Woodsball Vs. Speedball - What's the Difference?
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What’s the difference between Speedball and Woodsball? Choose your style and start playing like a Pro!

By: Mark Etinger


Pull the trigger of your first paintball gun one time and you’ll realize one thing immediately…. You’re going to want to do that a LOT more.  After a session or two, it won’t be long before you’ve been bitten by the paintball addiction bug.  The next thing you know you’re online shopping for the latest paintball gear.  Well here is some very basic information about paintball; just so you know….


There are basically two ways to play paintball. One is Speedball and the other is Woodsball; these are two special variants of paintball.  Both have different games, different ways to play (and different competitions), different paintball guns and different gear.  One thing’s for sure though, whether you’re playing speedball or woodsball, the adrenalin level is the same – through the roof! 


You can play speedball or woodsball at commercial fields, paintball parks or just in the woods behind your house (or some property someone let you use).  Speedball is mostly played on a field with blow-up inflatable bunkers to hide behind.  Woodsball is mostly played outside (in the woods) or in mock urban settings.  Some commercial paintball parks have elaborate courses to play both speedball and woodsball including castles, middle eastern towns, western themes and old junk cars to hide behind. 


Watch out! Some paintball parks can be costly… entry fees, paintballs and air refills can sometimes make a day at the paintball field something you can only afford ‘once in a while’. Then there’s the naturalists, the paintballers who think paintball should be played in the wild. They prefer to hide behind rocks, trees, hills and tough terrain as bunkers .


Woodsball (also known as scenario or tactical paintball) is the real deal. Most of these players like to dress in camos and make a statement with their gear…. super realistic military replica paintball guns, paintball grenades, landmines and anything else to make it seem more like live combat. Games are generally military style ‘missions’ ranging from ‘Capture the Flag’ to simply hunting your opponents in the woods. An extensive list of different tactical missions and paintball game variations (speedball or woodsball) can be found on our website in our forum section. Here are just a couple variations:


  • Elimination – As sweet and simple as it sounds. Kill everybody. By yourself or with a team. Only the strong survive.
  • Capture the Flag – If you’re looking for some tactics, try CTF.  Use flag stations and collect more flags, or have just one flag for each team and claim it for victory.  
  • Assault! Get yourselves into two teams. Let one team protect their territory and let the other charge. The attackers should try to eliminate their opponents or take hold of their territory.  

Popular woodsball equipment are military replica paintball guns; good brands are Tippmann, MilSig and T68. These guns come in all different shapes and sizes including AK47’s,M4 carbines, Sub-machine Guns and sniper rifles. Interestingly, these guns are all made so they can use parts/attachments for real guns.  It’s true; you can put the same rails, sniper scopes, sights, handguards and buttstocks on your tactical paintball marker that you would on a real military rifle.  This of course gives you many options for how you want your gun to look and operate.  It also allows your military ‘mission’ to seem more realistic and helps add more dimensions to your game.


Many times, the different attachments or look of your paintball gun will help define who you are on the field and what type of position you play.  For example, if you have a sniper paintball gun, your position on the field may be some place high up or at a vantage point where you can see the entire field; the sniper also generally doesn’t move much and plants himself to wait for a precision shot or may provide cover fire so the other players can position better.  The player with a fully automatic M16 paintball gun is more on the front line, making tactical maneuvers, flank the enemy or capture the flag.


It also greatly enhances your scenario game to dress and look the part.  Many woodsballers wear BDU’s/camo clothing, military helmets, face paint and even ghillie suits if sniping is your game.  Tactical vests have been modified to carry paintball equipment and there are many different options to choose from here.  These come in all different camo patterns and are designed to carry paintballs, CO2 cartridges, radio’s, canteens and even holsters for your paintball pistol.


Then there’s Speedball. This form of paintball was created mostly for professional competitive paintballers and provides a standard field and better viewing possibilities. If you thought that paintball is just for some weekend fun, professional speedballers would probably disagree – there are many who make a good living doing nothing but playing speedball professionally.  Speedball has turned into a real competitive sport, with teams, coaches, uniforms, merchandizing, sponsorships and the whole shebang.


In speedball, there are generally 3 or 5 man teams that play in 5, 10 or 15 minute timed matches.  This game is fast and is usually some variation of elimination (eliminate all the players of the opposing team in the shortest period of time).  Successful speedball teams use rapid, constant movement, communication and strategy to get the job done.  Speedballers use different looking paintball guns than woodsballers.  Their guns are faster, lighter and look like hi-tech laser guns. 


Good brand names to look for in a speedball gun are Spyder, Planet Eclipse, Proto Matrix and Dye.  These guns come standard with 8-12” barrels (but not longer than this) and usually electronic triggers.  An electronic trigger is one that offers several different modes…. burst, semi-automatic and full auto.  Another common accessory with speedball guns is an electronic hopper.  A hopper is a container that sits on top of the paintball gun that carries and loads the paintballs into the gun.  Electronic hoppers have tiny motors in them that feed the paintballs very rapidly into the paintball gun; these allow you to shoot much faster.

Uniforms for playing speedball are mostly paintball jerseys, but you can also find matching pants if you want.  Most paintball jerseys (and pants combos) have some padding built into them for extra protection.  An important part of any paintball uniform (whether you’re playing speedball or woodsball) is the protective paintball mask.  Paintball is a totally safe sport…. as long as you’re wearing protective eye wear. 

Regardless if you’re into starting your own team or playing on your own; if you play at commercial fields or just with a bunch of friends on your neighbor’s property, paintball is a safe and totally fun, addictive sport.  Start off with a cheap/low end, beginner paintball marker (a Spyder Victor is a great place to start) and try your hand at speedball and woodsball to see which one you like better.  Once you’ve decided your style of play, then you can upgrade/get more specific gear to enhance your game. 

You can find the best selection of speedball and scenario woodsball paintball guns and gear from Choicepaintballguns!  They have discounted paintball guns for beginners, faster fire power for the advanced player, and perfect upgrades for your current paintball gun as well as kits, supplies, ammo and lots of fun accessories - all sold at discount prices. 

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