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Speedball is a general term for a game in which the playing field is composed of bunkers, of the same location and number on each side of the field, that provide an equal playing field for each team competing. It was created in this way to give a better format for competitive paintball, both in playing and viewing the games.
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Speedball is a team sport, and can be played recreationally or professionally, with games usually specifying teams of three, six, nine, and twelve. The game is characterized by a small symmetrical playing field, with obstacles (such as inflatable bunkers) placed in various configurations to challenge players, and various game times. Stealth and concealment is of little use on a speedball field; there is very little to blend in with. Success is dependent upon teamwork, aggressive movement, and constant communication. Players wear uniforms, similar to more traditional sports.
Speedball paintball markers are designed to be small so they do not present a large target; in virtually all tournament rule sets, a player is eliminated if they, or anything they are wearing or holding including their marker, is hit. Tournaments also specify allowable firing modes and rates of fire. Beyond regulations to rate of fire, some paintball markers use anti-chop "eyes" to prevent the marker firing without a paintball securely seated in the chamber. This ensures that a paintball, which has only fed halfway, is not "chopped" in half as the bolt closes the chamber, which will affect accuracy of subsequent shots due to paintball fragments left in the chamber and barrel.
Modern speedball markers tend to be electro-pneumatic in design, and run off compressed air or nitrogen. Slightly older models of speedball guns used to run mechanically, but higher rates of fire could not be reached due to longer trigger pulls and heavier pull weights. Electronic markers replaced the often heavy and long pull of a mechanical trigger, needed to manipulate the mechanical linkage to the firing mechanism, with a simple electronic button or other sensor that detects a trigger pull. As a result, electro-pneumatic markers' trigger pulls are often measured in millimeters of travel and just a few grams of pull weight, allowing for very fast rates of fire using various techniques of "walking" the trigger (alternating pulling the trigger with index and middle fingers).