How to Play Paintball: All You Need to Know

Last updatedLast updated: November 23, 2021
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Paintball is simply a sport, not an act of combat or war. While the sport is mainly to have fun, playing it can be complicated considering the different processes that are involved. You need to know how to play paintball to enjoy the fun it offers. Paintball is a hide & seek and tag game rolled into one, and it requires high concentration to play.

Although there are concerns about the safety of paintball, it is one of the safest sports out there. However, beginners must learn how to play paintball with their safety gear on. The safety gear for playing paintball includes masks, knee pads, headgear, among others.

Moreover, as a prospective player, you must learn about local laws to know if your age qualifies you to play or not. Apart from that, you must get acquainted with the different paintball games and their rules. Luckily for you, we came up with this comprehensive guide to help you learn how to play paintball like a pro.

How old do you need to be to play paintball?

Ages 12 to 14 are often considered the proper time to start playing paintball because children at those ages are believed to have the maturity needed to learn the safety rules. But age limits vary state by state and country by country, so it’s hard to give a universal age limit. The best course of action is to learn about the age limits for your area from your local field. In the next lines, we will see the regulations by some states and countries.

In Argentina, the Parliament of the Province of Buenos Aires considered paintball as an inappropriate game that promotes violence. This view led to a 2012 law that prohibits children under 16 years old from playing paintball. However, youths between 16 and 18 years old can play the game with written authorization by the parents, or the responsible person in charge.

Also, in Australia, police in each state control paintballing with different minimum age requirements. The country requires a guardian to sign a consent form for players under 18. The minimum ages are 16 for Australian Capital Territory & Victoria, 15 for Queensland, and 12 for South Australia.

Furthermore, in Germany, under 18 players are not allowed. The United Kingdom prohibits carrying a paintball marker in public space. The minimum age for a commercial field is generally 10.

Besides, in the United States, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island prohibit paintball players less than 18 years old. The minimum age for players in Illinois is 13. At least, 8 states in the US have explicit laws for paintball guns.

So, how old do you have to be to play paintball? The simple answer is, it depends on your authorities but if you’re 18+, you are well qualified everywhere.

How much does paintball cost?

There are different factors to consider here, from your playing equipment to the playing field. With $80-$100, you can buy an electromechanical or entry-level semiautomatic paintball gun, and other necessary equipment to play. Although many guns come with a mask, tank, and hopper, these accessories can be bought separately. If you’re willing to spend $20, you’ll get a mask. CO2 tanks are sold at around $12, while hoppers can cost you about $5.

But if you’re a beginner only willing to learn or experiment with paintball, you can rent equipment at your local field. Averagely, this should cost you less than $30.

Also, you’ll have to pay for the field. Field fees are not fixed; they vary from location to location. However, average prices are in the range of $10-$25. When you identify your needs, you’ll be able to determine how much it costs to play paintball.

What you’ll need for the game

How to Play Paintball: All You Need to Know

Playing paintball requires a lot of equipment, ranging from playing materials to safety gear. Below, we will discuss some of the most important things you need for the game:

Paintballs: Paintballs are capsules that contain a biodegradable, water-soluble, non-toxic dye with a gelatin shell. You don’t have to worry yourself about getting paintballs, they are readily made available at playing fields. You can acquire bulk paintballs at sporting stores if you’ll like to play in other areas.

Paintball gun: A paintball gun, also known as a paintball marker, seems like the most important piece of equipment for playing paintball. Using compressed air, it shoots marble-sized paintballs at a high velocity. Not only that, but it also guides the shot paintball and vents the extra air when the ball is fired. Paintball guns are readily available on the market.

Paintball hopper: When it’s time to load your paintballs, the hopper is where you put them. It feeds the paintballs into your gun so they can be ready to be fired. There are types of paintball hoppers:

  • Gravity-fed hoppers: they use gravity to feed the gun paintballs. They feed slower, so your fire rate is reduced. These hoppers may even break paintballs due to the slow speed.
  • Electric hoppers: they use a motor and batteries to power the paint into the gun, thus providing quicker shots and solving paintball break issues.

Air tanks: An air tanks provide the air needed to propel paintballs. They come in different sizes, shapes, and weights. Carbon Dioxide (Co2) and High-pressure air tanks are the main types of air tanks.

Different paintball games and their rules

Paintball is not just played as a hide and seek game, there are different forms of games and they have their own separate rules for players to follow. When the rules are not followed, then the player loses out. Below, we will discuss the popular paintball games and the rules that come with them:

Number of players

It’s important to note that, paintball can be played as recreation, and also as a competition. The numbers of players vary depending on the level of play and the game mode. Competitive tournaments require three to seven players for various positions. Generally, there are about three to ten players per team, although they can be more depending on the field.

Speedball paintball

Speedball is a popular variant of paintball and it’s a team sport. It can be played either for recreational or professional purposes. The game uses a small playing field, with some obstacles such as inflatable bunkers to challenge players. Due to the small playing field, stealth is not very important here. You need aggressive movement, teamwork, and good communication to win this game mode.


This is an interesting game mode for beginners and it’s easy to learn and play. There are two opposing teams here and they’re mandated to start at opposite sides of the field. As you might have guessed from the name, each team is tasked with eliminating all players on the opposing team. This can be done by making your opponent surrender or marking the opposing players with a paintball. This game also uses a time limit, so, to win, you need to race to eliminate all players on the other team before the time elapses.

Capture the flag

Two opposing teams play this game mode and they have the same targets. To win, you are mandated to proceed to the other side of a provided map and return your opponent’s flag to your own base. If you’re shot during the game, you’re out as is the rule in normal play. If your team loses all players, your opponent can walk your flag back without opposition. The same applies if your opponent loses all players. As a beginner, you must know that this game needs tactical speed and teamwork.

Fort assault

Here, there’s a defending team, and there’s an attacking team. The defending team, with one life each, is mandated to defend a fort from attackers within a time limit. However, the attackers are given unlimited respawns. This means they can get shot, wipe off the paint, return to the base, and restart their assault. The game comes to an end if the time elapses or the attackers infiltrate the fort. The defending team wins if the time limit is reached and the attacking team wins if the objective is met.

Tips to play like a pro (even if it’s your first time)

Let’s discuss some tips you require to play paintball like a pro. It doesn’t matter if you are playing for the first time, these tips will help put you on the right path to winning.

Choose the location wisely

Paintball requires stealth and concealment. You need to stay hidden from your opponents to stay ‘alive’. You must choose a wise location, so you can stay out of the line of fire.

Listen, look, and talk

Vigilance and communication are top skills needed for survival when playing paintball. You need to be aware of what’s going on around you and communicate well with your teammates to achieve success.

Use cover

How to Play Paintball: All You Need to Know

When playing paintball, you need to use a cover to protect yourself from unexpected shots. That way, you can survive for a long time, and maybe even win.

Think two moves ahead

You need to be aware that your opponents are thinking moves ahead to get you. You must think two moves ahead to neutralize your opponents’ threat.

Covering fire

Paintball is mainly a team game. You need to protect your teammates to achieve success at the end of the game. When your teammate is moving to a new position, you must provide cover fire to suppress your opponents’ threats.

If you’re shot – leave

If you get shot during the game, you should leave to get yourself cleaned up. You shouldn’t stay on playing.

Learn to aim

A paintball gun or marker works like an assault gun. You need to aim right to hit your targets. You must learn to aim right to achieve success against your opponents.

Move quickly

Slow movement can get you shot when playing paintball. You need to move quickly to avoid unexpected shots that would eliminate you from the game.

Creep around

Creeping around the field requires stealth and it helps you catch your opponents off guard. This can be a good strategy to defeat your opponents.

Don’t waste the paint

Wasting the paint can make you run out of pellets quickly and end your participation abruptly. This is why it’s important to aim correctly so you don’t miss your shots and waste the paint.

If you’re out of pellets

If you run out of pellets during a game, you should use cover since you won’t be able to shoot any target. Since the opposition is not aware you’ve run out of pellets and your gun still makes noise, you can draw fire for your teammates with pellets to shoot the opponents.

Safety tips

You need safety equipment to help you get through the game unhurt. Some of the right equipment are:

Paintball mask: This is an important piece of equipment for playing paintball. Its main job is to protect your face from impact during the game. There are many paintball masks available on the market. They offer different functions to keep you safe. For example, an option like the Dye i5 paintball goggle offers more peripheral vision than many paintball mask systems. It features a Dyetanium lens standard designed to protect you against ultraviolet rays through a hard-coat dip.

Knee pads: when playing paintball, your safety should be a top priority because you can easily get hurt if the necessary precautions are not taken. Knee pads are essential paintball equipment and they provide comfort and safety. There are different models you can choose from on the market. They come in different sizes from which you can choose the right size from. Apart from that, each pad is equipped with straps to help you loosen or tighten it to get a custom fit.

Chest and neck protectors: as we have mentioned several times, your safety is the most important. Chest and neck protectors are designed to protect your chest and neck respectively. Without these protectors, you can easily get shot in the chest or neck. There are many helpful chest and neck protectors on the market, and you can even find a combo that offers them and more in one package like the Maddog Sports Padded Chest Protector, Tactical Half Glove, Neck Protector Combo. This combo contains important equipment to keep you safe from harm when playing paintball.

Final thoughts

Paintball is surely an exciting sport that requires maximum concentration to win. If you’re learning how to play paintball for the first time, you must have attained the right age allowed by your local authorities. Also, you must prioritize your safety by ensuring you acquire the right safety gear to protect you from any hazard when playing paintball. Besides, getting familiar with the different game modes and their rules can help you learn how to play paintball in a very short time.

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