What to Expect When You Play Paintball for the First Time

Be prepared before you go to the paintball field

The first time you head to a paintball field you really have no idea what to expect. What should you wear? Do you need an appointment? How does the game work? These are all common questions for new paintball players.

While each paintball field is a little different, there are some similarities that you can expect. With a little knowledge before you set out for your first game, you'll be able to fully enjoy the experience.

Before Game Day

Man hiding with paintball gun and mask
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Paintball is not always as easy as waking up on a Saturday morning and deciding you want to play that day. Quite often, you need to schedule it ahead of time.

The first thing that you need to do is to figure out if you need to make an appointment to play. 

  • Many fields have scheduled times when you can walk-on and be put with a group.
  • Some require you to make an appointment or come with a group.

Give your local field a call and ask about their policies. If you don't have a group of your own, be sure to ask them about groups that you can join.

What to Wear

Depending on the field that you play at, your attire may change. Many first-time players feel most comfortable if they wear jeans and a sweatshirt.

  • Jeans are generally appropriate for most fields.
  • The sweatshirt helps calm the fears of many new players about getting hit with a paintball.

Whatever you wear, make sure these are clothes that you don't care too much about. Most paintball fill will not stain your clothing, but this isn't always the case. It's best to wear something that you wouldn't mind having a permanent paintball mark on.

Registration at the Field

The first thing that you must do when you arrive at the field is to register. Generally, this consists of going to the front desk and paying your entrance fee, renting equipment, and purchasing paintballs. 

Additionally, you will need to fill out a waiver. Waivers are forms in which you agree that paintball does have some risks and that you, as a player, are aware of those risks and still agree to play the game.

  • Players under 18 normally need to have their parent or legal guardian fill out the waiver.

It is also common at this point to receive the paintballs that you purchased.

  • A case of paintballs holds 2000 rounds and bags typically hold 500 rounds.
  • Fields often sell paintballs by the bag of 500 or by the case, but sometimes will sell them in smaller quantities, too.

Get Your Equipment

Once you have registered, you will be directed to the equipment station. It is often a long desk in front of shelves of equipment.

You will be given the equipment you rented and get a brief overview of how the equipment works. Be sure to ask any questions if you don't understand something.

You will typically receive:

Learn About Safety

Before you play your first game, the field will give you an overview of the safety rules. Some fields provide this with a brief video while most will provide a verbal overview from one of the field managers or referees.

It is very important that everyone pays attention to this briefing. Paintball is a relatively safe sport, but it does involve shooting other players so there is some risk involved.

Most importantly, you need to keep your mask on at all times on the field. The most serious injuries in paintball come from players being accidentally shot in the eye.

Let the Game Begin

The game of paintball will begin with the referees assigning teams and explaining the rules of the specific game that you will play.

  1. Teams may be divided with armbands or simply placed on opposite ends of the field.
  2. Once the objective of the game has been established and teams are in position, the referee will shout “Game On!” or blow a whistle and the game commences.
  3. During the game, players will try to obtain the objective that has been set while trying to eliminate the other team.
  4. If players are hit with a paintball and the paintball breaks, they are eliminated. At this point, they call themselves out.

What Happens If You're Eliminated

A player that has been eliminated by being hit with a paintball must move to the “dead area.”

  • This area will vary by field but it is often behind a protective net.
  • Eliminated players will go to the dead area but they must be sure to keep their mask on at all times.

After the Game

Once the game has finished, all players must put their barrel cover or barrel plug back on their gun. When players have exited the field, they may remove their mask.

  • Following each game, there is typically a brief time to rest before another game begins.
  • Players may generally play as many games as they want until the field closes or until they run out of paintballs.