How to Play Paintball

Three Parts:Getting the Right GearPlaying PaintballPlaying Different Games

Paintball is an exciting and fast-paced combat sport. Using compressed-air paintball guns, players compete in teams or solo to eliminate other players from the field. It's a lot of fun. If you're interested in learning to play, you can learn the basic equipment, rules, and playing styles for your first time out on the field.

Part 1
Getting the Right Gear

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    Rent gear your first time out. What do you need to play a game of paintball? At some places, the answer is nothing. Instead of buying a bunch of gear, rent some at a field that rents out gear to see how you like the game, then consider investing in your own stuff when you're ready.
    • When you arrive at a paintball center or field, you will be given a set of overalls, possibly body armour, a face mask, and a hopper. This is the container that holds the paintballs and feeds them into the paintball gun.
    • When you go out into the live fire zone to play your matches, you will be issued a paintball gun. The hopper will usually fit into the top of the gun, and there is a safety switch and a trigger on the gun. Then you're ready to play.
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    Get a paintball gun. Paintball guns are operated with compressed air, which shoot marble-sized balls of paint at a high velocity. A good starter paintball gun usually costs anywhere between $100 and $150 dollars, but higher range models can be upward of $700.
    • The Tippmann A5 is recommended for beginners and newbies alike. If you don't like the styling on the Tippmann A5, look for a Kingman Spyder gun, such as the Spyder Pilot or Spyder Sonix. These guns are suggested to newer players for the fact of that they are quality, and aren't in the really pricey range.
    • Spend time with your gun, if you buy one. Learn to clean it and maintain it, to ensure that you'll get the most accurate shots when you're out on the field.
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    Get some paint. Paintballs are capsules containing a non-toxic, bio-degradable, water-soluble dye with a gelatin outer shell. When players play against each other individually, each of them gets a unique color set of paintballs. When players play in teams, each team is assigned a unique paintball color. This is done to make it easy to identify the winning player or team.
    • Mostly, paint will be purchased directly from the arena where you play. If you want to play at other locations, you can buy bulk paintballs at most sporting goods stores.
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    Practice with your gun before you go out to play. If you have your own paintball gun, it's important to familiarize yourself with the action and the range of the gun. Find a proper backstop and shoot your gun a few times to see how it aims and how quickly it shoots. Practice reloading and moving with your gun safely.
    • Make sure you take off your safety. It might sound stupid but even the best players sometimes forget. So make sure it's off the moment you hit the battlefield.
    • If your gun jams, make sure you yell out JAM! as loud as you can because if you don't yell and you try to fix it on the field, you're gonna get shot.
    • Don't flip your gun upside down! This is the cause of jamming and you losing all your paint balls.
    • Use two hands on you gun. One hand should be beside but not on the trigger. The other hand should be on the stock grip, ahead of the trigger but not too close to where the paint balls are coming out.
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    Get a safety mask. At every paintball range, a proper mask and pair of goggles will be required. You won't be permitted to play without a paintball mask. If you don't have one, you can rent one and other safety gear at the paintball arena, while some players like to invest in their own.
    • Lots of paintball masks tend to fog up, making it difficult to see. Some players who play a lot like to buy "no fog" masks, which help you breathe easier and reduce the fogging that can happen in your mask.
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    Get other safety gear. When you get hit with a paintball, it may leave a small bruise on your skin. It doesn't hurt much, but you'll feel it. The only required gear will usually be some kind of mask and possibly coveralls, but it's always a good idea to protect yourself.
    • Try to wear thick gloves when you play. It really hurts when you get hit in the knuckle or palm. The rest such as vests and pants are extras.[1]
    • Wear thick clothing, long sleeved shirts and pants every time you play paintball. Many outdoor paintball fields can be muddy, or full of brambles, so it's a good idea to wear protective clothing.
    • Men may wish to invest in an athletic cup, as well, although in some paintball pants there is a thick pad in the crotch to avoid having to buy one.

Part 2
Playing Paintball

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    Find an appropriate place to play. Paintball game fields vary widely in size and layout. It can be played both indoors and outdoors, depending on where you live. Usually, a game field will have bunkers, tables, barrels, stacks of tires, and other types of cover placed throughout the field.
    • It's also possible to play on private property, or to set up your own paintball field if you've got some land to work with, but it's usually a good idea to find a paintball facility in your area when you're first starting out.
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    Understand the basic rules of paintball. When you get to the arena, you can pick the type of game you'll play, but a few basic rules will be enforced for all types of games. Most games of paintball are played between teams with a specific time limit, which may be projected on a wall visibly or marked with some kind of buzzer or countdown. Most games of paintball also involve one team trying to shoot as many players of the opposite team as possible. There are a variety of different games you can play, some of which are outlined in the next section.[2]
    • Keep your mask on at all times. There will be a safety zone where you are able to talk and remove your mask, and then the live fire zone, beyond which you must wear your goggles at all times.
    • Once you are out in the game zone, you may disengage the safety. After that's done, and the game begins, you're free to begin advancing and attacking the other team's players.
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    Leave the field of play once you've been shot. When a paintball hits a player and bursts, they are out and must leave the field of play. Players should raise their hand to avoid being shot multiple times, after being hit once. If a paintball bounces off without leaving color on the player, they are free to carry on.
    • It's partially up to the player to self-report hits. It's a lot more fun if everyone plays by the rules. If you get shot, you're out.
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    Aim properly. Paintballs are heavy and much slower than regular bullets, so they can drop significantly in height over a fairly small distance. When you shoot, you need to account for this. Aim a little higher than what you're shooting at, and ahead of targets that are moving.
    • A good place to aim is at around neck height, as you can ensure a fair kill and the drop of the paintball shouldn't be too far.
    • If a player is moving, make sure to aim ahead of them at where they are going to be, so that they run into the paintball. Also, imagine their neck to be a lot wider, as wide as their chest, as this is where the paintball will actually hit.
    • Don't aim at someone's head or face. Aside from being dangerous and unsportsmanlike, these hits typically do not count.
    • Some players like to shoot a lot, but paintballs run out faster than you think. And they're not free. Try to take smart shots, rather than spraying paint all over the field.
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    Keep moving. When you are on the field, whether it be indoor or outdoors, you should keep moving quickly. Don't just wander around aimlessly. Pick a place to move, then move there, ducking low and moving quickly.
    • At the same time, it's good to know when to take cover and bunker up and wait. Don't run around like a chicken with its head cut off. Wait for your opponents to reveal themselves and make mistakes.
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    Communicate with your teammates. Communication is key when playing on teams of any number. Coordinate attacks, movement, and strategy before hand, and listen to each other on the field
    • Get together with your team before you head onto the field and decide who will coordinate and what your hand signals, or call signs will be. If the team leader yells out, "Duck duck goose in effect!" you'll all know what that means.
    • Yelling out to move up or duck can and will easily reveal your position. Using hand signals and gestures are the best way to operate.
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    Pay attention. Paintball games can happen pretty quickly, and you'll have to make lots of decisions pretty fast, or you might find yourself eliminated. Be quiet, and listen for tree branches snapping, gravel crunching, and echoes on cement. Breathe through your nose. Most masks will fog up when you breathe through your mouth. So crouch down look around, breathe easy and pay attention to your surroundings.
    • Be cautious, but have fun. Paintball should be more than running around, ducking from cover to cover and freaking out. Stay calm!
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    Be stealthy. Learning to creep around will make you a better paintballer. A game shouldn't be about running around like a chicken with your head cut off, or stalking around like the Terminator.
    • Try to move quickly between cover, running with your knees bent and your head down. You want to be as small as possible to avoid getting hit.
    • When you find cover, stay small. Keep your head down and pop up quickly to find a target. Pop back down, get ready, then pop back up to fire a few rounds. Aim carefully and be smart.
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    Conserve your ammo. It's easy to run out of paint on the field, which makes paintball a lot less fun. Depending on the size of your hopper, you may have plenty, but it's always a good idea to conserve your shots as much as possible, and only shoot when you have a good shot.
    • Don't just blast off shots every time you hear something. Wait until you see someone and have a clear shot, close enough to actually hit something.
    • Occasionally, you'll have to engage in a little running and gunning. If you know how to handle yourself, you'll be in a lot better shape on the paintball field. Practice moving side to side, and keeping your gun at a steady level.

Part 3
Playing Different Games

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    Play Capture the Flag (CTF). In this game mode, two teams compete to reach the other side of the map and return the other team's flag to their own base. If you are shot, you are out, as in normal play. If one team loses all of their players, the other team is free to walk the flag back.
    • Often, this game will be played with a time limit decided by both teams. Even if you eliminate everyone, you still have to navigate to the other side and find the flag and get it back to your side. This game requires teamwork and tactical speed.
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    Play Deathmatch. This is as nitty and gritty as it gets. In this game mode, two teams fight to eliminate all other players on the opposing team. The game ends when all of one team's players are out, or the time limit is reached.
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    Play Fort Assault. In this game mode, one team has one life each, and must Try to defend a fort from oncoming attackers within a fairly short time limit. The attackers, however, have unlimited respawns, so can wipe off the paint, return to their base, and then start their assault again. The game is over if the attackers infiltrate the base or the time limit is reached.
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    Play Free-for-all (FFA). This game mode is similar to Deathmatch, but there are no teams. Everyone fights everyone, and the game is over when only one person survives. It's usually common to form alliances in the middle of the game, which will obviously be broken somewhere down the line. This can be a lot of fun.
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    Play by the local rules. All paintballing places will have a strict set of rules, which must be followed at all times for the safety of yourself and of others. For example, many places enforce a 3m rule. If you are closer than 3 meters to another player, you must not shoot them due to the dangers it poses.
    • Some paintballing places give bonus points based on good tactical skill or plays. There are countless variations and local games, but the basics are usually the same.


  • Always stay low, but don't crawl unless the situation calls for it. Laying down makes your movement slow as can be, but in a crouch, you can move quickly upon being fired at.
  • When you're prone you are much less visible and much harder to hit, but also stationary.
  • Stay hydrated, dehydration can lead to a number of problems so make sure you get your fluids when you need them.
  • When playing outdoors in heavily wooded area, it's not a bad idea to try to blend in with your environment. Camouflage yourself.
  • Be honest. When you are hit with a paintball shot, admit that you have been tagged by raising your hand and slowly walk away to the field. No one likes wipers and liars because it ruins the amusement of the sport.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Don't stay in one spot too long, keep moving and stay behind cover.
  • When an area has a lot of people and/or a lot of cross fire don't hesitate to slide into positions. Crawl around, and sneak up on your opposing team.
  • Paintball is a sport and can be taken very seriously by many people; some too seriously.
  • If you run out of ammo the chances are a teammate will help you out. Don't be afraid to ask for just enough to finish the current match.
  • The masks get fogged up very quickly, but this is normal. Do not try to wear a balaclava or a face mask while you are playing, because this actually increases the fog on your mask. Although the smell of the mask is not always pleasant, a balaclava or a face mask will prevent this smell.


  • Paintball can be dangerous if not played correctly, just like any other sport. Also, the velocity on a paintball gun should be set to a reasonable pressure 150-280 fps. Shooting paintballs at a high velocity is dangerous.
  • Don't shoot someone who doesn't have their mask on, or even point your gun in their direction, loaded or not.

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Categories: Paintball