(Sorry in advance for the long narrative...I eventually get a to question or two somewhere down there!)
OK, so I played pretty casually years ago and just recently pulled my stuff out of storage and went to the local field (Xdrenalin Zone in Grapevine, TX) to play some woodsball with a mixed crowd of walk-ons. I played part of the day with my lightly-Palmerized Sheridan Piranha LB, and the last few games with my Phantom VSC.
I knew when I went out there that I was going to suck: I'm old (39, with apologies to my elders who are still rocking!...
), fat, and slow...I'm using a pump against rentals and a few teens with electros...it's been a long time...etc. I was just surprised by the magnitude of my suckiness. Counting welts when I got home, I estimated that I played about 8 games in the few hours I spent there, and I know I did not shoot anyone out in that time. I had the drop on one guy with the Phantom, but when I squeezed I found that I had missed the "rock" part of "rock'n'cock" and there was no ball chambered. And I hit a guy at some distance with the Piranha LB, surprised him: he jumped, looked down at his tummy, and scampered off, so obviously a bounce. Sigh. Otherwise, no success. I'd figured I'd hold my own against the rental crowd at least. That was humbling.
Anyway, I thought afterwards about what had kept me down. Here's what I came up with:
1) Rate of fire. This was only a minor to moderate problem. I held one corner of the "ghost town" field by myself against two or three electros and rentals for some time with only the Piranha. I didn't find it impossible to "seize the initiative" from my opponents. If I stuck my head out and sent a shot his way, he respected even the single shot and ducked...if I stayed out a bit, I could have *him* daring to show his face. But when he snap-shot and sent three or four balls my way, it was a lot more effective than my one-shotters. If other things had been working in my favor, I think this self-imposed firepower disadvantage would have been a thrill instead of a bummer. But again, not a huge issue.
2) Reliability/consistency. I struggled a little bit here. These are my markers, and I seem to remember being able to run them at one point in history, but I felt like a knucklehead the other day. I spent ten minutes or so in front of the chrono trying to get these guns, which had been in storage, tuned up. The Piranha, I suppose, got close, with shots across the chrono of 250-270. But I could not get the Phantom's velocity up above 250 or so, and it just wasn't that consistent. I'm guessing that temps of 45-48F and 12ies might have been responsible? But I felt like a tool. And I'm sure low velocities didn't help with things like having my one good shot of the day bounce.
3) Accuracy. This was the big one. I felt like I might have actually gotten three or four more eliminations if I'd been shooting straight. Now, full disclosure, I did not have a barrel swab or squeegee, so it's totally possible that if I had a barrel break or something, I suffered with it for a while. Also, my Phantom's ball detent rings hadn't arrived yet, so I may have had some partial roll-outs going on that would cause wild inconsistency. Also, I'm shooting field paint (no option, it's field paint only), which is Diablo Rage. It was in good enough condition, but it was $30 for the case, so I'm sure it's not that great. In any case, my shots weren't flying straight, so every pull of the trigger felt completely random. It didn't matter how well I moved (very poorly) or aimed (who knows?), it's a crap shoot if the gun doesn't aim worth a damn. That sapped a little of my enjoyment out of the day.
So, that brings me to my question. I'm pondering whether a pump-only diet is necessarily the way for me when I'm not coming into the game with above-average skills and physical gifts. I would like another marker that I can rely on to provide me some weekend fun without absolutely breaking the bank. Here are my priorities, roughly in order of importance to me:
1) Accuracy. I'd prefer a gun that points and aims easily and drives tacks. When I see some of these internet videos with full-auto guns with streams of balls that look like a rope, every shot landing right on top of the other, I drool. That kind of accuracy would make up for a lot. I want to be able to hit what I shoot at. I guess pretty good shot-to-shot consistency falls under this category, since without that you won't be getting the same range, shot after shot, so you'll necessarily be inaccurate.
2) Reliability. I'd prefer a gun that will work all day long at the field without making me miss more than one round of games wrenching on it in the staging area. I don't mind working on it between trips to the field, as long as this is generally limited to a) relatively simple disassembly/reassembly, b) cleaning and lubing, c) inspection and relatively simple adjustments. In other words, precise measuring tools, hours of work, lots of "tinkering" to keep a temperamental gun working, or guns that quit working under normal use...those are not selling points for me.
3) Price. I don't want to spend more than I have to. I'm not terribly concerned about impressing people with the fact that I have a Limited Edition Super Tungsten Model E-Peen 3003 SE (not the cheap-*** LE model...what do I look like, a noob?) with the super-rare, Turd Blossom anno job. I want it to work and I dont' want my wife to divorce me. Price will help with that latter point.
4) Light weight. I hesitate to even put this on the list. Mostly I just don't see myself with a crazily loaded-down milsim gun with seven pounds of junk hanging off of it. This isn't a big consideration.
5) Propellant. Preferably, this will run on CO2, since I own CO2 bottle and don't own HPA. I realize this may work against priority #1. But there it is.
6) ROF. I put this on the list because I want to point out that I don't care if this gun will shoot 15bps. For one thing, I don't want to spend a hundred bucks on a fancy loader to feed the gun. For another, I don't want to spent endless hundreds of bucks on paintballs to feed to the fancy loader. And for another, I don't really think I need high ROF to play woodsball and scenarios to a level that makes me happy. I have fond memories of playing walk-on with rental Model 98s and Pro-Lites and don't remember wishing too much for triple their rate of fire. So, don't factor ROF in too much.
What's on the market right now that meets my needs? This may include Marker A with upgrade X, but cost is a factor, so don't go overboard. Also, feel free to give me links if I can find more info somewhere else. Thanks in advance!