Tell me about paintballing

So I’m going paintballing tomorrow for a friends birthday. It’s a pretty casual friendly group, three women, five guys, none of us real badasses or anything, and only three with prior experience. I’ve checked out the safety videos and I’m planning on wearing old ratty clothes, though I’d like to wear my boots, which I hope won’t get messed up. (The stuff cleans off, right?) I’m in reasonable shape for a fifty year old man. My shooting experience is minimal, .22 rifles as a kid, a couple of times shooting handguns with a friend of a friend.

Any tips? experiences? It looks fun, I’m hoping to have a good time.

Wear a jacket or vest which is padded or stiff, since those suckers can hurt. A cup isnt crazy. (I just wore two pairs, one boxers one briefs)… Gloves are good. A hat or cap- unless they make you wear a helmet. If it’s outside, kneepads aren’t crazy either.

I have a cup, and I’m going to get some kneepads this afternoon. It’s going to be chilly so I’m hoping multiple layers will help with the impacts.


I’ve gone twice in my life. The first time was in the mid-80s, and I gotta tell you, the aim and range of the guns was pathetic. The last time I went, in the mid-90s it was amazingly better. I don’t know if the technology improved or we just had inferior weapons the first time out.

I was picking people off from 50 or 60 yards and it was amazingly fun. I’ve never fired a real gun in my life, but you’ll easily get the hang of your paint gun after a few minutes. I didn’t wear any protection, apart from goggles, and I don’t recall it hurting too much. I may have relieved a slight bruise or two.

Have fun.

I’m sure it’s standard, but make sure you get eye protection. Maybe something for your face too…

They rent these at the site. You’re not allowed on the courses without them, for good reason.

When I was in high school, we used to rent guns and play on a friend’s land. It was a blast, they were mostly pump guns but some had semi-auto. You really had to make shots count.

Not too long after that, it was all double-triggers or even auto triggers. The strategy became “Lay down as much paint as you possibly can.” It became less an exercise in maneuvering in order to get a shot, than shooting as cover to maneuver (if that makes sense).

I believe that’s what’s called “suppressive fire”.

I’ve only been paintballing once since college… the guns were MUCH better. My MO that day though was to stick very near the guy in our group whose day job was FBI agent, and side-gig was regional FBI SWAT/Sniper. I found that if I basically did what he did, I was much less likely to get hit. It did involve a lot of slithering through mud and what-not.

Are with the comments about wearing layers of clothing. I haven’t played in 10 years or so, but last time I did I had several perfectly round welps and bruises. Close range can be painful. Make sure everyone has their PSI calibrated at a safe level, assuming you can make your own adjustments.

In term of strategy, stay low. Probably common sense, but (1) you make yourself a smaller target and (2) sometimes the balls don’t burst if they hit a relatively horizontal surface. You may keep yourself in the game if they just bounce off your back.

Also, after the first game people will pay very differently, both because of what they learned about the game (field layout, guns, strategic movements, etc) and because of how much the paintballs hurt. Some people will be so scared of getting shot that they’ll be sort of paralyzed, afraid to make any bold moves. You’ll probably be able to tell pretty quickly who they are.

It’s a blast; you’re going to have a great time.

If, you’re playing last man standing, then patience is your friend.

I’ve been very recently with my teenage son. He invited a bunch of his friends to celebrate his birthday. It was great fun but I learned the following:

-Getting shot at close range stings like a sonovabitch.
-Getting shot at really close range will draw blood if it’s near a bone.
-Bring some lens wipes to clean your goggles. They get filthy.
-Don’t get shot in the neck. <SONOFABITCH!>
-Wear layers or protective gear. I didn’t because I didn’t anticipate being asked to join the games.
-The new guns are pretty powerful and reasonably accurate up to 30-40 yards.
-There is a surprising adrenalin rush when the game gets going. I can see why it would be fun to make it a regular hobby.
-It’s easy to develop a friendly grudge against the guy who got you. You’ll find yourself seeking him out as your focal objective in the next round.
-I don’t know that I could shoot to hit a girl/woman. Unless she shot me first. :slight_smile:

Hi Larry - I don’t play as often as I used too but for many years I played every weekend and on a few competitive teams. I’m now 45 and still go out occasionally and it is a tremendous rush and a lot of fun. You’re going to love it. Some comments/tips:

The paintballs can/will sting but it isn’t anything to worry about. Or, you can use that worry as motivation to not get shot. :wink: If you wear multiple layers you’ll probably not even end up with any welts unless it hits an open area or thinly covered area. Remember, only broken paintballs count. No paint, no out! (In other words, always check the hit to make sure the ball broke before you call yourself out) When you do wear multiple loose layers, you tend to get more ‘bounces’ where the balls don’t break so be alert.

The paintball markers (“marker” is the term, not “gun”) you rent will not be terribly accurate nor will they fire particularly fast. This will somewhat work to your advantage because you’ll probably have to buy paint there at really inflated “renters” prices. There are markers that are very accurate and shoot incredibly - even mind boggling - fast. Try get on a team with the guys who have those. You’ll still use more paint than you think so have extra $$ with you.

Never, and I’m 110% absolutely f-cking serious about this, NEVER remove your mask during game play. The rental masks will be poor quality and will probably fog up on you. The immediate reaction is to lift your chin up when this happens and pull the mask away from your face to help it air out and reduce the fogging. Paintballs are generally .67 caliber and the markers are set up to shoot that paintball at about 280fps. One ball to the eye and your eyeball will explode like a grape being smashed underfoot. You will be blinded permanently. Not joking - DO NOT REMOVE YOUR MASK EVEN AN INCH during game play. Most legit fields will have areas where you can safely remove your mask and clean them, etc., after game play.

Likewise, always and I MEAN ALWAYS put the barrel cover or barrel plug (depending upon what your field uses) on your marker when you get shot during a game. Get hit, put the plug/cover on your marker, raise your arms over your head with marker in hand and yell “OUT-OUT-OUT” as you step out from whatever cover you were behind. By putting the plug/cover on first you’ll never forget and walk off the field of play into a safe area and then accidentally shot your eye, or someone else’s eyeball out.

Keep small. When you hide behind a tree or a man-made obstacle on a field, keep your body small. Be especially mindful of knees, feet, elbows, and importantly the hopper (the thing that holds the paintballs on the marker) are not sticking out behind the obstacle and becoming an easy target for your opponents. Most fields consider market hits to be a “kill” and you’ll be out. You’ll feel pretty stupid if you are hiding behind a clump of logs all safe but your not paying attention and someone shoots your hopper. :wink:

Definitely get knee pads. You’ll be doing a bit of running and crouching. Knee pads will help save you from being too beat up.

Don’t get upset if you yell “OUT” and raise your hands and step out from cover and get hit again. It happens. People are amped up and firing a lot of paintballs and especially new players will shoot anything they see moving before their brain registers your hands/marker up and they’re hearing “OUT-OUT-OUT”. Just yell “OUT” loudly with your marker over your head and exit the field promptly. Now, if someone “bonus balls” you - i.e. blatantly and intentionally keeps lighting you up while you walk off the field, you have every right to beat them with a log and bury their body in a creek bed.

Fields will have different rules for this but the general rule of thumb is if you’re within 10ft of an opposing player and they don’t know you’re there, don’t shoot them. Just yell “YOU’RE OUT”. Within 10ft a paintball hurts… A LOT… so it is a courtesy and safety thing. That said, absolutely 100% guarantee you that if you get within 10ft of another new player and you yell “YOU’RE OUT” and they didn’t know you were there and will wildly turn and start blasting away at you. So be ready to blast them right back then notify a ref.

Definitely wear boots. Depending upon the field, especially if it is outdoors, you’ll want the ankle support. The paint is water soluble and will wash off.

Most of all have a lot of fun on the field and tell lots of “war stories” afterwards!


As mentioned by MeanJoe never take your mask off while on the field, never. I played an outdoor game once where one person did, and he got hit in the eye. He ended up being rushed to the hospital. I don’t know what happened to him but he was in a lot of pain and couldn’t see.

Bring a small bottle of clear liquid soap. If your goggles start fogging up, smear this stuff in there. Your vision will be a little distorted but not as bad as fogging.

Be prepared to sign a waiver. Have fun, it’s a rush.

I shot paint a few times in my 40s. Fun…especially when two fifteen-year-olds grudgingly admitted I was “not bad for an old guy.” But I followed the advice above and kept low—as a result, my thigh muscles burned for two days afterward. If you’re not athletic, mind the strain of crouching tensely for hours.

The place I went to rented not mere eye protection but helmets that covered your whole face and head. They still had a little vented thing over the mouth to make breathing possible, though. And of course, in the first battle, that’s where I take a hit.

So my advice is: breathe wisely, because paint tastes terrible.

My opinion is that the ranges are too short. Tactics become “rush forward and fire like crazy,” rather than anything elegant involving maneuver.

To put it kind of weirdly, it’s like swordfighting with fifteen-foot-long swords.

I suppose, though, with much longer-ranged weapons, it would devolve into trench warfare and sniping…

Anyway, I found paint-ball wars fun once, but it didn’t engage my sense of tactics, so I’ve never gone back.

When you’re playing co-rec ball at an open-play field, that is generally the case. It’s just general mayhem and individuals slinging paint. Even in open play, you can generally spot the “serious players” and if they’re not just headhunting newbs with rental gear you’ll see much more coordinated tactics and communication involved. If you ever see/watch any competitive speedball, it is all tactics and manuever… as well as an astonishing amount of paint being thrown about. Then there is scenario paintball where large teams are ran by “generals” who send out teams on specific missions with objectives, etc. The solo gunslinger isn’t a valued asset in that type of game.

Oh, and I would add that for experienced players nothing makes for a better day than to have the group of military guys (or ROTC) show up at the field and think they’ll own the place. They usually get decimated in paintball. I always know it’ll be a good day when ROTC is on the field.

Full-face mask has been the standard for awhile but as you note, more and more places are renting full coverage masks. I use a full face mask and the occasional hits to the top of the head really sting.

And yes, the paint tastes awful. :slight_smile:

Wear. The. Damn. Cup.

There are places you DON’T want bruises.

Try to find your proper style - just like in video games, you may find you’re a great skirmisher, but a crappy sniper. Or you work great by yourself, or you and a partner are unbeatable together but suck apart.

Have fun. Its a great exhausting experience, and it opens your mind to new aspects of life without having to have the imminent threat of death.