The Ultimate Guide To Paintball: Everything You Need To Know

  • Updated February 15th, 2023


There’s something to be said about a sport that lets you go out into a big field and shoot your friends, yet nobody gets hurt. For many, that game has become paintball. For someone on the outside looking in, it seems like a bunch of grown men and women pretending to be warriors, but this couldn’t be any further than the truth.

While paintball has some military-simulation style of playing, its purpose is not to create soldiers. Instead, paintball is intended to be a way that friends can enjoy working as a team to achieve victory. Still, for someone who has never played, it can be daunting to get started.

There are many different aspects to the sport of paintball and, for someone looking to start playing, figuring the game out can be stressful. If you’ve been asked to tag along on the weekend round, you’re probably going crazy trying to research as much as you can to prepare yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in having to buy the finest gear to impress your friends, even though you’ve never played. That’s where we come in.

We’ve taken the time to bring everything you need to know about the great sport of paintball into one place. In this guide, we’ll discuss everything from what are must haves before your first outing to what you can expect, pain wise, and everything in between.

Perhaps you’re a parent whose child has asked to play the sport, and you’re wondering what exactly they are dragging you into; we’ve got you covered, too. Once we are done with you, you’ll be able to make the most informed decision possible on whether you allow them to play or not.

The Laymans Ultimate Paintball Guide
The Laymans Ultimate Paintball Guide

Paintball In General

How Did Paintball Get Started?

The idea of paintball, in its conception, wasn’t anything near what it has grown to today. Charles Nelson was the inventor of the paintball gun concept in the mid-1960’s as a way to effortlessly mark trees and livestock from a distance. His invention didn’t fare too well with animal right’s activists who felt it was putting an unnecessary amount of pain on the animal. Therefore, that portion of the paintball’s history was soon forgotten.

However, in 1981, the first game of paintball, as it’s played today, was played in New Hampshire with 12 participants. These 12 came from different walks of lives; there was a stockbroker, writer, and surgeon amongst them. These 12 played an arousing game of capture the flag and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, nearly forty years after the first game happened, paintball is a worldwide sport. Much like extreme sports, such as snowboarding, paintball has a World Cup, where countries from all over the world compete to be the best. Additional, the National Professional Paintball League (NPPL) holds tournaments around the globe. In fact, there are even International organizations that set rules and guidelines for the sport.

The Difference Between Paintball & Airsoft

Many times, these two sports are thought to be the same. We have, however, taken the time to break down the differences and similarities of the two. You can read that analysis by going here. In short, the main difference between the two would be the projectiles.

In paintball, you’ll be shooting projectiles that are either .68 or .50 caliber. Simply, these paintballs are a little over a half of an inch in diameter and are a gelled paint substance in a thin, wax-like coating. Airsoft projectiles, on the other hand, are 6mm in diameter and are simply made of plastic.

Additionally, the look of the guns is a stark contrast. While paintball guns can resemble actual real-steel guns, airsoft guns are usually exact replicas. This distinction makes the manufacturing of airsoft guns extremely controlled by law.

What You Need To Know About Playing

Age Requirements

If your child has asked for your permission to play, the first question that popped into your mind was most likely “How old do you have to be?” And that’s a valid question, considering the roughness of the sport. Though this question is answered in depth here, let me give you a brief answer.

Different countries may have different age restrictions, but in the United States, there aren’t any laws restricting minors from participating. With that in mind, most paintball venues do have age restrictions. Most will have the age set at ten being the youngest they will allow and then, only if they have parental consent.

The age most venues cease to require parental consent is usually 16 years of age. Nonetheless, the younger player should be able to follow directions and rules while operating the paintball marker maturely before being allowed to play.

Possible injuries

If you are still on the fence about whether you will be participating or not, chances are the one subject that causes you to remain apprehensive is the fear of getting hurt. In all actuality, paintball is a highly safe sport. The only chance to get severely injured is entirely dependent on how roughly you move through the field. And, seeing as you’ll be a beginner, chances are you won’t be diving until you get your feet wet.

The main point that people who don’t play paintball believe hurt the most is getting hit with a paintball. To see where we’ve discussed this topic in-depth, click here. The short version is that getting shot by a paintball sounds much worse than it is. In fact, once you get shot the first time, you realize your adrenaline is so high that you can’t wait to get paybacks.

Now, if you’re like me, you may want to get that first shot over with as soon as possible. While you don’t want the first shot to be in the middle of a game, as that would make you be out, we all have that one friend who is eager to shoot you. With that in mind, have them stand at a safe distance away from you while you have your safety gear, i.e. your mask, on and let them shoot you. You’ll see that the anticipation is the worst part of getting shot with a paintball.

Yes, after your game is over and you begin to take off your gear and clothes, you may see some minor bruising and welts in the spots where your opponent hit you with paintballs. After all, the paintballs are flying at roughly 300 feet per second; more if your particular paintball field allows it. To find out how to treat, and prevent, these types of injuries, click here.

What do paintballers wear?

Talking about how much paintballs hurt usually causes beginners to begin to question what you’re supposed to wear. Don’t worry; it is a natural progression of thought. As your resident paintball expert, we’ve talked about that, too. Click here for an exhaustive article on what you are to wear when paintballing.

Simply put, the goal is to cover as much of your skin as possible. Any skin left exposed will only hurt worse when hit. Therefore, gloves and a mask are the two pieces of gear, in addition to your actual clothing, that you will need to make sure you have. (We’ll talk about cost and what to buy or rent in a little bit.) Beyond that, thick clothing works best to avoid feeling too much pain from the shot.

Most teams do wear specially made jerseys to make themselves stand out. However, if you’re just beginning, chances are you don’t have a team yet, though you can purchase clothes specifically designed for paintballing. There’s really no need to buy this type of clothing until you know this is something you want to do regularly.

What to expect in Cost

Another reason most people usually remain apprehensive about partaking in paintball is that they have heard their friends talking, and bragging, about how much they have spent on different guns, accessories, and overall gear. Trust me. Those that like to brag about how much they paid are usually the ones who get shot the quickest in a match. Don’t let your friends lead you to believe you have to spend a small fortune to participate as a beginner.

Is paintball expensive? Yes, it can be, but it all depends on what you want to do with it. Starting out, however, it doesn’t have to be very costly. View our articles on it here if you want a detailed rundown of just how much playing paintball can cost.

Starting out, the only items you may have to purchase yourself, besides the paintballs, would be the gloves, though one of your friends may have an extra set you can borrow. The rest of the equipment you will use can be rented from the venue where you’ll be playing.

On a side note, before you buy your paintballs, check with the field where you will be playing and see if they require you to buy your paint from them. Some fields do this to keep players from altering their paintballs to do more harm, such as freezing them.

Standard Equipment

Now, chances are you don’t know what equipment players use for paintball. Don’t worry; most beginners don’t. Let’s run through that list quickly.

  • Paintball Gun, sometimes referred to as a marker.
  • Paintball Hopper
  • Air Tank (it will either be CO2, nitrogen, or compressed air powered)
  • Mask (and a visor if the mask you have doesn’t have one built-in.
  • Paintball tubes, to hold extra rounds
  • Gear belt or Vest, to hold your accessories.

Now, you may be the type of person that just wants to buy your own equipment but need to keep it on a budget. We’ve done that research for you, too. For a list of cheap, but effective, paintball guns, go to this article Perhaps you’re the type of person that goes all in and wants the best of everything from the start. No, we won’t judge you. In fact, we’ve done that work for you. Click here for a listing of the best paintball guns on the market today and here for a listing of the best paintball masks.

Types of Play

Before embarking on your first paintball adventure, you should have a basic understanding of the different types of paintball play. There are two basic styles of play, each having an unlimited number of revisions that can be made to enhance play. These two types are woodsball and speedball.


Woodsball play is the ultimate “scenario” style of the game, usually taking place in the woods; hence the name woodsball. The typical woodsball match takes place in a large area, usually anywhere between a quarter of an acre to two acres; more if there are a multitude of players converging on the field at once. Woodsball teams can have as many players on them as the scenario requires. The scenario and team sizes are usually determined before play starts.

Within the field of play, there will be the natural cover found in trees and bushes, as well as objects specifically placed to enhance the game. The additional objects can be anything from an older car to a building specially constructed for the match. These objects are often changed around as not to allow familiarity with the field.

Gameplay in woodsball style of paintball closely relates to military simulation style of play. Different styles of woodsball play include:

Two-Flag Capture the Flag

In this style, each team has a flag placed on the prospective base. The objective is to not only capture your enemy’s flag but to then bring that flag back to your base without getting hit. This extra objective adds another component to typical capture the flag because, if the person carrying the enemy’s flag gets shot, the enemy is then able to take their flag back.

One-Flag Capture the Flag

The difference with this gameplay is that there is only one flag placed in the center of the field and the objective is to capture that flag and march it through enemy territory to their side of the field.

Attack and Defend

This gameplay entails one team having the tasks of defending a flag at their base while the other team must attack the enemy’s base, capture the flag, and return it to their own base.


This is a simple shoot-out; the team with the last member standing wins.

More About Woodsball

Typically the organizers of the venue set the time that is allowed for play. The length of play can range anywhere from 15-30 minutes or more. Often, hundreds of players will converge onto a single field of play. Games involving that many people usually take place on larger pieces of land, often 10 acres or more, and can last all day.

Scenarios, an intensely large version of woodsball, tend to have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of participants and can span an entire week. These all-day, or week long battles have many different rules, including the chance to be “healed” by members of the team that are considered medics. This “healing” allows players to continue, instead of being called out after a single hit.

The sky is truly the limit with woodsball. Want to act out the invasion of Normandy? Go for it. Want to simulate the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s house? Go for it. Use your imagination and have fun with it.


Speedball is the ultimate tournament style of play. Teams in speedball can consist of anywhere from 3 to 10 players, depending on the size of the field. Speedball games take place on a small piece of land, around 150 feet by 125 feet, which contains no natural obstacles. Instead, inflatable bunkers are erected to provide coverage and make the game safer.

Two teams start off on separate sides of the field, and the primary goal is to eliminate the other team’s members. Whichever team has the last remaining members wins. Speedball games, true to their name, tend to progress rapidly. Where aiming and strategy is key in woodsball, speedball strategy hinges on being fast, moving in and around the obstacles, while sending as many balls towards the enemy as possible.

The structure of the speedball field is considerably more uniform than woodsball play. In speedball, the inflatable obstacles are placed evenly, with the same number of obstacles placed on either side of the field. Therefore, each team has just as much cover as the other, making the game fair.

Paintball Guns

How a Paintball marker works

Before you can be productive on the field, it’s wise to have a working knowledge of how a paintball gun, or marker, works. Simply put, there are three basic types of airsoft guns. These include:

  • Spring Loaded
  • Electric, a.k.a. AEGS
  • Gas/pneumatic Powered
  • Pump

The basic explanation for how these paintball guns work is a little bit more involved than saying “you pull the trigger and the paintball shoots out.” Each type of gun operates a bit differently than the others. We have an article that breaks down how each of these particular guns works; you can read that article here.

Parts of a gun

Generally speaking, there are a few essential components that every paintball gun is going to have. There are several other internal elements of a paintball gun, but these are the ones a beginner will need to know. These include:

  • Grip
  • Bolt
  • Hammer
  • ASA (Air Source Adapter)
  • Air Regulator
  • Gas line

To give you a short explanation, here is the basic order of operations of a paintball gun:

  1. The paintball loads into the chamber. At the same time, a small amount of air is stored, or a spring is compressed, depending on the style of gun.
  2. The trigger is pulled, releasing the stored air. That air then pushes a bolt forward.
  3. The bolt then hits the paintball, sending it flying out of the barrel.
  4. In a semi-automatic or full-auto gun, the cycle is repeating automatically until all of the air in the tank has been exhausted. In a spring-loaded, or single-fire gun, the shooter must pull back the slide to start the process over.

There are many different ways that different guns complete this process. It’s always best to read the user manual, especially if it’s a gun you’ve purchased to see how your particular gun works.

What paintballs are made of

Part of knowing how to use a paintball gun is knowing what the materials that actually make paintballs. For that detailed explanation, go here. The short version is that each paintball manufacturer has their own recipe, as well as different qualities, of paint.

Generally speaking, the contents of the ball is made up of various mineral oils and food coloring while the outer shell consists of a wax-like substance. The materials usually dictate the quality of the paintball. Cheaper balls tend to easily break when shot while the higher quality paint is made to stay intact until it hits the enemy.

Also, while we are on the topic of the actual paintballs, many people believe that, if a paintball doesn’t break and simply falls to the ground, that they can pick it up, wash it with water, and reuse it. I can’t stress enough how bad that is. Besides the ball now having deformities that would cause it not to fly straight, most outer layers of paintballs will break down with it comes into contact with water. If you did try and fire it again, you’re going to be spending the next half an hour or more cleaning paint out of your gun.


In general, there are two sets of rules paintballers live by. One is safety rules while the other is general playing rules. If you follow these rules, you will not only be safe but a productive member of the squad. And no, these rules weren’t meant to be broken.

Safety Rules

Before embarking on your maiden paintball game, it’s good that you know what will be expected of you before, during, and after the game, as far as safety is concerned. While Paintball is a relatively safe sport, that’s only true when everybody follows the basic safety rules. Additionally, each venue tends to have their own set of rules. We’ve covered these safety rules in depth here. However, here are a few of the basic rules that everyone needs to adhere by

  • Always wear your mask! This rule cannot be stressed enough. Every player should have their mask on at all times, even when in the safe zones as to not get hit by an accidental discharge.
  • Always attach the barrel blocking device when you are not going to fire the gun. Attach this whenever you aren’t firing your weapon. This rule applies to before the game starts, while in the safe zones and staging areas, as well as after you’ve been shot and are walking out.
  • Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot! You should treat the paintball marker with the same care, and respect, that you would treat a real firearm. If handled incorrectly, you, or your friends, could get severely injured.

While the rules we just went over are rules every paintball should live by, there are a few items that most fields will have rules about, but not everyone. It’s good to ask if your particular venue requires these before playing.

  • Don’t fire shots closer than 10 feet. This rule is meant to protect players from a painful shot as any shot closer than 10 feet can hurt considerably more. Therefore, most venues require that, if you can get within 10 feet of an opposing player, give them the chance to surrender before shooting.
  • One hit is enough. The term used for hitting a player more than once is called a bonus ball. One shot is all it takes to eliminate an opponent; any more is too much.
  • Listen to the Referees: Each field and game will have designated referees for each round. Not listening could result in being kicked from the game or the field completely

Rules of play

While the safety rules mentioned above help keep you, and the other players, safe at all times, the rules of play are meant to maintain a competitive and fair match. While breaking these rules may not hurt anybody, it will cause the other players not to want you participating.

  • Call your hits. Much of paintball relies on the honor system. While the player that shot you may know they hit you, it is still up to you to call your shot. Not calling the hit is one of the worse crimes a paintballer can commit.
  • Don’t Wipe the hit off! There’s no quicker way to get kicked out of a game, or expelled from a field than to wipe the paint off after a hit. It’s not worth being able to play a few extra minutes but lose the rest of the day’s play. Not to mention you will also lose respect from the other players.
  • Stay in the boundaries. Whether it be woodsball or speedball, there are designated boundaries of play to keep the game fair. Crossing these boundary lines will most often result in an automatic out.
  • Don’t turn your velocity too high. Most fields require that the velocity on your gun be at 300 feet per second or less. However, there are many paintball guns capable of shooting upwards of 500 feet per second.

Strategies and Tips


Let’s face it. Your first paintball outing will certainly not be your best. Don’t worry; nobody expects you to be a pro your first time. However, you still want to be a productive member of your team. That’s why we’ve gathered some of the best strategies for beginners in our article “strategy guide for Beginners.” Here are the top 3 strategies beginner paintballers should keep in mind.

  1. Aim from the side of your gun instead of directly on top. Shooting like this helps to decrease the how much you expose your body from behind the barrier.
  2. Shoot and move. Never stay in one place too long. Doing so will allow the opposing players to locate and pin you down. Once you’re pinned down, it’s difficult to be effective.
  3. Use all of your senses! Many times, when a beginner is scanning the field for a target, they use their eyes and form a tunnel vision effect. This lack of awareness allows an opponent to sneak around you because you weren’t listening for their movement.


If you were to ask those on the field with you, chances are they will tell you that there are some tips for the game they wished someone had shared before they started. Well, here’s your chance to pick up some pointers.

  • Plan your move before the game starts, especially your first sheltering place. Remember, when the game starts, lots of rounds will be shot at first, find a place close by where you can get some shelter but also be a productive member.
  • If you can see the person you are aiming at, they can see you, too. Be quick and efficient in your shooting before they spot you.
  • Keep your movements simple. Sure, dives, flips, and rolls look good when big-time Hollywood actors do it. You don’t have a stunt double. Doing these will only make you look silly, especially if they are the reason you get hit.
  • Communicate with your team. Before the game is to commence, work out your team’s strategy. Decide which player is going where and who has which responsibilities. Then, when on the field, don’t forget to continue to communicate. Paintball games, especially speedball games, can be loud. If stealth is your team’s strategy, mainly in woodsball, work out hand signals or calls to be used while in play.

Shooting the Paintball gun

Most people are familiar with how you aim a gun, even if you’ve never owned a firearm in your life, you know the basic principal; line up the sights and pull the trigger. When you’re shooting a paintball gun, forget everything you’ve ever learned about shooting technique. You’ll see, trying to aim and shoot a paintball gun is entirely different than a regular firearm.

Preparing the Marker to shoot

Before you fire your first round, there are some important steps to follow in putting on the tank and hopper of your gun. Put on the hopper first. Each gun is different, but this usually entails screwing it in or securing a clamp around the feed neck.

Secondly, before attaching the air tank put a couple of drops of oil in the ASA (usually as the base of the grip.) Then, holding the marker vertically with the barrel facing towards the ground, easily screw in the air tank. BE careful not to cross thread the tank by forcing it in; it should screw in with no problems. Once the tank catches, turn the marker back to the horizontal position and finish screwing in the tank. Doing it this way prevents the liquid CO2 from reaching the internal components and damaging them.

Holding the Marker

The first thing you need to know is how you handle a paintball gun is never to hold it at your waist. Even when you are running from one obstacle to another, never drop the weapon down because, in the time it takes you to pull it back up and aim, another player, who is holding their gun correctly, could have shot you.

The configuration of the paintball marker is not much different than an actual firearm. However, instead of having a stock, of the butt, of the gun, you will most likely have an air tank at the end of yours. (Some paintball guns resemble actual firearms but, as a beginner, it is unlikely you will be shooting on of those.)

The proper way to hold the paintball gun is to put the rounded end of the air tank firmly on your shoulder. The key, though, is not to have to turn your head sideways to accommodate the gun. Instead, hold your marker so that you can look towards the end of the barrel and keep your neck straight at the same time. Holding it this way will help in keeping you comfortable in your shooting position for extended periods.


Aiming isn’t as easy as looking down the barrel and shooting for the mere fact that you’ve got your hopper in your line of sight. There are optics that you can buy to put on your gun to enhance your aiming abilities but, chances are, you won’t have those optics on the marker you rent. This restriction won’t make you less efficient; you just need to have an idea of how to aim it.

Simply put, you want to look down the side of the gun and imagine there is a line drawn on your weapon. You point that imaginary line towards the target and shoot. Sounds silly, yes, but until you fire the gun for your first time, this is the best way to aim.

A tip to you to help your muscle memory and shot alignment is to, instead of using your pointer finger to pull the trigger, use your middle finger. Then, put your point finger along the body of your gun as if you were pointing down the field. Doing this helps make your aiming as easy as pointing and shooting.

What to do before the game

During the days leading up to, and including the day of, your first paintball game, there are some things you can do to make your first outing a better experience. These steps are in addition to getting your gear lined up and knowing what you are going to wear.

  • Drink lots of water. This tip is more than just drinking water during the game. Starting a couple of days before, if you don’t already, drink water as your primary liquid. Doing this will ensure that your body is completely hydrated before the big day. And, of course, during play, remember to stay hydrated. With the adrenaline that is sure to be flowing, you won’t feel the effects of dehydration until it’s too late.
  • Stretch. When you do finally get home after a full day’s worth of paintball, you will feel like you’ve run a marathon. Your muscles and joints will appreciate any amount of stretching you do before, and during, the game.
  • Check the weather: Though most games play on, regardless of the weather conditions, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on the weather. This information allows you to dress appropriately and bring any extra gear you may need.

Typical day of paintball

If you’ve never even watched a game of paintball before, then it might be good to know what to expect your first game. Though not all fields will follow this schedule, this is the simple run down of how that first day will unfold.

Arrival and Check-in.

    Checking in usually happens as soon as you walk into the main building on the field. Check in will require you to show your form of ID, or your parents if you are underage, as well as sign an accident waiver. Also, always arrive 15-20 minutes before your allotted time to ensure you have plenty of time to get checked in.

  • Rent/Purchase Equipment and accessories: Since you will be a beginner, it is likely that you need to rent an entire playing package. You will also buy your paint at this time. Once all of your gear is lined up, you can move on and suit up.
  • Orientation: Once every player has had a chance to get their equipment and suit up, orientation will begin. This short primer usually entails a safety briefing by the lead referee or field supervisor. You will hear all of the rules of the field as well as see a layout of the field of play.
  • Go to the Staging area: This is where the teams will be when they are not on the field. Though this can be a building with air conditioning, it usually consists of several canopies near the playing field.
  • Morning Games: If your day of paintballing is a full day, it will often start with 2-4 games in the morning. These games will be broken up between the teams and most likely occur on different fields. The number of games you play will depend on how quickly the teams progress.
  • Lunch: This will be at a previously appointed time, usually around noon. Here’s a tip for lunch; bring your own. Though most fields will have a snack/concession area, it’s best to bring your own cooler field with snacks and drinks so that you can eat hardily.
  • Afternoon Games: This will be the remaining portion of allotted games. The exact number could be anywhere from 4 to 8 games, depending on how many happened during the morning games.

Have Fun!

As a beginner, you will make mistakes. You may zig when you should have zagged. Regardless, paintball is meant to be a fun sport. There will come a time when you will take the game as serious as most veteran paintballers do. Enjoy the time where the game is nothing but fun and don’t worry about the mistakes. There will always be another round, or another game, where you can fix your mistakes.

As you progress, try out new things. Rent a different gun the next time you play. Once you are comfortable, try the dives and jumps. Try different styles of paintball games and different scenarios. Experiment but always remember; have fun!!

Paintball Vs. Airsoft: What Are The Similarities & Differences?

  • Updated February 24th, 2023

For someone who isn’t familiar with the two sports, airsoft and paintball may seem impressively similar in nature. With several people dressed in military-style clothing shooting at each other, it’s easy to believe they are the same sport. However, there are several areas of which the two are extremely different.

Down to their very beginnings, airsoft and paintball can be as different as night and day. We’ve compared some of their similarities and differences, allowing you to judge which you feel best suits you.

Paintball Players On One Side Airsoft Players On The Othere
Paintball Players On One Side Airsoft Players On The Othere



Airsoft began in Japan for two reasons; target shooting was remarkably cheaper, and the plastic bbs didn’t hurt humans, thus making it perfect for military-style training. Airsoft guns tend to be manufactured to the exact specifications of actual, real-steal firearms. In fact, the weapons look so realistic that federal law now mandates that airsoft guns have a bright-orange tip on the end of the barrel so that anyone can identify it as an airsoft gun.

Airsoft guns fire little plastic bbs at upwards of 300 feet per second using either spring, gas, or electric power. How the gun shoots the ammo is a determining factor to how expensive the guns are. Cheaper airsoft guns tend to be spring-powered while the more expensive guns tend to use a combination of gas and electric power.


Though now considered a military-style sport, paintball had many different purposes when first invented. Charles Nelson created the paintball as a way to easy mark livestock without having to get close the animal. While the paintball might sting a little, it allowed the farmer to mark livestock quickly and at a distance.

The first game of paintball wasn’t played until around 1981. Paintball guns either use a gas (CO2 or nitrogen are most common), compressed air, or electric power. Additionally, since paintballs are considerably larger than airsoft bbs, paintball participants tend to dress in thicker clothing and wear many pieces of protective gear.



As far as the price of the guns is concerned, you can get a cheap spring-powered airsoft gun from any big-box retailer for $20-30. However, for the guns that are built to resemble the real guns in both looks and feel, you can spend anywhere from $100-500, depending on the weapon. Simply put, the more features and better quality guns do tend to run considerably more.

The ammunition for airsoft, 6mm plastic bbs, tends to be cheaper than paint balls as well. You can get a box of 5,000 bbs for as little as $4, while the higher-quality rounds tend to run between $20-40. The higher quality ammo tends to be consistently more accurate than the cheaper rounds.

Requirements for gear to play airsoft, other than the gun and ammunition, tend only to be a pair of safety glassed, though you want to check with your range to see what they require. For extra protection, you can purchase a full mask. However, a player doesn’t need as much protective clothing as the more clothes you have on, the less likely you are to feel the shot.


Paintball guns are comparable in price to that of airsoft guns. Big-box retailers such as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods will usually have package deals that include a cheap paintball gun and everything needed to play. These combo packages may range from $50-60 for a cheap gun. However, for increased playing ability and features, you can spend anywhere from $100-500 or more for a high-quality gun.

Ammunition for paintball tends to be more expensive, with a case of 2000 rounds costing at least $30 for the low-quality paint. However, the high-quality ammo tends to be very expensive, averaging $50-60 for 2000 rounds.

What tends to make paintball more expensive than airsoft, however, is the fact that you will need increased protective gear since the ammo tends to hurt more. While you can get away with a simple pair of safety glasses in airsoft, paintball requires a full mask. Additionally, we recommend thick protective clothing as a paintball hitting exposed skin tends to be extremely painful.

How much do they hurt?

When deciding on which sport to participate in, some make the decision based on the pain in which one feels when getting shot. This pain is perhaps the easiest factor to compare between the two; paintball hurts worse than airsoft. When a 6mm plastic bb flying through the air at roughly 300 feet per second hits you, you barely feel a thing. In fact, most arenas will prohibit thick clothing for airsoft play for that reason; if you can’t feel the shot, you can’t call the hit.

Paintball, however, can hurt. The paintball is a little bigger than a half-inch in diameter coming towards you at roughly 300 feet per second. The size, alone, makes getting shot in paintball hurt much worse. How much pain you feel, though, is entirely dependent on you.

Most paintballers compare getting shot to the feeling of having a rubber band snapped on your skin. The level of thickness of your clothing will greatly help in the area of pain. Just be careful not to wear so much clothing that you began to get hydrated. Additionally, be sure to wear every piece of protective gear as required by your range.

Who can play?

There aren’t any age limitations for either sport, though younger players tend to gravitate to airsoft. However, certain ranges do have an age limit strictly because kids younger than ten years old tend not to be able to follow the rules while playing.

While there isn’t an age limit on playing, most of the gear does require someone older than eighteen to purchase. This age limit is particularly the case when it comes to buying the gun and gas, such as CO2 and nitrogen. If children show an interest in playing either airsoft or paintball, they should start out small and work their way up to higher levels of play.

Styles of play

Both sports have very different methods of gameplay. While some tournament play has similar characteristics between the two, each sport has variations unique to that game.

Playing airsoft

Airsoft is the supreme military simulation game. Imagine war games where armies train in different scenarios, and you have the exact picture of airsoft’s gameplay. Airsoft can be played on any terrain, whether it be in a densely-wooded area or urban setting such as a makeshift building or neighborhood. The emphasis in playing airsoft is remaining hidden while quietly moving through the battlefield.

The main rule in airsoft is to call out when the opponent hits you. Since the airsoft pellet doesn’t leave a mark, this is the only way to know if you are out. If a referee or other player finds out that a player did not call out when they are hit, then it could mean suspension from that round or removed from the game entirely.

Playing Paintball

While there are many variations on how people play paintball, they all tend to revolve around two main styles; woodsball and speedball are the most common. Speedball is usually set up in a flat field about the size of a soccer field. Teams start at either end and move their way across the field. Inflatable obstacles are set up randomly on the field and are switched up between rounds to give a different feel to the field. The last man or team standing determines the winner.

Woodsball doesn’t necessarily have to be played in the woods but denotes a game over uneven terrain. Woodsball fields will have a variety of natural obstacles and buildings to be used as cover, making it easier to conceal. Woodsball play is intended to simulate military combat while speedball promotes speed and accuracy.


Airsoft Paintball
Define Uses exact replicas of real guns to fire 6mm plastic bbs. Played by using military-like simulations and operations. Uses futuristic-looking guns powered by gas or air to fire round paintballs at the enemy. Play in games types called speedball and woodsball.
Cost Guns can be as cheap as $20-30 for a spring-powered plastic. More expensive, realistic looking guns can cost from $100-500 depending on features.
A box of 5000 bbs can be as cheap as $4 a box while the high-quality ammo can be between $20-40.
Similar to the cost of airsoft guns. Can be as cheap as $40 and as expensive as $500, depending on your level of play and features you want.
Paintball rounds can cost anywhere from $30-60 or more for a box of 2000. Cost dependent on the quality of the paint.
Pain level Airsoft is rarely painful if the right eye protection is worn. Paintball varies in pain depending on how thick your clothes are and where you get it. Can range from feeling like a snap from a rubber band to getting stung by a bee.
Difficulty level Airsoft tends to be a more technical and skill game as it simulates special forces style play. The magazines tend to be harder to load, and the guns require more skill to aim and shoot. Paintball guns use “pods” or “hoppers” to feed the paintball into the gun and are incredibly easy to use. Though there is aiming involve, paintball tends to be easier to play as far as the guns are concerned.
Age Usually, anyone above ten years old can play. Check with the range to see what they require. Usually, any person above ten years of age can play. Check with the range to see what they require.
Types of guns Airsoft guns are typically spring, CO2, or electric powered. Paintball guns can use cO2, nitrogen, compressed air, or electric motors to fire their rounds.



As you can see, though airsoft and paintball seem related on the outside, the actual playing of both are entirely different. You don’t have to choose just one, though. Many players have decided to partake in both sports. Though different in nature, these players have discovered that playing one helps to prepare you for the other, seeing as they are both active, physical sports.

Paintball Welts & Bruises: How to Treat, Prevent & Deal With Them

  • Updated February 14th, 2023

Paintball is an extreme, physical sport. Players are continually jumping over or under obstacles, diving into the ground, or running into objects. However, though the physicality of the game can cause some pain, most of the welts and bruises received during paintball games are from actually being shot with the paintball.

While the actual shot may not hurt very much or very long, the effect of the shot is always evident. It’s not a rare occasion for players to take off their protective clothing to find welts and bruises all over their body. So, then, the question arises, can you prevent these? Furthermore, how do you treat these welts and bruises when they do show up?

Thankfully, there are several ways you can protect yourself from these abrasions. By taking some precautions, you can limit the number of welts and bruises that appear on your body.

Bruises And Welts From Paintball
Bruises And Welts From Paintball

DISCLAIMER:  This article does not provide medical advice.  You should consult your doctor if you are seeking medical advice on how to treat your injuries.

How to prevent Bruises and Welts

Before we look at how to treat bruises and welts caused by the impact of paintball on your body, let us look at different ways you can prevent them.

Wear thick clothing

There are two main factors attribute to bruising and welts during paintball play. One that cannot be controlled by the person getting shot is the distance from which the opponent shoots you. However, what you can control is how much of your skin is exposed.

Experience suggests that exposed skin is more likely to bruise and welt after an impact from a paintball. Therefore, we recommend that you cover as much of your skin as possible. There best is, however, a fine line between too much clothing and not enough.

The first point to remember in your clothing choices is that the thicker the clothes equal less pain and impact from the shot. Most players accomplish this by wearing layers. Wearing layers allow you to use moisture wicking material on the bottom layer to help keep you cool and a thicker outer layer to reduce the effect of the shot.

While wearing thicker clothes does not replace the required protective gear, it can help diminish your chances of getting unsightly bruises and welts. Remember, most people play paintball during the summer. This fact equals higher temperatures and more chance of getting excessively hot. Keep this in mind when choosing your paintballing attire. Though darker clothing will keep you hidden better, wearing lighter clothing will keep you cooler.

Protective Clothing

The wearing of protective gear is not only recommended, but most paintball arenas require that players wear specific equipment at all times. There is a vast array of protective gear available. This list includes:

  • Facemask/helmet
  • Gloves
  • Vest
  • Padded shirts and pants
  • Boots

The purpose of this protective clothing is simply to lower your chances of getting injured when shot. The most common places on the body to get hit are the chest, arms, face, and hands. It just so happens that these are the portions of the body where a hit hurts the most and will leave bruises and welts.

If you can’t afford to buy enough protective gear for your entire body, at the very least, you want to make sure you have a helmet/facemask that is rated to take a direct hit without shattering. Additionally, a decent pair of gloves will protect your hands which are exposed nearly 100% of the time. Hopefully, you thoroughly cover the rest of your body with clothes you already own.

Treatment of welts and bruises

Regardless of how much thought and work you put into preventing welts and bruises from occurring, it is inevitable that you will get hit by a paintball at some point in your paintballing career. In fact, after a strenuous day out on the field, chances are you will have been hit multiple times, regardless of how good you play. That’s why it’s important to know what to expect and how to treat the side effects of getting hit with a paintball.

What are bruises and welts?

Before you can know how to treat bruises and welts, it’s important to know what they are. Each is completely different than the other. Thus their treatments options are different.


Bruises occur when tiny blood vessels in the soft tissues of your body burst. The bruising you see is the blood from these small, almost microscopic, vessels. They can range in colors, from red, blue, purple, or black, depending on the severity of the bruising. Furthermore, bruises can become raised off the skin. The blood pooling naturally causes this coloring under the skin.

Bruises tend to go through several phases before being completely healed. Often, depending on the severity and treatment levels, the bruise may take several weeks to go away completely. Most bruises resulting from paintball shots tend to go away sooner due to them not being overly severe.


Simply put, welts are reddened bumps that appear on the skin after being hit by a hard object. Different from bruising, a welt is just the skin swelling in the area of the hit. Often, these types of injuries go away after a couple of days. They can, however, cause severe itching during the healing process.

How to treat

Because bruises and welts are so different in their nature, the way in which you treat them is different as well. Remember, the sooner you begin treatment, the quicker and better the injury will heal.

How to treat bruises

There are several different courses of action that you can take to treat bruises. Which route you take, however, is entirely dependent on when the bruise happens and treatment begins. Remember always to make sure the area around the bruise is clean with soap and water before commencing treatment.

Cold Compress

As soon as you notice a bruise on your body, the best course of therapy is to apply a cold compress or ice pack to the bruised area. Doing this will help to decrease the amount of bleeding from those tiny vessels, in turn lowering the severity of the bruise. When placing an ice pack on your skin, you want to be sure to have a small buffer between your skin and the ice pack. This buffer is usually achieved by using a small towel and placing it on the affected area of your body before putting the ice pack on the area.

Failure to use a buffer can result in damaging the skin and can, in severe cases, cause frostbite. When applying the cold compress with an ice pack, leave it on the area for 15 minutes and then wait an hour before using it again. Waiting the allotted time ensures you aren’t leaving the ice pack on too long which will have the same results of not using a buffer.

Warm Compress/Heat

Using a warm compress or heat on a bruise is done in two circumstances; either the bruise went all day without being noticed, or you’ve been applying cold packs during the day and now transition to warm compresses or heat. Using heat can be as simple as placing a washcloth in warm water and then applying it to the affected area. Also, you can use a heating pad turned to the lowest, or middle, heat setting.

While cold helps to alleviate as much bleeding as possible, heat does the exact opposite. Heat will improve the color of the bruise and the skin around it by improving the circulation. Applying heat has the same precautions as cold; don’t leave it on the area too long.

If using a heating pad, it may be wise to use a towel again to act as a buffer between the heat and the skin. (This isn’t necessary if using warm water.) Leaving heat on the area too long can cause additional damage, especially to the skin around the bruise. Only leave the heat on for 15 minutes and then leave off for an hour.

Vitamin K Lotion

Vitamin K is an excellent natural resource that promotes blood clotting. If you have a bruise that seems to be getting progressively worse and applying cold packs to the area doesn’t appear to help, rubbing some vitamin k lotion may do the trick. It helps the blood to clot and will stop the bruise from spreading.

Additionally, if you notice you bruise easily after being hit by a paintball, taking a supplement that is rich in vitamin k may help reduce your chances of bruising. Some players even keep a tube of lotion in their packs and rub onto hit areas whether they see bruising or not to ensure bruising doesn’t occur.

Epsom Salt Bath

After an intense day of paintballing, you may have lost count of how many times your opponent connected. Furthermore, you were most likely hit in the same spot repeatedly. Not only does this almost ensure you will having bruising, but it also means that those bruises will be sore from repeated hits.

Epsom salt, which you can buy from any drug store of big-box retailers, helps to relax muscles and heals your skin by replacing minerals lost in sweating and bruising. The effects of Epsom salt on the bruises may not be immediate, but the soothing of your pain will be. We also recommend if you are an intense player and tend to be sure after rounds of play.

Treating Welts

Though welts are a different type of injury than bruising, treatment for them are much the same. Just remember, welts are swollen portions of skin tissue so they may be a tad more painful than bruises. In fact, many of the treatments are specifically for the pain as the swelling tends to go away on its own. As the first step, always ensure the area you are treating is clean from any dirt or blood.

Swapping hot and cold compresses

Just like with bruising, cold compresses work by limiting blood circulation in the application area. The reason this helps with welts is because decreased blood flow not only helps the swelling to go down but decreases the pain as well.

However, different from bruising, treating welts allows you to alternate cold and hot being applied to the affected area. The heat, though increasing blood flow, also helps to reduce swelling and relaxes the muscles around the hit.

When applying hot or cold packs, never keep one on for more than 15 minutes. Also, alternating them a couple of times and then allow the area to rest for an hour before starting the treatment again. If the pain doesn’t diminish after a couple of rounds of this treatment, there may be a hidden injury and you may want to see a healthcare professional.

Witch Hazel

Most people have never heard of witch hazel before. It is a natural substance that is great for swollen and painful portions of your body. In fact, it is a common ingredient in most topical pain creams.

The best way to use witch hazel is by mixing it with an aloe Vera gel and applying it to the affected area. The aloe gel helps with the smell, as well as helps he skin from being irritated by the witch hazel. It is an excellent choice for quick pain relief while on the go or for something you just want to apply and not have to worry about repeating a process, such as with hot and cold compresses.


If the welt is on your arms or legs, its best to raise them up to reduce the swelling. This works by limiting the blood flow to the affected area. If the welt is extreme in nature, this may be the best way to ensure it is healed completely.

If you have a welt that continues to remain painful after the above treatments, or if the pain persists for several days, it may be a good idea to see a doctor. Additionally, if the swelling isn’t gone after two weeks, see a doctor to ensure nothing else is going on that you are unable to see.

Avoid getting hit

Though it sounds like a silly notion, the best way to avoid painful bruises and welts is to avoid getting hit, especially if the spot you tend to get hit is hit multiple times. If you do notice a particular area of your body taking the majority of the hits, it may be a good idea to study your strategy and shooting stance.

Always use the obstacles on the course to your advantage. Though getting shot is a part of the game, it’s better if you can control where you get hit by controlling which areas of your body is exposed to the enemy.

Paintball is perhaps one of the most exciting shooting sports around. You combine a live of shooting with military-style combat that is safe and fun. However, getting shot is part of the price we pay for having fun in paintball. If you follow these steps, though you will still get shot, you can limit the impact it has on you and your game. Remember the old saying, it is better to give than receive? The same is especially true in paintball; it’s always better to shoot someone than to get shot. As long as everyone follows the rules, you’re experience will be filled with more fun and excitement than pain and injury.

What To Wear To Paintball To Ensure You Are Well-Covered

  • Updated February 14th, 2023

If you are new to the sport of paintballing or are wanting to get started, you may be wondering what do you wear when you play paintball. Though the options are limitless, it’s always good to start with a base point and then work your way from there. With that in mind, what we have attempted to do is to give you an idea of what your will need to be completely geared up for your first big match.


The most important part of your body to cover is your head; mainly your eyes. Besides purchasing your gun and supplies, spending sufficient money on excellent head protection is recommended. Here are some gear types to keep in mind:


When purchasing a set of goggles or a mask, there are many different options you can opt for. The main thing you want to ensure is that the lens will protect your eyes from the paintball should your head gear take a direct shot. The difference between a mask and goggles is simple; goggles are mainly to protect your eyes while a mask will cover your entire face, and often parts of your chin and neck.

What To Wear To Play Paintball
What To Wear To Play Paintball

If you’re looking for the cheaper option, you can opt for a good set of goggles, but be prepared to take shots to the mouth and face. These shots can often be the most painful, and dangerous, hits to take. That’s why it is recommended to go with a full-face mask. Just ensure that the lens in your mask won’t fog up.

Before purchasing your mask, try it on. During this initial fitting, ensure there is proper ventilation. Also, move around in it as if you were out in the field. This way you know if there will be any restriction to your movement. In addition to feel, make sure that the foam on the inside of the mask will not irritate your face. The last thing you want is to get into a full-day game and realize your mask irritates you.


While a hat or beanie is strictly optional, it is recommended, especially when moving through wooded areas. A hat or beanie will protect the top of your head from getting scratched, as well as offer a softening effect to getting shot in the head. However, if you are playing in the middle of winter, you may decide to forgo this piece of gear.

Neck pad

Taking a paintball to the neck is quite possibly the worst pain a paintballer can feel. If you are going to playing paintball at all, neck padding is a must have. While a mask can cover any hits that may come from the front, you are leaving the side and back of your neck open. Rather inexpensive, a neck pad can protect from any welting and damage to the otherwise exposed skin.

Upper Body

When playing paintball, your upper torso will take the most hits. Therefore, this will be the portion of your body that you may want to have the most padding. Keep in mind, the thick the clothes you wear, the less it will hurt. Also remember that the paintball will tend to bounce off a soft surface. This will increase your chance of the ball not splattering on you, therefore allowing you to continue playing.


If you will be playing woodsball (simply paintball played outdoors in a natural environment) a vest will be your best friend. Not only will it protect you from severe welts, a padded vest will help protect you while crawling and running around wooded areas. Vests will have built-in padding that is designed to absorb the impact of the paint balls.

In addition, most vests will have pockets that offer storage for any added equipment you may need to carry while in the field, such as water, radios, maps, watch, and any other personal items you may need.

Chest Protector

Different from a vest, a chest protector is similar to the thermal underwear mentioned below in that the padding is built-in to a single wearable garment. The protector has padding that protects the chest bones area, as well as the wearers rips and abdomen. Remember, is you decide on a chest protector, the outer garment you choose will need to be sized correctly so that it fits over the padding.


Much like sports such as football and baseball, there are jerseys that have been specifically designed for the sport of paintball. Though they are definitely not a required piece of gear, your team may decide to invest in jerseys for many reasons. Your team may want a jersey for identification while in the field, as well as offer extra protection the absorbs the hit of the balls.

Jerseys can also be customized for the type of paintball you will be playing. For example, Speedball (played in an open field with makeshift obstacles that offer concealment) Jerseys are usually made of lightweight, ventilated material that will help cause the enemy’s paintballs to bounce off the player. Speedball jerseys are usually made with vibrant colors and covered with team and sponsor identifiers.

On the other hand, woodsball jerseys are made using more natural colors, or camouflage, that increase the stealth abilities. Also, woodsball jerseys feature a cuff the fts tightly around the wearer’s wrist that help keep dirt and bugs from getting to the player’s skin.

Elbow/Arm Pads

Because most players lead with their gun while walking through the field of play, the elbow and forearms become exposed and are the victims of most hits from paintballs. For this reason, special gear has been developed that engulfs the entire elbow and forearm area, protecting from welts and paintball impacts.

Also, in addition to protecting from hits, elbow and forearm pads are an essential part of woodsball gear. They allow the wearer to crawl through dirt and debris without getting scratched and cut.


Gear worn on the legs is usually designed to promote movability and comfort of the player on top of increasing the padding against hits. However, just as with the other portions of the body, there are several different options available for leg gear.

BDU (Battle Dress Uniform)

Simply put, BDU pants are the military pants that feature several external pockets for extra storage Usually worn in a green or gray camo design, the material used to produce BDU pants is durable and comfortable while allowing the wearer to blend in seamlessly with his or her surroundings. In addition, BDU pants usually feature pad-reinforced knees that allow the wearer to kneel down without causing pain to his/her knee or wear out their pants.

Leg/Shin Pads

If you have the extra money to spend, or want to ensure every inch of your body is protected, you have the option to purchase pads that have be specifically made to be worn on your legs and shins. Though this armor will protect from any paintballs that may find their way to your legs, they are specially made to reduce the strain your knees endure while kneeling and crawling through the field of play.

Additionally, leg and shin pads can be worn on the outer layer of your body or on the inside layer, which ever you feel more comfortable with. Keep in mind, if you decide to wear the pads on the inside layer of your clothing, ensure your outer layer is the proper size to fit over the extra padding.

Padded Thermal Underwear

When thermal underwear is mentioned, we usually think of working out in the cold weather. However, the term is also used to describe the padded under layer that can be purchased specifically for playing paintball. Similar to pants worn by football players, thermal underwear includes built-in padded areas that cover the entire lower portion of the wearer’s body. These pads include protection for the tailbone, side hip, legs, front hips, and knees. What makes this type of gear different is that every pad is built into one piece of gear.

Sliding shorts/pants

If you are the type of player that likes to jump and slide behind barriers and cover, you will want to have a pair of sliding pants or shorts. Made to be form fitted and worn against your skin, sliding pants/shorts will give you excellent protection from scratches you receive while sliding. In addition, most include built-in cup holders for the males.

Jock Strap/Cup

This is a must have for any male who wishes to play paintball. While damage to the eye is one of the leading injuries in paintball, damage to the midsection of a male is a close second. Though they can be rather uncomfortable, you will be very thankful when it protects you from getting hit. For increased comfort, simply purchase sliding shorts that have a built-in cup holder.


Protection for your feet is all about comfort. Rarely will a player take a hit to their feet and, when they do, any amount of protection will diminish the result. For this reason, when choosing your footwear, always keep comfort in mind.


There is not any footwear that has been specifically made for playing paintball. Instead, most players tend to lean towards military/tactical boots. Any sporting goods store will have an ample selection of footwear. When choosing what best works for you, keep these thoughts in mind:


The last thing you want is to have to replace your boots every month. Spend the extra money upfront to get a pair of shoes that will last your for quite some time.


It is imperative that your footwear has support for your arch and ankle. Remember, it is likely you will be wearing the same pair of boots for an entire day’s worth of action. Especially if you are going to be running through rough terrain, this means you will run the risk of stepping in holes and on different obstacles. Having this support will ensure no injuries occur that would put you on the side lines.

Water proof

Regardless of where you play, you will almost always come into contact with water. Having waterproof footwear will not only help your shoes last longer but will ensure your feet don’t get wet, causing athletes foot or other ailments.

Socks: Almost as important as the shows you wear are the socks you put on. The main feature you will want in your sock is moisture control. Regardless of how expensive your boots are, being in them all day will cause your feet to sweat. If the sweat can stay on your feet, you will ultimately develop athletes foot. Thin or thick socks is a personal preference; moisture wicking features should be available in both.


One decision you will want to make is where you want to carry your accessories, such as extra cO2 canisters and paintball hoppers. The decision, however, will most likely be made by which type of play you are participating in.

Tactical Vest

Different from the vest mentioned above, a tactical vest rarely includes any additional padding. Worn during combat simulations, such as urban settings and woodsball battles, a tactical vest allows the wearer ample storage for anything you could ever need during play. Additionally, most tactical vests are customizable, allowing the wearer to move pockets and storage compartments around to where it is best suited for their individual needs. Not to mention, it does add to the whole military simulation look most players go for.

Gear Belt

A belt is the least common way players carry their accessories simply because it becomes cumbersome when trying to be stealthy. For this reason, a gear belt is more common in Speedball play where the players simply advance in a field of play that includes makeshift obstacles. A Gear belt also allows the wearer to customize the location of pouches, giving them full control of where their extras are.


Regardless if you use a vest or a belt, if you plan to have a backup weapon on you at all times, you will need to ensure you have a proper holster to carry it on your person. The holster will need to be fitted to your backup pistol and designed so that it prevents any misfires while you are running, climbing, and crawling. You will also want to ensure your gun fits securely in the holster so that you don’t drop it while running or allow another player access while in combat.


Regardless if you are a newbie or an avid paintballer, the gear you have on you is just as important as the gun you carry in to battle. Take your time in choosing which options you want to go with and never settle for something solely based on the price. You always get what you pay for.

If the price of a particular item is keeping you from purchasing it, remember that most paintball clubs/ranges will have gear available to rent. This is also important to keep in mind when you are wanting to try an item out before purchasing. As always, safety is always the top priority so having the proper gear will ensure you not only have a good time but you are safe while doing so.