Why You Should Use The Splayed Shooting Position in Woodsball Paintball

DangerMan shooting from a splayed shooting position aka a reclined hero's pose

Courtesy DangerMan’s Lair | Digital Paintball Magazine

DangerMan shooting from a splayed shooting position aka a reclined hero's pose

Preface to Understand the Splayed Shooting Position

Beginner paintballers learn quick, paintball is a game of angles. It’s about exposure. And new paintballers do something established paintballers lose sight of, they see and exploit shooting at the smallest body part that is exposed while in cover.

Trees. The Best Cover In Woodsball

Most of us know that in woodsball, the bunkers we play from are not perfect shapes. Big fat, wide trees are perhaps the closest to ideal cover. They offer straight up and down edges. Trees offer coverage to protect your entire body. They even tail outward at the bottom with their roots.

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Why Trees are the Best Cover In Woodsball Paintball

In a word, escape. Trees do something most players take for granted. They keep you on your feet. Many paintballers will play from the ground until they learn better. A tree will keep you on your feet when you don’t know better. If you get that split-second window to attack or move, you are already on your feet, ready to run. If pressure occurs, once again you can retreat without delay.

Trees match your body shape. They offer just the right cover. They allow you to step out and step in with the best use of your body requiring the least amount of physical ability. No doubt, if a tree is available, it’s your number one choice for both attack and defense.

All Other Bunkers In Woodsball & Hyperball

Now think of the manmade bunkers provided. They could be in the woods as extra bunkers or on a hyperball field as exclusive cover. Yes, pallets, stacked objects, boards, and even man-made structures exist. But very often they are industrial tires, tubes, and spindles. Using them for cover takes some adaptation. Their curves provide a lot of exploitable shooting lanes to exposed body parts.

The Three-Body Positions In Paintball

There are three ways to position yourself in paintball due to the bunker types.

The Splayed Hybrid Position

All this talk about positions only to bring up something new. Well, it’s not common. It can easily be branded as silly because it is not standardly accepted yet, so it has to be set up to discuss with the previous background. The splayed shooting position in theory mixes all positions. It is prone, semi-prone, and yes, even standing. We’ll get to that. 

WHAT is a Splayed Position?

It’s actually addressed in yoga. In yoga, your starting position is on your knees. It’s called supta virasana or the hero pose.

In paintball, you extend or widen the pose. You splay your legs. It brings you lower to the ground and further minimizes your body’s exposure to the opposition. 

Take this a step further. You then lean back and in some cases all the way until your back hits the ground behind you. In yoga, this is called a reclined hero pose. Think you can do it?

You most likely can’t. Not without hurting yourself. And in truth, this is only one part of what is expected of you to use this position fully in paintball. Again. We’ll get to that too.

Last point. The splayed shooting position is not merey shooting from your knees.  When you lay back you are in a reclined shooting position (reclined hero pose), this tactic becomes most useful. If you add this tactic to your repertoire, you should do so with the intent of using it in the reclined state. Otherwise, ignore this article and just squat down in your bunker.

The last point of what this position is and what it can do for you in game is really to the benefit of the most athletic. For any who condemn being off your feet due to compromising instant attack or flee movement, you can spring to your feet from leveraging and momentum when coming up from a reclined splayed shooting position. Your best practice surface is a padded mat at your gym if you want to learn to execute the move. It’s for this reason, this shooting position is one you can accept without compromising an often proclaimed cardinal rule. Never leave your feet. 

WHY Play from a Splayed Shooting Position?

Perhaps the most important question is why lay back on your back in a supta virasana in a paintball game? It provides you a tactical edge. You can shoot from a low position under angle without compromising your body movement in the lateral or horizontal direction.  

In the right conditions, the splayed shooting position improves your shooting angle and maximizes your shooting area which is explained below.

Horizontal movement from an anchored position can be key when in small field space. Hyperball especially requires head checks (one of the five forms of field awareness) on a constant basis.

WHEN to Use the Splayed Shooting Position

When to play from a splayed shooting position is a critical decision. Unless you have true mastery over its physical requirements, (concern for injury) use it when you need to get small. It’s that easy. Take this shooting position for attack or defensive purposes.

You’ll use the splayed shooting position 75/25 in hyperball and woodsball.

75 Percent During Hyperball For Offense

Hyperball fields are most often modeled after speedball fields. They have a Dorito™ side and a snake side. If your field has hyperball, it most likely has these two primary elements. Your snake may not have a back knuckle that’s a spindle, but if so, you’ll find this location a true fit.

The seventy-five percent of the time a splayed shooting position occurs is during hyperball for attack purposes, explained in more detail in the following WHERE section.

25 Percent During Woodsball For Defense

Woodsball fields are usually dominated by trees. Very few man-made bunkers are on most woodsball fields. That lack of applicable bunkers and the application of a defensive last man standing type situation minimizes the use of the splayed shooting position in woodsball. 

Therefore the splayed shooting position occurs approximately twenty-five percent in of woodsball games, compared to the 75 percent opportunity of use in hyperball.

WHERE to Play from a Splayed Shooting Position

The 75/25 ratio still applies to WHERE but the 75/25 flips in relation to time. The splayed shooting position is now used 75 percent on hyperball surface as opposed to 25 percent on woodsball. 

There is a big reason for this ratio flip. Spindles and tires are where you’ll use this tactic. These rounded bunkers are most often in hyperball fields. If you have woodsball fields with rounded bunkers like these or any bunker with undercut shooting lantes, then the amount of when and where will both increase.

75 Percent On Defense in Woodsball

When in woodsball, you’ll use the splayed shooting position more defensively than offensively. The ratio is 75/25. One key reason is that hyperball fields are short and effective shooting range will apply to almost all of the field. Whereas a woodball field is much longer and the game is usually won by the need to continue up-field. That constant attack movement is counter to ever needing to be off your feet.

That is one reason the specific use the splayed shooting position in woodsball is 75/25.  When during woodsball are you off your feet? Defense, which means 75 percent of the time a defensive position in woodsball is taken, you’re towards the back of the field. That occurs when you’ve lost players and you are in trapped in a small bunker you would not have ideally wanted to be in.  It could be a spindled shape bunker but more often it’s a natural bunker such as the upended root system of a fallen tree or a worn out small man made bunker no taller than two or three feet high. If you’re on defense in woodsball, and need to get small, you may be in last man standing situation.

Offensive Use of the Splayed Shooting Position

Most often the 25 percent location ratio of opportunities come from hyperball play when you are not just in a splayed shooting position but a reclined splayed shooting position. Say that three times fast.

The hyperball field to woodsball field ratio is generally much less at most paintball parks. The splayed shooting position is meant for up positions but can be used in a back snake bunker, but certainly not from the back while on offense.

Note in the hyperball game photo below a fully reclined splayed shooting position is also positioned three feet back off a spindle. For perspective, not the spindle is the back knuckle of a snake running along the field edge (tape line).

DangerMan in a reclined hero pose or splayed shooting position
The splayed shooting position takes physical training otherwise you may injure yourself.

In the example image above, that shooting location of being three feet back off the bunker should tell you something. There is no pressure. It’s an attack position with the reclined splayed position offering the defensive attribute. That distance enables you as a shooter to shoot further inside, into, or along the highway. The splayed shooting position is the reason your shooting area is maximized. It improves your angle to shoot more of the field. You’ve already got a wide perspective of shooting to the interior. This position allows shots up along the inside of the snake.  Why? opponents just don’t expect you to be able to shoot from underneath your bunker. 

There are additional dividends. They come from not just playing low but playing back. It affords you more time to swing back to your right and shoot opponents that may run the tape/wire, (that’s the border edge of the field). Their mental model would normally be to expect a player close and tight to the bunker as they commit to their run-through. You may not survive the trade, but you’ll have more time to cancel instead of giving them a free out and a continued run.

Consider that playing with an array of paintballers in rec ball the players will be mixed. From new to experienced, there is often a chance that if and when a tape runner risks a move, it may not be an experienced player. A novice won’t run down the tape. They will move along the snake tentatively. If so, your constant head checks and team communication from behind can result in your own advantage in removing them without being canceled. This understanding comes from years of experience in such situations with loads of success, otherwise, the splayed shooting position would not be written about now as a practical tactic. 

If you learn nothing else, you can take away from this article that the further you can playback off any bunker, the better. The keyword is can. When the game allows, step back and see more of the field. That should be part of your game. Play as close to a bunker as your opponents require. 

HOW to execute the Reclined Splayed Shooter Position

Dropping to your knees is not the concern. It’s the laid back reclined position you are going for. 

First up, don’t just fall to your knees and flop back. You can easily injure yourself if you are not already very limber which usually diminishes with age. If you are a teen, this is most likely easy. If you are overweight or have any issues with loadbearing, don’t do this without serious care.


Measure Your Stress

Start on soft ground or on a padded mat at your gym or whatever studio you have on hand.  When first attempting to lean back, have a friend support you by holding your hands from in front. If you don’t have anyone to hold you and ease both back and pull you forward, then have a strong support structure at your side. Allow yourself the ability to roll to one side if you get stuck in a back position. 

Place yourself in a position commonly referred to as sitting on your knees, but in reality you are going to rest your buttocks (okay fine, your ass), between your legs. You’re in the hero pose.

From your hero pose, splay your legs. This means split them apart. Do so carefully. Continue to as far as you can splay them comfortably. Once you feel any discomfort in tension, stop. You can increase this in time, but to force stress on your muscles and tendons is a huge no-no. 

As this also requires some ankle strength, be mindful of any pain in your feet. In your hero pose, you can roll your calves outward with your hands to ease any discomfort. 

From your now split position, your partner should be holding both your hands and you will lean back. If you have no one to hold you, lower yourself with a controlled eccentric motion. 

In the absence of a partner stretch your arms out and place your hands on the ground to support your upper torso and weight as you incrementally lean backward with your hands providing constant support. As you drop further back your hands will move outwards to the point your forearms take over in support until you are on your back.

Two things are to be observed.  Number one is stress on your outer hamstrings and quadriceps at your knees. Number two is your core in your lower back.  

You need both the comfort in stretching your quads and strength in your core to pull yourself back up in a concentric motion. These are the areas you need to train if you don’t have the natural ability and strength at hand. 

Training Your Quads and Core for the Reclined Hero Pose

To train your quads at home without a partner a soft surface. Not from the bed. Begin from a hero position. Hold your feet at the side with each hand. Splay, and rest in this position for short periods of time. Apply pressure incrementally with nominal tension. Use common sense. Don’t push yourself for any reason. 

For your core, you’ll do the same with an incremental eccentric and concentric motion to a deeper and deeper reclined position as comfort allows.

If you can only go a specific distance backward, stack pillows behind you to rest on. Over time, remove pillows when you become more limber. You are training your quads and hip flexors. 

Of course, doing this with a partner is ideal. This position is one you can’t hold indefinitely. Don’t make this a goal to hold it for long periods. You’ll hurt yourself. You’ve been warned. 

On the Field

Once capable and comfortable in a reclined shooting position, be sure to hold your marker with acceptable standards in form. With that said, consider that DangerMan breaks convention shooting with a stubby (improperly called a peanut) directly under the chin while looking down the barrel. This allows for shooting across the body without switching hands and remaining in a dominant hand shooting position. It’s not for everyone, but you are welcome to try it. Speedballers will hate on you, but they don’t generally give a damn about what woodsballers do in rec ball unless they just want to be egocentric. 

In Conclusion

The splayed shooting position is an outlier in paintball. Due to that truth, it can offer you an unexpected advantage against players who would never expect to be shot from under bunkers AND with almost no exposure in your profile. It can be nasty in the right shooting situations. Use it prudently, if used for show, you may just put yourself in a compromising situation and with that failure, decide it isn’t worth a damn. 


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The best shooting position in woodsball is standing. Never go prone unless to move up below an opponent’s sightline. Squat instead of taking a knee or learn the reclined splayed shooting position. 

Unless you are shooting a First Strike round, shooting from a prone position is a liability. It allows opponents to quickly move around you, it minimizes your view of the field and prohibits you from quickly moving to attack or flee.

Hiding while moving for an attack in paintball is smart. Hiding and waiting for an opponent takes you out of the game allowing more of the opposition to attack your team and eventually come down on your head. 

The reclined splayed shooting position is the most compact shooting position you can use while also allowing you to rise to your feet quickly to attack or flee.

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