Paintball Information

Insider Info

dotThe basic essence of paintball is a game of "capture the flag." You and your team try to capture the opposing team's flag without letting them capture yours. Games can be played indoors or outdoors.

You disqualify players by shooting them with a paintball. A paintball is a round gelatin capsule with colored liquid inside that splits open when it hits something. It's always obvious who has been hit and who hasn't.

dotYou'll need safety equipment. Generally, that means a mask, chest protector and coveralls to protect your clothing. The liquid inside a paintball is non-toxic. It rinses off of skin with soap and water. Games usually have a time limit of 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of game being played.

dotJames Campbell is the founder of a paintball association. He says there isn't really a "typical" paintball enthusiast, but there is a target market.

"The majority of paintballers are male, between the ages of 16 and 25. However, there are also many others who play and are equally enthusiastic about the sport. Paintball players come from all age groups, genders, ethnic backgrounds and social classes. Pinning down a typical player is difficult to do," says Campbell.

dotPaintball is open to people with a variety of physical abilities and skills. Suzzie Stoneman is a paintball enthusiast from Ohio. She has seen people of all shapes and sizes become equally successful at the game.

Campbell is aware of paintball events set up to include people who require wheelchairs and other disabilities as well. Using semi-automatic paintball guns requires only one hand, so moving around in the wheelchair while playing is possible.

"There was -- or still is -- even a semi-professional tournament team consisting entirely of players who are deaf. I would say the only disabilities that would prevent someone from participating in a game of paintball would be a complete inability to move around or blindness," says Campbell.

dotAccording to the most recent statistics from the Canadian Paintball Association, in 1990, there were an estimated 600,000 participants in Canada and five million in the U.S. Since then, paintball has grown tremendously.

dotExperienced players are usually willing to share their knowledge. "Keep your goggles on!" says Stoneman. "And don't feel like you have to start spraying paint the instant you hear a twig snap. I can't count how many times games have been lost to something stupid like impatience."

Paintball field operators, referees and players alike go to great lengths to ensure that safety is the number one concern. Having a good time is also important.

Getting Started

dotYou have to spend a bit of money to play because you need certain equipment and facilities. According to Stoneman, it doesn't have to be a huge investment.

"If you don't intend to purchase a gun, a typical rental of equipment will cost $15 to $25, depending where you play, which includes the field fee. Newbies don't generally use massive amounts of paint, so 400 rounds should be more than enough, which should set you back another $20 or so, again, depending where you go. Paintball doesn't have to be expensive. People spend thousands on equipment, and it doesn't make them better players."

dotBoth Campbell and Stoneman see a bright future for the sport. Campbell predicts that there will be more professionally organized events similar to Skyball, which is a large international tournament. He also predicts the formation of professional paintball leagues.

"This may be a long way off, but it could definitely happen with some hard work and persistence," says Campbell. "With the growth of arena-type tournaments played on a highly spectator-friendly -- and advertiser-friendly -- symmetrical court, this seems the logical route for the sport to take."

Stoneman also sees the sport continuing to evolve. "One trend in the next five years or so will be obvious -- no more full-automatic guns. But that was absurd anyway. Where is the fun in hosing people down without giving them a fighting chance? I do think paintball will continue to grow in popularity, but unfortunately, I see paintball vandalism as a rising concern that needs to be addressed."

dotHere are some possible career choices in the paintball area:

Corporate trainer: Many companies are looking for exciting and innovative staff training programs that don't involve sitting in a classroom or meeting room. Teamwork and communication skills are useful in a game of paintball and also in the workplace.

Entrepreneur: Depending on the local market, there might be a demand for a paintball facility in your area.

Equipment salesperson: Keeping up with the latest technology and letting people know how it will help their game would be an advantage in this job.


National College Paintball Association

Includes information on equipment and a chat room where you can find players

How to Play Paintball
Information and tips for beginners