What you Need to Start Paintballing

A few guys rushing through a town made of plywood.
A few guys rushing through a town made of plywood.

So, you're thinking about paintball?

Paintball, in my opinion, is one of the best sports ever created. It combines strategy, vigorous exercise, huge amounts of adrenaline, colors bursting in air, and an experience that is unmatched by any sport. Your first time playing (If this is your first time) will be a lot better if you have the right equipment instead of something that is totally useless on the field. This hub is supposed to help you choose between the many different brands and items that are made specifically for paintball.

What you Need

In order to start playing, you will need a few essential items. I will start by describing the different types of paintball gear out there, then I will go into brands that are reputable and are probably the best choice for you to buy equipment from.

What do you want to be?

I am sure you've seen movies of men rushing into huge groups of hostile enemies, taking out 10 or 20 with impunity. Or maybe you admire the men who can kill from a mile away with a single shot. Chances are you want to specialize yourself to complete a certain task. Whatever you want to play, there is a gun for that. Recognize what you want to do, then buy stuff to fit your style.

Note: Snipers don't really exist in paintball, as there isn't a gun that can fire with much more precision than the next. There are those that stay in one place and shoot when people come past them, however, you must be extremely patient if you want to do this.

Terms you should know

Although I will try to write this with as simply as I can, I might accidentally slip a few paintball terms in. Here are a few that you should be familiar with before we begin.

Marker - Another name for a paintball gun

Paint - Short for paintballs

Chop - When you crack a paintball inside the gun. You should clean the inside of the gun as soon as this happens, shooting through a chopped paintball with most likely crack that one as well, and it will make the problem worse.

Wiping - Exactly what it means, wiping off a splat. This is cheating and is considered extremely bad conduct by a player. It could even result in your ban from the playing field.

Speedball - A game of paintball played on a small field full of inflatable barriers. It is usually very fast paced.

Woodsball - A game of paintball played in a wilderness setting. There are many different scenarios that you can play, from capture the flag to elimination.

Hopper - The container on top of the gun which holds your paintballs

Pods - A container which holds extra paintballs for you to stick into your hopper when it is empty. Essentially a paintball version of a magazine.

C02/Gas - The air that powers your gun, usually c02, though it could be air if you have the right tank.

A Tippmann 98 (Mechanical Marker)
A Tippmann 98 (Mechanical Marker)
A Spyder Tl-x (Mechanical Marker)
A Spyder Tl-x (Mechanical Marker)
A Smart Parts Ion (Electric Marker)
A Smart Parts Ion (Electric Marker)

Paintball Guns - Types and Functions

There are many different types of paintball guns, but you can basically break it into two simple groups: Mechanical and Electric.

Mechanical guns are purely mechanical, that's all they are. They operate without electronics, so they are much easier to fix if they do break. They are usually more durable, more likely to operate during adverse weather conditions, and just an all around tougher gun. However, they do have the disadvantage of not having a huge rate of fire, they are heavier, and they will tear through your gas tank a lot faster than an electric. However, if you want a durable gun, go with mechanical.

Electronic guns operate by using a computer chip that controls the trigger, so when ever you press the trigger, it will fire. An electric gun has the advantage of having a large rate of fire, so you can gun down your opponents quickly. They also tend to be lighter than mechanical guns, so they will be much easier to carry if you are running away from people. They can also be upgraded with different modes of fire, like 3 round burst and full auto. They can be upgraded further with hardware add-ons, like eyes, which prevent you from chopping paint in the gun. There are a few significant drawbacks though. Electronic guns use batteries, so you will have to carry a few around with you. They also can be more complex than mechanical guns, so if you are not mechanically inclined, don't take them apart.

Now that you know what types of guns that there are, you can make a decision of what you want. Here are a few gun brands that you should research that are great for starting paintball.

Mechanical Markers:

Tippmann makes many military style guns that are almost indestructible. They are easy to use and somewhat simple to maintain.They have a huge amount of upgrades, so you can customize then gun as much as you want. Tippmanns have a plastic shell (it is still very tough, it is definitely not a cheap plastic) that you may not like if you want something more metallic.

Spyder (Sometimes called Kingman) makes many mechanical guns as well. They are cheaper than Tippmanns, but they do not lack quality. Their mechanical markers don't have that many upgrades for them, so you may have to buy another gun if you want better features.They are usually made of metal, so the frame is solid.

Electric Markers:

Spyder makes a line of great electric markers called the VS series. They are cheap for the amount of functions that they provide. They are also light weight and durable, but they do use 9 volts fast. If you want something more military style, they have a line called the MR series. You can put all the tactical equipment you want on these, which makes them very versatile.

A company called Proto (Owned by a company called Dye, which also makes paintball guns) makes a gun called the Proto SLG that is cheap, and very light weight. It is also very small, which makes it easier to hide in small places. It is a good choice to buy if you plan to upgrade to their better guns, which are the real deal in terms of paintball.

Smart Parts makes a paintball gun that is very popular among beginners and experts alike called the Ion. It may have the most upgrades available for any paintball gun ever made. It has a few drawbacks though. It is very difficult to take apart compared to other guns, and it has a polymer body. (Which may be either a plus or a minus depending on how you look at it.)

These are not the only brands or guns out there, and if you want, you can find out yourself which ones suit your style.

A standard CO2 tank (Made by Pure Energy)
A standard CO2 tank (Made by Pure Energy)

Gas Tanks

If you have chosen a gun by now, you are well on your way, however, you still need something to power your gun. Guns run of two different types of power, CO2 and Air (sometimes called Nitrogen). CO2 is used by a lot of cheaper guns, while Air is used by higher end guns, though air can be used in most cheap guns as well. CO2 should not be used in higher end guns, as it will destroy the internals of the gun. Only use CO2 if the guns says that it will handle it.

The benefits of CO2 is that it can be found almost everywhere, so it is cheap to buy. However, CO2 has a disadvantage in the long run, it can freeze your gun. CO2 cools to a very cold temperature when it expands, and it can ruin parts of your gun if they are kept too cold or if they are frozen, thawed, then refrozen.

Air doesn't have this property, and so it is better for your gun than CO2. You do need special tanks to hold air, and they do cost a bit more than CO2 tanks, so it is your choice. There are also more benefits, like improved accuracy, which come from using air.

If you decide to go with air, there are two types of tanks you can choose to buy. You can buy a standard steel tank, or you can spend the extra money and get a carbon fiber tank, which lightens up your gun a lot.

Good Brands:

Pure Energy, Kingman(Spyder), Ninja, PMI, and Guerrilla Air.

A brand that you might want to avoid is Brass Eagle. I have had leaks after buying their tanks, and that could be potentially fatal to you if it exploded.

A standard non-electric paintball hopper.
A standard non-electric paintball hopper.


After you get your gun, you need a way to feed your paintballs into the gun. The way that you can do this is by buying a hopper. It is essentially a container above the gun with a place to pour your paintballs into. There are normal hoppers, which use gravity to feed the paintballs into the hopper, then there are motorized ones, which feed much faster. You will need a motorized one if you want to shoot full auto without chopping a ball.

Remember, motorized hoppers also take batteries, so carry a few with you if you decide to buy one.

Some good motorized hoppers are the Halo B's, Empire hoppers, the Egg 2, and some of the Kingman(Spyder) hoppers.

A few paintballs.
A few paintballs.


Like many things, you have to be very picky when buying paintballs. There is a wide price gap between many brands, and there is often a wide gap in quality. You should avoid all paintballs made by Brass Eagle, they don't break often and are very lumpy, which can translate into poor accuracy. I find that the best cheap paintballs out there are the Visible Impact paintballs. They work great, have very few flaws in the shell, and have a bright paint color. However, there are many other brands that have great paintballs as well.

Paintballs come in many shell colors, fill colors, and even scents. It helps to buy a different color than anyone else so you will know who you shot.

Note: Paintballs can be very expensive ($30 for a box of 1000) and will add up beyond the price of the gun if you do not conserve. If you enjoy shooting 500 paintballs every round, you will be shelling out a lot of money very quickly.

Clothes to Wear

Wearing the proper clothing is very important when you play. You should avoid wearing any bright colors when playing woodsball, as it will give away your position. You should wear a long sleeve shirt or jacket if you're going to be playing in a bushy area. It may also be a good idea because getting shot in the arm on bare skin can hurt a good deal more than normal. You may also consider wearing a neck protector,because it hurts really really bad when you get shot in the neck. Long pants are also a must, and boots will help if you have to walk over a lot of rocky terrain.

Note: I shouldn't have to mention this, but always wear a mask made for paintball. If you play paintball enough, you will eventually get shot in the head, and you will be glad you had that mask. If you don't, you will pay for it the rest of your life.

Other Accessories

After you put an air tank and a hopper full of paintballs on your gun, things start to get really heavy. One thing that can lighten up your gun is a remote line, which is a long cord that allows you to put the tank on your back, something which lightens up the gun a lot.

Another thing you can do to lighten your load is buy a sling for your gun. This will allow you to walk around without having to carry the gun itself.

If you happen to have a rail on your gun (Like the Spyder MR series), you can put a reflex sight on it. despite what some people think, you can aim your paintballs accurately to a certain degree, and this will help your accuracy a lot. (If your sight gets shot in a game, it might break, so think about protecting it before you buy one)

You might want to buy a new barrel for your gun if you don't like the accuracy of your gun. (A good cheap barrel is in the range of 30 to 70 dollars. I find that the J&J barrels are great for their price.)

If you are afraid of bashing up your air tank, you can buy air tank covers to protect them from scratches.

If you think that you are going to use more than a hopper full of paintballs in one round, then you may want to buy a pod belt and a few pods to take with you. Each pod holds around 200 paintballs, which will fill most hoppers about 2/3rds of the way .

Hiding in a ditch.
Hiding in a ditch.

Games To Play In Paintball

Paintball is not limited to simple elimination rounds. There are literally hundreds of games to play, from capture the flag to 24 hour scenario games, which are all limited only by your imagination. Here are a few that you can start playing as soon as you get your equipment.

  • Elimination: Probably the most common type of paintball game there is. You play by simply shooting anyone on the opposite team.There are some variations though, like 3-shot, which means you must be shot three times before you must be out.
  • Capture-the-Flag: This game is very simple, but strategies to win are still being invented. All you need is a shirt or a piece of cloth that can be used as a flag. Then divide into as many teams as you want, and try to get the flag.
  • President: This game is played by dividing up into two teams. One team will be the assassins, and the other will be the Secret Service. The duty of the Secret Service is to escort the President to somewhere on the field. There is a catch though, the President is not allowed to have a gun. His Secret Service is the only thing that can protect him. The assassins job is much simpler, kill the president or kill all of his Secret Service.

I have another hub that explains all the games I know how to play in paintball. If you get bored of these three, then you should check it out here.

Final Notes

Again, these are the essentials to get you playing. There are strategies to be learned, upgrades to buy, and teams to partner up with. Here are a few last reminders:

1) Always wear a mask until you are in the safe zone and the game has ended.

2) Respect the rules of a game, and always follow what the referees say.

3) Don't wipe paint, it ruins the game for others and makes people hate you.

4) Getting shot does hurt, but you will get used to it. Don't let it scare you into calling yourself out in a stressful situation.

5) Just have fun, that's what it is all about.

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Comments 2 comments

Paintball 4 Life 5 years ago

I have a tippman 98 custom,one thing i like to do to get a little bit better grip on the marker is get the grip tape and wrap that around the fore and aft grips. It helps if you are playing in rain or snow... or whenever. I also play the role of a so called "Sniper"... so i wear my ghillie suit and hide in the brush. then to get people to come closer if they are out of range is i fire a few shots away from them. they hear the comotion and come rushing over... nows your chance to take out a couple people. just dont get trigger happy. one thing i need to do is get a remote line.

Zach 4 years ago

Great post, the only thing missing is a word or two about grenades. I too have a 98 custom, and it doesn't actually have a plastic shell. It is a clamshell design made of very thick metal, but it is still light enough to hold in front of you with one hand.

Good job!

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