How to play paintball for the first time

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It’s the weekend – you and your mates are bored – why not try something new? Paintball is a sport which combines teamwork, strategy and skill into an exciting, action – packed day for all genders. You will need to be quick thinking and resourceful, as you attempt to outwit and outfight the opposing team over a wide variety of missions and objectives.

Here we’ll try and answer the frequently asked questions by most people who are wondering how to play paintball for the first time.

Who plays paintball?

Paintball is suitable for almost everyone aged 11+ (subject to any site age restrictions). It’s great for groups of friends but also the perfect way to celebrate a stag or hen do, or a birthday. It’s also a good choice for corporate events since it encourages teamwork and strategy.

The best experience will be with a group of around 14 people (divided into two teams).

What is the minimum and maximum age for paintballing?

There is definitely no maximum age limit, but you’ll need to be in reasonably good health. Paintball is an adrenalin sport!

Whilst the minimum age used to be 16, this is no longer fixed. However, most venues have a minimum age requirement of 15 years old but some allow paintballing from 11 years and we know of one Nottingham site that runs a ‘low impact’ paintball event for 8+.

Some sites group younger players separately from adults, although younger players can usually play alongside adults in family groups.

However, before you drop your off your child at the nearest paintballing site, do consider how they will react to being shot. If they are a sensitive child, they may not enjoy either the inevitable pain of being shot, or the adrenalin of the day.

Where do I paintball?

Most sites are outdoors and typically the site will be divided into a number of zones, so that several groups can play at the same time.

What will I do on the day?

Paintball games

Usually when you book paintball, you’ll either do a half day (3 hours) or a full day (6 hours with a lunch break).

You’ll join a group and be divided into teams. Usually you’ll have different overalls so you can easily see who is on your team.

The paintball arena is often outside and will be divided into zones so that several groups can paintball at the same time. Each zone may have a different objective. Some example games include:

Elimination: A simple game where you try to shoot the other team. Once shot they are eliminated.

Capture the flag: Either there will be one central flag that the teams compete for, or each team will have a flag that the other tries to capture and bring back to their own base.

Attack and defend: One team will be defending a base, bunker or castle. The other team will try to overtake their position.

King of the hill: You compete one-on-one with another player and try to eliminate them. The survivor then takes on another challenger and so on until there is one king of the hill left.

Bomb squad: One team hides the ‘bombs’ and the other has to find them and return them to their base. The team that placed the bombs will try to defend them.

Typically all the games will have a time limit to prevent stalemate.

Who oversees the sport?

The sport is overseen by UKPSF, a voluntary body established in 1990 that exists to promote the sport, liaise with government bodies and local authorities, and try to make the game of paintball safe and fun to play.

The UKPSF works closely with government departments and has clarified several laws relating to paintball in the UK.

What safety measures are there?

Typically each player is equipped with coveralls, padded headover and a full face and ear protected visor (which must be worn everywhere accept in the safe area). Every player will also be given a full and instructive talk on site safety and gun operation. As an extra safety precaution, many guns also come with a barrel plug in order to protect customers from misfiring.

Paintball is generally safe if you follow the rules. However, sites will have staff present who have undertaken first aid training, just in case. It is also likely you will get a few bruises.


Above: Example of typical kit. Source – Paintball Jungle

Does paintball hurt?

Yes, it can when you get shot by a paintball! Some people describe the feeling as if they were hit by a squash or tennis ball. The writer’s own feeling is that it is more like being slapped! However, most people who try paintballing absolutely love the experience. The adrenalin takes over and they don’t notice the pain.

How should I dress for a day of paintball?

It is recommended that you wear comfortable and sturdy footwear such as a pair of walking boots or even studded footwear (football boots), jeans, a t-shirt, sweatshirt and a pair of gloves. The site will provide protective coveralls, but it is advisable to bring a change of clothes.

Remember that what you bring may get paint on it, even with overalls on. Your shoes will certainly get painted!

Your overalls are used to denote which team you are in and also provide an additional layer of protection.

What are paintball guns like?

Reloading a paintball gun

Paintball guns vary from site to site. Typically your paintball gun will have:

Plastic Hoppers

These hoppers store paintballs on the paintgun. They can fit approximately 200 paintballs inside, making you ready for anything whilst in the warzone!

Barrel Plugs::’Bungs’

Some paintball guns have an additional safety feature, placed in the end of the guns – a barrel plug. This protects against accidentally firing weapons in a safe area.

CO2 Gas Cylinders

The gas is required to propel the paintballs. Sites will typically use mainly 20oz bottles, which means that you can fire around 500 paintballs before getting a refill.


Many paintball guns may be operated with only one hand due to their semi-automatic nature; allowing players to carry objects and still remain combat effective. This type of gun provides accuracy and freedom, making it a favourite amongst players.

Older guns

Other types of gun require 2 hands for operation and are slightly less accurate. However they can make up for this in velocity and a faster rapid-fire capability.

Does the weather affect paintballing?

For the most part the answer is NO. The game is played throughout the year, in all conditions. The excitement and enjoyment more than compensates for the inclement weather. Many people try paintball at different times of the year in order to have a different paintballing experience.

What do I do about refreshments during the day?

All paintball sites will have something in the way of refreshments such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and fruit juice. Often they will offer some sort of lunch service which is especially welcome if you’ve been running around in the cold for a few hours! However, some sites are limited to hot snacks such as sausage rolls or jacket potatoes. Sites typically offer packages for groups which may include food and drinks in the price.

How many paintballs will I use?

This is a difficult question to answer! The average player would expect to use around 500 paintballs during their paintball experience. However there will be players who will use less than that and others who will use more, the choice is yours! Usually when you book, you’ll get a number of paintballs included in the price, and you’ll be able to top up during the day for an additional fee.

How much does paintball cost?

A typical price in the UK at the time of writing would be £35 per person for 500 balls to use over 3 hours or 6 hours / £50 per person for 1,000 balls to use over 3hrs or 6 hrs. These prices include equipment hire (overalls, safety gear etc).

Now that you’ve been introduced to the world of paintball, why not book your first session?

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