Pump Paintball Tips and Tricks – Dominate the Field With a Pump

Pump Paintball

How to Play Pump Paintball – The Ultimate Guide

If you just picked up your first pump action paintball marker or are thinking about getting one, you probably have already given this unique style of play some thought. You know the limitations like limited paint and a very low bps. However, it’s these very constraints that develop your skills as a player and bring a new level of fun to your game.

Playing pump paintball will develop your play style and will build skill sets that you may not normally use. So don’t think that just because you can’t hold down a lane by spraying paint that you are at a disadvantage. In fact there are MAJOR advantages to playing with a pump marker.

An interesting effect will start to take place when playing pump. Actions like popping out to shoot and moving up will become faster, while, conversely, the overall gameplay feels slower. Your actions develop to be faster to overcome the limitations of how much paint can be shot, and the gameplay feels slower because you’re making more calculated decisions instead of throwing paint.

CCI Phantom in a vertical stock class setup. No hopper or tank is needed and is super small and light

Advantages of Playing Pump

Pump markers also excel past standard semi or electro markers in a few key ways. Focusing in on these advantages and your development of a few key skills will get you in the right mindset for success with a pump.

Advantage 1 – Weight Reduction

This is true for most pumps. You only need a small hopper and a light tank (or even 12 gram CO2 cartridges) for your set up. Plus its pointless to carry the standard 130 round pods of paint with you. Opt for smaller 30-50 round pods or even 10 round tubes. All of these reductions will lighten your load considerably, thus freeing you up to move faster.

Playing with a lighter setup gives the player the ability to run further, faster, and for longer periods of time compared to that of a standard 200+ round hopper, large air tank, podpack with 130 round pods, an sometimes a larger marker. Your reaction time also becomes a little faster because you can bring your marker up quicker. It’s also less weight to move when dodging incoming paint.

A lot can happen in half a second, and weight reduction helps you move that much faster. A paintball can travel well over a hundred feet, a player could pop back out of a bunker and catch a glimpse of you moving up, or in that extra split second you could see a player start their run-through on your teammate.

Being an action and reaction based sport with a lot of moving parts, every second and every ounce counts in paintball. If you’re slowed down by your gear, that could be the difference between getting eliminated or stopping the other team in their tracks.

Advantage 2 – Profile Reduction

Having a smaller profile gives your opponents a much harder target to hit. If you’ve played long enough, there’s been plenty of times where your hopper or pod pack were exposed and got hit or just flat out gave your position away.

So many times my regular hopper has betrayed me like a flag waving about, giving my position away. Or the edge of my pod pack will get clipped as I run to a new bunker. Had the pod pack not been there or hopper been smaller, I would have been clean and able to keep going.

Playing pump lets you run a smaller hopper or even play stock class using 10 round tubes. It makes sense; a smaller target = harder to hit.
If you want to see some examples of smaller hoppers, check out my Gravity hopper review:


You may think those two advantages seem small compared to the amount of paint a standard marker can shoot, but expert pump players know that these two factors combined make you a force to be reckoned with on the field. Who needs tons of paint when you’re practically impossible to hit?

My Bread and Butter Skills for Playing Pump Paintball

These are my go to skills that I use in every game. I highly suggest learning and practicing with your pump marker while off the field. Repetition and practice are key to solidifying these techniques.

Move Up Hard and Fast!

When playing pump paintball, don’t be afraid to move up to a better position. Picture courtesy of Jay Franko an Chris Dellinger

Being light on your feet is a HUGE advantage. Always exploit that fact on the field. Quickly moving into unexpected key locations at the start of the game will really swing the match in your favor. Just being a few pounds lighter is all it takes to gives you the agility and speed needed.

During games I often attempt to push up past the 50 at the break; usually making it to where I want to go, and most of the time doing it completely unnoticed! I can’t tell you how satisfying it feels to get the jump on the other team right at “go”. Being able to spot other players before they see you is one of the many rewards of speedy pump play.

Be mindful of blind spots on the field that the other team can’t see. If you know that there is a section of the field that is obscured from the other side by buildings, brush, or bunkers, advance quickly before the other team gets the chance to take position.

Take Aim Before Clearing the Bunker

Getting into the habit of taking aim before you clear the bunker to shoot is going to be the most important shooting tip I can give you, regardless of what paintball marker you are shooting. Seriously, this is a key skill to master for any type of paintball play.

I can’t tell you how many players I have watched waist valuable time bringing up their markers to shoot AFTER locating the opposing players. You eat up a ton of time changing over to a shooting stance and bringing your marker up to shoot, and by then the other player is already shooting paint at your location, forcing you to tuck back in.

When playing pump, you sometimes only have the opportunity for one good shot and you learn to make it count! If you waste valuable time bringing your marker up to shoot, the likelihood of delivering a hit (or even having a followup shot) will be slim to none in a firefight.

Taking aim behind your bunker before clearing it sounds easy enough at face value, but there are some things to keep in mind when practicing this technique:

– While aiming behind the bunker, your barrel should be able to freely move.
– When looking around the field, do so with your marker at the ready and ready to fire in the direction you are looking.
– Don’t rest your barrel on the bunker. This decreases mobility, and mobility is your friend.
– Leave enough room between you and the bunker so you can quickly duck back in.

When playing paintball behind a bunker, don’t hug it. Staying at least an arms length away allows you to pop out and duck back in quickly.

The key to this skill is to not to hug your bunker. The closer you are to your bunker, the more time it will take to bring your marker up to shoot. Take a step back, about an arms length away, from the bunker and start from there.

Obviously if you are playing behind a round bunker or players are closing in on your side flanks, you will have to tuck in closer. But if you are able to still take aim before clearing the bunker you will get the same effect.

Why so much emphasis on taking aim behind the bunker? Well, lets jump right into the next topic!

Snap Shooting

When engaging another player, snap shooting with your pump is key. You can only fire one shot before having to load another round, so this technique of ducking back in right after popping off a shot will reduce the chance of you getting hit.

Snap shooting in general takes the previous skill of taking aim before clearing the bunker to the next level. You basically “snap” out from behind your bunker to shoot. Then quickly duck back in, only exposing yourself enough to fire a shot down range. If you aren’t already taking aim at your intended target while behind cover, you have to eat more time getting ready or face eating some paint instead.

If you are already aiming before clearing the bunker, all you have to do is minutely adjust your sights before shooting. This allows you greater accuracy while also limiting your exposure to a fraction of a second. Snap shooting is a win-win for any pump paintball player.

Even if you miss your mark, your shot often spooks the other player back into hiding. That’s when you snap out again and take aim for a second time before they can collect themselves to return fire.

Pump players typically have the upper hand over standard setups when snap shooting due to the weight of the marker and overall difference in size profile. Pumps are much smaller and lighter allowing you to pop in and out much faster while antagonizing your opponents with a frustratingly small target to hit.

For an example of both taking aim behind a bunker and snap shooting, check out my video below. The video will start in the middle during a really intense but short snap battle illustrating how useful these skills are.

Fast forward to the 50 second mark for the snap shooting action:

14 Essential Tips to Improve Your Pump Paintball Game

Over the years I’ve honed certain skills that have helped me improve my pump paintball gameplay. Quite a few of these tips also apply to standard setups and magfed markers as well, but I will cover some extra tidbits that focus specifically on using a pump setup.

Improve Your Accuracy with Small Targets

Practice shooting at small targets to help hone in your muscle memory. This allows you to acquire targets faster with more accuracy. Place various small targets at different ranges and heights and then alternate shooting each target at random. This will help increase your rate of one-shot eliminations.

Once you feel like you can hit the targets with reasonable accuracy, change your position and take a different angle. Finally, add in a bunker to snap shoot out of to further challenge yourself.

Shoot Higher Quality Paintballs

The fact of the matter is, if you use bad paint, you will get bad accuracy. Shooting pump uses less paint (maybe only a bag worth) so it’s less of a hardship when opting to get higher grade ammo. Trust me, this will save you some headaches in the long run.

Playing pump is cheaper, even when you invest in higher quality paint. Why? How many times have your shot up a whole case of paint in a day with your electro? It helps to think about it in terms of how much paint you will probably shoot in a day. A case of paint is around $50-$80, but a bag of paint can last a pump player all day and its only $15-$20. Opt for the better paint. The extra $5 is worth it when you can stretch your dollars further with a pump.

Develop a Good Shooting Stance

Accuracy is affected by more than just the quality of the paintball and the price tag of the marker. It’s the way the player themselves are standing and holding their gear that makes the biggest difference. Simply taking a good and solid shooting stance will help you naturally send paint where you want it to go.

Primarily focus on what is commonly referred to as the power stance. What you do is plant your feet about shoulder width apart both pointing in the same direction (ideally at your target), and then do a half squat or half sit like there is no chair. From here, pivot side to side from the hip to look in and out the side of the bunker. With feet and legs planted, this solid stance delivers more consistency to your shots.

If you use a loose stance or even have your feet pointing in different directions, it increases the chance that your torso rotates and changes your bodies natural point of aim each time you pop out to shoot.

Hold Your Marker Properly

The best way to hold your pump marker is with one hand on the pump handle and one hand on the trigger frame. Your shoulder should be making contact with the stock or tank. If you are running a pistol format, keep your hands on the pump and trigger frame.

Holding your marker properly has the same benefits as using a proper shooting stance. It allows for increased stability and consistent shot-to-shot accuracy. If you are constantly moving your pump hand off the pump arm to shoot, not only is this going to slow down how quickly you can rack another round, but you also have to constantly reset your hand placement each time you shoot.

If you are using the hitman mods on your pump arms, I highly recommend not holding on to the front regulator and manipulating the pump arm with your fingers. It is much slower and doesn’t provide a stable grip. Instead, hold on to the pump arm and rest the side of your hand on the hitman mod when you pull the arm back. Doing this reduces the fatigue on your pump hand as you don’t have to hold on to the pump arm so hard.

Keep it Simple, Keep it Light

Simplicity and reliability are some of the key aspects that make pump paintball markers popular. Once you start adding in complexity to the system, it starts to slow you down or introduces weak points that are likely to break.

You don’t need to add all the tacticool gear or motorized hopper to your marker. Doing so just adds unnecessary weight and bulk to the system. Remember, we want our marker to be small and light. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this at all. Sometimes it’s just fun to make our gear look cool. The key is moderation. Don’t overdo it.

Walk the Field Before Playing

If you are able to take a walk around the field before a game, I highly recommend doing so. While observing the field, make sure to locate various useful bunkers as well as any spots you don’t want to get stuck in. Sometimes you can find blind spots that will let you run freely or areas for the other team to sneak up on you.

Make sure to see how some of the bunkers are made, sometimes they may have big gaping holes on the sides that will allow other players to tag you, or require you to play while laying flat on the ground. Walking the field gives you an edge as you don’t have to figure out how to use the bunker in the middle of a game.

Field Awareness

If you don’t know what’s going on around you during a game, it’s impossible to decide the best course of action to take. Lack of field awareness is how you accidentally tag your own teammate in the back.

Paying attention to where your team is moving and having a general idea where the enemy players are will help you determine if you can move up or if it is safe to shoot. If you don’t know where the other team is, look at where your own team is looking. Communicate with them and ask them what they see. If nobody in a 5 man team sees the other team, it is most likely safe to move up.

Use Effective Communication

Without communication, a 5 man team is essentially just a bunch of 1 man teams playing for themselves. Communicating with your teammates extends beyond the actual playing field itself, planning ahead of time or discussion what to improve for the next game in the dugouts can contribute to an overall victory.

Some good practices for communicating with your teammates on the field are to let them know where you see enemy players and if you eliminated one from a position. If you are playing in the woods it may be hard to accurately describe the tree the other players are hiding behind, but giving them a general direction and range of where you saw the other team will help them know where to aim.

Practice Playing Multiple Positions and Rolls

Unless you are playing 1v1 games, you are probably playing with a team of players who all have different positions they prefer to play on the field. Try practicing switching up everyone’s rolls. Learning how to handle different positions helps everyone on a team team react better if they get pushed back or see a push about to happen. Knowing how to handle different rolls helps everyone react quickly no matter where they find themselves on the field.

Common paintball field positions are Front, Mid, and Back players. The Front Players are those who rush in gaining ground and pushing the other team. Back players suppress the other team and tell the mid and front players what is going on in front of them. Mid players support the front players and are ready to fill in the front if their teammates get eliminated.

By practicing playing the different positions on the field, you learn how to jump into different rolls quickly. If the front line suddenly changes position and you need to react you’ll be able to do so by instinct.

Moving Up Unnoticed

One of my favorite ways to move up to a new bunker is a technique called “shadow walking.” What you need to do is place a bunker or obstruction between yourself and your opponent that is further up the field and start moving up using that obstruction to hide your movements.

This can be done at the break of the game as well, giving you even more time to move up to a bunker further down the field.

A great example is shown in this video of a scenario event. I knew there were opposing players in the woods behind the mission building and also in the building to the right of it. By angling my run just right, I was able to make a long mad dash into the building unscathed. I can guarantee you that If I used a heavier setup than my double barrel phantom, I wouldn’t have made it to the building.

Fast Forward to the 52 second mark to see the sprint:

Spread Out and Cover More Ground

Make sure your team isn’t all tucked away in one corner of the field, or even worse, behind one bunker. Spread out a little. You can cover each other’s flanks and secure more ground this way by making it harder for the other team to dig you out.

Hit the Field with Your Friends or Team

Going to the paintball field? Great! Bring your friends with you. For me, paintball is always more fun with a group. It’s nice knowing someone is watching your back when playing pump. When visiting a field by yourself, try to make connections. Then next time you want to play ball you have someone you can call up or start a small team with.

Bring a Spare Marker

It’s a good idea to bring a backup marker. Not only does this allow you to keep playing if your main pump malfunctions, but maybe someone else would like try out pump paintball with you as well! Having the option available makes for some great 1vs1 pump games.

Plus, if your backup is a different type of pump or even a mech or electro it gives you options to change your play style a little so you don’t feel stuck playing with one marker.

Just Have Fun

At the end of the day, paintball is about having a good time. If you feel like you are struggling and not enjoying yourself, grab another marker and play with that for a bit. Never push yourself too hard to master pump play. You can always practice your pump skills another day if your just aren’t feeling it.


Florida based paintball player with 20 years of experience playing everything from recball to 24 hour scenario events.

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