What is Paintball? | Popular Game Variations and How to Play (2023)

What is Paintball? | Popular Game Variations and How to Play (1)

If you find yourself asking the question “what is paintball?” or “how to play paintball?”, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article I’m going to explain everything you need to know about the sport of paintball and how it is played.

Now I will admit that paintball isn’t meant for everyone, but if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush then it may just be the right sport for you. If you’re thinking of letting your kid(s) play paintball then don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Below is all the information you need to know before letting your children embark on their first paintball journey.

What is Paintball?

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Paintball is a competitive sport where the goal is to shoot small spherical balls filled with non-toxic paint (paintballs) at your opponent with the hope that one of them breaks upon impact and leaves paint on the their clothes, skin or weapon.

Once a player is hit by a paintball and it covers them in paint then they’re eliminated. Eliminate all of the enemy players or accomplish the objective and your team wins.

In order to shoot these tiny goo-filled paintballs all you have to do is simply pull the trigger on a paintball gun (commonly referred to as a marker). After you pull the trigger the paintball marker utilises a propellant such as Co2 or compressed air to propel the paintball out of the barrel at around 280 to 300 fps.

Be warned though, being hit by a paintball at this velocity could possibly leave a bruise (especially if shot up close). Fortunately for us paintballers, adrenaline is released throughout the body when you play paintball and takes away most of the pain of being shot. Adrenaline is also what happens to make paintball so much fun.

How to Play Paintball

In order to play paintball you only need a paintball gun, a paintball mask, an air tank filled with either Co2 or HPA and most importantly – paintballs. Of course, it’s only possible to play paintball when you have people to play with and a place to play at. This is where your local paintball field comes in.

Now if you don’t have a local paintball field and aren’t willing to drive the distance to the field nearest you, you’ll have to make due with what you have. If you have a large backyard that is safe for paintball (no persons or personal property in range of paintball fire) and is filled with objects for players to hide behind (trees, bushes, etc.) then you’re good to go.

Always ask for permission before playing paintball on private land

The only downside to playing paintball outside of an actual paintball field is that everyone needs their own gear, paint and air in order to play. And if anyone happens to run out of air or has their marker malfunction, the game is over for them if they don’t have backup equipment to use.

However, when playing on a real paintball field you’ll be able to rent all the gear you need to be able to play. And even if you bring your own paintball gear and your marker breaks down on you, you can just rent one for the day and you’re good to go.

Paintball fields also have a chrono area where you can adjust the velocity of your marker using a chronograph. The chronograph is essential for safety as you don’t want players firing their marker over 300 fps and causing unnecessary harm to players.

Paintball Game Variations

In paintball there are many different variations of the game that you can play. The two main game types are woodsball and speedball, but there are also many sub-variations of paintball such as scenario paintball, Milsim paintball, tournament paintball and even stock class paintball.

Because there are so many different types of paintball you can play, this means there are many different types of paintball fields as well. While most paintball fields are either woodsball or speedball, there is the occasional scenario paintball field that could be in your area.

Continue reading to see which style of paintball you like best.


Woodsball is the original form of paintball that is played for recreational fun. And despite its name, woodsball isn’t only played in the woods.

In fact, most woodsball fields are a combination of both wooded areas and man-made bunkers and forts. Some players like to refer to this type of paintball as rec ball, but rec ball can actually be any type of paintball that is played outside of a tournament setting.

In my opinion, woodsball is the best type of paintball for beginners because it’s played at a slower pace and not as competitive or as expensive as speedball. You can also wear camouflage and use cool tactical Milsim gear when you play woodsball which is always a lot of fun.

Woodsball fields also have no limitations when it come to size, so both the fields and the teams can become pretty large.


Speedball is almost the exact opposite of woodsball.

The fields are smaller, the games are shorter and the combat is less long range and more close quarters.

Instead of being played in the woods, speedball is played on a rectangular or square shaped field that is built with man made bunkers. The bunkers are strategically placed in a symmetrical formation to ensure that it’s fair for both sides and that neither team has an advantage.

And while most modern speedball fields are built with inflatable bunkers, speedball fields can also be built with spools, pallets, tires, corrugated pipes and even bales of hay. This is known as airball and hyperball.

Scenario Paintball

Scenario paintball is the ultimate form of recreational fun.

A scenario paintball game is based on a scenario or story line that involves two large teams battling it out for victory. The team that wins is the team that earns the most points by completing objectives or missions on the field.

Unlike the typical paintball match that is over once everyone is eliminated or the objective is complete, the average scenario game can last anywhere from 16 to 24 hours. Some scenario games can even last multiple days or up to a week such asOklahoma D-day.

When playing in a scenario game each player has their own character to play which may or may not have their own special powers or abilities. An example of this would be a healer from a video game that can revive players or a demolitions expert that can blow up a bridge.

Then there’s the high level players/leaders who play a major role in the story line. These players are often responsible for giving out objectives to complete or helping to complete the main objectives.

The best part about scenario paintball though is that it’s more than just a paintball game. It’s more like a movie and a paintball game combined into one action packed event that involves cool props and players using rocket launchers, paint grenades and even tanks! Many players also love to wear costumes and role play so that they can be really involved in the story.

Magazine Fed

The best type of paintball gun for the dedicated Milsim player is the mag fed paintball gun.

Instead of using a normal loader like a regular paintball gun, a mag fed marker holds the ammunition (paintballs) in a magazine on the bottom side of the marker.

A magazine is capable of holding 20 paintballs on average, so you’ll have to pick and choose your shots carefully if you decide to use a magfed yourself. The benefits of using a magfed marker is the extra realism it adds to the game and the challenge of having a limited paintball capacity compared to the other players on the field.

Another benefit of using a magazine instead of a hopper is so you can shoot both regular .68 caliber paintballs and First Strike projectile rounds. First Strike projectile rounds are a type of paintball made by Tiberius Arms that can travel 50% further than a regular paintball and is up to 25x more accurate. Not all magfed markers can use FS rounds though so make sure to do your research if you plan on going the magfed route.

Stock Class

When paintball was first created the only type of paintball gun that existed was a pump paintball gun.

Of course, it didn’t take long before the first semi-automatic paintball gun was invented and many players stopped using pump-action markers due to their slow RoF (Rate of Fire). Not everyone liked the new direction that paintball was going though so the Stock Gun Players Association (SGPA) was created in 1992 to offer players an alternative way to play the game.

Some of the rules of Stock Class Paintball include:

  • Pump-action only
  • Must be powered by a single 12-gram Co2 cartridge
  • No direct feeds (magazine must be parallel to barrel)
  • Maximum magazine capacity of 20 paintballs
  • No quick-changes for 12-gram cartridge (Co2 cartridge must pass through threaded device)
  • Barrel must be smoothbore and solid (no holes, rifling or muzzle breaks)
  • No auto-triggers allowed

The rules have been slightly modified over the years to allow more pump-action markers to be used in stock class games. Some of the new rules are:

  • Pump-action markers with auto-triggers are allowed (but no auto-triggering is allowed)
  • Any length barrel is allowed
  • Barrels with porting is allowed
  • 10 round vertical feeds are allowed
  • You’re only limited to a single 12-gram powerlet

Make sure to check and see if there are any Stock Class groups in your area before you make the commitment of buying a stock class marker.

Safety Tips for Parents

If you’ve decided to let your children play paintball then good for you. Paintball is an extremely fun sport that is both safe to play and a great form of exercise.

However, it’s important that your children follow these important safety tips in order to avoid unnecessary injury while playing paintball.

Paintball Safety Tips

  • Never take off your mask when on the field or in the chrono area
  • Always keep a barrel sleeve on when you’re off the field
  • Pretend your marker is loaded at all times
  • Chronograph your marker to under 300 fps (feet per second)
  • Make sure to wear active clothing

As long as your children follow these safety tips then they will be sure to have a fun and safe time whenever they play paintball. If you’re going to play paintball yourself then I hope you have a great time and don’t forget to come back and let me know how it went. Have fun!

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