Stealth Movement Techniques
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One very underemphasized skill in the game of paintball is how to move effectively and quietly.  This article will help you hone this skill to avoid being seen or heard by your opponents. 

First, let’s make sure you are set up for success.  This encompasses three major considerations:
1.      Do not carry unnecessary equipment.  You should carry everything you need and nothing more.  Anything extra will slow you down and make you less able to move quickly and quietly.
2.      Whatever you wear and whatever gear you do carry should be well-camouflaged to match your surroundings.  Some players will use leaves or grass as temporary masks and paint their marker and other equipment to match their surroundings (a common practice among military snipers).  However you go about it, consider this: a big black or silver marker will stand out against a well-camouflaged outfit.
3.      Consider the noise of your gear as you move.  Secure any moving objects (tape or rubber bands works well) so that parts won’t slide or rattle.  Of course, if the gear NEEDS to move to operate, you can only pad it or lubricate it so it won’t make noise.

Once you’ve taken these steps, it is time to focus on your movements and how to get rid of slop and unnecessary noise.  To do this, you should really consider your movements.  Have someone watch you as try to navigate an area without making any noise.  Ask them what they saw/heard that made your position known.  Have them close their eyes and listen as you go back through the same area.  What did they hear?  What can you do to make your moves quieter?  One of the best things to do to improve this area of your game is to determine your next position before leaving your current one.  You shouldn’t move just to be moving.

When you’re in a position of cover, stop and pay attention to what your surroundings are.  Are birds, squirrels or other wildlife present?  If so, they don’t sense you (which is good).  If they are alarmed, either you scared them or your enemy did.  Be on high alert. 

When you do decide to move to a better position, there are some things that can really help you be more effective and quieter:
1.      Use natural environmental noises of the game to conceal movement noises.
2.      Cross roads and trails at places that offer good cover and concealment.  This cover may come in many forms (culverts, curves, deep woods, low spots, etc.).
3.      Avoid steep slopes or loose dirt or gravel.
4.      Avoid clearings and open areas (which includes hilltops).

As you move, you may walk or run, but you may also need to crawl or belly crawl.  A belly crawl (also sometimes called a low crawl) gives you the least visible target for your opponent, but since so much of your body is touching the ground, is often quite loud unless you move very slowly. 

Use a belly crawl to maneuver where there is minimal cover and/or enemy fire or observation keeps you from moving in a more efficient manner.  The best way to do a belly crawl is to keep your body flat against the ground, hold your paintball marker by the upper swivel of the sling in your firing hand and let the butt of the gun drag lightly on the ground.  When you’re ready to move, push your arms forward and pull your firing side leg forward.  Then pull with your arms and push with your leg; don’t worry, it’s really simpler than it sounds.

A standard crawl (on “all fours”) will allow you to move much faster than a belly crawl, but still helps you hide behind things more easily than standing.  To do a standard crawl, cradle your paintball gun in your arms and keep its muzzle off the ground.  Since most of us know how to crawl, we won’t cover that here.

Your most effective manner of moving quietly and efficiently (provided there is sufficient cover) is a stealth walk.  Stealth simply means quiet and with high alertness.  You should move in this manner to cover lots of ground and when cover allows.  When you’re standing, hold your paintball rifle at port arms or at low ready position (butt of the stock (if a rifle) in your shoulder, barrel at 45 degrees to the ground).  Make sure you have solid footing and don’t move too quickly or until you’re sure the ground you’re moving to is stable. 

Keep your eyes moving.  If you are taking steps, you should notice your terrain.  Between steps, you should be scanning the horizon and your surroundings.  Repeatedly ask yourself, “does everything look normal?”  Consider whether something is out of place or if things are “too quiet”.  Trust your instincts; they will often save you.

As you may have gathered by reading this article, stealthy movement is about preparation before the match as well as a mindset during the match.  Once you learn how to move effectively and quietly, your mind can begin to focus on your surroundings and the strategy of the game.  This aspect of things won’t come naturally at first, but with a little practice, can make you a much better player.  Build stealth movement into your muscle memory and you will take your game to a much higher playing level in a very short time. 
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