How To Play Paintball — 7 Steps To A Lovely Experience

People find exotic interest in personal pastimes that turn to be some of their fun fallback options, many times growing to become an experience that possesses a quotidian value for them.

One of such potential attractions in that regard is playing paintball, a combat pastime with pacey, adrenaline-pumping, deeply fun-baited entertainment, that grows so tickly on you with a sweeping crescendo, hard-to-shake off sporting dynamic.

Delving into what makes the paintball game what it is or the mechanics that shape the practice of it is about paying vested interest into understanding what the game really is, the vital equipment you need to have to play the game, what the rules are, the crucial safety and precautionary steps to take to effectively play it, what exactly it entails for you to play, and ultimately, how to play paintball. 

How To Play Paintball
Image by Micah Chelf from Pixabay

What Is Paintball?

It is a fun sport; an extreme, shooting, contest-driven sport, where players are involved in combats, competing as individuals or in a team, with the aim of eliminating their opponents from possibly an artificially designed battlefield.

They eliminate their opponents by tagging them with paintballs. In other words, you have two individual teams or groups of players belonging to opposite teams.

One team goes against the other by shooting at their opponents from the other team with balls that are made of paints; hence, the name: paintball

How To Play Paintball

You can easily learn how to play paintball by following the steps below:

1. Get The Equipment

All the equipment (we will be listing them later on in this article) should be purchased or rented before you play the game. You need to have the basic instruments that allow you play the game, and primary among that must be your protective gears.

Make sure that safety masks are handy and possibly an overall clothing that protects you from injuries from being hit from the force of the paintballs. Thick, all-body covering clothing, with pants and long sleeves could be the distinguishing, saving grace for you.

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2. Choose The Right Field

Not everyone will have a park close to them strictly for playing paintball, but it is important that wherever you choose to play must be wide enough to accommodate onsite equipment like bunkers, tables, piled tires, etc. for covering during the game.

Size of the field is a big factor in playing the game. To duck, move, pause, hide, you need a place wide enough to work out your strategy and extensive enough for movement.

Although being wide doesn’t equate being too wide, as a field too big is a prelude to a drab, boring game. That can be easily anticipated.  

3. Know The Rules

It is wise to learn the rules of the game before hopping on to it. No doubt the rules vary from game to game; however, there are common rules that are safe to keep in check for players to mark boundaries and establish expectations.

If you are in charge of a game, it might be a good thing to affirm the rules clearly and give everyone to the access as quick as possible.

For example:

  • Keep a clear communication on time limits for paintball games and have some plan to keep them aware as the game runs down. You could have a PA system or a sound binger.
  • Define and mark out the safety zone. Make sure that you have access to a place where you are only allowed to take off your paintball mask. Aside that, you have to keep your mask on. Do not attempt to take it off for whatever reason as the play goes on. The field is like a combat space, and while it might not be a hotbed for military engagement as though you are in a way, you still want to keep your face protected, especially your eyes. Accidents do happen. Most importantly, you don’t want to leave the game one-eyed, injured or blind. 
  • Mark out also what is called the “Dead Zone” or “Staging Area”. This is the zone of surrender. It is where a player typically goes to if they have been eliminated in the game. Players know that whenever an opponent finds themselves in that space, they are not to be attacked or shot at. Ideally, that can also serve as the safety zone for wont of space. Players can offload their mask there perhaps to clean it or whatever, without the fear of being unfairly targeted or shot at while other opponents are still on the field or live fire zone. 
  • However, when you are playing the game and you get hit, that’s the end of your game. That is, when the paintball’s hit leaves a mark on you, you are expected to raise your hand in the air to call attention to your elimination and immediately the referee acknowledges your surrender, you are poised to leave the field. This is how winning and losing is determined in the game. It doesn’t sound straight forward and there are quite a few times people have questioned and wondered if there are better ways to adjudge if someone has been hit. Self-report is still the right metrics for leaving the field and it only helps to deepen the beauty and fun of the game if everyone follows the rule and tell when they have been shot. However, it is also vital to mention that there is the reincarnation rule that is often applied to beginners which allow them to wipe or swipe off paints decked on them during paintball games and still come back to continue the game.
  • Whether you are playing alone or with a team, you must resist the urge to fire at your opponents if they are marked already. There are some parks, for example, that have strict rules as to the minimum distance a player can be to fire at their opponent. Many times, there might be temptations to abandon friendlies and thrust the game into a potential dangerous one at close contact and that portends a great challenge, and that’s because of the safety implications. Remember that a paintball is released from a paintball at high velocity, that force can impact an opponent too badly at very close contact.
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4. Play To Your Game Rules

To play paintball, try to know the end game of the paintball type you are playing.

There are actually different ways to play paintball. It could be elimination. Here, the opponents are knocked off after self-reporting and the last man on the field is acknowledged as winner.

There is also capture the flag game type. Here, as an opposing player or team, you try to capture or seize the opponent’s flag from their marked territory to your own or simply follow the elimination route, too.

There is also speedball and other types. You have to know and play according to that.

5. Have A Strategy

Paintball is not just a game of hits and runs, there is methodology to it and you need to develop a strategy to play one.

You need to develop a strategy on how to aim at your opponent. You will probably hear that the best aim tag is at neck height. That allows you to drop the paintball at your opponent fair and easy.

You also need to keep moving and learn to duck properly to avoid hits. Pick places and pocket of spaces you want to run and move to, and make sure your offensive approach is not dwarfed by your need to consistently take covers.

If you are the one doing the shooting, make sure that you aren’t shooting aimlessly without defined targets. Know that paintballs get exhausted faster than you think and the last thing you would want is to be shorthanded. 

6. Communicate & Watch

As with military combat, effective communication sets you and your team apart. With effective communication, you are able to play as one team, not just a group of people playing paintball together.

If you are playing paintball with your team, ensure you are on the same page regarding your tactical approach to the game.

If there is also a need to change strategy on-field, communicate so as not to risk losing your spot advantage or game plan.

You also need to be proactively watchful. Vigilance starts with ensuring you don’t run out of ammunition, in this case, paintballs or the grenades.

If you are caught within crossfires — just kidding — but really, if you are stuck in the middle of the game without awareness of the environment or opponent’s movement, you won’t last long in the game.

7. Enjoy The Game

Never forget it is a game; make sure you have as much fun as possible even as you remain as competitive as possible. Your competitiveness should be defined within the ambience of sportsmanship and ensure you don’t get carried away in a bid to win at all cost. 

Equipment For Playing Paintball

It is easy to talk about how much fun paintball sport is and many other cool adjectives after that, but it could get messy at times without the right tools.

Paintball isn’t just about paints and dyes. They are also about wears and gears. Having the right tools to use make the game as enjoyable as valued, putting on the right wears and protective gears also make it as safe and sticky as it should be.

To play paintball, therefore, there are certain equipment you need to have:

1. The Paintball Guns Or Markers

You might hate to be bored with the technicalities of what define or shape what exactly a paintball gun is, but it is important to note that this is perhaps the main equipment in the paintball sport.

The goal of the game is achieved only when you know how to play around with this, and they, expectedly, come in different sizes and shapes.

They are often built like your conventional gun, and depending on your preference or the type of game you are playing, you choose the paintball gun that best serves your game.

Some of the brands that come with the best reviews out there for beginners who are just learning how to play paintball for the first time include Tippmann A5 with a velocity of 300 feet per second (FPS), or Tippmann 98 custom of 350 FPS, amongst others.

Players whose game level is at pro level possibly prefer the likes of Dye M2 marker at about 290 FPS; and other paintball gun products that you can use irrespective of your game level.

The guns can be purchased at designated stores or on online shopping sites like Amazon, going for as low as between $40-50 dollars depending on your choice of purchase. 

The gun is propelled by considerable air pressure, mostly high, which forces the release of the paintball from the gun at an estimated velocity of about 300FPS with designated impact on target.

The release is measured enough to reach its impact without causing any considerable damage or injury on impact. 

Part of the basic recommendation you see before using is the need to have an informed training on the use of the gun which is available at the game’s field venues and online, with the various techniques that help you up your game in that regard. 

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2. The Paintball Mask 

If you are just starting out on the game knowledge, your mask is just as important as learning how to hold, shoot, or target with your gun; maybe even more important.

It is vital that you are not carried away by the excitement of learning the game without protecting yourself. The paintball masks are made for that singular reason: protection!

You have to protect your face from potential accidental hits. People do get bruises from paintballs and there are treatment procedures that are helpful in that area.

Procedures as simple as washing the impact area to using pain reliever medications, among other treatment options.

However, you could leave yourself helpless if your opponent hits you in the face unprotected. 

Paintballs can splash at the face unexpectedly, and you could be at risk of possible blindness if your eyes, and by extension you face, are left unprotected.

It is important to emphasize here that paintball is not just a game about fun, it is also a game about safety. You must prioritize the two, therefore; perhaps the latter more.

It is important to state here that wearing a face mask is located within a broader conversation about the protective gears or items that the game of paintball requires.

There are players who use pads at the knee and elbow joints to protect impact. In fact, there are full body armors used by beginners for overall safety. This goes as far as to the kind of vest or pants or gloves or neck vested shield that players wear.

There is the general idea about the place of clothing in paintball sport. More importantly here is that paintballers, especially beginners who are just learning how to play paintball for the first time, cannot be touted too safe or enough without these paddings and gears, especially if they take hits rather too close to them. 

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3. The Paintballs

You could argue that this is the first equipment to mention since it shares the name with the sport itself. And really, you won’t be wrong.

Paintballs, just like paintball guns, are at the center of the game’s prized equipment. They come mostly in spherical shape, and simply contain paint.

This is what you load your paintball guns with, and they are what you release when you apply pressure.

The paints typically contain polyethylene glycol, dye and other water-soluble substances. They come in different color types and sizes, and there are quite a number of contested brands out there, too.

Perhaps the only overt concern here would be having a knowledge of what caliber of paintballs can be used for the paintball you possess.

As regarding color choice, individual preference and perhaps deliberate oddity choice in contrast to your opponents, could be the hanging drive. In all, they are important equipment to have, and cost is relative to the kind of ball quality you are buying. 

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4. A Hopper

Hoppers are also known as feeders and they are of three types: 

  • Gravity feed loader
  • Agitated feed loader
  • Force feed loader

They sit directly on top of your paintball guns, strapped close to your face in combat pursuit.

The job of the hopper is to feed your paintball markers with the paintballs that you shoot with. If they are turned over — rather than sit to feed your paintball marker — the marker will not fire any balls.

In this YouTube video below, Mike Peverill of the Pev’s Paintball Park in Aldie, Virginia, explains how the different hoppers work and which might suit your game plan best.

Safe to say, Gravity Fed hoppers might not improve the quality of your performance as much as an Agitated Feed loader, which can be powered by a battery by the way, even in comparison to Force Feed loaders. 

However, what is common with the three, irrespective of the shades or types is that they all need gravity to operate and there could be times when they jam.

A player is only required to shake the gun and make sure they stick into the game as players transition in their game defense or offensive plays.

This might not be the case for electronic hoppers, though, which have their own paddles that allow them feed paintball markers the balls they need to fire much quicker.

The gravity-propelled loaders are still widely popular because they offer an inexpensive option to lovers of the game, and your bet on it might just be your ability to learn to play paintball with higher degree of focus, quickness, and much more. 

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5. The Propellant Or Air Tank

Those who are familiar with the game already know what tanks to choose in terms of what better propels them to their game targets or endgame.

There are basically two choices available to players here: the HPA tanks and the CO2 tanks. Yeah, you got it right: the CO2 you know as carbon dioxide.

HPA (high-pressure air) tanks are also known as propellants that use compressed air, as opposed to CO2 tanks that use carbon dioxide.

These are the gas bottles or air tanks that actually propel your paintball guns or markers. You can use the 12-gram cartridges or the refillable C02 tanks for your paintball markers. 

There are consensus beliefs that the CO2 tanks are more preferred air tanks in comparison to HPA for two basic reasons. The CO2 tanks tend to be smaller and much lighter.

But the challenge with CO2 is that it needs to be converted from liquid to gas for it to be useful for many paintball guns. That process is somewhat problematic ultimately as that reaction leads to cooling while heat is deployed to expand into gas, causing pressure fluctuations.

What this means is that the longer you play or stay in the game, your paintball marker is susceptible to losing pressure in the long run. Not only that, the performance of the Co2 tanks is dependent on other factors like temperature levels, amongst other variables.

The HPA tanks, on the other hand, don’t come with that baggage. Whether you are using the fiber or aluminum type, you are using compressed air and that means that pressure is not amenable to pressure as it is much more poised to be stable.

However, HPA tanks are not as easy to fill up as Co2 tanks, and in terms of cost, they are costlier to manage in comparison to Co2. 

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6. The Paintball Clothing

Every sport relies on costumes to distinguish its peculiarity in view of flexible, safe, and professional engagement of its game. The paintball costume invites you into that world, too.

It encompasses all the protective gears and wears touched on earlier and other clear representations here. The first rule, though, is to out on clothes that sync with your environment in terms of colors. That can be useful in how you blend into your dodge game.

Putting on any type of cloth could be fine if it were just a passive backyard fun time with friend and family, but at a more professional level, it is advisable to wear a shirt with long sleeves.

If the temperature is somewhat cold, you can consider other additions or layers of clothes. Also choose long pants and not shorts. That can be the difference between come out of the game without scars or with reddening bruises. 

7. Other Accessories

Aside these items mentioned above, there are others like screwdrivers, in case you possibly have to clear out your hopper; or O-rings that help maintain pressure on your propellant’s tank; or snacks and water that could come handy after an energy sapping game time and you need to relieve yourself.

There are also Paintball Pod Packs, which is like a pack that houses other paintballs you might need on the field and a Paintball Swab which can be used to clean your paintball marker. 

Having these equipment set you on the path to begin your experience in paintball and that comes with some costs.

The good thing is, you can start off on your experience by renting these equipment or by visiting a paintball park to experience the game.

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A Little History

It is interesting that this fun sport is not really a recent invention. It started in the 20th century, sometime around the 1930s.

Paintball itself is believed to have been invented by the Nelsons; Charles and Evan. The brothers were running a company that made paint at that time and used it as part of their unique marketing invention to drive sales.

There were also two other important uses of the paintballs then by the brothers. Sometime in the 60s, they partnered with forestry engineers in Europe with the hope of marking trees that were hard to reach using paintball which were basically paint pellets that were oil dipped.

The other side of that history was with the ranchers who saw the paintball technique as an effective and simpler way to mark, distinguish, and separate their cattle from other herds of animals they had when they were counting or profiling them. 

That background created the history around the Nelson paintball. It wasn’t until the 1970s when Hayes Noel, who was a stock trader, had an argument with his friend, Charles Gaines, about who among the two possessed a superior survival instinct, that the paintball sport as we know it delved into its formative years.

Charles Gaines is said to have invented the paintball sport as we know it now in 1981, but it was his argument with his friend that led to a duel using the paintball which they had discovered could be bought at the Nelson Paint Company.

The duel by the friends relied on a survival competition framework that was designed by their mutual friend, Bob Gurnsey. They ended up in the woods of about 100-acre in the company of other men, about nine of them, and a sporting magic was born, on 27th June, 1981. 

The game as we know it came out of that argument which mutated and became valued as a sport that teaches tactical strategy and/or combat.

But it is a combativeness that is largely predicated upon fun activity which eventually spiraled into a popular sport.

The three friends founded The National Survival Game that has helped in shaping the rules that defines the game, both solo and team versions.

The company then became the first one to sell the game’s equipment, with Gurnsey at the heart of specifically designing how the game is seen now: the paint (water-based), guns, safety equipment, amongst other equipment. 


People play paintball for different reasons, and often, it reemphasizes core soft skills needed in everyday or day-to-day professional and personal engagements.

The game prioritizes strategizing or planning and, also, promote the values of teamwork if you are playing with a team.

Perhaps this is no surprise that many institutions around the globe mediate with their members on playing it by incorporating it as part of their development plans, or as alternative tools to teach the value of having a strategic team working together towards achieving a goal.

If your reason of choice clearly has nothing to do with referential value or lesson about skills; probably it is just about fun and nothing deeper, you are still not far from having your derived value without hassles.

Paintball is not just a game about sophisticated guns or toys. More than that, it revalidates that fun, within the perimeters of a safe, controlled orbit of entertainment activities, is not only possible, but can be maximally guaranteed. 

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