The Clinic: Paxson Off The Break

In the next interview for Paintball Access’ New Series “The Clinic” Mike Paxson talks about one of the most important and effective skills in paintball—Shooting off the Break. Check out his thoughts on this fundamental ability.


There are so many elements to the game, and some are more important than others, but shooting off the break is one of the most important, because it can give you such a big advantage. This skill is one you can probably speak to best – because you do this very well and you’ve been doing this a long time at a very high level. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Well it’s kinda funny, at certain times—especially when we all look at field layouts—it’s one of the very first things that Skinny (Kevin Bredthauer, the Ironmen’s coach) asks me. “Hey, so who do you think you can shoot on the break?” And I start looking. First thing: I look for big lanes of course. Big lanes, there’s a big one here or there, I start identifying which could work the best.

Big lanes that front players have to run through, or big lanes that back players have to run through?

Big lanes that the front players have to run through, or if players go out to corners, then you think, “I can pick on that guy, I have two good lanes where I can throw some paint on him”. So I kinda look at that, and the other thing I look at sometimes is, sometimes you can’t see the player, but man if I just kinda lead it across the top over there, which we call “leading” the player out there, and then still shoot the in-lane where he’s gonna be, you can almost get two players like that.

So I kinda look at a lot of different things and also too, look at, “Hey maybe you can’t shoot that many people, but I can definitely make sure nobody makes the snake” or “ let’s not let anybody get to this Dorito”. So there’s a lot of different things you can look at doing, but we definitely look at it like “Hey, I can kill that snake corner every time, or 80% of the time, that guy’s gonna die”.

Do you guys sometimes decide to gang up on a player, put more than one gun on the same guy, or try to focus your gunpower towards one side of the field?

Oh Yeah.

All of the time or—because you know the snake is a pretty dominate side of the field, but the dorito is too, depending on the layout. What’s the methodology behind that? Do you always look snake side first and then the dorito side?

You know, it depends on team players or—it’s easy in the Race-to-7 format when you’re standing there in the pit, and they just ran 3 times in a row to the snake on you and you’re like, “Alright, hey let’s double up on that, let’s not let that guy run in there anymore, let’s stop being stupid”, you know something like that.

But usually what we are doing is we’re all shooting different lanes. So I’ll be shooting one lane right in front of the snake, another one will be shooting the lane in front of the God, which is the bunker right before the snake. Another guy might be shooting from the snake corner. Even if he goes anywhere around in that area we at least have a lane on that. You can kinda break it up, and sometimes it works out great, guys go to every single bunker and we shoot two or three guys on the break.

Do you try to shoot back players off the break as well?

Those are the edger guys, so let’s say we’re running to the snake on the break, well their back center guy, of course, is going to be shooting at our guy running, so we’ll have a guy step out and pump it right back into the center guy. Because when the center guy moves, his gun is going to lean out to shoot that guy, hopefully he’ll shoot his loader or something.

Or make him flinch.

Yeah, make him flinch, get him to drop the lane, just enough for your guy to get in alive. Or sometimes even the stand out guy, you’ll stand out and see there’s a guy standing with you, mirroring you. You shoot at him, now he has to run, and you can still do your edge job too.

What do you think, percentage wise, a good back player will shoot players off the break? Out of ten times how many times should a really good shooter be able to kill the front, or back, player?

Really depends on the field. For the last event, the Mid Atlantic Open, I was down in the 50% to 60% percentile. It was just real rough shooting the corner, or they wouldn’t go anywhere off the break. They would only go to the real close bunkers, not anywhere real far. So there was no one to shoot half the time. But I feel if you’re in the 75% percentile, you know that guy is running out there and 75% of the time you’re gonna shoot him going into a corner or something like that, you’re up there, that’s good times.
As far as the actual mechanism, the mechanics of shooting off the break—because there’s a little bit of argument as far as how you actually go about whipping up your gun. For you, what’s the most efficient way to swing your gun up and shoot that player off the break?

Now, how they have us stacked in there, stacked in the starting box, it’s not easy to just pull off and do a big swing motion over the top of one of your guys because if one of your players stands too tall, now he in your way. I like to get my gun up as fast as possible; the second that horn goes up I wanna be up and shooting, because it’s really those first 10 paintballs that will establish a lane and probably the only ones that are going to hit the guy running out there.

Anything past that is more for that secondary guy running out. I like to actually pull it straight up from the hip, and just come straight out as fast as I can, coming almost from right out from your body, so there’s no one in your way, you just come, almost like a gun slinger, pulling it out real quick. That’s my preferred form, because it doesn’t matter where people are standing.

As far as the trajectory of the shot itself, that’s just something that obviously depends on the length of the field and where you’re playing and where you’re shooting, whether you’re shooting for the snake or the back corner, or the insert bumper on the snake side, or wherever. It’s also muscle memory too.

Totally, and I always like to aim high and then drop it down into them because if you’re aiming low, you’re only hitting the dirt anyways. At least if you’re aiming high, the worst thing that could happen is that your just shooting over the head and then you can drop it down and it will be easier. But I really like to aim right at a pack, because when they are running, anything from their chest to right above their knee area, because when they’re running out there, their packs there, that’s hard, they’re carrying their gun, that’s hard, and usually when you’re leaning down your goggles are about in that same zone. So all the hard parts are actually what I’m aiming for. So that’s really where I like to aim, because I have a much better chance of breaking a ball on them in that zone.

Make sure to watch Mike Paxson and the rest of the Los Angeles Ironmen as they battle against the world’s best teams at the PSP World Cup, brought to you free and live Oct 25th -28th, only on Paintball Access.com.

Who would you like PBA to get in “The Clinic”, and what questions would like us to ask them about playing the game? Let us know in the Dynamic Dialogue box on our home page! Get involved!

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  • http://twitter.com/Pympologee Eric

    Awesome tips. Thanks PBA and Mr, Paxson!!!!