When Thomas Yoxall fired three shots to save an Arizona police officer from an ambush, he knew his bullets would hit their target.
To what did he credit his quick action and shooting skills? “I have taken the time to make sure, several times a year, to go out and practice those [gun] safety techniques to make sure I’m always responsible,” he said in a Gun Daily News article.
Armed citizens want to be as prepared as possible before using their weapons. There aren’t many situations where you can practice firing and acquire the full range of skills you need in a situation like Yoxall’s.
But paintball provides an opportunity to fine-tune your skills in a safe and lifelike scenario. There are five main ways (that are backed by research) paintball will help hone your shooting ability.
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1. It’s more realistic than a gun range.
At most gun ranges, both the shooter and the target are mostly stationary. Though gun ranges are a safe way to practice firing a real weapon, they don’t present a realistic situation.
In real life, you will be shooting at a person or animal, and either you or they will be moving. Paintball requires all players to be constantly on the move. You have to think fast in order to hit your target.
In addition, you’re firing at a real person instead of a cardboard target, and your target is firing back at you. Research has shown that this type of practice improves real-life shooting performance.
For handgun users, there are paintball markers like the Empire Invert Mini marker which can be held and fired in just one hand.
This paintball gun is more realistic than the larger rifles which are common in the sport. If you want to practice with a handgun-like weapon, this is a convenient option.
2. It decreases stress.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 75% of gun self-defense occurs during a violent crime.
The other 25% occurs during a theft. Either of these situations are highly stressful. At least one study has shown that high anxiety situations negatively affect handgun accuracy.
Paintball can be very intense, and this trains you to react more calmly in other tense situations. The adrenaline spikes you feel while playing provoke a “fight or flight” response in your body.
The more you play, the better you’ll be able to control your stress response during an active shooter situation.
3. It increases self-confidence.
Yoxall credited his confidence in his skills to practice. Consider shooting like a sports event. Athletes know that the more confidence they have, they better they perform in competitions.
In fact, sports psychologists have studied the strong effect perceived competence has on actual performance.
So, you can improve your shooting confidence with paintball. You get instant feedback on your accuracy when you see your marker hit the target, which instantly increases your confidence.
Practicing often will raise your confidence, leading to better performance in a real shooting situation.
4. You can practice evasion.
Paintball also helps progress your tactical skills. Paintball players have to remain conscious of their location so they don’t get shot.
This makes the game an effective way to practice evasion skills and other tactics.
In fact, some South California police officers use paintball to train in safety during ambush scenarios, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The officers involved in the practice claimed this kind of training could save lives. Paintball allows you to safely practice taking cover and firing from a secure position.
5. You’ll be more physically fit.
Paintball is a very active sport which can advance your physical fitness. Better physical fitness also helps your shooting.
According to research, people aim longer and shoot less accurately when they are fatigued. This means people who are less physically fit will have a harder time shooting in a dynamic scenario.
With exercise, it will take longer for you to become tired, so you’ll be able to shoot more accurately after or while running. This is important during an active shooter situation in which may be running before opening fire.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. It’s what helped Yoxall save that police officer’s life. Hopefully, you won’t ever need to use a gun for self-defense, but it is important to be prepared.
Paintball is a great way to safely practice your shooting skills and fine-tune them. When you need to fire your weapon for real, you’ll be ready and armed with confidence and a range of skills to keep yourself and others safe.
At the very least, you’ll get some good exercise and have fun with your friends.