Paintball Camouflage and Blending In

Copyright 2007 David Muhlestein, licensed to, Inc

Part of any game of paintball in the woods involves trying to blend in with your surroundings. Whether it's hiding behind a tree, laying down in tall grass or even just trying to blend in with a bunker, it's easy to not be hit when you can't be seen. The art of blending in, though, takes some time and effort to perfect.

How Camouflage Works

There are two aspects of camouflage that are necessary to properly blend in with the background: color and shape.
The color is key because it allows you to match your surroundings so that you don't stand out like a sore thumb. In general, try to wear clothing that is close to the same color as your surroundings or a little bit darker. If in doubt, you can always wear black which will blend in much better than the colors you normally wear.

The second key to effectively blend in is to break up your outline. The funny shapes you see on camouflage patters are intended to make the outline of the person wearing the clothing indistinct and choppy so that there are no solid, straight lines that human eyes are drawn to. In nature, almost nothing is straight or defined, and the choppy lines in camouflage distract the eyes as they glance over the hidden person.

What to Wear

There are several things to keep in mind as you prepare to blend in with your surroundings. The first is to wear clothing that matches the background.
While custom made camouflage is nice, particularly the digicamo that mimics the military's MARPAT design, it is not necessary. Many second-hand stores carry old military camouflage at a discount price or simply wearing dark colors will be an improvement over jeans and a grey sweatshirt. Also make sure that your shoes are dark and, if possible, wear dark socks (or at least pants that cover your white socks).

The second key is to use equipment that also is designed to blend in with the surroundings.

I have played many times with players with tournament paintball guns or other brightly-colored guns that come to the field in camouflage and blend right in but their shiny red gun sticks out like a sore thumb. While you may not have a camouflage gun, a darker colored one is sufficient. If you have a bright one, it's easy to find tape that is designed to wrap around your gun without leaving sticky residue. Make sure the rest of the gear you take on the field is also dark colored to help you blend in.

How to Blend In

Once you are properly attired and have a dark gun, you must still blend in to your surroundings. Through trial and error I have three keys that I have found to be most helpful while trying to blend in with paintball.
1. Find enough color to cover you. I know this sounds obvious. but I have seen the rear end of people sticking out behind cover multiple times, and have felt the need to let the person know by sending a paintball straight to their derriere.
2. Don't move. When people are staring in the woods at you and you can feel them watching you, it is so tempting to try and crouch down a little lower or to slide away from them. This is a mistake. When you are well-hidden you need to stay put as any movement will instantly draw the attention of your pursuer.
3. Make sure you have a shooting lane. This last rule isn't strictly for blending in, but it is a necessary thing to do while hiding nonetheless. It's very tempting to burrow into the deepest cover you can find, but this is a mistake as you will eliminate your angle to shoot from. It has happened to me more times that I can count where I have been behind cover and shot out only to have my paintball burst a few feet away on a twig or leaf. If you have a shooting lane, make sure that you use it at all costs as paintballs will break on anything they hit, no matter how small. This means that if someone is slowly walking down the trail, aim for the shooting lane and don't pull the trigger until they cross into your lane - if you try to follow them as they walk you will inevitably miss.