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Beginner's Frequently Asked Questions

Version 0.3 (07-06-97)
Maintained by: Dawn Mills
Created by: Steve Mitchell
HTML Conversion by: Steve Mitchell

 The following file contains frequently asked questions (with answers) commonly asked by beginners to the world of paintball.



  1. What is paintball?
  2. Is it safe?
  3. Doesn't it hurt when you get shot?
  4. Do I have to be on a team?
  5. How can I play?
  6. What kind of Paintball Field should I look for?
  7. How much does it cost to play?
  8. What do I need to bring?
  9. What safety equipment do I need?
  10. How can I play safe?
  11. Do I need to be physically fit to play?
  12. Can I get the paint out of my clothes?
  13. How can I find out more about paintball?
  14. List of commonly used terms in paintball
  15. The Charter
  16. Contributors to this FAQ.

  1. What is paintball?

  2. It's a sport in which a bunch of adults (loosely defined) go out in the woods and relive our childhood by playing capture the flag. Only, in this game each player has a gun that fires gelatin capsules filled with a water-soluble marking dye. If you're shot and marked, you're out of the game and have to wait until the next one starts. The most common variation is two teams at opposite ends of a 5+ acre section of terrain, each with a flag hung at 'home base.' The object is to go get the other team's flag and bring it back to your base. When you encounter people on the other team, you try to tag them out before they get you. Pretty simple and lots of fun.

  3. Is it safe?

  4. Like all action sports (football, basket ball, etc.) paintball is very dangerous unless adequate protection is worn and safety rules understood and followed.

    Most paintball guns shoot a 68 caliber paint pellet. The pellet is a thin plastic shell filled with a water soluble paint. Guns shoot the pellets at a speed of 200 to 300 feet per second. Since the paint pellets are fairly light (only weighing a few grams each), they have little momentum while in flight, and thus are not lethal like the heavy lead projectiles fired from conventional firearms.

    In addition to using a non-lethal projectile, paintball players *always* wear protective goggles to protect their eyes and usually wear masks covering the rest of their face as well.

    Safety is highly stressed at most fields. Many fields require goggles be worn at all times unless in designated areas. Many fields also require that barrel plugs (plastic inserts that prevent projectiles from leaving your gun's barrel) be used while players are in certain areas. Ignoring safety is a good way to get yourself ejected from a field.

  5. Doesn't it hurt when you get shot?

  6. The paint pellets break open upon impact, and generally cause very little pain. What pain is experienced is more of a stinging sensation from the pellet's impact against the skin or through clothing. In my experience, the stinging pain goes away after a few seconds. Of course, the closer you are to the muzzle of the gun, the higher the velocity of the pellet when it hits you. Thus, more pain may be experienced when shot at close range rather than farther away.

    In general, one can count on coming off the field with a few welts from paintball impacts, but your most annoying injuries are more likely to be scrapes and bruises from the local terrain.

  7. Do I have to be on a team?

  8. You don't have to have an organized team or go to an organized field in order to play. If you have some paintball guns, paintball goggles, and a few friends, you can simply get together and shoot at each other.

    Most commercial fields allow walk-on games, where anybody can show up and play.

  9. How can I play?

  10. Almost all paintball 'fields' rent guns and welcome new players. Fields can be found using yellow pages (look under 'Firearms' or 'Sports Equipment'), local newspapers, or ads in a number of the paintball magazines.

  11. What kind of Paintball Field should I look for?

  12. For the first few games you should play on a well organized field. Size is not the best way to judge the field. The things to watch for are the number of referees on the field for each game and the explanation of the rules. The rules of safety and specific rules for the field/game should be clearly stated by a referee before anyone steps foot on the field to play. There should also be a sufficient number of referees for the number of players, one referee can not handle a field with fifty people on it. If these conditions are not met, you should seriously consider waiting for your first day until you find a field better suited to a beginner.

  13. How much does it cost to play?

  14. The average field in North America will cost approximately $15-25+ for 1 day rental of goggles, gun and some, usually 30, paintballs. Extra paintballs are usually 10 cents or less each. Better guns and facemasks are usually available at an additional cost.

    A beginner should plan on using 100-200 paintballs for the first few days with rental guns.

    A day of play is usually 9:00am to 3:30 pm.

    If you start playing regularly and would like to have your own equipment, you have several options open to you. Buying a used pump action gun and a new pair of goggles is a good start. You can buy a used pump for $50 to $150. You can buy an entry level semi-automatic for $100 to $300. A new pair of goggles might cost $20 to $40. Buying yourself a new pair of goggles designed specifically for paintball is a must.

    Paint costs about $.03 to $.04 per pellet. You may go through several hundred pellets of paint over the course of a single day, so this cost should be a long term consideration. Depending on the type of gun you're using, the cost of CO2 should also be a long term consideration. If you're using a 12-gram gun (see list of terms, below) you can buy disposable 12-gram "powerlets" at your local sporting goods store for a few dollars a pack. If you're using a constant air tank, you should be able to get it refilled at your local paintball shop or field for about $3-$5, depending on its size.

  15. What do I need to bring?

  16. The field owner may not supply food or have facilities where food can be bought so a lunch and snacks should be brought just in case.

    Bring water, lots of water.

    Bring old, sturdy, dark clothes and shoes or boots with some sort of ankle support.

  17. What safety equipment do I need?

  18. The minimum safety equipment necessary is goggles, facemask with ear and throat protection, and, for men, a protective cup.

  19. How can I play safe?

  20. Do not shoot animals or wildlife.

    Do not fire your paintgun anywhere except on the field during the game or in the designated chronograph area/shooting range.

     Inspect the lens of your goggles for cracks or signs of weakness.

    Make sure your mask is well seated and will not come off during the game.

     Make sure the velocity of your paintgun is below 300 feet per second.

    Always assume the gun is loaded; even if you know otherwise.

     Always assume safety devices won't work.

     Unload the gun when not in use.

     Upon receiving or retrieving a gun check if it's loaded.

    Anytime you are carrying a paintgun in a 'safe zone' such as the parking lot or staging area where people are not wearing goggles, you MUST have a barrel plug in the barrel.

    Know the rules of the game and abide by them.

    Never remove facemasks or goggles while on the field.

    Do not play when very tired or hungry. Bring food or money to buy food from field. Most injuries occur at the end of the day when players are exhausted.

    NEVER look down the barrel. Not even with protection. If barrel needs checking remove from the gun and check. If the barrel cannot be removed, disconnect all CO2/CA equipment, test fire the gun downrange until no more gas is left in the gun, clear the breech or ball loading area, and then, carefully and while wearing goggles, glance down the barrel.

    Notify the field owner or manager of any medical conditions, allergies etc.

  21. Do I need to be physically fit to play?

  22. Not really, but it will help. As with all strenuous exercise participants should stretch and warm up before playing. Since typical games require quick sprints followed by a rest having good an-aerobic fitness is beneficial.

    Players should gauge their play to their level of fitness.

    All players in poor physical condition or with physically limiting conditions should consult a physician before playing.

    Proper footwear is very important. Some players find that lightweight canvas topped army boots or leather workboots protect feet and ankles in the woods. Other players prefer the support that sneakers give as paintball does involve running. Personal preferences vary, but footwear should not be overlooked.

  23. Can I get the paint out of my clothes?

  24. Paint is water soluble and should wash out as normal.

  25. How can I find out more about paintball?

  26. Play.
    Read the newsgroup. Read one of the paintball publications:

         Action Pursuit Games
         Paintball Sports Intl.
    Paintball is a good magazine for beginners, especially the first issue. APG somewhat resembles a mail order catalog.

  27. List of commonly used terms in paintball
  28. Term Definition
    12g  12 gram CO2 "powerlets" used for many years in pellet rifles. Powered the early paintball guns. 
    APG  Action Pursuit Games--a paintball magazine 
    Anti-Siphon  A special bulk CO2 tank designed to prevent the gun from sucking liquid. 
    Barrel Plug  A plug that goes in the business end of the marker's muzzle. It prevents projectiles from accidentally leaving the gun. 
    Bottom Line  Usually refers to the local of the CO2 tank on the bottom rear portion of the marker's pistol grip. Desired since it makes siting the gun with a mask on much easier. 
    Bunker (noun) An object or embankment on the field that a player uses for cover. 
    Bunker (verb)  To charge a bunker and eliminate, a close range, any players hiding behind it. 
    CA  Constant Air--allows marker to use bulk CO2 tanks rather than 12 gram. 
    Chronograph A device used to measure the velocity (speed) of a paintball coming out of a barrel. The safe maximum speed of a paintball is 300 feet per second. 
    CO2  Carbon Dioxide--compressed gas used to power markers. 
    Feeder  A larger "hopper" which holds paintball pellets, feeding them into the gun through its bottom. 
    Feeder Agitator  An electronic device which is located at the base of the feeder. The agitator insures that balls feed through the bottom of the feeder and do not "clog" up. Often used on very smooth firing guns like the AutoMag or AutoCocker since these guns "shake" very little. Can also obsolete a Power Feeder since it insures that a pellet will always be available to the gun. 
    FPS Feet per second. The measurement of speed at which the paintball travels. 300 fps is the maximum velocity a paintball may travel safely. 
    Harness or Fanny Pack Belt/harness system for carrying loaders of paint so that a player may reload their feeder/hopper on the field during play. 
    HPA or Compressed Air  High pressure compressed air (3000 to 4500 psi) is usually used instead of CO2 in tournament paintball. The use of HPA requires specialized high pressure tanks and regulators which lower the output pressure to what the paintguns can handle. 
    IPPA  International Paintball Players Association Although this organization has disbanded. 
    KotL  The Keeper of the List. See the 
    PSI  PSI stands for Pounds Per Square Inch and is a measurement of pressure. 
    Remote  Hoses and fittings which allow the bulk CO2 tank to be detached from the manufacture's intended location on the gun, then located elsewhere (e.g. on the player's hip). 
    Siphon Bottle  A special CO2 talk designed to suck liquid into the gun. 
    Speedball  Speedball is a game played on small fields with little natural cover. Bunkers usually consist of wooden pallets, tires or other man-made barricades. Speedball fields are designed to allow spectators to see the action. The first speedball field was set up at SC Village in Corona, CA. 
    Squeegie  A device used to clean paint from the barrel of a marker 
    Squid  A new player, also known as a newbie, not a positive term. 
    Squid Basher  A semi-experienced player who plays very agressively against new players to the point of ruining their first game. 
    TIP# Team Internet Paintball number. See Team Internet in the 

  29. The Charter

  30. This news group is for discussions of paintball (also known as Pursuit, Splatball, Speedball). The discussion is not limited to any single part of the sport and can include topics ranging from the technology used to develop equipment to game strategies. Other acceptable subjects would include efforts to sell used equipment and to set up games between readers of the group.

    It is the goal of this group to provide a source of information for players new to the game and promote responsible and safe paintball activities for players at all levels of ability. In keeping with this goal, this charter encourages reviews of playing fields and paintball related products by patrons, owners, sales staff, and any one else involved with the sport. It is believed that the readers of the group are better served if the discussion includes all points of view from within the industry surrounding the sport of paintball. Posters who do post reviews are encouraged to include a disclaimer which explains any conflict of interest they may have.

  31. Contributors to this FAQ.

  32. Allan Wright Jr. (
    Bryan Ebersole (
    Dave McCarty (
    Donald W. Wieber (
    Geoff Bronner (geoffb@Dartmouth.EDU)
    Pete Hardie (phardie@nastar.uucp)
    Rich Henderson-Gragg (
    Robert Osborne (
    Wes Gilpin (
    Steve Mitchell (
    Dawn Mills (

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