Paintball is an exciting recreational game and organized sport played around the globe year round, outdoors and indoors. The most basic game is “Capture the Flag” where the object is to capture the other team’s flag and return it to your team’s home base “flag station” for the win, while defending your own flag from the other team! A game field is scattered with natural or artificial terrain, which players use for strategic play. Rules for playing paintball vary, but can include capture the flag, elimination, defending or attacking a particular point or area, or capturing objects of interest hidden in the playing area. Depending on the variant played, games can last from seconds to hours, or even days in scenario play.

What is needed to play paintball?

Play at a certified field with responsible refs and strict rules. This will increase your chance of NOT being hurt in paintball. The field makes available all the equipment and supplies needed to play paintball, including markers, goggles, and paintballs. It’s advisable to wear loose-fitting, dark clothing (shorts and short sleeves are not recommended) and comfortable footwear with ankle support.

What about safety?

Field operators are committed to providing safe, enjoyable paintball games for all players. Each player must attend a safety and rules orientation prior to play. Shooting is restricted to the playing field, target range, and chronograph areas only. Projectile speeds are strictly controlled for safety, usually less than 285 fps. Players are expected to follow the rules of safe play at all times.

The paintball mask is the most important piece of equipment. You must always wear your mask when on the field. Do not remove it on the field at any time, even if it fogs up. If your mask fogs up, call yourself out, and ask for a ref to escort you to the deadbox. Keep everything on until everyone is in and the barrels are plugged. Otherwise it could cause serious injury.

What does it cost?

A day of paintball generally costs about $50, sometimes more depending on what rental gear is needed and how much paint a player shoots during the day.

Does it hurt to get hit with a paintball?

This is the first question asked new players usually ask about the sport. Getting hit by a paintball typically “stings” or “smarts” a little, especially if shot inside of 20 feet and directly on your skin. Typically, this will result in a small welt or bruise. The best comparison for what it feels like is snapping yourself with a rubber band. Because of this, paintball is recommended for 12+.

If this bothers you, you can wear extra protective padding, such as knee pads, elbow pads, gloves, chest protectors, and neck protectors. Approved paintball masks to protect your eyes and face are mandatory safety gear.

Do paintball fields offer private games?

Private paintball games are an ideal activity for special events such as birthday parties, corporate recreation or team building activities, etc. Call your local field today for group rate information and available days to book your private game.

Are you prepared for the adrenaline rush of paintball?

Paintball is an exhilarating sport that is fun to play! The sport of paintball is a way of life for millions of people around the world. There are a multitude of reasons why paintball is an awesome and addictive sport. Every game is different, every team is different, and you’ll experience the adrenaline rush every time you play!

So how do you know if paintball is for you? If you answer yes to all of the questions below you may be a born paintballer:

  1. Do you like the feeling of the rush of adrenaline?
  2. Do you work well under pressure?
  3. Are you a team player?
  4. Can you move, react, and think quickly?
  5. Are you athletic?
  6. Do you enjoy the outdoors?

Find a paintball field near you!!

Open games & general admission

Open “walk on” games are an option for you to play if alone or with a few friends. In walk on games, the referees divide players into teams. Generally, walk on players are placed with others of similar experience level, using similar equipment.

Can I buy paintballs at the field?

At commercial fields,, you can usually purchase paint by the box (2000 rounds) or the bag (500 rounds). Many fields require “Field Paint Only” (FPO), where paintballs must be purchased at the field. If a field has a “BYOP” (“Bring Your Own Paint”) policy, you can purchase paint at your local paintball pro shop or sporting goods retailer.

Do paintball splats stain?

Simple answer, no. Hits wipe easily off your clothing and skin, and any residue left on your clothes comes out in the wash. They also wash off trees and grass after a rain shower. Some special tournament grades should be washed off right away to avoid leaving any trace. Most paintballs manufactured today are eco-friendly.

How long do paintball games last?

Games can last anywhere from one minute for intense spectator-style “speedball” games, to 24 hours of non-stop action for a weekend-long scenario event. An average recreational game in the woods lasts between 15 minutes to an hour. A typical game played on a tournament-style field lasts about three to ten minutes.

Common Paintball Misconceptions

  1. Paintball is dangerous and you could get hurt!

    One of the main misconceptions people have of paintball is that it’s dangerous and painful! Safety is vital and extremely important to players of all levels as well as field owners. Safety is also touted as the most important aspect of the game. There are frequent reminders on and off the field of proper paintball goggle usage, barrel blockers and safety mechanisms. Players are the first to let everyone know to keep your goggles on, use your safety and barrel blocker. It is important to wear you protective mask before proceeding onto the field. As for what paintball feels like, it is compared to a “sting” or “pinch”, leaving a small bruise or welt. By wearing an extra layer of clothing, baggy clothes or protective padding specifically made for paintball can reduce the feeling of being marked with a paintball.

  2. Paintball is violent and aggressive.

    People tend to think that paintball is violent because of the act of marking someone with a paintball marker (gun). In actuality paintball is a sport that builds team skills, sportsmanship and camaraderie. Paintball is both fun and athletic. In addition, the community around paintball has a very strong bond, and for the most part players are concerned with building the game, making it safe, and having fun. Joining the paintball community allows you to make many friends and memories that last a lifetime. With proper knowledge and by following safety guidelines, paintball is a safe and fun sport for players of all levels!

  3. Paintball is a “war game” for people to play in the woods.

    Paintball originated as the “National Survival Game” held in 1982. Paintball over the years has developed different formats of play. Woodsball and Speedball are the two main formats people participate in. Paintball is not only used for recreational or tournament play, but also as scenario simulations for law enforcement, and military agencies. The concept of “war games” generally comes from woodsball and battle reenactments held at different fields. However, many times paintball in the woods is as simple as two teams going head to head in an athletic challenge.

  4. Paintball is only for males.

    Although the majority of paintball players is predominantly male, the game is not favored to either male or female. Many of the initial fears of beginners are reasons why some female players aren’t willing to get in the game. Between bruises and welts and the unknown level of discomfort from being hit is enough to turn many potential players away. Added is the predominant male presence and many females aren’t ready or willing to get out there. Despite initial hesitation, once someone gets out on the field and experiences the fun and adrenaline rush of the game, they can’t wait to get back out on the field and experience it all over again. There are also all female teams that participate in tournaments. If you have initial hesitations, get out and give it a try. You’ll be surprised how all the negative factors go out the window once you’re having fun.

  5. Woodsball is better than Speedball or vice versa?

    Woodsball and Speedball are two different types of play for the game of paintball. The major difference between the two is speedball is played on a flat field with inflatable bunkers, while woodsball is played as expected-in the woods. Although neither type of format is ‘better’ than the other, it’s all a matter of preference for the player. Many paintball players play both types of formats. Although they may have a favorite type – the game is similar and the level of fun for both is high. If you’re more into a fast paced game that ends within minutes, speedball may be the type of format you want to play. If you want to play a slower paced game, with more detailed strategy tactics, woodsball may be the better format for you. Regardless of what type you prefer to play, both formats involve communication, teamwork, athleticism, and having fun! So get out and play the format that’s right for you!

How to play the game

Simply put, Paintball is a sport where players shoot paintballs at each other and when players are hit they are out of the game. The basic goal of paintball is to remove players from the game and capture the opponents flag and return it to the home base = win.

There are three general types of paintball play: Speedball, Woodsball, and Recreation

Speedball is a team game where teams compete against each other at a very fast pace (average games are 3-6 minutes). This tournament format is very youthful and typically is a best of 7, with points assigned to hits, returning the flag to home base, and also involves penalties (similar to Hockey and players being removed for time periods). Can be played recreationally or professionally and tournaments are usually set up for 3, 5, 7 or 10 player teams.

Woodsball paintball is a game in which players participate in a scenario, or story and may include historical re-enactments, futuristic or video game simulations. The format here is all the players participate in a game at the same time, typically broken into two major groups. Some events have as many as 5,000 players all playing on the same field with various assignment and point structures. When players are hit, they have a waiting period after which they can reinsert into the game. These events typically last a full day and the players are older than speedball players.

Recreation paintball is the game played by most participants. These games take place at specific paintball fields where the field will provide rentals, air, etc. for players that do not have their own equipment. The field will organize the players into teams, where players can play with others of similar experience and equipment. The usual game here is to eliminate players and capture the flag. Its typically very relaxed and casual and players usually play 4-6 games within a 4 hour time span, resting in between games.

Basic Paintball Equipment

  • Panitball Marker

    Uses CO2 or compressed air to propel paintball at 280 feet per second. Markers are mechanical (single trigger pull fires one ball) or electronic (single trigger pull can send balls continuously). Barrel plugs/blockers are ALWAYS included and a safety requirement at ALL fields.

  • Loaders (aka: hopper)

    The loader feeds paintballs to the marker. They are gravity (gravity feeds the balls), agitator (a paddle “agitates” the balls so they fall faster), force-feed (the sound of the marker firing or “eye” seeing pushes another ball to the marker), or RF (radio waves between loader and marker – these are higher end).

  • Goggles (aka: mask)

    Provides complete protection to your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and sometimes the back of the head. Players are required to wear them during play and when on the playing field. Masks have variations in flexibility, lens, and overall size and protection.

  • Air Tanks

    Air tanks store the CO2 or compressed gases that propel the paintballs out of the marker. Strict ASTM guidelines are adhered to for the production of tanks, and burst disks are built-in to release the gas safely in the case of any failure.

  • Paintballs

    Non-toxic capsules filled with water-soluble dye used as the projectile in the sport. They have a shell that breaks on impact and leaves a visible paint splatter. In essence, a paintball is a sophisticated E Vitamin.

  • Protective Gear

    Includes padded pants, jersey’s, gloves and under protective that are durable and lessons the impact of paintballs. For new participants, loose fitting clothes and sweatpants type material in a neutral or dark color is best to create a buffer from the impact.

  • Paintball Pods

    These are rigid tubular plastic containers that hold paintballs.

  • Harnesses

    These are worn around the waist and hold the pods of paintballs, with some holding also a player’s air tank.

How paintballs are made

Softgels are made on special, very expensive, softgel encapsulating machines. In 1933, Robert Scherer designed and patented the first such machine.

  1. Hot liquid gelatin is formed into two thin but wide gelatin ribbons. Each gelatin ribbon passes over a rotating die. The dies are designed to form a capsule of a particular size and shape, such as a paintball. Softgels can be round like paintballs, oblong, or unusually-shaped.
  2. Each die with its gelatin ribbon presses against the other die as the dies rotate. Each die has half the gelatin shell. As the dies meet, the fill (whatever goes inside the softgel) is injected into the area between the two gelatin sheets. The dies continue to rotate, pressing the two warm gelatin ribbons against each other and forming a filled gelatin capsule. The seam on a paintball shows where the two gelatin sheets met.
  3. Finally, the now-sealed gelatin capsule drops away from the rotating dies. It is not, however, ready to use when it drops form the machine. For example, when it drops down, what will become a paintball is rubbery and larger than it will be when it is ready to shoot. These bouncy, not-quite-ready softgels are gently tumbled, and then dried in trays in a climate-controlled environment. The gelatin and fill shrink as they dry.
  4. At RPS, technicians constantly monitor the encapsulation machines as they run. Technicians will randomly check the encapsulations to see the product meets required specifications. Technicians also check the paintballs when they’re dry. Any that are not up to RPS’s specifications are removed and destroyed. When ready, the paintballs are packaged to move onward toward the end consumers.
  5. Paintballs are made from materials such as Gelatin derived from pork skins and beef bones/hides, Poly-Ethel Glycol (PEG), Glycerin, Sorbitol, water, free fatty acids, titanium dioxide, starches, surfactants, emulsifiers and FD+C colorants. A majority of these components are naturally occurring (although processed) such as Gelatin, water and Soybean. Other materials are derivatives of other natural components such as PEG, and starches. All are non-toxic and safe for use in paintball.

The History of Paintball

The evolution of the game of paintball began in the late 1970’s, when the Nelson Paint Company developed a gas-operated gun and marking pellets for a variety of industries, including Forestry and Ranching.

The evolution of the game of paintball began in the late 1970’s, when the Nelson Paint Company developed a gas-operated gun and marking pellets for a variety of industries, including Forestry and Ranching. The guns and the pellets were used variously to mark trees for removal, cows to be culled from the herd, and essentially anything else that required putting a semi-permanent mark on an object from a distance.

As it goes the game of paintball was created by two friends, Charles Gaines and Bill Gurnsey. The two of them concluded that they needed something like a marking gun and a set of rules that would allow people to test their individual skills against each other. After about a year of searching, Gaines and Gurnsey chose the Nelson Paint company’s guns and pellets, developed a set of rules for “survival games”. So, in 1981, Charles and Bill, along with 12 friends played the 1st ever paintball game using these industrial paintball guns on a field measuring over one-hundred acres. (with no masks or safety equipment!).

Shortly after this experimental game the originators gave a name to their concept calling it, “The National Survival Game.” This name reflects the nature of paintball as it was first played – a small group of friends getting together in the woods to play total elimination games. Sometimes the friends broke into teams to play each other, but most paintball games were “every man for himself.”

Over the years, recreational paintball has become more sophisticated. Because more people were playing at one time, using teams became the standards. Different game variations began to form. The most popular paintball game became “capture the flag”, but offensive/defensive scenarios also were popular.

As the number of people interested in paintball grew, so did the development of the commercial paintball industry. The first outdoor commercial paintball field opened in 1982. The first indoor field followed in 1984.These paintball fields allowed large groups of people to meet in one place to play. Paintball business owners were pushed to develop new and exciting ways to keep the players entertained. This further advanced paintball’s history by driving the development of new scenarios and styles of playing. Today, paintball now graces newsstands with numerous publications and even has several television shows broadcasting the sport. Below you will find a brief chronological timeline of the history of paintball.

*Historical excerpts provided by Steve Davidson, A Parent’s Guide to Paintball – 2009

Brief Chronological History
  • 1981: First game played in New Hampshire
  • 1982: First national competition played
  • 1984: First indoor field opens
  • 1986: First national publication out on newsstands
  • 1992: First National Tournament League Founded (NPPL)
  • 1996: First Nationally-Televised Competition (ESPN)
  • 1999: First recognized as a legitimate sport by the SGMA (Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association)
  • 2000: First National Collegiate Event
  • 2007: First use of paintball in US, UK and Canadian troop combat training exercises
  • 2010: Played by over 15 million people every year in the United States