The Effect of Range on Paintball Shooting Accuracy and Shooting Speed (Paintball is awesome you should all do it!)

Rein Otsason — 999838396

Natalie Landon-Brace — 999802254

Samuel Buckstein — 998924598


We examined the relationship between distance, accuracy, and time in the firing of a paintball marker. Participants were asked to fire 5 paintballs at targets at 3 different distances and the time between the first and last shot was recorded. Accuracy was measured by taking the distance between the mark and the centre of the target. It was hypothesized that accuracy would increase as distance decreased and that shooting time would decrease as distance decreased. The difference between mean accuracy at 10 and 30 metres was found to be 67.77 cm. The difference between the mean shooting time at 10 and 30 metres was found to be 2.493 seconds. These were the most pronounced differences in the means which allowed us to confirm our alternate hypothesis. The study also briefly examined the effects of experience on speed and accuracy.


Paintball has beeng gaining significant ground in popularity in Canada, the US and around the world. In 2010, it was estimated that over 15 million people play paintball every year in the United States (Paintball). It is a sport in which players attempt to eliminate their opponents by tagging them with paintballs. The capsules filled with dye are fired through paintball markers powered by compressed air. In light of the popularity of the sport, this paper seeks to examine the relationship between shooting distance and shooting speed, and shooting distance and shooting accuracy.

In this experiment, participants were asked to fire five paintballs at a target at 10 m, 20 m and 30 m, and accuracy and shooting time was recorded. Accuracy was determined by measuring the distance from the centre of the paintball mark to the centre of the target. Speed was measured as the time between the first and last shot being fired.

It is hypothesized that accuracy and shooting time will be comparable at 10 m, 20 m and 30 m, i.e. irrespective of distance. The contrary null hypothesis is that the greatest accuracy and fastest shooting time will be at 10 m from the target.

The largest covariate that affects results is the experience of the participants. It is expected that the category of experienced participants will have a faster mean shooting time, and also have a greater mean accuracy. Experience is defined here as having used a paintball marker before. As such, the effect of experience on accuracy and shooting time shall be discussed later in this report.


Modern military practice in regards to riflemanship hinges on repetitive drill in a few standard firing distances, until the rank and file learns an intuitive feel for projectile behavior, i.e. deviation from path, altitude loss over distance etc.

Repetitive drilling attempts to make recruits more or less equally effective at all distances up to the maximum effective distance of the weapon, although response time is expected to suffer if accuracy is to be maintained.

Experience is achieved when the activity becomes muscle memory. It is hoped that soldiers who need to return fire do so instinctively, in response to the external world, in a way no different than expecting an oncoming car’s behavior in an intersection.

Paintball Markers

A paintball marker derives its name from its original use by forestry departments and cattle ranchers to respectively mark trees and cattle with paint from a range.

The operation of a semi-automatic blowback marker like the one used in this experiment involves a metal bolt on a strong spring, cocked in a back position and held in place by a spring-loaded trigger mechanism.

When the trigger is pulled, the bolt is no longer restrained and it travels forwards as a result of the compressive force stored in the spring. The movement of the bolt unblocks a valve, through which runs compressed air stored in a tank.

The rush of air drives a paintball out of the barrel, and the ’blowback’ air pressure resets the bolt back into its starting position (Paintball 2012).

Paintball is a very popular recreational sport played indoors and outdoors, in various senarios, and on different fields. The maximum muzzle velocity of most paintballs is 90 m/s, at which point paintballs begin to shatter in the barrel from the explosive force of the air, and also higher muzzle velocity becomes a safety concern.

In any case, proper protective clothing must be worn, including a face mask that protects the head and throat.

Paintball barrels lack rifling, and as a result markers are generally imprecise. Maximum effective distance is approximately 30 m (Tippmann 2006).

Tippmann 98 Custom

Tippmann paintball products are widely regarded by hobbyists as one of the most reliable maker of paintball markers, with a dedication to high quality and durability on both ends of the price spectrum.

The Tipmmann 98 used in this experiment is over ten years old and functions perfectly with little servicing. It is an inexpensive marker, costing less than $100, but it is reknown for its longetivity (Tippmann 2014).

Experimental Design