourself a ball traveling at 145fps (100mph). At this speed (if it is dead on accurate; I know, I can wish), it very well could hit you and not break depending on the shell thickness. Further distance to 200ft, and you got a ball traveling at 112fps (77mph). I think you catch my drift. The longer the range, the less chance that the ball can break. Throw in ball shape/condition, air currents, and turbulence and you could have a ball veering off target by by several feet in any direction by the time it reaches the threshold of ‘Maximum Range’. So you wanna be snipers, think about it.

Final Point

It was relayed to me this interesting point. Personally, I do not hose the paint out. I pick my shots. The point is, if players hose paint on a regular basis, why do they demand the ‘best range and accuracy’ in their markers? There is no need for accuracy if you are sending 20 balls down range in 2 seconds. If only the majority of players pick and choose shots would this article not exist.


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