Intro to Paintball: Everything You Need to Know About Markers and Gameplay

Thinking about giving paintball a try? It might seem like a daunting prospect - where do you even get started with it? Do you have to spend a fortune before your first game? What if you don’t like it?

To answer all of these questions - and more - the team at Modern Combat Sports have come together to create a guide that takes you through the things you need to know, as well as some tips that can make sure you enjoy your first tastes of this great activity.

The first thing we’ll say is that you don’t need to buy anything to play paintball. All arenas will have equipment to rent for your games, and this is good enough for you to get a feel for paintball until you decide you want to get paintball gear of your own.

What Is Paintball?

Two players in a paintball game

Paintball is a unique activity. Some call it a sport, and others think it’s more of a game. In truth, it’s both. There are different types of games within the paintball umbrella, and they can take place in a range of environments, from indoor to outdoor and fields to industrial, to name a few.

It’s an adrenaline fuelled rush from start to finish. It can be with a few players or over a hundred! The goals can change depending on the situation, which is part of the appeal. You never know what to expect, and you’ll be chomping at the bit to get back out there once you’ve got a feel for it.

In short, paintball - whatever scenario or goal you have - involves you firing round pellets of paint at your opponents to achieve a goal. It’s a different take on the game of tag.

About Paintball Markers

Ready to fire a paintball gun at the opposing players

A paintball marker, or paintball gun, is one of the most obvious pieces of paintball gear you’ll need to take part in a game. Every player will use one, but the specific model will vary. Arenas will have a standard type of marker that players can borrow, while more experienced and seasoned players will have their own.

These paintball guns will be designed and built differently, with different looks, sizes, and features to match their style of player. If you decide to take up paintball in a more serious, even competitive, manner, you’ll want to invest in your own marker that you can use in any arena.

The Parts Of A Paintball Gun

At its most basic level, every paintball gun shares a number of components that allow you to take part in a game. While more advanced models have extra parts and features, these are things you can discover on your own if you decide that’s the route you want to take.

With the paintball marker itself, you have the main piece of paintball equipment. There are a number of extra parts that make this work, however. A gas cylinder is attached to one end of the paintball gun, and is what provides the power to each shot fired.

Along with this is the hopper, which is where the paintballs are stored and pulled into the marker for each shot. There are different options for hoppers, with the most common being gravity-fed hoppers. These use gravity to pull the next paintball into the marker, however with too much shaking, the pellets can break and clog the entry. There are also mag-fed hoppers, which are more reliable and smooth but more expensive as you might expect.

There will usually be a guard or block you can attach to the barrel of your paintball gun, too. This is a safety feature that makes sure there are no accidental shots fired when people don’t have masks on - such as between a game.

Electric Or Mechanical Paintball Guns

This isn’t something you need to worry about at this early stage, but it is worth knowing about the two types of paintball guns you can choose from.

Mechanical paintball guns are what you’ll find when you borrow a marker from the paintball arena you play at, and there are also plenty of more advanced models to choose from. These are not only easier to clean, but there are fewer things that can go wrong with them.

Electric paintball guns need more regular and careful maintenance and cleaning. They can include more features, but those are for advanced players who are ready to take their paintball skills to the next level. You’ll also need different hoppers for eclectic paintball guns.

Choosing Your First Paintball Marker

Once you decide that paintball is something you want to take more seriously, investing in your own paintball gun is a no brainer. This gives you more of a personal attachment to the game and you can find a marker that suits your style of play.

With so many brands and models out there, it can be overwhelming to find the right one. Each has different price bands, and while you might think the more expensive the better, this isn’t always the case.

To help with this, our team put together a list to help you choose your first paintball gun. If you have any questions about this, do get in touch and we’ll help you as best we can.

How To Play Paintball

Taking cover in a paintball game but still being able to fire

At its most basic, paintball is a game where you and your team (depending on how many people take part) will face off against the opposition with paintball markers.

Each game can be played with different rules or goals, from elimination games to capture the flag and many more. The paintball pellets will show when a player has been hit. This could mean they’re out of the game until a designated point or until they reach a respawn point and head back in.

Stealth, accuracy and teamwork all play an important part in paintball, but they are also fast-paced games that have you thinking on your feet. That’s why so many get involved.

What Paintball Gear Do You Need To Play?

When you’re playing paintball, you’ll need a paintball gun and a mask or goggles. These are the two most important pieces of paintball gear to have - and the arena will usually have some you can borrow. They’re not tailored for you, however, which is why more serious players have their own.

Masks and goggles are essential pieces of safety equipment. They protect your face - and especially your eyes - from being hit. This is one of the biggest risks of the sport, as an unprotected face could lead to blindness. This will be drilled into you at every arena and before every game no matter how seasoned a player you are.

The marker is also important, or you won’t be able to hit anyone!

Beyond this, you don’t need anything specific, but protective gear can help minimise the impact of paintball pellets and make it a more immersive experience.

Do You Need To Buy Anything?

Early on, no, you don’t have to buy anything.

Check the rental options at the arena you want to play at to see what’s included and what you’ll need to pay for, but this will be made clear from the get go.

Buying paintball gear when you’re not sure if it's something you want to do more often and more seriously could become a waste of money as it’s not all that cheap. That’s why we recommend taking the time to find out how you feel about it first.

When you make that choice, there will be plenty of things you can buy to really get into the sport.

What To Expect From Playing Paintball

It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen in any paintball game, but there are some things to prepare yourself for before trying it out.

  1. You’re going to get hit by a paintball - Everyone reacts differently to this, and it does put some people off. We can say, from experience, that each impact does sting but it fades very quickly. Depending on where you’re hit, it doesn’t hurt at all. You might have a bruise or two at the end, and definitely a few circular marks, but this is why more seasoned players have different pieces of protective gear.
  2. You’re going to get dirty - A lot of paintball arenas are outdoors, and the rain and mud do not stop paintball games unless the weather is extremely bad. You’re going to get wet and muddy. Don’t worry about it, get involved and use it to your advantage.
  3. Some people might be better than you - Don’t worry about people being better than you. They’ll have been playing longer, and have different paintball gear more suited to their needs and style. Watch what they do, figure out why and you’ll be a step closer to them.
  4. It’s going to leave you breathless - Paintball is exciting and fast-paced, and without even realising it you’re going to get caught up in the moment. You’ll be rushing around, hiding, dodging and aiming for the win. This is what it’s all about.
  5. You’re going to have fun - Even if, in the end, you decide paintball isn’t for you, you’ll have experienced something new and that’s something to be proud of.

Some Paintball Tips And Tactics

Tactical play helps during a paintball game

Whether it’s your first game or your tenth, there are a few things we’ve learned that you can put to use right now. While some of these might seem obvious, it’s easy to forget them in the heat of the moment while you’re actually out in the arena and taking part.

With enough practise, though, you’ll get into the habit and do more of these things naturally, without even thinking.

Before A Game

The first thing you should do before getting started is to check your paintball gear and get ready for the match to start.

  1. Make sure your mask fits properly and won’t come off as you move around.
  2. Check your paintball gun and get a good grip on it. Make sure you know how to fill the hopper and close it again.
  3. Listen carefully to the instructions before each game so you know what the objectives are.
  4. Take a minute to work out a strategy with your team. Figure out who’s doing what, where they’re going to go and what your role is.
  5. Understand the safety rules and signals in case you need to use them - both for your sake and other players.

During A Game

Once the game starts, you’ll find yourself caught in the actions. Things move quickly, and you have to respond even faster, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to think.

  1. Don’t charge in blindly. Find cover, take a breath and think about your next move.
  2. That said, don’t sit still for too long or your opponents might find and surround you.
  3. Keep the objective in mind. Hitting your opponents will help with your team but if there’s a goal in mind, that should be what you focus on.
  4. Help your team. If you see someone struggling, whether they’re pinned down by the other team, give them some cover. If they’re a little overwhelmed, signal for help from a marshall. It might stop the game for a moment, but the wellbeing of every player is important and no one will blame or hold it against you.
  5. Most importantly; have fun!

Want To Know More About Paintball, Gear And Tips?

Paintball is an easy activity to get involved in and try out. Find your local arena and see what they have going on - or get a group of friends or colleagues together and go together. It isn’t for everyone, but the people who enjoy it find themselves hooked for a very long time.

Then, when you’re ready to take it to the next level, you can kit yourself out with great paintball gear and markers that match your style of play and aesthetic. There are few other sports that can say that!

If you have any questions about different paintball guns, gear or what you should do next, the team at Modern Combat Sports are happy to help you find the answers. Get in touch with us to find out more.