The Game of Paintball
Paintball began in
1981 with 12 competitors playing capture the flag with air-powered pistols. Since then,
the game has exploded into a multi-million dollar sport with amateur and professional
tournaments across the United States and in Europe, offering cash purses and prizes in the
hundreds of thousands of dollars. Daisy (manufacturer of pellets, B.B.s. and air guns),
Crossman (manufacturer of air guns), Scott USA (manufacturer of ski poles and goggles) and
JT USA (manufacturer of motor-cross safety equipment) are just a few of the companies that
have expanded into the paintball world. Today, tournaments are sponsored by companies such
as Budweiser and Pepsi-Cola.
Playing The Game
What is paintball?
Well, combine the game of capture the flag with chess, mix in hide 'n' seek and add a
large dose of adrenaline. Paintball is challenging and fast-paced. As few as two or as
many as eighty can play. The basic game has two teams, each with it's own flag station and
matching color armbands. Each team starts at its own flag station. A starting signal is
given and each team tries to reach the other team's station, grab the flag and race back
to its station. When a player gets tagged/hit by a paintball, he/she is out of the game.
If a player is carrying a flag when tagged, he/she must drop the flag at that spot, then
leave the game.
The basic equipment needed for play is: paintball safety goggles and face mask, barrel
blocking device, proper clothing (camouflage jacket and pants, old fatigues or plain old
blue jeans and a jacket), extra paint tubes with paintballs and the desire to have a great
The guns of the paintball world vary from the basic pump pistol to the high-tech
semi-automatic, or to the full auto paintball gun.
Pumps - Pump-action guns
have a manual pump mechanism that loads the paintball into the gun. The
player must pump / load after every shot.
Semi Automatics - Semi automatic
guns have a paintball loaded into the gun automatically after the gun
fires. The gun can shoot paint as fast as the player can pull the
Full-Auto - Full-automatic
guns also have a paintball loaded into the gun automatically after the
gun fires. These guns can shoot multiple paintballs by holding down on
Tanks & Specialty
Equipment - These are only featured at some Big Games and Scenario
Games. They usually have at least one automatic paintball gun mounted on
them. Shown below is the "Hell Hound" built by Tippmann
Pneumatics owned by Hell Survivors®. The "Hell Hound"
features a 10-Barrel Gatlin Gun that can fire at a rate of 3000-rpm. It
also sports a foot lever operated Grenade Launching System that can launch
multiple 'squad buster' grenades over head while running the gun at the
How a Paintball gun
Paintball guns use gas pressure from an tank or 12-gram cartridges to fire a
paintball. This gas can be CO2 or nitrogen depending on the facility and type of gun.
(Nitrogen is the favored propellant based on all-weather performance). The velocity of the
paintball leaving the barrel is usually 250 to 300 feet per second (fps). 300 fps is the
maximum allowed at tournaments while 290 fps is the maximum on most recreational playing
fields. Air and nitrogen tanks come in different sizes. The bigger the tank the longer you
can play before requiring a refill.
Paintballs drop one at a time from the refillable bulk feeder into
the paintball gun.
Air is pressurized at 750 to 1,000 psi. Air leaves the tank through a valve into
the air line.
Air travels up the line and into the chamber.
Pulling the trigger activates the hammer. The hammer slides forward, pulling the bolt over
the exhaust valve forward to the chamber. Air shoots out the chamber, through the exhaust
valve and through the bolt.
The released air leaves the bolt, forcing the paintball out of the barrel.
Paintballs are not made of
paint. they are soft gelatin capsules (the same gelatin as in Jell-O) containing a mixture
of vegetable oil and food color. They are nontoxic and biodegradable. Paintballs are
encapsulated by the same machines that make bath beads and vitamin capsules. R.P. Scherer, the worlds largest
encapsulation company, was the first company to produce paintballs. Today
there are many facilities in North
America and Europe dedicated to manufacturing paintballs. Billions & billions
of paintballs are
produced each year in Asia, Europe and North America.
To check the velocity at which a paintball gun is firing, a chronograph or radar
is used. The radar/chronograph uses small Doppler radar to measure the velocity of a
paintball. The paintball is fired over the machine then the radar picks up its speed on a
digital display. If a gun is firing paintballs at over 300 fps, it is adjusted to lower
the velocity. The first chronographs used light. The paintball was fired over the machine.
Light entering the machine was broken, starting a timer. The machine measured the time the
light was broken and calculated the velocity of the paintball.
fields vary in terrain and management. Some fields have fixed stations and play areas for
simple operation. Others rotate stations or change play direction every three months. If a
field lacks vegetation, owners may use old tires, wood pallets and plywood to create
forts, bunkers and other places for players to hide. A good field will provide a day of
excitement, challenges and fun.
are man-made structures on or in the ground. these are highly defendable
positions used as stepping-stones for advancing or retreating.
Each field has well defined boundaries marked by netting, colored tape
or ribbon.Players must stay within the boundaries.
Games usually have a time limit of 20 minutes. this speeds
the action and prevents a game from dragging on for hours.
Referees are on the field during the game. They check players to
determine if they have been tagged. Refs can and will remove players who
violate safety rules. (Remember: Never Remove Your Goggles on Field!)
A player raises his/her hand to show that the have been hit then
proceeds to a 'dead-zone'. Tagged players cannot talk or signal to other
players on the field.
two, three, five, seven and ten person team categories. Ten and seven person teams play the basic capture-the-flag game. Some tournaments play a variation known as center flag. The smaller teams are generally elimination in a smaller 'arena' type field. Points are
given for flag capture, flag hang, number of opponents tagged and for winning a set.