The debate between gravity fed and agitated hoppers rages on as paintballers everywhere try to decide which choice will provide them with the best possible results. Here are a few key points for each style and how they compare head to head.
A gravity fed hopper is essentially a container with paintballs in it. It sits casually on top of your gun and feeds those paintballs one at a time into the gun - or at least they are supposed to. These are generally the cheapest hopper options available and have a low rate of loading due to the speed of gravity and the bouncing of the paintballs off of each other. If you are firing too quickly, the balls in the hopper will stick to each other and form an arch over the hole, stopping the feed of paintballs. You can shake the hopper to fix the problem, but it will generally slow your rate. The basic problems with gravity fed hoppers are the reason why an agitated hopper was developed.
These hoppers contain a motor that connects to a paddle spinning and breaking up the arches that form when the paintballs gather over the feed hole. This ensures the paintballs keep feeding into the gun at a steady pace, pushing through the hole and not slowing down your shots.
The speed difference between from a gravity operated to agitated hopper is actually non-existent. However, because there is no break in the feed of paintballs, you do not need to stop and shake them free for any reason. They will continually feed. Agitated hoppers are slightly more expensive than their gravity fed counterparts - starting at $25 and rising rapidly from there.
The agitated hopper comes in multiple different forms as well. You can find some with very simple, straight paddles that push the paintballs through the feed hole. Others will have paddles that are shaped like propellers to physically move the paintballs downward into the gun. They will not spin constantly most of the time; rather they move only when the balls stop feeding into the gun, making them more efficient. This is done with a small sensor that will detect a gap between paintballs feeding through. If the gap grows too large, the paddles will start spinning. A single 9-volt battery is usually sufficient to run an agitated feeder.
A force fed hopper does a little bit more than an agitated hopper by actually forcing the paintballs into the chamber from the hopper. It will usually have the paintballs fall to either side of a cone, then rotate the cone to drop the paintballs into the chamber one at a time. This kind of hopper will continually force feed paintballs for as long as necessary to keep you firing at a constant rate. These machines are highly efficient and reliable, but can cost as much as $100 for a low end model.
When making a choice between hoppers, remember what you need for your outing. If you are playing speedball, you will definitely need at least an agitated feeder to ensure constant firing - while woodsball with a few beginner friends will likely be okay with a gravity fed hopper.
Every year in the United States, five million people play paintball, and that number has been growing steadily over the past decade. What has so many people engaged in this sport? Combine the joy of a game of hide and seek with an old west shootout and you have a good idea of the sport's widespread appeal. Casual games are almost like a family camping outing, and a competitive game is a great bonding experience as well. The best part of starting your journey into this entertaining sport is that the essential gear required is minimal, making the activity much more accessible than most other sports.
Safety First With Paintball Goggles
The first piece of gear you need to purchase is a set of paintball goggles, also called a mask. Goggles are absolutely required to play; your first priority always has to be safety. While the sport is considered extremely safe, with fewer injuries per year than most sports including football, paintball goggles will ensure your safety in every case. Like the name says, they cover the eyes, but they also cover the nose, mouth, and ears. The lenses are made of heavy duty, resilient polycarbonate polymer that will withstand a pellet while maximizing individual comfort.
After you have your paintball goggles, the next purchase is a marker. The paintball guns, called markers, come in every possible design and at every skill level for each type of player. If you have a little extra cash to spend, you can have replica modern, WWII, or antique styled paintball guns. For a beginner, you should find a marker package that includes paintball guns, the CO2 cartridge, a hopper to hold your balls, and the cleaning equipment to keep your gun working. Just purchase a case of pellets when you want to play, and your marker is ready to go.
Dress For Success
The paint from playing will easily wash out of clothing with warm water and soap; it is only food coloring and gelatin or vegetable oil. With any outdoor activity, a change of socks and shoes is always a good idea. A sound purchase would also be a paintball vest. The specifically designed vests offer great storage pockets for spare CO2 cartridges, extra balls, water bottles, and a cleaning rod to un-jam a marker, and it will keep your keys and wallet clean and safe. When you start playing regularly, a vest is a great investment.
A Place To Play
The sport is so accessible that it does not require a specialized field to play in, but there are professionally designed and maintained venues. Woodsball is a term used to describe playing in the great outdoors and is how people typically are introduced to the sport. The professional fields can be played on indoors during inclement weather, and also includes referees to help maintain a safe playing environment. Even out in the woods, goggles and their rigorous, continuous use will also result in a safe game. No matter where you play, gather up your friends and family, and game on!
Paintball is indeed a challenging sport and has recently turned out to be one of the best part-time activities for lots of people who want to experience an exciting outdoor activity.
Once you start playing on a regularly basis, it is better that you purchase your personal safety gear, along with choosing a paintball gun you feel confident with and which will also give you a more enjoyable time.
It is understandable that you may have no idea where to start with, while looking for a gun that shoots straight and fast. There is a lot to choose from, and a lot to know about them, which will be the most suitable for you, and be all you have looked for. So, take your time and do your research well.
It is true that you may hear serious players talk about different ways of choosing a gun, so you can learn from them what make and model is the best, and if that particular mark and model is all they were looking for. You could go to those veteran players that are more than happy to give you a piece of advice, as if there is anything they love talking about, that's their paintball guns.
You should know from the very beginning that paintball guns may be quite expensive but they are sure worth it, especially if you are really into playing this game. It's very important to get what you want, or even start with a common gun, and then work your way up to the special gun you want, as you become more experienced.
There are guns that range up to thousands of dollars, so you may want to start with a gun that your feel comfortable to spend your money on. Taking out a loan for this kind of gun is not what I advise you to do, unless there's someone in your family that would loan you the money.
Think about your style when you start playing it, and when you are out in the open. Paintball is a slow game but, as you become a passionate and regular player, your entire style will change to a more competitive one, and get faster as you see more of a challenge in this exciting sport.
So, you should start looking for a gun designed for speed as well as for performance.
Start surfing the Internet and you'll find lots of information on makes and models; you could even try reading other's opinions and reviews on this.
Of course, one way you can really get the feeling of the gun is to actually test it and make sure you ask if you could try it, before you purchase it. What you could also do, is to try your friends' guns, as there would always be someone that might let you try his gun. Or, you could even rent a gun; ask them about the models, as chances are they don't have one model only. Rentals usually include better beginner as well as novice models.
Paintball was designed for your fun, and if you remember western movies, we even tried imitating cowboys shooting each other in the movies, and hiding behind trees or rocks. This is the reason they invented paintball, and western movies have been taken to a new, modern level under the form of a game, even if it sometimes hurts.
So, whether you choose to purchase or borrow the gun, it must be comfortable.
In order for you to get the most out of a gun, you need to have a basic understanding of how it works and what you can do with it.