Paintball 101 – Everything You Need to Know to Start Playing

Paintball 101 – Everything You Need to Know to Start Playing

Perhaps you have friends who play the game, or maybe you’re interested in it yourself. Paintball, like any other sport, is fun until someone gets hurt. That’s why we’re here – to make sure you know what to do once you hit the playing field. There are a couple of things you’ll need to learn about paintball, such as guns, CO2 tanks, rules of engagement, and protective gear. No worries! Our article will run you through the basics better than a bald drill instructor.

What is Paintball?

Well, as the name suggests, it’s something involving balls filled with paint. Joke aside, it’s an awesome outdoor activity, very entertaining, and suitable for those of you who live for the thrill of the hunt. The purpose of the game is to “eliminate” the members of the opposing team by spraying them with water-soluble paint. That’s it!

However, there’s more to paintball than “bang-bang, get ‘em boys”! There’s tactics, gear, and, of course, weapons. Each of these elements could offer you an edge in the field.

Before we start talking about weapons and gear, let’s go over the basics.

Paintball 101 – Dos and Don’ts

The purpose of paintball is to take the other team out of the game. Nothing too fancy about that statement. But how you can do that in a safe and totally fun way?

Well, in various presentation films, you might have seen people dressed up in protective gear – masks, body armor, knee protection, that sort of things. Paintball (which is not to be confused with airsoft) is not lethal but can lead to serious injury.

So, the first rule is: never take off your protective gear. Although the balls with paint break off once they hit the skin, they can leave some pretty nasty bruises. Also, it’s not ok to shoot someone from very close range. And no, melee attacks (hitting your opponent with the butt of your gun) is also not acceptable.

Rule number two: always remember to wear long clothes, such as sweatpants, a long-sleeved shirt, and, depending on the terrain, boots. Yes, we know that you tend to sweat a lot in long garbs, especially during summer, but they tend to an extra layer of protection during an intense match.

And now, the most important, sacred, whatever you wish to call it, rule – overkillin’ is totally not okay. It takes one shot to eliminate the player, two shots if he/she had it coming. Anything over two shots in an instant buzzkill. Not to mention it hurts.

So, with these things in mind, let’s talk a little about the gear.

Paintball 101, Second Act – Weapons and Gear

If you’re a newbie, it’s a good idea to rent your gear, to get an idea if you’re in this sort of sport or not. Now, there are three things you’ll need to play paintball: ammunition, weapon, and protective gear.


Paintball ammunition consists of lightweight spheres, filled with water-soluble paint, and covered by a thin membrane made from gelatin. You can find these in any sports store, or you can buy them from where you rent the rest of your gear.

Paint balls are designed to splash paint upon impact. Careful where you aim that gun! Shooting yourself is the last thing you would want at the beginning of the game. They usually come in two forms: .68-caliber or .50 caliber


The paintball gun consists of a high-pressure CO2 cylinder that propels the slug at 205 miles per second. Your gun has four parts:

  • Compressed air tank, which goes near the grip. Depending on the manufacturer, the tank could be filled with HPA, Nitro, compressed air or CO2. The type of gas tank defines how fast or slow the slug is.
  • Hopper – it’s the big, funnel-like component on top of your gun. That’s where the ammo goes in.
  • Marker/Barrel – helps propel the slug. The barrel will ensure that the slug goes the right air while venting out air.
  • Blocking device – just like a real weapon, the paintball gun has a safety to ensure that your weapon doesn’t accidentally discharge.

Paintball guns look, more or less, the same. Of course, extra customization is available (e.g., a more capacitive air tank, wider hopper) if you really want to go pro.

If you’re looking to buy a beginner paintball gun, we recommend you browse this list of the best 6 weapons for novices. You’ll also find more details about weight, capacity, and accuracy. Our advice? Don’t look for expensive or powerful guns. Instead, choose one that matches the gun you practiced with and check all specs before making a commitment.  

       3.Protective Gear

Before hitting the field, don’t forget about protection. The most important piece is, obviously, the mask. It kind of looks like one of those WW2 gas masks, minus the filter, and with a wider view hole. For your first match, it would be cheaper to rent one rather than shopping for one. Again, don’t take it off during the paintball match because the last thing you would want to see is paint in your eyes.

For extra protection, you can also rent out body vests, gloves, and knee pads. Now, for your first shootout, we recommend you get in full gear. After that, you can remove one or more (anything but the mask!).

Paintball 101, Part three – Rules, tactics, and winning

As we’ve said, the rules are simple – shoot, run, and win. However, that doesn’t mean that each match should abide by the same rules (that would be dull!). For instance, instead of drawing up the team, you can try an every-man-for-himself match – the last man standing wins the prize.

Here a couple of more ideas:

  • CTF, which stands for capture the flag. Put a flag in the middle of the playground. The team that manages to bring the flag to their base wins the match.
  • Deathmatch – fight till the last man/woman drops. There’s no winner here.
  • Bomb defusing – just like in Counter-Strike. One of the team places a bomb on something, and the other one has to defuse it.

Other rules you should have in mind while playing paintball:

    • No ‘camping’ – means hiding in some hard to observe spot and sniping anyone who comes close. That’s a no-no.
    • No wiping paint – just because someone hit you, it doesn’t mean you have to cheat by wiping away the paint. Be a sport and admit defeat.
    • Always aim for the torso – don’t shoot anyone in the head, legs, groin or hands.
    • Pay attention to your surroundings – if you’re a team leader, don’t presume an area is safe. Have someone scout it before sending in the whole squad. You could be walking into an ambush.
  • Always have extra ammo.
  • Don’t shoot anyone from close range.
  • Listen to what the referee has to say. Paintball matches for beginners are usually supervised by a company’s employee, known as a referee. They’ll tell you what to do and what not to do.
  • Keep the gun’s safety on until the match begins.

If you’re a part of the team or, better yet, you’re the appointed leader, then it’s definitely a good idea to try out a couple of tactics. Here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Scout first, shoot after.
  • If you cannot overtake a position, order some of your teammates to flank it.
  • Move quietly but keep a fast pace.
  • Don’t stay in the open.
  • If you hear something moving, hit the dirt.
  • Never presume that a location is safe.
  • Front attacks are never a good idea.
  • Retreating means advancing in another direction.
  • Ask your team members to wear camouflage gear.
  • Crouching always gives you better accuracy than standing.


Paintball is not about who gets the most “kills” or who’s the master tactician. It’s about having fun and bonding with your friends. Consider renting out a paintball field next time you plan on meeting your friends. It could be just the thing to break the monotony.

Sean Lockwood

Sean is a programmer with a passion for extreme sports. Favourite extreme sports discipline is biathlon. Started this blog because of the great love for nature and adrenaline which results in something extreme like Extreme Sports Lab (ESL).

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