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Tactical Movement
For buddies and teams
by Jon T. Harris


This is the hardest part of playing paintball and doing it correctly. The paintball team that moves from one point to another, from one objective to another, from one bunker of opposing player or anything  together and in a tactically sound way  will not be defeated on the paintball field.

Here is the normal way, sound familiar?  Teams are picked, and the newly formed team moves to the staging area or base to start from.  At that point they are a team and as soon as the - game starts the team becomes a group of individuals.  Everybody wants to do something different.  Everybody goes a different way.  No one really cooperates with each other.  If for some reason a couple players actually do team up they end up lasting the longest or actually win for the rest of the players.

It happens every day a game is played on each and every field.

So what is wrong?  Well nothing really.  Its all fun and you do  at least
get to be shot by the other side.

What I am going to attempt to do here is give a couple different techniques to survive and win on the field.  These methods can be used for any game.  Bunkering, defending, capturing the flag, elimination( my personal favorite), you name it, it works for all.

So lets start with the basics. I say basic but they need practice. I remember my team (we used real weapons and the opposing side shot real bullets back) practicing crossing a road  for days.  Over and over we did the same deal – practice, practice, practice until we did it automatically.  Now I'm not even suggesting that paintball is the same as combat but the principles are - teamwork and tactics rule the day.

First Things First
Teams are organized to work together.  A team that does not support and cover each other, or that does not operate as a team but as individuals (the norm) becomes no more than a group of targets.

Strength is in teammates and real teamwork.

Tactical Movement
We start simple.  Moving together to an objective. There is a set structure which should be used. The military has proven it over the years and it works.

The squad (team for our proposes) has a leader and scout and team members.

It can be as small as three or as large as ten.  Even 2 working together is a 100% improvement over the normal game.

The Buddy Team
Buddy team movement training builds on individual movement skills by having two-man teams negotiate the lane together. One player provides covering fire while his buddy moves to the next covered position. The team must maintain visual or audible communication with each other at all times during the movement. This exercise forms the foundation for trust and confidence between small sub team and the rest of the team. The picture below shows an example individual/buddy team movement, followed by a individual/buddy team movement exercise.

This illustration is based on one from an army training manual.  Ok, Ok, I know paintball is not the army, but what it shows is that one team member moves and the other shoots to cover.  The team members alternate to allow the covering player to become the moving player.

This works with teams of players too you know.

There are a couple of special situations that I seem to always get into when
I play.  I tend to like to be moving out front.

Lets say your group of four players is moving down a trail.  Your guys are staggered on either side on the trail moving slowly and quietly. Your are moving to get close to the other side. Maybe you are going after a bunker or just moving to contact. ( meaning your  team is trying to find the other team).

Well as you move forward, all of a sudden you either take fire, or better yet you see the other players (or player) up ahead.  If he hasn't seen you, then the hand signal is given to drop and freeze as you take a bead on the target presented (Seems to always be the facemask.)  Anyway, the front player either takes this guy out or decides to let him walk away as long as he has not seen anyone.  When the cost is clear the team continues to move. 

What Normally happens is the guy above sees your team and this is where the practiced tactics come into play.   The front guy yells  "CONTACT” and starts shooting. All team members  also start shooting in the direction of the opposing player.  If the unfortunate opposing player is not hit immediately AND is not advancing then your rear team members start rushing forward, all the while the front players are laying down paint.  As soon as the rear members have leapfrogged their teammates they start shooting and the Now rear players move up.  This continues until the opposing player either wets their pants and takes off running or is hit.

What if your team runs into opposing strength?
Then the scenario above is done in reverse.  The front players yells “contact.”
Your front players start shooting and retreats to a position a few feet behind their team members who were in the rear.  Those team members are shooting at the advancing team. A soon as the retreating team members have passed behind the NOW front players they take up positions and start shooting back at the advancing opposing team allowing the now front players to retreat and basically leapfrog backwards  all the time putting maximum firepower forward..  Chances are  (unless the opposing team is super good) your retreating team will take out a few of the opposing players and the situation reverses.  When your team has a numeric advantage, you switch tactics back to advancing.  This is quick.  Lots of paint – Lots of communication. But it works and works real well.

Retreating players should tap the front players on the back as soon as they are behind them so they know it time to fall back.  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TEAM MEMBERS OUT THERE.  Everyone works together. Everyone pulls back or advances - but as a team.

The other side will just fade away in a hail of paint balls wondering and asking them selves "What the hell happened?"


by      29RSavoy  (pronounced  2-9 ER- Savoy)

As always, you can contact us at

About the author

Jon T. Harris has served in civilian SWAT and hostage negotiation teams in Texas from 1977 through 1988. In 88, Jon joined the US Army and served in rapid deployment and small independent units in Europe until he retired due to combat related injuries. Jon was rated as The NCO of the year while serving in Europe and is a permanent member of the prestigious US Army Europe Morales Club.

Jon is a published author.  He has written several articles on small unit training in the US Army magazine as well as several short stories. He is the author of the action adventure novel "Breakpoint" which is at the publisher now and is the tactical adviser and owner of, a site dedicated to scenario and military simulation paintball use. His interests are in Scenario Play and Mil/Rec games.


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