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How To Play Paintball For Beginners

a group of paintball players - featured image


Paintball is all fun and games. 

But, to be honest, that’s only when you’re winning. Or, at least, know what it feels like to win.

And then you can get better at the game and win on other days.

Here’s the kicker:

I’ll show you what it takes to win at paintball. And brush through the necessary gear and the rules of the game.

Basically, this will be a Paintball 101 rundown.

Let’s go…

Starter Kit For Paintball Players

Most, if not every paintball arena, would give you all these items. But there’s a possibility you won’t enjoy the entry gear, especially after playing a couple of times. Plus, folks like me just don’t like sharing or using public things.

If you enjoyed your first run at paintball, don’t hesitate to get the best gun, hopper, tank, and apparel your money can buy.

Not to forget….

When you do get your paintball gun, you’ll need to buy paintballs to train, of course. And you’d need to buy pellets even if you’re playing at the arena. They’re cheap but can run out real quick.

Paintball Gear Commandments

  1. Always wear a safety mask in the live-fire zone. Always!
  2. Never load the hopper with fallen paintballs. It will get dirt in through the breech (loading port) and jam the gun!
  3. Don’t flip your marker upside down. Or you might be tempted to fall for #2.
  4. Don’t wear a face mask or balaclava under the mask. It makes the mask fog up fast. Instead, wear a bandana or head warmer if you have to
  5. Don’t breathe through your mouth. It also makes the mask fog up faster
  6. Use a barrel sock or condom rather than a barrel plug
  7. Wear a long piece of clothing, coverall, with your wrists and neck covered

That’s enough about buying or wearing for now. There’s enough content about paintball gear on the site already. How about how to actually play with them?

How To Play Paintball

Paintball, unlike what most noobs think, isn’t an opportunity to be the Terminator or Rambo.

And I mean that even in a fight-for-all mode where you don’t have teammates. Think of it more like you’re Jason Bourne or a pseudo soldier.

Your best chance of survival is to be smart, stealthy, and resourceful. You still only have one life, and you don’t even get the chance to see a medic in paintball. Once you’re hit, you’re hit!

As if that isn’t bad enough, if you play recklessly, you also put your teammates in a bad position.

Do Paintballs Hurt?

Well, only a little if they hit a piece of clothing. If it hits directly, you may have a small bruise, but it’d sting a bit. Nothing long-lasting.

I’ll get to the point and show you how you can play better.

You Only Have One Life. Learn to Take Cover

Before my first paintball game, I could already think up scenes of how I’d massacre my opponents.

You know, in the typical action movie fashion. Run out of cover and fire sporadically at the opponents. Oh, lest I forgot, I’d be yelling at the top of my voice as I rain terror on them.

And by some miracle, I’d drop everyone without a scratch. Or, maybe the opponents would have glue in their eyes and not shoot at me.

In every reality, this is the fastest way to get killed! But, hey, it’s fun to think of, right?.

Scratch that from your thoughts.

The first thing you want to do as you step into the paintball field is to run for cover. Objects and barricades are abundant on the paintball field for a reason.

Whether it’s trees, stacks of tires, inflatables, bunkers that are used in your arena, always get behind them when you aren’t moving or taking fire.

How To Properly Take Cover

Find A Sizeable Object

This tip would read more with folks that’d be playing woodsball – I’ll get to the gaming modes in a bit.

Don’t stay behind a tree or object that can’t conceal your entire body. Worst-case scenario, stop a second or two if you have to cover behind a tree that’s no wider than your palm. And only because that’s all you can settle in the heat of the moment.

Good Cover Might Be Bad Cover At times.

Sometimes, the barricade you’re using for cover might be the cause of the attack after all.

Getting constantly shot at, even behind a “good” cover, is not so good. A possible reason is that your cover is giving you up.

Most times, it’s because a part of your body is open to your opponents. And while their shots bouncing off the tire might seem like a good defense on your part, it won’t be long before you get tagged.

In such a case, you’ll need to take a new position swiftly and smartly. Don’t run into the rain of shots either.

Taking Cover The Right Way

Tuck yourself into the barricade. But in a way, you can quickly maneuver to another position or snap shoot at your opponent.

And most importantly, position yourself in a way you can glance at what’s coming at you. And without giving up much of your body as a target for your rivals.

When you have to move, stay small. Keep your knees bent and head down.

See how snap shooting is done. It’s not in any way like shooting blindly:

Shooting The Paintball Gun

First things first, it’s a paintball gun –  Not an AK-47 or even a Glock for that matter.

In other words, a marker won’t shoot as fast or accurately as a real gun. And you need to be able to account for that on the playing field.

Perhaps that’s why you get more fire rounds, which can also be tricky. You’d know better soon enough.

Shooting Rules In Paintball

  1. Don’t aim for the head or safety mask. Besides, headshots won’t count in most paintball arenas
  2. Shoot at less than 280fps
  3. You can’t shoot any closer than 3 meters from your opponent
  4. Don’t blind-fire. You can’t shoot at an enemy you can’t see – even if you know they are there!
  5. Shout “I’m hit” once a paintball pellet breaks on your armor. And leave the playing field immediately afterward.
  6. Put your gun in the air to indicate you’re hit and walking out of the fire zone after you are hit.
  7. Point the gun’s barrel down if you aren’t in a game

How To Shoot On Target With A Paintball Gun

Due to the lighter weight of paintballs and the weaker force of a marker than guns, you’d need to shoot a little differently to account for these.

Shoot On Sight

Aside from being against the rules, it’s not smart to shoot blindly. It may seem like a lot when you have around 200 balls loaded in the hopper. But with some paintball guns shooting 8 bps or more, you may run out of ammo in no time.

Put it at the back of your mind that you don’t have unlimited ammo. Shoot at a target you can see, and that’s within reach.

Aiming The Right Way Is Not The Same

You’d need to aim a bit higher than your target to hit home. Say, the neck if you want to make a chest shot. As I’ve established earlier, headshots are illegal and dangerous.

Aim for the neck of your target because the bullet would end up on their chest anyway. In essence, think of your opponent’s neck as the same size as their chest.

This isn’t to paint a picture of the paintball gun as being overly inaccurate in any way. But it helps with amateurs.

All Hands on Metal

Speaking of which, you should hold the gun with two hands. Again, this isn’t a movie or a fantasy. If you shoot with one hand or from your hip, your shots are bound to be way inaccurate.

At any moment you want to pull the trigger, have your two hands on the gun in a shooting position – your off-hand on the stock grip for support, and elbows out on the trigger hand for balance.

You’d need to be stealthy to be able to shoot the marker correctly even when you’re on the move. Else, you might trip or find it uncomfortable.

Run And Gun

In the heat of the game, you’d need to fire while running too. You won’t always have the comfort of a “sweet spot” where you’d calmly shoot at your opponent. It happens more often in speedball.

Try to see what’s happening before you make a run. For instance, if you are under attack, you know you only need to shoot at the bad guy for distraction.

You might also find yourself in a position to lay an ambush on your opponent by quickly running over their location. You’d need to move stealthily, making sure your shots are intentional even while you’re running.

Paintball is much more fun this way. And it starts to expose you to its potential tactical side.

Moving Targets

Before I wrap it up on shooting, you need to know moving targets can be the hardest.

It’ll save you the trauma of shooting a hail of paintballs at an opponent right ahead of you and not hitting.

First things, first, where are they running to? If they are amateurs, it’s most likely they’d run on a straight line, so you can just shoot ahead. And you’d connect easily.

More experienced players would run erratically or in zig-zag lines, just to make aiming harder for you if they are cornered. And this is where I see a lot of people waste the most paintballs.

Secret To Moving Like A Pro (How To Play Paintball Like A Pro)

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve mentioned how you need to be stealthy a bunch of times.

It’s not a filler, and actually a thing in paintball.

Being stealthy isn’t just about running in a crouch. It’s also mental, like when and why you had to run that way.

Did you have to do it because you taught you could shoot everyone, and not get shot at? Because you’re moving stealthily?

But this isn’t to downplay its importance in any way. If you have to move at all, doing it stealthily is still the way to go about it.

Here’s how to:

Duck low into a crouch, with your head down whenever you have to run.

Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and possible places you can get shot at. Trust me, that split second can mean a lot. The same way it would if you were on the attacking end too.


Communication can define the outcome of the game from the start. If you play against a bunch of guys that don’t communicate, and your team does, they’re sure to lose.

In a sentence, if you really want to know how to play paintball, you must communicate. I know you’d think, is he talking about military codes like 6 o’clock, alpha, delta” and stuff?

Well, kind of, but you stick to such simple terms. Again, don’t go over the top with codes and instructions. You don’t want to have your teammates scratching their heads because of a play – it won’t work.

Everyone just wants to have fun – I take it personally, though, more like a sport. Most times, the best you can do is tell your teammates about an attack on another teammate. Or if you’re under attack.

What are the opponents doing? Reloading? Advancing towards your position? Little things like these matter a lot.

Actually, it makes playing more fun and personal. Sometimes, you may create a bond with your teammate and feel you have to go back to play again.

Lastly, you don’t have to yell out or even talk to communicate. You may just as well be giving the enemy your location.

Keep a hushed tone, if necessary. Try to devise simple or common hand signals with your teammates before the game.

Paintball Game Modes

Capture The Flag

Both teams would agree on a stipulated game time. A team would have to capture the opponent’s flag and take it back to their base to win.

Even if you eliminate everyone on the opposing team, you still have to capture the flag. It makes it necessary to use teamwork and strategy to win.

It can be exhilarating and tasking if you capture the flag with the opponent still fighting.


This is the typical game mode you’d see in paintball for beginners.

It’s simple:

There are two teams. And there’s no winner till one team is wiped out of it the time’s up.

Fort Assault

This one’s pretty intense. Squad A has to defend their fort in a very short time. But it could take forever.


Squad B is charged to attack Squad A aggressively. But it gets better. Guys in squad B can respawn like it’s COD or Fortnite. They just have to hit their base and come back to attack.

Free for All

It’s no man’s land in FFA. Everyone is the enemy. To win, you have to be the last man standing.

Fair Play And Safety Rules

Paintball is supposed to be fun. And I’d reiterate these points.

Yell out if you’ve been hit and leave the arena. Wiping the paint stain ruins the fun for other players.

So make it a priority to announce once you’ve been hit.

Aside from the few rules I mentioned in this article, your local arena would have theirs. Make sure you play by them to keep it fun.

Wrapping Up

There will be many variations of gameplay in different arenas. But they’d still revolve around the basic game modes.

Know their rules and follow them strictly. Fire at the start of the game to ensure your marker is working well. Fire smartly from there on so you don’t run out of ammo.

Communicate and move stealthily on the battlefield to stay alive. Use these tips, and you’d sure have fun and maybe even surprise a few with your new-found skill.

These are easily pro paintball tips. You can only get better the more you use or try to master them.

Last Updated on July 10, 2024

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