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Paintball Positions - Which Position Are You?

If you don't know anything about paintball and you're just watching a match, it looks very random and uncontrolled.  It looks like a bunch of guys just running around, hiding, moving and shooting each other and the next thing you know it's over.  Actually there couldn't be anything farther from the truth.  The fact is, there are very specific positions each player on a paintball team has; each position having a certain responsibility and set of actions.  Knowing what these positions are ahead of time will help you match how you like to play paintball with where you want to be on the field as well as which paintball gun would be best for you (in that position).  Here is some helpful information about each position and what they do in the game....

The Backman
The Backman (also referred to as the back player) remains back to defend the team flag, or to defend the other players further up the field, such as the frontman and the insert.  The backman also lays down tons of paint to keep the opposition from moving and shooting.  Because of this, he stays in roughly the same area from the start of the game to the end of the game.  Another role of the Backman is to communicate with the front players to update them on the movements and position of the enemy.  The backman also communicates with the roamer (see below) and tells him when to take over for the pointman if he's been eliminated.  One of the main purposes of the backman position is protecting the attacking players further up the field. This player is responsible for most of the cover fire for his teammates. The backman position fires rapidly and often, so consider this when choosing the right paintball marker to use.  If you want to be a backman you'll need a marker and gun barrel designed to shoot fast and accurately; you must also be able to carry a lot of paintball ammo to - this position shoots the most in the game.  The other important cover responsibility of the backman is protecting the team flag from a flag capture by the opposition. 

Because of the serious cover responsibilities, the backman usually has to carry the largest payload of paintballs.  Sometimes this position is taken by the captain/coach of the team because of the decisions the Backman must make.  If he's the captain, he usually controls the movement of his team while communicating the movement of the enemy to his players. The back player/captain can move his men to one side of the paintball field or the other for the best position to overwhelm the enemy.  Because the backman is constantly shooting, he should be use a harness or backpack that can carry many rounds of paintballs.  He should also carry a large air supply so he doesn't run out of firepower.  If you're putting a team together, try to choose a backman that is experienced with shooting and game strategy.  A backman may need to shoot with his left or right hand, depending on which side of the bunker he's on.  He also needs to be accurate with his shots to be most effective when eliminating the opposition to protect his teammates. 

The Frontman
The Frontman, also known as the 'Pointman' is a very high profile position; he's in the front with the most action and has the most aggressive spot on the field.  He makes all the dangerous moves at the front of the field, like bunkering and attacking the enemy flag.  As soon as the game starts, the frontman usually moves as far as he can off the break; he spends the most time at the enemy's end of the field.  The frontman's primary job is to move up the field, dart from bunker to bunker and position himself to accomplish the team objective.  He must be fast to run and respond to any fire, as he is closer to the enemy than any of the other players.  In most situations, the frontman is supported by a position called 'the lockman' who covers him with fird and takes over his position in case he gets hit.

Unfortunately, because of his position on the field and the dangerous proximity to the enemy, the frontman is usually one of the first players to get hit.  He should be backed up by several of his teammates... the lockman, sniper and even the backman.  The frontman should also be an experienced player, a natural team leader; someone who can predict the moves of the opposition before they happen and make last second decisions about changes of his position or the enemy.  The best frontmen are thrill seekers who take the most chances and aren't afraid of getting hit - because they will be where the most paintballs are flying around.  The frontman will cover a lot of ground on the field and do the most running, so he should be well conditioned for this.  His paintball marker should be ultra light, smaller and easy to wield considering how much diving, rolling and sprinting this player will do.  The frontman fires the least amount of paint and uses the smallest air tank.

Another name for the Frontman position is the 'Tape Runner'.  In 'Capture The Flag' type games, the tape runner/Frontman is the player that will actually 'capture' the flag.  This player is also often called on to bunker someone, or even to sacrifice himself for the good of the team.  As the tape runner, it is wise to get as far up the field as possible right out of the gates, secure a bunker and find a key vantage point to shoot down the opposition.  This will give the mid players an established spot to take over so the frontman can move on - closer to the opposing team's backman and flag!

The Floater
The floater (also called a 'roamer') starts out with no set position on the field.  He is a type of mid player; floaters often start off playing the middle of the field, and move up or down the field as needed to assist other positions; this gives more flexibility to a team to become an immediate backup in case a key player gets hit.  Floaters can play offensive or defensive positions, depending on the need.  They can move up the left or right flank to protect the Frontman during a charge into enemy territory, protect the flag if the enemy breaks through your team's defenses or even defend the frontman once he's captured the enemy flag. 

Because the floater must be able to assume any position on the field, they must be highly skilled players or at least have experience playing the other positions.  It's also highly recommended that this player have a clear view of the entire field so he can quickly recognize when one of his teammates are in trouble.  The floater must be fast and in great shape; he may be needed at different ends of the field in a moment's notice.  Basically, the floater roams the paintball field plugging up holes; he may even need to move into a sniper position if one of their teammates goes down.  If the pointman has found himself all alone when he decides to take the opposing flag, he must move swiftly up the field to assist his comrade.

The Mid Player
The Mid Player controls the field in between the Frontman and the Backman.  He must be a skilled player though, because he is the first one called on to take the place of any downed position.  Basically, the mid player is the fill-in man.  Because of this, he will move up and down the field throughout the game; so he must be well conditioned for constant running, sliding behind bunkers and shooting constantly. If the backman or frontman/tape runner is eliminated, the mid player will take over their positions.  The mid player is also called the 'Insert' player, the 'Rover' or support players. 

Another key role of the mid player is he is the information center of the team, relaying codes and commands to the front and back players.  It is also the responsibility of the mid player to protect and provide cover for the frontman.  Considering this, it's smart for the mid player to carry a lot of paintballs.  His paintball gun should be smaller and lighter than the backman's so he can move quickly with it, however not so small it's range may be limited, effecting his ability to take over the backman's position if necessary.  Some mid players use remote lines on their paintball guns, allowing them to carry their air tank on their back.  This frees up their marker, making it lighter and easier to move with.

The Sniper
The Sniper position is often the Backman's job but sometimes there is a designated sniper position.  His job is to pick off key players from the opposing team and provide cover fire for the other teammates in front of him accomplishing the mission.  Sometimes the sniper will stay in the back field as long as they have the best vantage point to make the most accurate shots.  Having the best view of the field is a key element in the sniper's game plan, so the sniper position should move accordingly to keep finding more advantageous spots to shoot from - remember, your targets are always on the move too!

The best gear for a sniper is obviously some type of sniper paintball gun - something with a longer than average barrel (16-18"+) and maybe even some type of optics/scope or sight to hone in on specific targets better.  Decide on how powerful your scope should be based on the size of field you're playing on.  Scenario games may have much larger fields and more powerful optics may help for longer shots or to seek out the opposition from farther away.  Speedball fields are much shorter and a less powerful sight (like a Red Dot) would work fine if you even need anything at all.  Precision shots is what the sniper is all about, but remember their other job is also to provide cover fire for the mid and front players - so they should carry enough paintballs to be able to do this.  The sniper doesn't move quite as much as the other players, so carrying around more ammo is not as much of a problem.

Decide on which position you like to play based on your personality and how much you like to move during a game.  If you're an 'up front, in your face, get the job done' type of person, perhaps the Frontman is the place for you; just remember though - these players shoot the least, get shot at the most and do the most running/moving during the game.... they're also the player who sees the most action.  If you're a more calculating person, don't like to move as much or prefer the thrill of picking your target for precision shooting, the sniper is the job for you.  If you just love shooting paintballs and firing your paintball gun over and over, consider the Backman or Mid Player.  Finally, consider trying and practicing all the positions on the field; it's wise to become good at all of them.  This will make give you great experience and make you a much more valuable team member - you'll be able to take over any position on a whim in case anyone gets hit!

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