Special Ops Paintball: Proper Sight Configuration - Special Ops Paintball

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Proper Sight Configuration You bought it, now here's what to do with it. Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   Prophaniti 

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 01:28 PM

There are a lot of topics that talk about which kind of scope or sight to get and the benefits that they can give you. There is not, however, a guide on what the best way to go about making your new shiny toy work for you once it’s in your grubby little hands.

There are a couple of topics to cover. I’ll list them off at the start, and work through each one in detail later.

It is widely accepted that a magnifying scope is not a good idea for paintball use. By the time you’d get any use out of magnification, you’re at a range that is far too great for a paintball to be launched.

For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume that you are going with a more natural choice for a paintball application: the red dot sight.

1. Zeroing your sight
2. The benefits of risers and offsets
3. Mounting your sight


Zeroing your sight
Picture yourself staring downrange at your practice target.
Your new sight is positioned just perfectly. The sun glints off of the black finish and illuminates your target like an aura from heaven. The stock of your marker is nestled snugly against your shoulder.
You press your bare cheek against the warm plastic of your stock and line up the brilliant red dot with your target…it can’t run.
It can’t hide.
You are one with your weapon.
A staccato burst of three shots strikes the target with unerring accuracy…your enemies stand no chance.
You have evolved to the penultimate level of predator.


Sounds good, right? Who can tell me what’s wrong with this picture? It’s a very small detail…

“Your bare cheek”…Doh!
I made this exact same mistake my first time...I zeroed the red dot with my mask off.
This is probably the most common error. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
If you’re like me, you love shiny new toys. Just like a kitten, you get tunnel vision when something new and preeeeetty glistens in front of your eyes. It’s hypnotic. You don’t think straight…you can barely walk straight.
Much like when that cute gal at the bowling alley winks at you and smiles.

Alright…enough goggle-eyeing the pretty girl…back to serious, manly business…there’ll be plenty of time for that after you show how great a hunter you are. (Natural Selection baby…chicks dig guys who can align a paintball sight properly. Just ask ‘em…and give me her number.)

Take some time to go back and re-zero with your mask ON this time.

Practice your normal snap-shooting pose a couple dozen times before you start. Get a feel for the most common position you'll be using while looking through your sight.
This is the position you'll want to use for zeroing.
If you try to zero from your most comfortable pose (meaning you take about 5 seconds to get it "just right" when you're lining up on a target), you'll find out that it doesn't work out quite the same when it comes to the real thing.

When it comes to red dot sights, it doesn't matter at what angle you look through it...the dot will always be lined up with where you've zeroed. At least, that’s the theory. If it’s good enough for Special Forces, it’s good enough for me.
I too subscribe to this theory behind the red dot, but with a caveat: it better feel natural when I'm sighting, or it isn't worth the extra edge a red dot gives me.

There is a method to zeroing. Probably the best description of both the process and the physics was made by Lothen in this thread. No sense re-inventing the wheel when it's put so eloquently by someone with a much better grasp on it than I do.


Risers and offsets
Some folks mention buying an offset or a riser when mounting your sight.

You mentioned you don't want to spend any money on these things though...after all, you want to buy that gal a soda and a round of pins at the bowling alley, and that ain't cheap. Heck, I can’t blame you. Why back in my day...a game of bowling only cost...alright, ALRIGHT I'll shut up with the reminiscing.

But from a hypothetical perspective, it might not be a bad idea. Let me clarify though just so you don't get the wrong idea that it's an absolute requirement to get your red dot to work properly...

The exception to this absolute requirement rule I just made up is how your hopper is mounted. If it is not offset somehow or another (Q-Loader, stovepipe, etc.) then you might want to settle for just buying the girl a soda and forego the round of bowling…you’ll need a little cash for one of the following…

Oops…wait a second…
The other exception to the same absolute requirement (darn loopholes…there are always so many!) is how flexible your mask is. If you can’t mash the lower part of your mask close enough against your stock to see through the sight, you’ll probably want to look into one of these as well.
Or you could just take off the stock…but that’d be an exception to an exception, and we’re not all willing to wait for an act of congress to push through all this legal jargon just to put a red dot on a friggin’ paintball marker, so we’ll forget I even mentioned this last option.

Right then…on to those things you might want to spend some money on…

1. An angle-mount for your hopper.
These come in all varieties and are referred to by a number of names. I own a Tippmann A-5 and they call this gadget a stovepipe. Others call it an elbow. There are plenty of hoppers out there that are already angled, so look at those too.

2. An offset rail.
These are gadgets that screw onto your marker’s built-in rail and are meant to jut out to the side with a new rail for mounting such things. They range in how far this jut is, but it’s usually a good inch or three.

3. A riser.
Just like the name implies, it raises the point at which you mount the sight by a margin. Some of these risers are actually more like a handle with the added bonus of being able to mount a sight on top. Others are a rectangular chunk of metal that looks kinda like a really long LEGO block.
It all depends on how much you need to raise the mounting point to make it comfortable, as well as bypass any obstructions (such as your hopper).



Given that your hopper is somehow mounted at an angle or is a very low-profile model, the only thing a riser or offset rail will do is make your posture feel more natural when trying to look through the sight.

If you can cram your face down far enough and your mask has some "give" to it, you really don't need these accessories. They're just going to help you feel like you're not crammed into your mom's clothes dryer while you're trying to aim.

I have an offset rail, but it is still difficult to get the "feel" that seems normal for looking through a sight...which means my eye is square with the center of the sight optics.
I intend to buy something to give me some more elevation...I'm a tall gangly guy with a long neck, so I need that extra height a riser will give me compared to looking like I'm trying to snap my own neck every time I try to aim. I’m looking for the handle/mount combo for that extra elevation.

Regardless of what I end up purchasing, there is one thing that will happen before I waltz over to impress that girl with my sight mounting skills and a Dr. Pepper (Diet…it tastes just like the real thing!)…

Mounting your Sight
Once I get my new riser purchased and installed, I'll have to re-zero the dot again.

But you ALREADY zeroed it you twit…go say “Hi” to the cute girl already!

Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. But there’s a reason.
Every time you make a modification to the position of your scope on your marker, you'll need to re-zero.
Just remember that, and you'll have no problems. It’ll save you some embarrassment when that pretty girl checks out your hunting skills in sight alignment too.


There’s one slight problem to having these extra doo-dads in addition to your sight of choice…

They're attached with screws. Even the normal vibrations of my Tippmann A-5 firing on single shot cause these screws to loosen over time.
The more extra mountings you plop on to accommodate a sight that feels comfortable, the more likely they are to fall off in the field. Some Blue Loctite should help. Just be sure that before every round, you take a brief moment to inspect your screws and make sure nothing is coming loose.
There’s nothing worse than having to worry about some idiot with a screw loose running around the field with a loaded weapon. (Oh c’mon…you saw that joke coming a mile away)

If you're using both a riser AND an offset, it's a fair bet that you'll always use both pieces...so why not permanently attach them? A wee bit of superglue and you have two less problems to worry about.

That's right...TWO problems.

Number one: screws loosening.
Number two: attaching the two pieces in different places every time they are assembled.

One thing to always keep in mind: if you take a moment to ensure that you ALWAYS align the sight on the marker in the exact same place, you'll never have to use the excuse of "My shots were off because my sight rail was two millimeters further up the mounting bracket that it was when I zeroed it."
Oh yes...that's right.

No more excuses...you forfeited your right to make excuses when you decided to take up the position of Sniper.

If you zero your red dot and permanently etch a couple of lines (a carpentry nail does the trick) to mark the front and back positions of your sight/offset/riser combination, you'll always have the confidence of knowing that when you re-mount them before a match, they're being put back on in the exact same spot as when you painstakingly zeroed it the first time.

You COULD take it a step further and just superglue or JBWeld the whole contraption in place, but I would STRONGLY advise you not to for numerous reasons.

First off, the whole idea of customizing your marker is the idea that you can always un-customize it back to the factory defaults. Why? What if your marker is completely pooched and you have to buy a new one? Or maybe you scored some cash in the lottery and bought one of those wiz-bang new markers (and took the pretty girl out for a movie with a LARGE popcorn thrown in with the spare change)
That'd mean buying the whole sight set again.

Secondly, when it comes time to strip your marker down to the bare components for cleaning, you may or may not have a problem doing so because of the addition of this permanent fixture.

Third, think about transporting your gear. Most totes don't take into account "breathing room" in the bag for what might turn into a huge bulge from the offset, riser & sight.

Fourth and finally, you may switch positions on the field. Not because you suck at sniping…I’d never imply that.

Okay, I might…but we don’t know each other that well yet, so why don’t we just be friends? (Be prepared…that’s the line you’re going to hear from the pretty girl if you don’t have your paintball sight alignment skills in top shape)

Let’s just say that you are so uber-sneaky that they beg and grovel for you to go Light Rifleman in the next round.
That big honkin’ rig you have for your sight is next to worthless for this position. (No flames guys…It’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.) Why not leave it off so you can dash around without all the excess baggage?

Before going off the deep end and permanently affixing everything together, keep these thoughts in mind.

Wrapping Up
Alrighty then…I’ve covered all the basics. Get out there, get that sight zeroed and mounted properly, and by all that is holy…make sure you freshen up that deodorant before going to talk to the pretty girl.
You smell like soggy burlap. Actually…what the heck are you doing in a Bowling Alley with your Ghillie Suit on?!?!? Freak!!!

This post has been edited by Prophaniti: 15 May 2007 - 06:44 AM

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#2 User is offline   montag 

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 01:42 PM

Nice post; good information and an um...creative writing style wink
I liked it, nice job.
Win with Honor, Lose with Honor, Play with Honor. I. Don't. Cheat.
Team Contraband
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#3 User is offline   Renquist 

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 07:20 AM

Awesome post and thanks for the insight. I'm 6'5'' and think I'll go with an offset for my 98. I've lowered the stock somewhat so let's hope it works.....
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#4 User is offline   Pandemonium 

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 09:42 AM

this shuld be stickied. ps, what red dot do u recommend? please pm me with ideas, thanks.
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#5 User is offline   Prophaniti 

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 09:59 AM

View PostPandemonium, on Apr 18 2007, 11:42 AM, said:

this shuld be stickied. ps, what red dot do u recommend? please pm me with ideas, thanks.


I make no recommendations. There's already a thread for that. My belief is that as long as you can see through it and it's zeroed properly, the only difference between them are the dollar signs and durability.
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#6 User is offline   cjottawa 

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 10:10 AM

View PostProphaniti, on Apr 18 2007, 12:59 PM, said:

View PostPandemonium, on Apr 18 2007, 11:42 AM, said:

this shuld be stickied. ps, what red dot do u recommend? please pm me with ideas, thanks.


I make no recommendations. There's already a thread for that. My belief is that as long as you can see through it and it's zeroed properly, the only difference between them are the dollar signs and durability.


I applaud your neutrality vis-a-vis which sight to get.

I won't stay quite as neutral: I suggest people get an open-style red-dot for paintball use. Closed-tube red-dots promote tunnel-vision. I would also advise against anything made of plastic or the Adco brand - they fall apart, tend to have poor optics and fuzzy dots.

This post has been edited by C.J.: 18 April 2007 - 10:12 AM


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#7 User is offline   Prophaniti 

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 10:54 AM

Heh...everybody has their own preferences. For instance, I have a closed-tube red dot. I prefer it over an open due to problems I had with glare on sunny days.
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#8 User is offline   russc 

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 04:54 PM

Also, I'd suggest dialing in the red dot at a distance where paint retains accuracy. Say, 50 feet. Anything past that, you should just put the dot above your target accordingly.
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#9 User is offline   Prophaniti 

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 08:30 AM

View Postrussc, on May 15 2007, 06:54 PM, said:

Also, I'd suggest dialing in the red dot at a distance where paint retains accuracy. Say, 50 feet. Anything past that, you should just put the dot above your target accordingly.


Lothen talks about that in the thread I linked to towards the end of the section on Zeroing. Granted, he didn't list a magic number for paintball, but you are certainly correct about zeroing at a decent distance, russc.

What this distance should be probably depends on what role you generally serve on the field. As Lothen points out, what goes up, must come down...and so there will be two points along a plane where the ball intersects the dot. Figuring out what these magic distances are that are going to maximize the use of a sight is still anyone's guess.

Most of us recreational paintballers have a hard time estimating ranges. I for one couldn't tell you what a 50-foot distance looks like just by eyeballing something. That sort of guesstimation on the field is an artform I have yet to master. With this in mind, it's hard to know what your magic distance is for zeroing something you can consistently hit.

I guess that's just one more thing that separates the newbies like me from the pros.
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#10 User is offline   Monnster13 

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 10:35 PM

This is a great post. It really makes me want to go out and buy a red dot site. I am putting it on my list of upgrades that I can't afford to buy right now. LOL!
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#11 User is offline   Prophaniti 

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 08:01 PM

View PostMonnster13, on Jun 24 2007, 11:35 PM, said:

This is a great post. It really makes me want to go out and buy a red dot site. I am putting it on my list of upgrades that I can't afford to buy right now. LOL!


Glad you found it useful. This is only half the battle. The other half is training both your eye and your sight to hit a target from your "comfort zone" distance.

The more I play, the more I figure out that not everyone opens up on targets at the same range. Many people longball all day and have a blast. Others wait until you're so close that it hurts. A red dot will help you become more confident in extending range while maintaining a degree of accuracy.
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#12 User is offline   Prophaniti 

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 11:08 AM

Just a brief update...

Since the time I wrote the initial post, I have picked up a few other markers and earned a fair amount of new welts on the field.

My days of using my A-5 are over...my girlfriend uses it and refuses to let me borrow it from her. I've picked up an Ion and a Phantom...the choice of marker I take to the field usually depends on my paint supply.

I have to say that the overall benefit of using a Red Dot increases exponentially when using a pump marker.

A couple reasons for this:

1. Unlike a semi, the act of chambering a new round throws off your aim. It's practically impossible to make minor adjustments inbetween shots as it is with a semi-automatic. As such, the red dot sight gives you a more reliable aiming point with which to start.

2. Most pump markers are known for their accuracy. In cases like the famous Phantom, the accuracy can be attributed to the closed-bolt design. Red Dots further increase the reliability of putting your marks on-target.
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