Paintball is a competitive sport in which two teams of players attempt to win by meeting set objectives on a paintball field. Initially invented in 1976, paintball has spread from the United States, now played worldwide. It has become popular in many areas, with some venues entertaining spectators who come to watch the matches. Paintball fields and sporting goods stores sell paintball apparel and accessories to the public, beyond standard equipment for use in the game.
The field itself can take many forms. In many cases, it is a natural terrain found and cordoned off. If using a natural field, it usually contains many natural forms of cover and terrain, such as trees, vines, small ravines, and streams. Sometimes field owners place manmade structures in and around the field for use as “bases” for each team.
Safety is a key concern for any paintball venue. Fortunately, studies find paintball creates fewer injuries per player than most other sports. When injuries do happen, it is usually due to the improper use or removal of safety equipment. Many paintball venues strictly enforce rules that full-face masks must be worn on the field and at reloading tables, and that compressed air tanks cannot be attached to guns (to provide firepower) while off the field.
The main two scenarios in paintball are capture the flag and elimination. Capture the flag consists of an object—sometimes an actual flag, but not always—that a team is tasked to retrieve and bring back to their base. There are several variations of this, but usually each team has their own flag that they must simultaneously defend while attacking to retrieve the other team’s flag. In some cases, there is only a single flag in a neutral location; both teams must aim for and retrieve it.
Elimination is just as it sounds: attempt to knock out the entire other team. In these games, the game continues until every player is out, either by surrender or being marked with a paintball. (The surrender rule is used in more casual games to allow a player out without being shot.) The rules differ by venue, sometimes a single shot is all that is needed, where other fields require paint to be present on both arms or both legs, et cetera.
Paintball is played the world over, with regulated play offered in many countries. Due to the potential misuse of paintball marking equipment, it is recommended that you check with your local laws for regulations.