Question: What is paintball, how is it played?
Answer: It is a sport in which a bunch of adults go out in the woods or specially designed fields and re-live our childhood by playing capture the flag. In this game each player has a gun that fires gelatin capsules filled with a water-soluble marking dye. If you're shot and marked, you're out of the game and have to wait until the next one starts.
The most common variation is two teams at opposite ends of a playing field, each with a Flag hung at their Home Base. The object is to go get the other team's Flag and bring it back to your Base. When you encounter people on the other team, you try to tag them out before they get you. Pretty simple and lots of fun.
Question: Is it safe?
Answer: Like all action sports (football, racquetball, basket-ball, hockey, etc.) paintball is potentially dangerous unless adequate protection is worn (most importantly: eye protection) and safety rules are understood and followed. Most paintball guns shoot a 68 caliber paint pellet. The pellet is a thin plastic shell filled with water soluble paint. Guns shoot the pellets at a speed of 200 to 300 feet per second. Since the paint pellets are fairly light (only weighing a few grams each), they have little momentum while in flight, and thus are not lethal like the heavy lead projectiles fired from conventional firearms.
In addition to using a non-lethal projectile, paintball players *always* wear protective goggles to protect their eyes and usually wear masks covering the rest of their face as well. Safety is highly stressed at most fields. Many fields require goggles be worn at all times unless in designated areas. Many fields also require that barrel plugs (plastic inserts that prevent projectiles from leaving your gun's barrel) be used while players are in certain areas. Ignoring safety is a good way to get yourself ejected from a field.
Question: Are there any Age Limit requirements?
Answer: Anyone 12 years old or older can play paintball. Ages 12-18 are regulated on a field by field basis. Typically, when accompanied by an adult (no you don't have to play - but you should), younger people are allowed to play.
Question: Doesn't it hurt when you get shot?
Answer: The paint pellets break open upon impact, and generally cause very little pain. What pain is experienced is more of a stinging sensation from the pellet's impact against the skin or through clothing. In my experience, the stinging pain goes away after a few seconds. Of course, the closer you are to the muzzle of the gun, the higher the velocity of the pellet when it hits you. Thus, more pain may be experienced when shot at close range rather than farther away. In general, one can count on coming off the field with a few welts from paintball impacts, but your most annoying injuries are more likely to be scrapes and bruises from the local terrain.
Question: Do I have to be on a team?
Answer: You don't have to have an organized team or go to an organized field in order to play. If you have some paintball guns, paintball goggles, and a few friends, you can simply get together and shoot at each other. Most commercial fields allow walk-on games, where anybody can show up and play.
Question: How can I play if I don't have any equipment?
Answer: Almost all paintball 'fields' rent guns and welcome new players. What kind of Paintball Field should I look for? For the first few games you should play on a well organized field. Size is not the best way to judge the field. The things to watch for are the number of referees on the field for each game and the explanation of the rules. The rules of safety and specific rules for the field/game should be clearly stated by a referee before anyone steps foot on the field to play. There should also be a sufficient number of referees for the number of players, one referee cannot handle a field with fifty people on it. If these conditions are not met, you should seriously consider waiting for your first day until you find a field better suited to a beginner.
Question: What do I need to bring?
Answer: The field owner may not supply food or have facilities where food can be bought so a lunch and snacks should be brought just in case. Bring water, lots of water. Bring old, sturdy, dark clothes and shoes or boots with some sort of ankle support. Toilet paper to clean your mask and gun and perhaps an old towel to clean yourself off, just in case.
Question: What safety equipment do I need?
Answer: The minimum safety equipment necessary is goggles, facemask with ear and throat protection and a protective cup.
Question: How can I play safe?
Answer: Do not shoot animals or wildlife. Never shoot in the staging area. Do not fire your paint gun anywhere except on the field during the game or in the designated chronograph area/shooting range. Inspect the lens of your goggles for cracks or signs of weakness.
Make sure your mask is well seated and will not come off during the game and that the velocity of your paint gun is below 300 feet per second.
Always assume the gun is loaded; even if you know otherwise. Unload the gun when not in use. Upon receiving or retrieving a gun, check if it's loaded.
Anytime you are carrying a paintball gun in a 'Safe Zone' such as the parking lot or staging area where people are not wearing goggles, you MUST have a barrel plug in the barrel. If possible engage the safety or turn off the air supply, so the paintball gun will not fire accidentally.
Never remove facemasks or goggles while on the field. Do not play when very tired or hungry.
NEVER look down the barrel. Not even with protection. If barrel needs checking remove from the gun and check. If the barrel cannot be removed, disconnect all CO2/CA equipment, test fire the gun downrange until no more air is left in the gun, clear the breech or ball loading area, and then, carefully and while wearing goggles, glance down the barrel.
Notify the field owner or manager of any medical conditions, allergies etc. Know the rules of the game and abide by them.
Question: Do I need to be physically fit to play?
Answer: Not really, but it will help. As with all strenuous exercise participants should stretch and warm up before playing. Since typical games require quick sprints followed by a rest having good aerobic fitness is beneficial. Players should gauge their play to their level of fitness.
All players in poor physical condition or with physically limiting conditions should consult a physician before playing.
Question: Can I get the paint out of my clothes?
Answer: Paint is water soluble and should wash out as normal.