UK Paintball Sports Federation

What is Paintball?

What Is Paintball?

Paintball is played world-wide and is one of the fastest growing sports in Europe.
There are various styles of play including tournament, scenario, woodsball, magfed and recreational play at paintball centres open to the public at large.
Here you can find information on;
  • Types of paintball
  • Isn’t it just about playing war?
  • Does paintball hurt and is it dangerous?
  • How much does Paintballing cost?
  • How Long does Paintball last?
  • What do I need to take with me?
  • How do I arrange a Paintball game?


Tournament paintball is played in an arena laid out with inflatable barricades. The size of the arena and the number, shape and lay-out of the barricades is set down in the tournament rules. Two teams of three to five players then compete in fast and furious games to achieve a range of objectives.

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Scenario paintball sees teams also trying to achieve a range of objectives but within the setting of a particular ‘scenario’, which might, for example, be a re-enactment of an historical event or an imaginary circumstance. These events take place in settings ranging from discussed military bases, through ancient castles to large woodlands.

Woodsball is similar to tournament paintball but played in a woodland setting, whilst devotees of magfed paintball take part using paintball guns (properly known as markers) that have a limited number of rounds of ammunition.

Most first time players are attending a corporate event day, stag party, birthday party or are a group of friends getting together to have a day of fun. They will play as one of the UK’s 200 or so commercial paintball venues.

Whatever the style of play, the basics are the same: opposing teams shoot small balls of paint at each other, with the aim of marking their opponents with a splat of paint and knocking them out of the game, as each team strives to achieve the game’s objective. Depending on the style of play, games can last anything from a few minutes to several hours!

Isn’t it just about playing war?

A common mistake is that paintball is aimed at would-be soldiers. Whilst it’s true that many younger players – boys and girls alike – try paintball for the first time because they’ve grown up with “shoot ‘em up” video games, the reality is they soon learn paintball is high-energy, high adrenalin that requires great skill and fitness to reach the top levels of the sport.

Does paintball hurt and is it dangerous?

Safety is paramount in paintball and a properly equipped player who uses the equipment in the right way need have no fear of an injury caused by a paintball. Like other sports, such as hockey, protective equipment is used to avert recognised risks.

By far the MOST IMPORTANT pieces of safety equipment are specially designed masks to protect the face and eyes from injury. Players receive safety briefings that emphasize the importance of ALWAYS wearing a mask, as well as following other rules, such as not firing at close range. The key role of the marshals who control the games is to enforce the rules regarding wearing masks and playing in a safe manner, such as observing minimum firing distances.

In addition to masks, players wear a one or two-piece playing suits to cover exposed skin (specialist clothing incorporates padded areas for further protection) and may also use gloves and other protective equipment.

Paintball venues have equipment that enables trained staff to check and regulate paintball markers to ensure the velocity of the round is within the permitted range (which is set down in law). Paintball technology has improved so the paintballs themselves are more fragile and burst on impact.

Many paintball venues now use a smaller sized paintballs for first time or younger players because the impact energy of these paintballs is much lower and averts almost all risk of bruises.

Players wearing the right equipment and playing in a safe manner as covered in the safety briefing run no greater risk – probably much less – of bruises or injury than someone playing a field sport like football.

How much does Paintballing cost?

For a recreational player going paintballing, a good average of cost is around £10 per playing hour.

Most venues catering for such players will offer either an entry fee (covering equipment hire) and paintballs at anything between £5 and £8 per 100, or will offer packages that include equipment, a specific number of paintballs and sometimes refreshments. A typical package that includes 500 paintballs (good for several hours of play if you are not too trigger-happy) will cost around £35 per person.

How Long does Paintball last?

The length of time you will play varies from venue to venue and depends very much on how many paintballs you buy. Typically you’ll be able to play for anything from a couple of hours to a full day. Some venues only open at weekends but many are open for bookings on weekdays. Many sites will continue to play into the evening during the lighter summer months.

What do I need to take with me?

Sites will recommend you wear clothing suitable for the weather – ideally clothing you’re not too concerned about – and sensible footwear, such as old trainers, sports or work boots or wellingtons. Players often wear hoodies and bring gloves with them. A change of clothing may also be needed if the day is wet or the ground muddy as the dirt and wet can penetrate the suits you’ll be issued with.

The most important thing to bring with you is sense of humour and a willingness to get stuck in and possibly make a fool of yourself.

How do I arrange a Paintball game?

Check out the websites of the paintball venues in the area you are interested in. We advise against “daily deal websites” or “ticketing agencies” – their offers are often mis-leading and it is always better value to book directly with your local paintball venue.

Give the venue a call – they’ll be happy to advise you on all aspects of the event you are planning, can tailor the day to your needs and will tell you how much it will cost, what to bring, when to arrive and so on.

You will be asked to pay a deposit for the number of players to plan to bring and then it’s just a case of turning up on the specified day to experience the ultimate adrenalin rush!