The Science & Art of Holding a Speedball and Woodsball
By Lars Hindsley — DangerMan
What is wrong with this gun hold? Can you tell?
If not, you may want to read this article explaining the proper way to hold a paintball gun.
ADAPTING SPEEDBALL METHODS BACK TO WOODSBALL
Paintball began in the woods but it is safe to argue that it has been perfected through speedball. Speedball is played on a flat arena that is shorter than a football field and much more narrow. Ultimately, speedball requires precise efficiency. A byproduct of speedball’s need for orderly gunplay is an efficient gun hold. NOTE: This three-part article does not preach against efficient speedball form. Changes for woodsball/RecBall play are conditional.
THE TRINITY: Hold, Form & Stance
We breakdown holding a gun into three distinctive parts. Think of those elements as your hands, arms and body. Each component when done well, compliments the others.
- Hold / Part One – How to Hold Your Paintball Gun (Hands) – Foundation
- Form / Part Two – Where to Place Your Paintball Gun (Arms) – Stability
- Stance / Part Three – Profile (Body) – Exposure & Efficiency in Movement
HOLDING A PAINTBALL GUN (Speedball)
Paintball guns are held with two hands. Paintball pistols are not covered here.
Can you hold and shoot a paintball gun with one hand? Yes, but to do so is more of a circus move.
For the purpose of this article and good standards in communicating we will use accurate firearm terms and accurate paintball industry terms.
- Off-hand: This is a firearm term which paintballers use loosely and often incorrect. Off-hand Does NOT mean shooting weak hand (an incorrect paintball reference). In firearms, shooting off-hand is generally defined as standing without support or unsupported shooting. Meanwhile in paintball most consider off-hand as the hand which does not pull the trigger. That’s fine, but it’s using the term incorrectly and really has no place in paintball. To avoid confusion, I avoid using the term off-hand and use a more clear term, weak-hand. The opposite being strong-handed.
- Weak-hand: Your naturally weaker hand unless you are fortunate enough to be ambidextrous. If you are naturally (dominant) right handed, then your left hand is your weak-hand.
- Strong-hand: Your dominant, stronger hand. If you are naturally right handed, that is your strong-hand.
- Foregrip: Forward grip of the paintball gun.
- Trigger Grip: Back grip with trigger.
In general your weak-hand is on the foregrip (forward grip of the paintball gun) which can be in any gentle hold you desire. But did you know there is a proper technique in doing this which helps establish proper form? Form is covered in more detail in the article: How To Hold Your Paintball Gun – Part Two. The instructions shown here in part one will give you the foundation to begin putting all the parts together if you want to increase your stability and body efficiency.
When standing in the open, your hand hold on your gun should be with your natural dominant hand operating the trigger. If for instance you are right handed, then your right hand is the trigger hold, and your left hand becomes your foregrip hold as seen above.
Note that photos here will often show the nuanced changes adapted to woodsball. DangerMan smashes some speedball traditions such as using a 50ci tank for his own Deep V gunhold. To best understand his technique, current and traditional gun hold philosophy must be respected and will be taught here.
In establishing a gun hold start with supporting the paintball marker from the trigger grip with your strong (dominant) hand.
Let’s state the obvious. It’s natural to grab your gun this way. This takes no special instructions, but it is in fact where the gun hold begins, so forgive any insult to your intelligence. See image below.
Established players reading this article for accuracy, be advised we cover arm extension in part two.
Place your weak-hand outward, not at full extension. With your palm facing up, as if you are about to receive a hand slap, or hold a saucer to place a teacup on it — this is all done with a bent elbow (creating a wide V shape) keeping your hand at a short distance as if to catch your gun’s foregrip in your palm. Your bent elbow should naturally fall into your torso near your abdomen. See image below.
Place your intended foregrip hand out flat, locking your elbow at your midsection.Next, from the tea-cup position your (weak-hand) forward arm should now naturally be forced into your torso bracing your gun hold into a balanced forward aim. Your gun hold is naturally minimizing your profile of exposure. What does this mean? It means that the elbow and arm of your foregrip are not hanging outside your body expanding your overall profile. If you have not heard of the term chicken-wing or chicken-winging, it’s when your elbows hang outside your body frame and you are not only giving up support to your gun, you’re also giving opponents a chance to hit that exposed body part. This comes back to overall form which again is covered in the next article. For now focus only on how to hold your gun as it is demonstrated here.
This is known as tea-cupping. Yes, we all know of tea-bagging from video games, this is nothing like that and should be obvious. If you are an old school paintballer you know it’s not the original technique of serving tea in paintball, we’ll get to that. Soon. Very soon.
Do you need to hold your foregrip like the saucer under a teacup? No. Once your elbow is loaded into the proper position you can hold your foregrip vertically as shown in the photo below. In time, you will give up the teacup mechanic and simply grab the foregrip while locking in your elbow.
TEACUP TERM HISTORY
The term teacup grip originates from the handgun firearms culture. It’s a big no-no. So if you see your favorite on-screen character doing it, rest assured they are being mocked at home by shooters in-the-know.
Early on paintball coaches in the game of speedball began to teach it to players too lazy to switch hands. And the teacup grip wasn’t established at the foregrip. It was established at the drop forward. What’s a drop forward? See below.
Perhaps you are too new to paintball but at one time all paintball guns had the regulator on the foregrip. In fact the regulator was the foregrip. There was a macro line which ran to the tank from the regulator/foregrip. Imagine that. Your regulator was your foregrip. Macroless guns like the Invert Mini (Now the Empire Mini) changed that.
During paintball in the 1990’s Players wouldn’t teacup the regulator foregrip. They would teacup the drop forward which was basically an extension of the tank! Why did players teacup the drop forward? It allowed players to shoot both sides of the bunker without switching hands. See below.
At one time speedball players all preached serving tea as a standard gun hold where the drop forward rail is cupped in your weak hand. Take note in the photos below the regulator was not treated like a foregrip. The serving tea hold is an antiquated gun hold that is now almost all but forgotten. Where will we be 20 years in paintball’s future?
Let’s not confuse setting up your hold with a teacup with the serving tea gun hold! They are very different! In fact the teacup hold is an evolution of the serving tea gun hold in that by holding out your hand as if to hold a saucer under a cup of tea, that body position articulates your elbow into the proper mechanic of form which is in part two of this series. For now, your Teacup History Lesson is complete.
Kentucky Left Hand
When a player is naturally right handed and shoots right handed out the left side of the bunker this is called shooting Kentucky Left Hand See example at right: Shooting right handed out the left side of the bunker. While there are exceptions to this rule (such as wrapping a bunker or tree, or standing back off your bunker using it as minimal cover) shooting this way exposes more of your body and therefore it’s frowned upon by the speedball and tournament playing community.
Breaking with traditions will bring condemnation, so if you adapt anything from speedball to woodsball, be sure you have a sound argument along with success through your changes.
At one time if you shot switch, you were a wizard. Now it’s expected. We’ll get to switch later but it doesn’t take much thinking to understand what switch implies.
Shooting switch is truly necessary to play both sides of a bunker. If you are standing in the open, stick with your dominant hand hold. Here is an example below.
Congrats you are holding your gun! Now to learn switch.
Learning to shoot from your weak hand is critical. It is mandatory in speedball. Having this ability in your woodsball arsenal is essential. As you learn it, this ability will be folded into your form. For now you must follow instructions blindly as a faithful grasshopper who does not question a Kung Fu master. In time the puzzle pieces will naturally fall into place. Let’s begin.
In this drill you only need your gun frame. Practice safety at all times, keep your tank, barrel and loader off your marker during this drill unless your barrel is covered and you want to practice with a full rig. Even with a full rig your tank should be either degassed or your ASA is not engaged. This cannot be emphasized enough, SAFETY FIRST. Don’t assume anything ever with a paintball gun. Clear the chamber, test fire at the ground with the barrel covered to be sure your gun is off and no pressure is stored in the gun internals. It can and has happened, BE SAFE!
In short, to shoot switch you are handing your gun to yourself.
- Step One: From a strong hand position, hold your gun up in a ready position at your strong hand shoulder.
- Step Two: Slide your gun on a horizontal plane across your chest (don’t give up your imaginary aim) to your opposing shoulder. In this transition you remove your weak hand from the foregrip and take ahold of the trigger grip exchanging hands as your gun completes the movement across your chest.
- Step Three: Your strong hand now being free takes ahold of the foregrip. You have just switched hands as if to shoot out the opposing side of a bunker.
Repeat this movement back and forth while sitting at home on couch or just walking about. Occasionally pause at your weak hand and practice fingering the trigger. At some point you will need to practice in a real world setting to learn how to shoot accurately from your weak hand. This is your foundation.
Always carry your gun in your weak hand. Always. This subtlety of this tip is epic.
By now you must be asking, “With all these instructions on how to hold the gun where do I rest or cradle the tank?” You are now ready to Read Part Two of this Three Part Series, How to Hold Your Paintball Gun – Part Two covering the mechanics of form.
Adapting Speedball Back to Woodsball
At this point the lesson, there are no changes to how you hold your gun being made from speedball to woodsball. Parts two and three will outline the differences between speedball and woodsball as they relate to form and stance. Playing in the woods changes the conditions and dynamics of your form (arms) and profile (stance). It is in parts TWO and THREE woodsball diverges from speedball.
Hey! This article is also reprinted at the Dye Paintball Blog! Yes, my sponsor believes enough in the DangerMan brand to share this insight with their own customers and followers! Check out DangerMan’s How to Hold A Paintball Gun Part One – Foundation!
Answer to the question in the caption: The three disadvantages of an incorrect gunhold are, chicken wing arms (exposure), misplaced tank (instability), and bad stance, (inefficient).
How to Hold Your Paintball Gun – Mechanics of Form