A Guide to Paintball
What You Need to Know
- Paintball is a sport in which players eliminate their opponents by marking them with paint fired from special markers, or ‘guns’.
- Paintball is often played as a team game, though some games allow individuals to play against one another.
- Most organised games will have marshals checking the rules are being followed, however, players are also expected to follow an unwritten ‘code of honour’.
- Legally speaking, there is no minimum age for playing paintball in the UK. However, players under the age of 16 must have parental consent in order to take part.
- Paintballing is a safe activity; venues ensure strict safety rules are always followed and all players are required to wear protective clothing at all times.
- Failure to stick closely to the rules will usually lead to a player being ejected from the game without a refund.
- Getting started playing paintball is easy, with venues all over the UK. Most welcome individual players and most will also welcome parties, such as birthday or stag night groups.
What is Paintball?
Paintball is a sport in which players eliminate their opponents by marking them with paint fired from special markers, or ‘guns’.
The sport was first played in 1981 in rural New Hampshire, having been thought up by a pair of local hunting enthusiasts. These days, it is a major industry, played by teams and individuals of all ages right around the world and also used by the police and certain armed forces for training purposes.
How the Game Works
There are a number of ways paintball can be played, though across all the variants, the central concept is the same; you need to mark your opponent with paint without getting marked yourself.
Away from this central concept, there is all manner of possibilities. For example, players may compete individually or as part of a team; players may be allowed to re-join the game after being hit and games may last anything from a few short, frantic minutes to hours or even several days.
- Capture the Flag: A variant on the traditional childhood game, this sees two or more teams trying to capture the others’ flags and bring it safely back to their own base. As with the children’s game, the paintball version of Capture the Flag can see hit players either eliminated completely or made to stay in a ‘jail’ area until they are rescued by a teammate.
- Woodsball: A popular variant designed to bring the game back to its roots, this sees teams or individuals compete in purely natural settings rather than in an arena or on an artificial field.
- Re-enactments: Some larger paintball venues may offer players the chance to re-enact famous battles, often with a specially-designed game area of even uniforms.
Rules and Regulations
Most organised games will have marshals in place to ensure all safety rules are being followed and eliminating players who have been hit. However, to a significant degree, paintball players are expected to follow an unwritten ‘code of honour’, for example by taking themselves out of the game when hit, even if the hit goes unnoticed by a marshal, to refrain from shooting others close-up and from shooting opponents who have already been eliminated from the game.
Legally speaking, there is no minimum age for playing paintball in the UK. However, players under the age of 16 must have parental consent in order to take part, while most venues will also enforce minimum age rules, even asking that all players be over the age of 18.
Is it Safe?
In short, yes. In fact, its supporters point argue that, as a sport, paintball is responsible for far fewer injuries than the likes of football or rugby, thanks in no small part to the strict rules in place at venues.
Firstly, most paintball guns have a muzzle velocity of 91 metres per second or under, sufficient to ensure most paintballs burst open but not enough to injure a player. Additionally, the vast majority of commercial paintball venues will have strict rules in place regulating against the use of more powerful guns and they will also bar players from bringing and using their own balls.
Even slow-moving paintballs, however, can damage the throat and the face – particularly the eyes – and that’s why all venues will require players to wear protective equipment at all times, even when a game is not underway. Similarly, they will require all players to ensure their guns are deactivated when a game is not in play. Failure to stick closely to the rules will usually lead to your ejection from the game without a refund.
Getting started playing paintball is easy, with venues all over the UK. In most cases, you will be able to attend on your own, though you may be assigned to a team.
However, most venues specialise in welcoming groups, often offering special discounts for birthday parties, work parties or stag nights, making paintball a perfect gift idea all-year-round.
- For more on what to expect from a day’s paintballing, check out these FAQs from Delta Force.
- For some less expensive entertainment ideas read our guide to free days out in London.
- Not the active type? Read our guide to fantasy football and get into a less frenetic pastime.