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Sniper Longball Basics

Sniper Factors:
Many players ask us what the best set up is for becoming a sniper. There are several factors, including ball quality, barrel selection, rifling, muzzles, and some basic physics. Along with the factors below, we also suggest using compressed air and not CO2 if you want consistent ball velocity. Without getting into too much math, the following are the key elements we suggest you consider.

Environmental Factors:
Viscosity and air density are affected by air temperature, humidity and altitude. Air density varies with temperature as does the viscosity. Air density and viscosity affect the drag on the ball. The air temperature and humidity affects the size of the ball. We have noticed balls breaking in very cold weather due to the brittleness of the paint, while hot warm conditions result in balls swelling, becoming soft and requiring a change in sizers during the day as the paint swells. Humidity is a key factor in ball swelling which has been known to cause ball breaks. Once you open a bag of paint and expose it to the atmosphere, the paint will begin to absorbing the moisture from the air. The partial pressures of the air and the paint will attempt to equalize resulting in swollen paint. We suggest keeping your paint out of the heat in an air tight container until you use it. Also, storing paint for months can cause flat spots in your paint. Take your bags out and tumble them to avoid the flat-spots and maintain the roundness of your paint.
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Ball Selection and Sizing:
Paintball quality and match to the barrel bore size is probably the single most important factor affecting paintball accuracy. We say, if you can’t dance, don’t blame the floor, so don’t always blame the paintball manufacturer, since storage and use of the paint is equally important. Select good, round paint that is consistent in size and weight and one that will break upon contact; making a long shot only to have it bounce off your opponent is most frustrating. Choose a short sizer (1/2” and no longer) that matches your paint as closely as possible. Ball rotation with rifling works best when the paint matches the bore. If you are shooting a 0.688 bore barrel, attempt to find paint that is 0.686 to 0.688. If you are shooting small caliber paint, consider using a smaller bore rifled barrel like the 0.684 bore Hammerhead Battle Stikxx barrel that will assist you in getting ball rotation with the smaller bore paint. We’ve seen unsuccessful attempts to video ball rotation using our 0.688 barrels with 0.679 paint; this combination will not rotate the ball well.

Finally, if balls were rougher, the drag on the ball would be even less since the drag coefficients shift to lower Reynolds Numbers with rougher surfaces. Turbulent air flow at the ball surface reduces the drag.
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Optimal Barrel Length:
How long of a barrel should you use when sniping? We prefer using a 16” Hammerhead Bang Stikxx barrel for sniping. A longer barrel is preferred for sniping to help ensure ball rotation. While a shorter barrel can provide the exit velocity required to go the distance, the shorter barrel requires the paint to match the bore extremely well to insure good ball rotation. A longer barrel provides more assurance that the ball will rotate giving us the distance and accuracy we need to be a sniper. If the ball does not rotate, you could find that you will have to deal with knuckle balls, greater drag, shorter distances and less accuracy. The downside of a longer barrel is a higher pressure wave in front of the ball, which can cause turbulence at the muzzle exit. However, we have addressed this issue with the use of a counter-bored, reverse ported muzzle to collapse the pressure wave in front of the ball when using a longer barrel.

We market a Sniper Kit providing a player with the tools necessary to link rifled barrels together to make a rifled barrel as long as you would like. Linked barrels must be carefully matched at Hammerhead before we ship them for best results. The maximum barrel length we recommend for snipers is 22”. This combination can be achieved by mating up a Hammerhead WidowMaker with a Hammerhead Bang Stikxx with a link.
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Effects of Ball Rotation:
If you want to achieve the longer shots, use a system that spins the ball to help slice through the air and eliminate knuckle balls and drag. Hammerhead’s system rotates the balls similar to a real rifle. Our goal is to help you achieve distance and accuracy; we believe you will achieve both these goals with our rifled and reverse ported, counter-bored barrels with sizers. This concept was applied in the barrel system we used to set the Guinness World Record in England on August 20, 2011. We suggest you tune your barrel for optimum performance (see “How to Tune Your Marker for Your Hammerhead System” ). The Hammerhead barrel is designed to perform best somewhere between 260 and 280 ft/sec depending upon ball size and marker type. If you shoot our barrel over 300 ft/sec you may observe high rates of ball rotation that result in ball yaw or ball curvature which effects accuracy.
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Longest Theoretical Shot:
We all know that a 45 degree gun angle should give us the greatest distance according to physics; however when you have a projectile that only weighs 3.5 grams, we must consider drag forces on the ball. Drag of 1/2cdAPv2/2g does slow the ball down. Our studies show the greatest distance we can shoot is around 300 ft assuming no wind. This requires the marker to be angled at around 30 degrees. At the 300 ft distance, the ball will be traveling at around 60 ft/sec when it strikes the ground when shooting a conventional 0.688 diameter 3.5 gram paintball. The calculated ball hang time is estimated to be between 4 to 5 seconds; therefore, lead your opponents if they are moving.

We have tested out the 30 degree angle theory, and have found this angle (or somewhere close to it) does provides the maximum distance of around 300+/- ft. A sniper, when shooting at 30 degree maximum angle, should observe that the ball height approaches 80 or so feet in the air, and will hit the target at ground level around 60 ft/sec or around 42 mph. The ball actually picks up speed after hitting the highest point of the arc at about 225 ft due to gravity. A shooter should also note that the time for a ball to travel 300 ft is around 4.5 seconds. So, be sure and lead players at this distance or you will miss them if they are moving. Also note that wind at your back will help you with distance but a crosswind will result in ball drift. Wind in your face will steal your long shot. While 300 ft is a good theoretical distance, we find that a distance of 40 yards is a very acceptable distance to provide a predictable and realistic fun experience for a sniper.
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Ball Velocity and Flight Time:
The curves below show the effect on ball distance and velocity and flight time and distance.
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Muzzle Selection for the Sniper:
We want the muzzle to minimize sound downfield since many snipers want to conceal their location. We are not proposing silencers but are suggesting deflecting the sound back to the shooter and not downfield. We also want the muzzle to perform and reduce the pressure wave in front of the ball to minimize air turbulence at the barrel exit. Finally, we want the muzzle to look cool. We suggest using Hammerhead’s M-50, Bang Stikxx, or Battle Stikxx muzzles to achieve all these muzzle goals. The reverse porting has the ability to reflect the sound of the marker back toward the shooter and not downfield to the target.
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