CS:GO: How to Improve Your Spray
Sat 30th Jun 2018 - 8:00am
Spraying is one of the fundamental gun mechanics in CS:GO. It enables us to rely on more than our one-taps in especially close quarters combat, allowing us to be faster with our bullets than players with a more bullet-to-bullet approach to kills. However, if you want to improve your spray, you will need to know what a spray pattern is. A spray pattern decides which bullet goes where for fast shooting weapons, including spam-able pistols, SMGs, and rifles. Almost all weapons in CS:GO have a spray pattern. In order to increase your chances of winning close to medium, sometimes even long-range duels, you will need to know how to properly control the weapons in CS:GO, which is something this article aims to help you with.
Before I can help you improve spraying, we first need to talk about the fundamental mechanics in the Source engine that Valve has implemented to decide what spraying does to your gun in CS:GO:
As I've pointed out in the introduction, spray patterns are the way in which the bullets leave your gun, which means that a spray pattern decides where your bullets will go at what timing. Every automatic and semi-automatic gun in CS:GO has a spray pattern. However, they are all different and all have a different rate of spread, which is a random factor deciding how much luck there is involved with what bullet. Normally, the first bullet is the most accurate, except for the Negev, and in all guns (except the aforementioned Negev), the longer you hold the spray or the longer you spam your bullets, the more spread will be involved. This is implemented to favour more accurate tapping and bursting play styles. Bursting refers to the play style where you spray the first 4-5 bullets of an AK, let go of the fire key, and then spray 4-5 bullets again in order to maintain proper control of the gun, keeping spread minimal.
Every gun has a different rate of spread and spray pattern, meaning that you will need to know what kind of spray and rate of spread your current gun has in order to properly spray or burst with it. To give you a first impression of spray patterns, I'll show you the spray of the most common rifles (AK, M4A4, and M4A1-S):
These three pictures show you the spray of the AK, the M4A4, and the M4A1-S without any spread.
The spread on these weapons is easy, since it just gets more random the longer you spray. The general spread and the amount of increase in spread decreases from the left picture to the right picture, making the M4A1-S the most accurate gun out of these three. If you want to find out more about specific guns, feel free to enter a local server, enable "sv_cheats" by giving it the value "1" and type in the command weapon_accuracy_nospread 1, which will eliminate the spread of your gun. If you then compare the spray with and without weapon_accuracy_nospread on you will see how much luck there is involved in whatever point of any spray of any gun.
As you can see, the spray pattern for the rifles (including the Famas, Galil AR and AUG) is almost the same. It goes up, a bit to the left, then to the right and back to the left before 1-2 bullets go back to the right. The M4A1-S, due to it only having 20 bullets, never really goes to the left at the top again. The SG is the only rifle with a special spray pattern since the spray for the SG just goes straight up and to the right at the same time. The cheaper a rifle on the CT- or T-Side, the smaller the spray pattern, yet the higher the spread (M4A1-S is an exception, as it has a smaller pattern than the Famas), making the AUG and SG the most accurate rifles on both sides. Also, both scoped automatic rifles will have a significantly more controllable spray if you use said scope.
To control these patterns, you just need to pull your crosshair into the opposite direction of where the spray pattern wants to go, which is how you compensate for the spray pattern, allowing you to keep hitting the target if you have mastered the spray. If the spray pattern goes up, you pull down. If it goes right, you pull to the left and so on.
You can see that the maker of the map Recoil Master has added graphics for the most common guns in the main room where you can practice spray, showing you the motions you need to use to properly control the spray.
How Do I Improve My Spray?
Basically, as soon as you know the spray pattern you can go into any server, offline or not, and just spray at a wall from different distances, trying to get the bullets to land as closely together as possible. Of course, you can do so more efficiently on maps specifically made to aid you when you want to improve your spray. One of those maps is Recoil Master, also given above as an example of a map that even shows you where to move your mouse in order to control the spray of specific weapons.
On Recoil Master you can add different targets and even enable the ghosthair on the most common guns, a setting that shows you a dot at the wall you're aiming at that will trace where you will need to aim in order to fully control the spray, enabling you to gain enough muscle memory to start improving your spray. You can also just practice without the ghosthair and get a more "realistic" feel for it without training wheels, as seen in the video below.
Then, once you've gotten a general feel for the spray you can start adding more distance between you and your target, add different targets to practice spray transfers and even start practising against moving targets, which you also can do on any offline practice map with moving targets, whether they be bots or actual targets. Keep in mind that there will always be a bit of randomness involved, especially in the later stages of a spray, due to spread!
Improving your Spray Online
The next step is to practice against targets that challenge you, try to dodge your bullets, and shoot back. You can find these challenging, dodging, and shooting targets online in other players, on servers with game modes such as retake, aim arena or deathmatch. For people who do not tilt easily, deathmatch should be the best option, given how efficiently you'll use your time on those compared to arena and retake where you can wait quite a bit before respawning. A different alternative would be the rather new, at least compared to the other listed gamemodes, duels game mode. You will constantly be spawned into 1v1 duels on actual maps, almost never leaving you waiting since these servers normally use a very dynamic way of matching you up with your next opponent.
It is important to focus on the task at hand! You shouldn't try to one-tap your way through deathmatch if you want to improve your spray. Try to find engagements on parts of the map where you'll find it challenging to spray and if you want to practice spray transfers, it may even be worth it to start next to your target and pull your spray to him after the first 5-6 bullets. In the end, no one should care about the score if they know that they want to improve and are doing their best in trying to do so.
Utilising Spray in Competitive
It is not always feasible to go full spray mode at every distance, in every engagement, and so on. Especially at long range, you'll be better off one-tapping or bursting with 2-3 or 4-5 bullets each burst, allowing you to maintain control of the small sprays you'll have to do to fire those bursts accurately. Do not let your spraying habits become your bane. A lot of people, when they try to get used to spraying, will just crouchspray whenever they encounter an enemy, not leaving them the possibility to re-engage after moving when the enemy misses their first few bullets, basically going all or nothing every time. This is detrimental to your success in the short and long-term!
Also, people kind of start to spray before they even start to aim, shooting their first, most accurate bullet at nothing but a wall. Try to get used to aiming before spraying in order to get the maximum efficiency out of your spray!