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Intro to our Paintball for Beginner’s Guide

Paintball, an exhilarating and strategic sport, offers an adventure that combines teamwork, strategy, and physical endurance. For those new to the game, it can be an overwhelming experience filled with excitement and a bit of uncertainty. This guide is designed to introduce beginners to the world of paintball, covering the essentials from where to play to how to navigate your first outing on the field. Whether you’re looking to understand the basic rules, gear up properly, or simply get a feel for what to expect, this guide has got you covered.

As you prepare to dive into paintball, remember that it’s more than just a sport; it’s an opportunity to challenge yourself, build friendships, and create memorable experiences. In the following sections, we’ll explore the key aspects of paintball, including finding the right venues, mastering the basics of gameplay, equipping yourself with the necessary gear, and tips for making your first paintball experience a great one. So gear up, get ready, and let’s embark on this thrilling journey into the dynamic world of paintball.

What is Paintball? A Brief History of the Game

It all started back in the early 1980s. The very first game of paintball was played in New Hampshire, USA, in 1981. It was a brainchild of a few adventurous friends – Hayes Noel, a stock trader, and Charles Gaines, a writer. The duo, along with some friends, were looking for a way to recreate the thrill of the hunt in a competitive yet safe environment. They stumbled upon a paintball marker used by foresters to mark trees and cattle, crafted by the Nelson Paint Company.

This first game was a simple ‘capture the flag’ format, played with these forestry markers. The guns were called the “Nelspot 007,” and they were pump-action, shooting oil-based paintballs. The players wore no protective gear, just shop goggles for eye protection, making it a stark contrast to today’s well-equipped games.

The sport quickly gained traction, evolving from a fun weekend activity into a structured sport with established rules and dedicated fields. Bob Gurnsey, one of the original players, opened the first commercial paintball field and began selling equipment. This led to the development of specialized gear, from markers (no longer just forestry tools!) to protective clothing.

From these humble beginnings, paintball has grown into a global phenomenon. It’s a sport that combines elements of strategy, physical fitness, and teamwork in a way few other activities can. Each game is a story in itself, played out in forests, fields, and purpose-built arenas, bringing together people from all walks of life.

Terms you Should Know

Before we go much further, there are a bunch of jargon that you’ll encounter on our site and at your favorite paintball arena. Knowing these will bring you closer to the sport and give you a better understanding of what’s going on should you over hear to pros at your local field.

  • Marker: Another term for a paintball gun.
  • Hopper: A container that holds and feeds paintballs into the marker.
  • Pod: A portable container filled with spare paintballs.
  • Air Tank: Holds compressed air or CO2 to power the marker.
  • Bunker: Obstacles used for cover on the field.
  • Speedball: A fast-paced style of paintball played on a small field with inflatable bunkers.
  • Woodsball: Paintball played in a natural environment with trees and bushes.
  • Scenario Play: Games that follow a storyline or theme.
  • Ejecting: Refers to a player leaving the field after being hit.
  • Bonus Balling: Shooting a player excessively.
  • Breakout: The initial rush of players at the start of the game.
  • Wiping: Cheating by removing paintball hits.
  • Dead Box: Where eliminated players wait until the next game.
  • Ghillie Suit: Camouflage clothing that resembles foliage.
  • Snap Shooting: Quickly popping out of cover to take a shot and immediately returning to cover.
  • Walk-on: A player who joins a game without a pre-formed team.

Choosing the Right Paintball Arena

Selecting the perfect place to play paintball is as crucial as picking the right gear. Learning how to play paintball is much more fun in the right environment. Over my years of diving into paintball, I’ve learned that the venue can make or break your experience.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Play

The choice between outdoor and indoor paintball arenas hinges on personal preference and play style. Outdoor fields offer a more natural and expansive environment, often with varied terrain like woods, fields, and built structures. These settings provide a realistic feel and are great for strategic plays. Indoor arenas, on the other hand, are unaffected by weather, allowing for play year-round. They tend to be more fast-paced due to their confined space and are typically designed with unique themes and obstacles.

Quality and Maintenance of the Field

A well-maintained field is paramount. Outdoor fields should have clear boundaries and well-kept playing areas, free from hazardous debris. Indoor arenas should have clean and well-organized playing spaces. Good maintenance reflects the management’s commitment to player safety and overall experience.

Safety Measures and Rules Enforcement

Safety should be non-negotiable. Look for fields that prioritize player safety, with enforced rules and regulations. Proper netting, briefing on safety protocols, and referees to oversee games are indicators of a safe playing environment. Remember, a safe game is an enjoyable game.

Also Read: Do Paintballs hurt?

Available Game Modes and Scenarios

Variety is the spice of paintball. Fields that offer multiple game modes, from capture the flag to elimination or scenario-based games, provide a richer experience. This variety caters to players of all skill levels and preferences, ensuring that everyone has a good time. You may find you enjoy learning how to play paintball more while playing one game mode vs another.

Read our post about all of the different types of paintball.

Facility Amenities

Consider the amenities the facility offers. Things like on-site gear rentals, clean restrooms, snack bars, and staging areas can significantly enhance your day out playing paintball. Especially for beginners, fields that offer rental equipment are invaluable.

Community and Atmosphere

The vibe of the place matters. A welcoming, friendly atmosphere, where staff and regular players are approachable, can greatly enhance your paintball experience. A supportive community is particularly important for new players who might be learning the ropes.

Location and Accessibility

Finally, consider the location and accessibility of the arena. While remote, scenic fields can offer an incredible experience, convenience matters, especially if you plan to play regularly. Proximity to your home, parking facilities, and public transport accessibility are practical aspects to consider.

Personal Experience

In my years playing paintball, I’ve found that the best fields are those that balance a thrilling playing environment with robust safety measures and a welcoming community. I recall this one outdoor field nestled in the woods, offering a mix of natural and artificial cover, which made for an incredibly immersive experience. Yet, it was their focus on safety and player engagement that kept me coming back.

In conclusion, the right paintball arena isn’t just about the field itself; it’s about the overall experience. Whether you’re in for a casual weekend game or a competitive match, taking the time to choose the right venue can lead to unforgettable paintball adventures.

Preparing for Game Day: What to Expect and Team Selection Strategies

Stepping onto a paintball field, especially for the first time, can be both exhilarating and a bit nerve-wracking. Having been in those shoes, I can guide you through what to expect and how to navigate the pre-game essentials, including team selection, which is crucial for a balanced and enjoyable game.

Arrival and Check-In

Upon arriving at the paintball field, the first step is usually check-in. Here, you’ll sign a waiver, particularly if it’s your first time at that venue. It’s a standard procedure, covering safety guidelines and legalities. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any concerns – the staff are there to help!

Safety Briefing and Orientation

Most fields conduct a safety briefing for all players. Pay close attention to this. It covers essential rules, the use of equipment, and safety protocols like mask-on rules in the playing area. Even as a seasoned player, I always listen in – safety is paramount, and rules can vary between fields.

Renting or Setting Up Gear

If you’re renting equipment, this will typically be your next step. Quality fields offer basic gear like a paintball marker, mask, hopper, and air tank. For those with their own gear, this time is used for setting up and checking your equipment. It’s a good practice to do a quick functionality check, even if you’re a regular. If you’re thinking about playing more often, buying your own gear is the way to go.

Check out our paintball gear page for a great overview.

Forming Teams: The Art of Balance

Team selection is a crucial part of pre-game preparations. Here’s how it usually goes down:

Random Selection: Some fields opt for random team assignments to keep things fair and balanced.
Skill-Based Teams: If there’s a mix of experienced and new players, staff might form teams based on skill levels. This ensures one team doesn’t overpower the other, keeping the game fun for everyone.
Self-Selection: In casual games, players might choose their teams. Here, try to balance the teams yourself. Remember, lopsided games are less fun.

Personal Experience in Team Selection

From my experience, balanced teams make for the best games. There was this one time we ended up with all experienced players on one team; the game was over too quickly and wasn’t challenging. We reshuffled, and the next round was much more engaging and fun for everyone.

Learning to Play Paintball: Game Plan and Strategy

Once teams are formed, take a few minutes to discuss strategy. This can include deciding on roles, a basic plan of attack, or defense. Communication is key – make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Field Walk-Through

If it’s an option, do a walk-through of the field. Familiarize yourself with the layout – know the hiding spots, bottlenecks, and vantage points. A good understanding of the field can be a game-changer.

The Final Prep

Lastly, gear up, check your paint, and air. Make sure your mask is clean and fits snugly. A final equipment check can prevent mid-game hiccups.


Arriving at a paintball field is the start of an adventure. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, each game is a new experience. The right preparation, from understanding safety protocols to forming balanced teams, sets the stage for a thrilling and enjoyable day. So gear up, strategize, and get ready for the adrenaline-pumping action that awaits!

Six Essential Tips for Learning to Play Paintball

Embarking on your first paintball adventure can be a mix of excitement and uncertainty. Drawing from my years of paintball experience, here are five indispensable tips to help beginners navigate the game successfully and make the most out of their initial foray into this thrilling sport.

  1. Mask On: Always keep your mask on in the playing area. A direct hit to an unprotected face can be dangerous.
  2. Understand the Rules: Familiarize yourself with the field’s rules before the game starts. This includes understanding boundaries, hit rules, and any specific game formats being played.
  3. Know Your Marker: Spend a few minutes getting comfortable with your paintball gun. Learn how to aim, reload, and what to do if there’s a jam.
  4. Check Your Air: Ensure your air tank is properly filled. Running out of air mid-game is a surefire way to cut your experience short.
  5. Talk to Your Team: Paintball is a team sport. Communicate with your teammates about movements, strategies, and enemy positions.
  6. Listen and Learn: Don’t hesitate to ask more experienced players for tips or strategies. Most are happy to help newcomers.

Embrace Strategy Over Speed

Move Smart: Instead of rushing forward, move thoughtfully. Use cover effectively, and be aware of your surroundings.
Plan Your Shots: Random firing can give away your position. Aim before you shoot and conserve your paintballs.

Have Fun and Learn from Each Game

Enjoy the Experience: Remember, it’s a game, and the primary goal is to have fun. Don’t get too caught up in winning or losing.
Reflect on Your Play: After each game, think about what worked well and what you could improve. Every game is a learning opportunity.

Personal Reflection

In my early days of paintball, I found these tips incredibly helpful. I still remember my first game – I was nervous, but focusing on safety, understanding my marker, and communicating with my team made a huge difference. The most important lesson I learned was to enjoy the process and not to be too hard on myself for mistakes. Each game made me a better player.

Conclusion to How to Play Paintball

For beginners stepping onto the paintball field, success lies in preparation, teamwork, and a willingness to learn. Embrace these tips, and you’ll find yourself not just playing the game but relishing the rich, exhilarating experience paintball has to offer. Welcome to the world of paintball – where fun, adrenaline, and camaraderie await at every corner!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is paintball still popular?

A: Absolutely! It continues to be a favorite for many seeking an adrenaline-filled activity. The speed of paintball, a part of its thrill, requires quick reflexes and strategic thinking.

Q: How much does paintballing cost?

A: It varies based on location and duration, but expect to spend around $100 for gear rental, air refills, and paintballs.

Q: How Long Does Paintballing Last?
A: A typical game lasts about 30 minutes, but how long does paintballing last in a day? It depends on the event – some can last a few hours, while big tournaments span over a weekend.

Q: Is Paintball Safe?

A: Yes! According to the Sporting Goods Manufactures Association industry (SGMA) 2003 report, “paintball is a very safe activity”.

Q: What is a Paintball Marker?

A: A paintball marker, often referred to as a paintball gun, is your primary tool in the game. It’s a device used to tag opponents with paintballs.

Q: How does a paintball gun work?

A: Essentially, it uses either CO2 (carbon dioxide) or HPA (high-pressure air) to propel paintballs through the barrel at high speeds.


Playing regularly since 1997. Competed in local, regional, national and international paintball series. Founded and lead Long Beach State to a National Collegiate Championship victory. Proudly banned from the NPPL after legitimately winning a 5 on 1. Have since made it a hobby to promote paintball and at the same time make a point to call out paintball industry shenanigans and those that intentionally impede the growth of paintball. Welcome to