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Beginner’s Guide to A Paintball Hobby




young guy playing paintball

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Looking for an exhilarating hobby that combines both physical and mental exercise? Paintball might be just what the doctor ordered. 

Not sure how to go about it? This article will cover all you need to know about the hobby to help you get started. Let’s dive right in.

What Is Paintball?

Is paintball a game or a sport? Well, paintball is more of a crossover. It can be a game or sport, depending on how you play it. 

For fun lovers, it is a game that you can play with friends. To the more competitive, it’s a full-on winner takes all sport. So, it’s a bit of both. 

You can play it as a one-on-one with a single opponent or make it a team’s contest. It involves shooting at opponents with a paint loaded gun. 

Once a player gets paint stains, they’re out. It’s basically a simulation of a battlefield field but a more lighthearted one. 

There are usually two main plays.

Elimination Play – To win this game, you have to shoot all your opponents with the paint. The last man or team with paint free clothes wins the game. 

The elimination play is a strategy game, where you have to shield yourself while going after the opposing players.

Capture Play – In this play, you fight to take something either from the opponent or from a focal spot. For example, teams can vie for a central flag or take the rival team’s flag.

How long does a game take? 

There are no set rules; how long you play depends on several factors like:

  • The venue
  • How big the team is 
  • The age of players
  • The gameplay

Paintball Fun Facts

Did you know paintball was created from a failed product? The story goes, in the 1960s, a man called Charles Nelson developed the paint shooting marker to help foresters mark trees and animals. 

But it didn’t go so well for him, so he rebranded it and sold it as a toy. In the 70s, the first set of friends played the game.

Fast forward to the present day; the game has developed into a hobby and a full-time sport.

When you go out on to the field, remember you are a part of a rich history. How’s that for a cool hobby?

Why Play Paintball?

Being both a game and a sport, it has lots of advantages. Here are some of them.


Paintball gives you a chance to hang out with friends and spend some quality time together. Parents and children or couples can bond together over a good war. 

Nothing brings people together like danger, even if it’s just a simulation. You will even meet new people on a game. 

Here’s a list of Paintball leagues that you can get involved with.

Fun and games

It’s a fun and exciting game with lots to talk about before and after the game. The adrenaline rush and the sense of adventure add to the thrill. 

Hiding from opponents, planning, plotting, and trying to survive is all so exhilarating. 

Practice Teamwork

Working as a team to get the better of an opponent is a valuable lesson in coordination. It’s a great way to practice working together with other people. 

You can use the teamwork skills you gain in paintball in the classroom or at work. 

paintball couple defending an area

Never a dull moment 

You can switch things up between the indoor games and outdoors. Change venues as often as you like. 

You may even change strategies every so often. There’s never a dull game with paintball.

The outdoor games give you an excellent opportunity to enjoy nature and get some fresh air. 

Improving strategic thinking 

Paintball is not just fun and games; it’s also a great way to develop strategy skills.

You’ll sharpen your planning skills as you practice your gameplay. 

You’ll learn how to think on your feet and react fast. All these skills will help in everyday life, at work or in school. 

Keeping fit

You can improve your fitness levels with paintball. It’s a very active sport which will give you enough exercise. 

Between all the sprinting for cover, changing positions ducking, and climbing over obstacles, there are plenty of activities to do.

It is also a way to include squats and stretches in your workout. 

Great for occasions

Paintball is an awesome activity to incorporate in occasions like birthday parties.

It works great for both kids or adult parties – entertainment, adventure, and fun for all ages. 

Paintball Terminology

Deadman walking behind the Doritos, and he’s wiping! Confused? You’ll hear a lot of new terms in this game.

Here are a some of the phrases you should know before you hit the field.

  • Bolt: This is like the trigger; it pushes out the paint.
  • Bunker: A place or thing on the field used for cover like a stake of tires.
  • Sweetspotting: Trying to hit an opponent as they move between bunkers.
  • Tape/ Wire: The outer edge that marks the end of the playing field. 
  • Wiping: Cheating by cleaning off paint so you can continue playing.
  • Deadman walking: When a player gets shot and has to walk to the dead zone.
  • Dead zone: Where all the eliminated players go in a last man standing game.
  • Snake: Bunkers arranged in a long line on one side of the field.
  • Burn: When a player fires lots of paint to the opponent’s bunker so the opponent can’t see or hit back.
  • Doritos: Triangular bunkers on one side of the play area. 
  • Butt pack or harness: Attached to a belt to hold extra paintballs.

There are lots more terms to learn, do a bit of digging before you start. It really is a mind game too.

an airsoft player peeking from a shallow trench

What Should You Wear for Paintball?

Players usually wear camouflage or solid dark colors (like all black) to blend in with the environment for added stealth. 

To help tell the teams apart, they can wear different clothing shades or use contrasting colored head or armbands.  

It’s not a good idea to wear one layer of clothing since you may get some bruising.

A protective vest will add an extra layer of padding to your body and help prevent any bruising.

It’s not compulsory, but you might want to get one. 

If you can’t get a protective vest, you can wear sweats or any other thick clothing layers. Taking a hit on your bare skin will be sore. 

That’s why long-sleeved clothes and long pants are better than shorts and t-shirts. 

Don’t forget about your hands once you’ve covered everywhere else up. You will need a good pair of firm grip non-slip gloves.

Preferably in black, so you don’t stand out like a sore thumb. 

a photograph of an individual playing paintball hiding near a tree

Where Can You Play Paintball?

Paintball is both an outdoor and indoor affair. You can do it in your backyard or find an open field – any space big enough will do. 

If you prefer playing indoors, you can use your living room or any closed building. Just keep in mind all the paint; it can be a messy affair.  

There are many commercial places for paintball, like ranges and fields where you can enjoy some games.

In some places, you’ll find community paintball reenactments held to commemorate historical battles – it’s a fun way to remember history. 

Is Paintball Dangerous?

As fast as extreme sports go, paintball is one of the safest sports. You’re unlikely to get injured by the blast of paint. 

If anything, most players say they only feel a slight sting, like a flick on the arm.

The pain is usually nothing to fuss about and goes away quickly. 

Also, there are several safety regulations in most places. 

What Equipment Do You Need? 

You can’t win a war (a make-believe one in this case) without equipment. Paintball is all about using the right equipment. Here’s some of the gear you will need.

closeup of airsoft gear

Paintball gun 

It is also known as a marker in paintball circles. A fair description considering how it works: this is the main piece of equipment you will need. You will use this gun to shoot the paint towards your opponent.

Paintball guns fire shots quickly and can launch the paint at well over 200 miles per hour. 

You can get the old school type, which loads one paintball at a time. Or you can opt for more advanced electronic guns that work sort of like a machine gun. 

The type of gun you opt for will depend on the level of the game you’re interested in.

However, it’s worth noting that using electronic guns means you’ll pay more for paint. 

It’s wise to try out a few rental options before you settle for a gun. 

Propellants / air tanks

You will also need propellants for launching the paintballs. These are small cylinders that you attach to the gun. They come in two main types:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Pressurized gas (propane or nitrogen) 

Which of these is best? Well, there isn’t really a best. Each type has pros and cons. 

The propellant you choose will be one that goes with your budget, is available in your area, and safe for use.

Also, fewer new guns are using carbon dioxide, so consider that. 

For newbies on the battlefield, a nitrogen high-pressure air tank will do.

That’s because it ranks higher on the safety scale and is easier to use. 


Now that you have your gun and your propellant, you ready to go, right? Not really, you can’t fire with an unloaded gun. So, you need to buy some paintballs. 

These are capsule-like items filled with different color paint. You will need to buy good quality ones to avoid them tearing or leaking in your gun.

If this happens, it could jam your hopper – nothing worse than a jammed gun when you’re exposed. 

It’s highly recommended that you check their compatibility with your weapon. And only get the ones recommended for your marker. 

Safety gear

Goggles or mask

Paint guns shoot at over 200miles per hour. At speeds like that, you can get hurt, even if it’s just paint.

Moreover, paintballs can bounce off objects like trees and walls and hit the shooter. 

To keep yourself safe, you need to wear safety goggles to cover your face.

Safety masks designed for paintball will protect your eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and sometimes the throat. 

Here’s what you need to consider when getting a mask: 

  • Good fit. You may want to try out a few to see if the mask fits you perfectly.
  • Breathability. You’re not going to play a good game if you can’t breathe well. So, you need to get a breathable material.
  • Vision. You can’t shoot what you can’t see. Besides, you’ll be a sitting duck. So, you need a mask with good visibility.

A good antifog mask will do just fine. There are lots of options available for different budgets. 

Barrel cover

Your gun will need to be fitted with a barrel cover or sock to prevent any accidental discharge. Plugs or socks will do. 

Bear in mind that most commercial fields specify the type of barrel cover they allow on the field. 

They won’t let you play if you don’t have it. And they’ll penalize you for forgetting to put it on when you’re in the safe zone. 

Is Paintball Equipment Expensive?

The equipment prices vary significantly, some are cheaper, and others will cost you quite a bit.

It all depends on the quality and durability of the piece. 

As a newbie, it’s always a good idea to rent for the first couple of tries. This allows you to see if you like it and if you’re good at it. 

Once you decide you’re in it for the long haul, you buy the specialized equipment you need. 

paintball player taking cover from other players

How to Get Started 

Get into action

There’s no better way to learn that in action. To get started, you simply have to get a mask, put on some padded clothes, and find a commercial playing field near you. 

If you come across one near you, attend paintball events. Once you see it in action, you can develop a keener interest in the sport or decide if it’s right for you. 

These events are usually a big deal, and you get to experience the thrill of the big game.

As a newbie, you see advanced players in action and meet serious paintballers who travel to these events from all over the country. 

Meeting experienced paintballers will also allow you to ask questions and learn new things about the sport. 

You’ll also get to see the different types of equipment that are usually on display at these big fairs.

You might even get your hands on some bargains on clearance. 


One of the best ways to develop your game so you won’t be the first one out all the time is to practice a lot. 

Immerse yourself into your new hobby and practice as often as you can.

Playing at different venues with other people can help you sharpen your skills. You’ll have more fun if you can last longer in the game.

Here’s a list of the best paintball fields in the US

Develop your play

Are you stronger at lying in wait and sharpshooting your target? Or is stealth and closer range shooting your thing?

Whichever your strength, you’ll discover it on the field. Once you do, you work on improving your game.

Paintball Tips 

Take care of equipment 

It’s worth investing some time into cleaning your paint gun. You need to degas and disassemble your marker to clean any paint residue. 

If you don’t clean it, the old paint may block the outlet. Worst case scenario- the paintball will explode inside the gun. 

Read the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations.

Usually, some soap and water should do the trick (use a squeegee or old toothbrush to really get it out).

Remember to let the gun thoroughly dry before you store it. 

Check and lubricate the O rings at least once a month or preferably after every game. You may also want to bring an extra set to the game. 

Carry a tool kit

You’ll require a toolkit just in case something goes wrong.

A few necessities like a screwdriver may save you on the battlefield. Of course, you have to know how to use these. 

Pack a snack

Paintball is an active game; pack some snacks for the extra energy.

Ideally, you will need the same amount of food you would carry for cycling or hiking. 

Bring lots of water

Depending on the weather, you may have to carry a few bottles of water. Put in a little more than you need. Dehydration can ruin the game for you. 

Calibrate your gun properly

It’s important to check your marker to see if it’s calibrated to the right setting.

That’s because if it’s set too high (shooting hot), the paintballs will spurt out much faster than they should and hurt your opponents which might get you disqualified.

Have Fun with Paintball

Most importantly, go out and have a blast. It may be a battlefield, but it should a fun one. After all the strategy and planning, don’t forget to enjoy the game! 


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