Being able to reload your hopper while shooting your paintball gun is an important skill in paintball. This is especially true in speedball and tournament paintball and becomes a fundamental skill if you want to climb up the rankings.
While reloading while shooting may not be as important in woodsball, it may still help in a gunfight. Either way, it’s worth putting some effort into building this skill.
This article will go over some questions you may have, explain some reasoning and give some tips on learning to reload with your paintball marker up. The tips and help will be based on using some standard speedball equipment, such as pods and a pack or paintball harness. There are many kinds of packs available but I recommend a speedball type with pods ejection from the bottom.
Why is it Important?
Reloading or “podding” with your gun down gives your opponents a big window of opportunity in speedball. Reloading with your marker down means lowering your marker slightly to watch your hands coordinate with dumping a pod of paintballs in your loader. Often players will completely lower their marker with the barrel pointed at the ground, and even go back into their bunker.
This takes your focus off the other team, where they are, the field and your lanes and puts it on your equipment. Worse, while doing this you are giving the other team an opportunity to take the upper hand on you, your team and the overall field position.
First, by not keeping your gun upon and controlling your lane, a player can make a free move or bump into their next bunker. By the time they start their move and you adjust, they’ve already made it in their new position.
Another scenario is while your gun is down they come out of their bunker, put you in and retake control of their lane. Now you gave them the opportunity to wrap and shoot at your other teammates, make a move without you knowing or even let them help their other teammates make moves.
I often see this scenario of losing control after a gunfight. Why fight so hard for control of a lane through long gunfights and snap shooting just to give up control so easily because you need to reload? For example, two opponents will gunfight intensely for control of a key lane. After winning the gunfight and establishing dominance and control of a lane the player then has to reload. While doing this the previously dominated player retakes control and the roles switch. They just completely gave up everything they worked for in that gunfight because they couldn’t reload with their gun up.
However, a big part of this is timing your reloads as well. If you run completely out of paint before podding, the outcome is the exact same as if your gun is down. Either way, you can’t shoot!
Even if you lower your gun a few inches or look at your loader for a couple seconds, you could miss that key window to lane a player making a bump through your zone.
So let’s summarize these equally important factors.
- Having your gun up
- Keeping your focus on your zone
- Timing so you reload while you still have paint in your loader up
Consequences of your Gun Down
As mentioned above, giving your opponent an advantage and control because your gun was down can be a big consequence of not keeping your gun up. However, if the other team capitalized on that opportunity, they can continue to use the advantage they gained to push up the field and win.
Here is a general outline of some of the disadvantages that can occur from reloading with your gun down
- Missing a key shot
- Being eliminated
- Being put in your bunker
- Giving up control of a key lane
- Letting your opponent wrap on your teammates
- Having to gun fight to get back control or get out of your bunker
- Giving up one or many free moves
- Greater angles on you and your team
- Putting greater pressure on your team on the other side of the field
- Losing track of opponent positions
- Losing the game
Here is a longer example. By reloading without your gun up, you let a player you were keeping in shoot at you and put you in, taking over control of one side of the field. He now can wrap and shoot at your other players and make a move. Now you may not of seen this bump so he has greater angles on you and your other teammates, control of the lane to push further up the field for larger angles and greater pressure, and the surprise advantage. Any of these options could result in easy eliminations of you or your entire team.
By letting the other player push farther up the field and take larger angles on your team, more of your focus is on the players that moved up. Let’s just say this was on the dorito side or tape. Now your teammates on the other side of the field, most likely the snake side will have to focus on these players. In turn this takes pressure off the snake side opponents giving them a greater chance to push up their side as well.
This skill mainly helps control the field and prevent the other team from capitalizing on the time your gun is down to take a field or zone control advantage.
If you maintain control through reloading, you can use this to wrap on them, push further up the field and give YOUR team the advantage!
How to Learn to Reload with your Gun Up
So hopefully you’ve grasped why this skill is important and how it can make you a better player.
Here are some things to learn.
- Muscle memory and the movement
- Timing when you need to reload before your hopper is empty
- Shooting so you don’t have pressure podding.
- So what’s the best way to learn?
Practice. Muscle memory is the main factor in developing this skill set.
Doing this at home is beneficial because you can repeat the action many times in a short time period. You’ll learn and develop the muscle memory faster than reloading so infrequently while playing. Also you may forget while playing, helping you develop bad habits.
The best practice however is playing. Start practicing and building those good habits on the field. Even if you don’t think you need to reload with your gun up where you are, use the opportunity to practice. However I’d recommend practicing the motions and getting it down at home too.
Practicing at Home
You can start practicing at home if you really want to start learning. However this method can take awhile because after each pod you’ll have to empty your loader. Try getting together a pod or two of old paintballs, and set up your equipment. Practice like you normally would play, with the pods in your pack.
With your gun up, take a pod out and load your hopper trying to keep your eyes downfield. It may take some practice and repetitions to be able to not lower or take your eyes away. Look if you have to but as you start to develop the muscle memory try to not move your gun down at all.
You can do this along a corner of a wall to simulate a bunker. Try doing it both while standing and on one knee.
Shoot just before podding
Here is a simple tip to help take off pressure while dumping your pod into your paintball loader. This is especially effective with ramping and to keep an opponent in who you’ve been gun fighting with or is trying to take control of a zone.
After you grab your pod, open it and are about to dump it in your hopper, shoot a short lane just before and as you reload. This will keep your opponent in and the pressure off while you focus on not missing your loader. It helps maintain control of that player a little more in case he would come out or snapshoot at you while you’re multitasking and shooting your gun with one hand.
Lids and Speed Feeds
If your loader uses a standard lid, you should open your lid before reaching pack for a pod. If you retrieve a pod first, opening the lid with a pod in your hand can be difficult and make you a bigger target out of your bunker.
Speedfeeds have become really popular over the last 5 or 6 years. Instead of a lid, the loader mouth has teeth that help prevent balls from spilling out. This eliminates the need for a lid, and makes it faster and easier to reload. Speedfeeds are attachments that can be bought and used on most loaders. The only downside to them is during rain/bad conditions and spilling some paint.
Keep practicing, playing and improving! This is a fundamental skill you’ll build off of in the future. If you can learn and use this skill while you play, it will probably help your game more than you’ll realize. You may even find yourself podding while running to your next bunker!
Reloading while shooting can help you keep control of your zone and push up the field, instead of losing control and letting the other team take the advantage.