The use of suppressive fire is one of the greatest advantages that an organized team has over walk-on players. The militaries of the world rely on suppressive fire to advance their squads and to put enemy heads down. Paintball can work exactly the same way.
Photo: Special Ops – Broadsword – Heavy Rifleman The Heavy Rifleman unleashes a sustained rate of fire that freezes the opposition’s battle line while lighter elements of his team maneuver for advantage. He’s the perfect man for defending the flag or hammering on the opposition’s base. With an enormous load of paint and a fully automatic paintgun, the Broadsword isn’t the fastest-moving member of his squad.
But, when he gets into position, he provides a hefty base of fire that carves a path for his buddies who will be assaulting. Heavy Riflemen don’t always score the most kills, but they are crucial to attacks on entrenched defenses – the same defenses that can cause a squad to bog down in a frustrating stalemate.
Most paintball games end in a ball-for-ball standoff, so it’s amazing that more paintball teams don’t employ bunker-busting Heavy Riflemen. If you want to be part of your team’s solution to the standoff, grab a big bag of paint and join the corps of the Broadsword.
Tips for Heavy Riflemen
* You’re being counted on to lay paint, so your gearkit will be heavy, including grenades and a ton of pods. You carry loads of paint (900 rounds or more,) and plenty of air to back it up.
* Low-profile and high-volume are best when it comes to choosing a Broadsword gun. You will spend a lot of time on your belly, hammering away at enemy positions. You want to present a VERY low profile when you’re lying on the ground. With your air on-gun, you will sit high and you’ll have to crane your neck to shoot. That’s not a good thing. Consider buying a remote air system to get your paintgun down and your head tucked right into the nap of the earth.
* Your offensive position should usually be at the hairy edge of maximum paintball range. Give yourself advantages like a Tippmann Flatline barrel so that you extend your range and get your butt out of harm’s way.
* Every time you get taken out, take a few minutes to figure out why. Pick apart the situation and determine what you did to get your butt blown off. Then, figure out what you can do in the same situation next time to stay alive. If you’re having trouble figuring it out, go ask your Squad or Team Commander what he thinks you should’ve done differently.
* One hint: if you’re getting eliminated more than half the time, you’re probably too much in the fray. Let your lighter players make the bold moves while you back them up. You’ll still be in the fight, but you shouldn’t be at the point of the sword.
* Look for ways to increase your paint capacity. If you’re shooting a Tippmann A-5, you might want to jump to a jumbo hopper.
* A good defensive player will rack up more kills than anyone else on the team. If your defense is set up right, you will have a two-to-one advantage or better. In other words, a player set in a strong defensive position can take out two guys or more for every time he gets eliminated. Elite defenders will commonly rack up twenty kills in a game. If the team’s plan is good, then defense will see tons of action and will enjoy a very target-rich environment.
Field Tactics for Heavy Riflemen
* Photo: Motorola – Talkabout T4900 – 3 mile rangeYou have several main jobs: suppression fire, providing a base of fire for flankers and defense. You might as well know how to assault and flank, too, since you’ll sometimes be called on to do stuff not necessarily in your “job description.”
* When a teammate is preparing to make a bold move (maybe a rush or a leapfrog forward) they will need suppression fire to cover their advance. By laying paint heavily into a known or suspected enemy position, you put heads down to clear the way for your buddy’s push.
* It rarely works to try to suppress more than one angle at a time. You can cover one small bunker or one window of a pillbox. If you agree to cover more, you will probably fail to fully suppress the opposition, and this can get your buddy taken out.
* When you suppress, give it all you’ve got. Time your fire to match the exact moment when your buddy will be making his move. As soon as he’s under cover again, let up so you don’t run out of paint.
* Photo: Fire Fox – Throat Mic Paintball EditionWatch your buddy’s move carefully so that you can pull your stream of paint if he runs into it. Don’t stop shooting, just raise your fire or angle it to one side.
* Full-auto is best for suppression fire. If your home field doesn’t allow full-auto, try a Firestorm crank. The Firestorm is legal on most fields and it lays down enough paint to make anyone think twice about putting their head up.
* When you’re setting up to provide suppression fire, you shouldn’t be so far forward that you’re a feasible target. You should be firing from the very edge of paintball range. It helps, if you do a lot of suppression fire, to carry a Flatline-equipped Tippmann A-5. The Flatline can out-range most paintball guns by twenty-percent or more. Though the Flatline isn’t as accurate as most barrels, you don’t need tight accuracy for suppression fire.
Providing a Base of Fire
* When your pointman encounters enemy, your
squad will respond by building a base of fire and sending flankers. As soon as your pointman hits resistance, you should hustle up and join him. Begin trading fire (it’s not important that you make
a kill at this point) with any known enemy.
* Don’t trade fire from a position where there is a substantial threat to you. If your opponents are vigorously returning fire, then you’re probably too exposed. Back up a little until your cover improves. If you’re taking fire from multiple angles, then you’re
way too far out. Retreat quickly, turn and bump up
until you engage with one angle of fire (only!)
* Even if you don’t have a good shot at your opponents, keep up consistent fire. You need to keep their attention locked on you so that your flankers can get around to their side without being noticed.
* Watch your paint supply. While it’s important that you keep the enemy engaged, you can’t run out of paint in the process. Shoot enough to keep them interested, but not enough to burn up all your paint.
* Establish a code with your flankers so that they can radio and let you know when they need you to step up the covering fire. When they call, you can inch forward and begin to pour it on. Soon, your flankers will open up their own angles of fire and the opposition will be taken out or retreat.
* How you set your defense will depend on the team’s overall strategy. If the team’s playing a strong-side attack, then your objective on defense will be to stall and survive for as long as possible. If your team’s playing an early game ambush-style strategy, then your objective will be to whittle down the numbers of the enemy before launching an assault.
* A survival-style defense is constructed to hold the enemy off for as long as possible. This gives your assault force the maximum possible time to hit the enemy flag base, take the flag and back-door anyone who’s hitting your defense. In a survival-style defense, you will keep back the MINIMUM number of defenders that you possibly can and still hold your flag for the entire game time (but just barely.) By keeping only the bare minimum, you free up as many men as possible to hit the opposition’s flag. By strengthening the attack force, you speed the end of the game. If the game ends and you still have a big posse of defenders, then you probably held back too many.
* Photo: Goggles & LensesFire on the enemy when they’re at maximum range – this is especially effective when you’re shooting a Tippmann Flatline. Making the enemy bunker up way, way out there will buy you more time. Keep them from advancing by popping away at them every time they look ready to move.
* If you have fortress-strong defenses around your flag, then begin and end your game in these bunkers. However, if the defenses around your flag are natural barricades and waist-high bunkers, then you should set a series of staged, fall-back positions. When using a staged defense, you set perimeters of defense where your defenders hit the approaching enemy, then slide back to the next, closer perimeter. By hitting them
in mini-ambushes, you will slow their advance to a crawl.
* Don’t forget to cover the back routes to your flag. A smart opponent will send attackers around to encircle your flag base from behind. If that happens, you’re toast.
* When you shrink the perimeter, take special care to sneak or belly crawl back to the next position unseen by the attackers. Take a few shots, then slink away unseen. They will spend precious minutes trying to figure out if you’re still where they saw you last.
* When your defensive line shrinks, be careful not to leave a teammate out where the attackers can flank him. It’s best to shrink the defensive perimeter all at the same time so that everyone covers everybody else’s flank. When you lose a player, that’s a good time to shrink the perimeter and tighten everything up. Coordinate all of this with liberal use of radio communication.
* On most fields, your last-stand defensive position should be behind the flag (and up against the back boundary, if you can still cover the flag from there.)
* When the team plan is to reduce enemy numbers before launching the main assault, you must put up an ambush-style defense. The objective of the ambush-style “D” is to suck the enemy in where they can be methodically wiped out.
* A good ambush defense is more about where you leave gaps then it is about where you position your defense. If you leave one side completely open, for example, the enemy is likely to fill into that side.
* Since the main assault is waiting to reduce the enemy numbers before attacking, you should have a ton of extra players to place in ambush positions. Decide where your gaps will be and place your defenders in a wide “U” shape to encircle the op-force attack elements. Make sure the gap is wide enough for the entire attack squad to fit inside. Otherwise, they will make contact with the tops of your “U” too soon and simply bog down trading shots. Often during capture the flag games, the “U” shape will span the entire field – giving the attackers a huge gap to fill in.
* It’s often a good idea to bury the legs of your ambush along the deep side boundaries of your half of the field or along natural boundaries. Then, when the attackers fill into the middle, your side players can collapse on them and gain target-rich, side-door angles.
* Ambush D is all about patience and holding your fire until they are in your trap. If you shoot too soon, they will bunker up way before wandering into the kill zone. Unlike a survival-style defense, you want to wait to shoot until you have lethal range.
* When you execute an assault, you will be attacking a static (stationary) enemy position. Maybe you’re assaulting a bunker or maybe you’re assaulting the flag.
In either case, you’re moving hard on an entrenched position that has a defensive advantage.
* The biggest key to a successful assault is to put the enemy under fire from multiple angles at once. If you’re attacking a defensive bunker from only one direction, then you’re putting yourself at huge risk by assaulting. Your squad must hit that bunker from two or three sides, at least. You need to make life really, really stressful for the defenders before you go busting ass out there in the open.
* So, the main assault should come after several mini-assaults that buy you all kinds of angles around the defended position. Then, you can have players move in from all sides at precisely the same moment. The Commander will typically call the moment of assault over the radio when all the chess pieces are in place.
* Another key to a safe assault is suppressive fire. You can cover the most dangerous paths of assault, such as pillboxes, by assigning one or more of your squad to supply suppressive fire.
* Don’t count on any ONE player to suppress any more than ONE angle. In other words, your suppression dude can cover one small bunker or one window of a pillbox. If you’re taking fire from more angles than you have suppression men, then don’t make the move. This also applies to enemy shooters who are across the field. When you move in, you have no way of knowing beforehand the angles you’re giving enemy players. Make reasonably sure that you’ve limited the number of enemy players who have a shot at you before you charge in.
* One handy form of suppressive fire is the leapfrog. A two or three man team can trade off hammering a fixed position with suppressive fire while one guy runs past. As soon as the runner is five yards ahead of the suppressive fire guy, he drops and starts his own suppression fire thing while his buddy picks up and runs five yards past him. This routine keeps going – fire, run past, fire, run past – until cover is reached or the bunker is overrun. Leapfrogging is a great way to attack an enclosed pillbox.
* When you assault, don’t forget to ask yourself what exposure you’ll have once you’ve overrun your objective. Too often, an assault will take a flag base only to discover that there is an ambush waiting behind the flag. Clear all dangerous angles before going in.
* Once your squad has the enemy position engaged and trading fire, the flanking elements are released to one
or both sides. To flank, move cross-ways to the enemy and push a little up-field. The idea is to get angles from the side of the enemy shooters. When you begin to pummel them from the side, and your squad’s hitting them from the front, you will have them in a cross fire and they will need to retreat or be eliminated.
* When flanking, stealth is key. Don’t hesitate to belly crawl. Belly crawling is a great way to spook a shot without exposing yourself to danger. Also, nobody expects you to belly crawl in paintball, since paintballers are typically too lazy to get their cammies dirty.
* Beware of other elements of the enemy force. You may be flanking right into another piece of their ambush. If you do encounter more resistance, radio your Squad Leader and have him dispatch another Medium or Heavy Rifleman to
set another base of fire in front of the extended force. Then, begin a new flanking move.
* Remember, if your guys and theirs’ are trading fire, you
can use the noise as cover. Also, you have the security of knowing that the shooters, at least, are totally focused on their little firefight. You can probably move freely without them noticing. (Just be sure to watch for another ambush!) Paintballers usually scoot to a firefight like moths to a flame. A fully engulfed firefight will draw attention and should give you a clear crawl into side-door position.
Ideal Attributes for Heavy Rifleman
* Laid back. The Heavy Rifleman will play careful ‘ball. He likes to serve as a backstop for the team. Also, if he’ll be playing defense, he will be the kind of guy who’s proud to do a good job, even if some of the glory goes to the boys on assault.
* Any level of physical fitness. A defensive Heavy Rifleman can be hefty or fit. A Broadsword that runs with a squad will need to keep up, but he doesn’t need to be a runner, by any means.
* Methodical. A Broadsword must love to throw paint. He likes to play consistently. Like a guy mowing his lawn, the Heavy Rifleman works through enemy attackers (all with a cherubic smile on his face.)
* Big-time Team Player. Playing defense and supplying suppressive fire prove that the Broadsword is willing to do his part for the team. If he’s more of an aggressive, glory-hounding player, he’ll prefer to play up-front.
Heavy Rifleman Skill Progression
Requires at least one paintball day playing Broadsword position.
Don’t think he’s a wussy just because he’s hanging back a little. Hey, if you had to carry his load of paint, you’d be hanging back a little, too. It’s the Broadsword’s job to stay off the front line until he’s called up for suppression.
Then, he lets loose a barrage of paint that puts the opposition on the ground. Heavy Rifleman is a defensive position, even when attacking. The idea is to tie up an
area and to inflict enough fear and confusion that your flanking or rushing elements can kick the hell out of the opposition.
At first, it’ll be tempting to jump into the middle of any battle that breaks out. While the Broadsword can certainly hold his own in a gunfight, he’s much better at breaking up gunfights by giving his teammates cover while they put on the sneaky moves. A beginner Heavy Rifleman can start by just adding to his paint load. Later on, he’s going to want to get as close to full auto as his local field will allow.
So, welcome to the ranks of the Heavy Riflemen. Don’t blame us if you get addicted to heavy doses of paint.
Requires at least six paintball days playing Broadsword position.
After playing Broadsword a spell, it’s become clear to the team that this guy is the key to breaking gridlock. He can play static defense or roam the field with an assault team. In either case, he lays paint liberally wherever it’s needed.
He may be racking up crazy numbers of kills on defense or he may be backing up an assault squad. Wherever he is on the field, he’s learned that monstrous amounts of paint can yield killer results.
His gearkit’s ballooning the better he becomes. His air tank is getting fatter and he’s traded in his pod belt for a jumbo belt or a vest. He’s getting sick of yelling for “ammo” so he’s packing more and more of his own.
Muppets keep coming up to him asking, “Are you the guy who’s shooting the MACHINE GUN?”
Requires at least fifteen paintball days playing Broadsword position.
If he’s a defense player, the Master Broadsword racks up double-digit kills almost every game. He burns through an insane amount of paint and air and he’s even tried to sneak a scuba fill station back into the defensive bunkers.
If he’s on an assault team, the Master Broadsword may get fewer kills, but the opposition still swallows their gum when they see him amble forward and rev up his big gun.
The Heavy Rifleman has gone Biggie Size on everything – his air, his vest, his paint pack, and his hopper. He’s loaded for bear and he can sustain major suppressive fire for three or four full assaults.
The Master Broadsword looks so intimidating and so BIG on the field that muppets have quit coming up to him asking if he’s the guy shooting the “MACHINE GUN.”
Requires at least fifteen paintball days playing Broadsword position and a special commendation from Team Special Ops Paintball.
Great defensive players never get enough props. But, when the SpecOps guys saw this Heavy Rifleman getting down to business, it was obvious that he deserved to be recognized as an Elite MoFo.
The Elite Broadsword is a committed team player. He’s not interested in personal glory over team victory. Rather, he’s stoked to play support to an assault or even to play defense. (He also secretly knows that the dudes on defense get to spank more muppets than anyone else.)
Whether in the field or back on “D,” the Elite Broadswordsman is one tough hombre – even if he has to beg for gas money after spending every dime on his voracious paint habit.