The First Time Paintball Player’s Ultimate Guide

Secrets on saving money on paint at the park to answers on how many paintballs you actually need to get through a day of woodsball and hyperball at your paintball park.

The Ultimate First Time At Paintball Guide

Are You New To Paintball? If You Have Never Played Woodsball This Is the Definitive First Time Beginners Guide To Paintball.

(DL) — Are you a beginner to paintball? You want paintball tips before you go. If this is your very first time coming out with a corporate group, bachelor party or birthday party, this ultimate guide is your secret weapon to your first day of recreational paintball aka rec ball.

Even if you are only heading out to play with a couple of friends as walk-ons, we got you covered.

Are You A True Beginner Who’s Never Played Paintball — Start with This Pregame Rules & Safety Instructional Video.

Do Paintballs Hurt?

Yes. They can. A paintball sting can range from very little, to really making you want to walk-off off from the pain. To learn more about how much paintballs hurt, we have a full article on Do Paintballs Hurt?

Good News. Paintball Parks Protect You. Really.

The closer you are to an opponent the more a round paintball can sting. Beginners don’t often get close to each other when playing. As a new player, you can expect to be hit from a much greater distance where the sensation of being hit is uncomfortable at worst.

What Is Close Range?

If you are shot at from close range paintballs can sting and leave welts. Welts are small round raised bruises which can look unsightly but don’t hurt after an initial hit. What does it mean to be shot at close range? Close range is inside both effective and accurate range. What is effective range? That’s 75 feet. What is accurate range? Accurate range is 50 feet. Want to learn more on range? Pick up DangerMan’s Paintball Bible and you’ll find out why these simple terms are key elements in learning paintball and how they can make you a very good paintball player, fast.

The good news is if you are playing for the first time at a paintball park, this is a concern that’s been understood for years. Field owners have a plan.

Paintball park field owners and referees won’t put you in an unsafe group.

The refs are trained to guide groups through this understanding all day. Refs actually care about your day. They are firm because they must be. Most expert or advanced players have no interest in playing with beginners. But sometimes they must. They take little joy in shooting a n00b. They adjust their interest in fun by helping the team. They play from behind. If they are the last player remaining, then you can expect them to play at to their level, but they won’t overshoot you and they will demonstrate how the game should be played. An established player who does not respect newer players is not a good representative of the community at large.

How Much is Paint?

Let’s get our basics down. Be advised, don’t call paintballs, bullets. It’s paint. You don’t need more “shots”. You need more “paint”. In the game, they are known as ’rounds’ or ’round balls’ because a more lethal version known as a First Strike Round (FSR) exists and are permitted by game type and field owner discretion. 

A case of paint has 2000 rounds of paint. Four bags to a box. That’s 500 per bag. Keeping up so far? Good. A loader holds about 180 rounds. That means one bag of 500 will get you through 2 1/2 loaders full of paint. You can play from 6 to 8 games a day and depending on the field you play at, you can get 15 games in during a day. That’s the high side.

You also have to decide how much paint you will shoot per game. You could carry a pod of paint that holds around 150 paintballs on average. Oh, screw it. A box of paint is around $60.00

Most people can finish a day shooting between 1000 to 1500 paintballs. Since you may go through that much, always buddy up with a couple of other players and three of you split two cases. With all this said, you can finish a day under 1000. Now you’re a one baller! Hang out on the site. You’ll learn this term.

Cost Per Paintball

$65 case = .032 per paintball

$60 case = .03 per paintball

$55 case = .028 per paintball

$50 case = .025 per paintball

These are friendly prices. Some facilities will nail you for as high as $80.00 per case of 2000 paintballs. Why do they do that? Because they can. As long as you pay it, they will charge it. While each facility should charge enough to justify the day, we agree that there should be a fair market value of a case of paint no matter the facility.  Here’s the cost of a paintball at $80 per case of 2000.

$80 case = .04 per paintball

How Much Paint will I need? How Many Rounds For One Day of Paintball?

Great question! Glad you asked! Most fields will get you into anywhere from 5 to 7 paintball games on the day. They mix it up between woods and hyperball.  Woods games can use more as they play longer, but often players useless in the woods as they often have the wisdom as to only shoot opponents in range. Hyperball is a small open lane close-range field similar to speedball but with hardened bunkers like tubes, boxes, pallets, tires and such. Here you can roll more paint.

Your loader offers you about 180 rounds. Most players shoot just about all of them in a game. If you shoot that few or less then here is our best estimate of what you will need for your own inventory of shots on an entire day.

At 5 games you will need approximately: 900 paintballs

You should invest half a case of paint or two bags (a bag is 500).

At 7 games you will need approximately: 1260 paintballs

Here you have a problem. Do you conserve two bags or buy a third? Your plan should be, buy two, and have a person or two in your group ready at any time to split a case or half case to increase your buying power. We’ll get to that.

How To Buy Paintballs For The Lowest Price

While the math making a paintball appear cheap when purchased by the case is attractive, the truth is a case of paintballs at $65.00 on average, sucks.  You can justify the expense as cheaper than going to a major sporting event with parking, food, etc …But in truth, it is not cheap.

Most smaller fields charge $50.00 per case. At $50.00 and 2000 rounds, you can divide a case between players. Each player can get their own bag of 500 rounds.

Here is the secret. Plan in ahead with two to four friends. You see, most people think they will only want 1/4 of a case, (500 rounds in an individual bag). That a player will only need 500 rounds for the day may not be true, but if you think it’s true – it’s true. That is your reality. You want one bag of paintballs. That’s 500 paintballs. It’s a little over two loaders full and that’s possibly three games of paintball if you are a modest or average shooter.

The problem is a paintball facility will charge you more for buying less. Your bag of 500 paintballs will often cost you $15.00 to $20.00.  That’s robbery. But it is also a reality. Everywhere.

Bring cash. You can often negotiate a lower price with very small fields for using cash. A second reason for cash is that you and one other friend, or two other friends can pool your money to buy your 500 round bags by going in together on a full case.

What’s It Really Like To Be Hit By A Paintball?

At close range, they can sting like hell, but unlike a bee sting that hangs with you, it’s more like if you were smacked or snapped with a towel, and even that feels worse. It is a short-lived sensation. We go into more detail here in, Do Paintballs Hurt?

Most paintball injuries require a band-aid
In a normal paintball setting, this is the worst first-aid you should ever require.

And then there is being shot by someone who doesn’t respect the game from close range. Referees are quick to eject these players and keep them from playing with beginners such as yourself, but let’s not kid each other.

There are players who will disrespect the game. There are players who will try to do stupid things such as to get close to you for a close-range shot. That can happen. It’s rare. In over 10 years playing the game, I’ve been shot from close range by a cheater three times. Below is an example.

This is the result of a player who stayed in the game after being shot out. Then shot me from less than 10 feet away repeatedly.

If you get shot from long-range, you’ll hardly feel it. The painful hits are close range. Your chances of a close-range hit are very low.  Here is why.

No one will tell you and this should give you peace-of-mind.

There are also those people who like pain. Or simply don’t care if they get shot-up or at close range. I’ve seen it many times at major events such as Skirmish’s annual scenario event, Invasion of Normandy (ION) where it’s common to see players covered in welts because they ran into battle with no shirt.

Some players just don’t concern themselves with pain. They charge hard into battle taking shots from close range knowing full well they are going to take body damage. This player illustrates the point. He played in battle with 5000 players – no shirt. His decision.You are playing Rec Ball or woodsball.

The referees at paintball treat walk-on or Rec Ball paintball groups much different from speedball or scenario or any advanced group.  This means very specifically that they keep games like this in check. Players getting up one each other with Rec Ball groups is simply not a common occurrence. Expect to be hit from range and expect not to feel much more than minor discomfort.

What to Wear To Paintball

This is an entire article to discuss.

In fact, read the DangerMan Article Do NOT Wear A Hoodie To Paintball!

Here, we will keep it simple. I will take a headband over hoodie 100 percent of the time.

Let’s get this straight. A lot of is made about nothing. The whole hoodie thing is the most overblown bullshit anyone can bring up. Here is the truth about what to wear to paintball.

Dress comfortably. Do you really want to wear a hoodie in July? Take one, but it will on the bench after one game. Why? What did we just discuss above?

Look at these players closely. They are beginners. They are not being placed in an intense battle situation with overpowered players

The referees are not going to let you pounce on each other in a woodsball or hyperball field during a rec ball game day with other walk-ons or groups. Why do you think you need to protect your neck or head from a 100-foot shot that is only going to bounce off of you anyway? If you are up in someone’s grill, you are facing them. They are going shoot at your mask. Your hoodie does NOTHING for you.

Bottom line. Your chances of being shot in the back or side of the neck are almost zero because to get shot there, someone would need to be behind you. A player shooting you from behind happens about 10 percent of the time. In that 10 percent, the player would then need to decide they want to shoot you in the neck.

Unless You're Cold - A Hoodie at Paintball Says 'I'm a n00b'
Unless You’re Cold – A Hoodie at Paintball Says ‘I’m a n00b’

Be the cool one in your group. Wear the onesie panda outfit if you want to make a statement. But all you need is a t-shirt or sweatshirt. Just wear what you want.

Why then are the advanced paintballers wearing gear with elbow pads? Because they use that in intense gameplay. They may also choose to lay up close and personal where close-range shots take place. Highly skilled players know they will be hit and choose to avoid going home with unnecessary welts. When experienced players come play recball some will wear the same gear due to habit.

Dress for the weather. Dress to protect your knees. Dress with something good for the ground. Boots it’s wet the day you go or soft track cleats perhaps for the woods. Otherwise, sneakers.

If you can grab a headband or a beanie hat. This helps you keep your mask from fogging. How is that you ask? The headband or beanie keep the foam trim on your paintball mask from capturing moisture to cause fog in your lens. There’s a pro tip for you.

If you don’t like bugs or fear poison ivy, wear long sleeves. Take an extra shirt or two!

Let’s recap. Knees, feet, coverage, headband, and comfort. This will help you dress for your day properly.


When you pull into the paintball complex you will mark in a safe area away from the games. What to do? Everyone in your party must report to the sign-up desk or office.

The Waiver & What It Means

Paintball is an inherently dangerous sport. Let’s face it, you shooting projectiles that can take your eye out! Now that we have made that clear, despite this fact paintball has a remarkable safety record. Why? Because the community of paintballers takes this VERY serious.

So you the first thing you will run into when you get out of your parked car is a safety waiver. If you don’t want to be part of the safe playing paintball community members, don’t sign the waiver, and don’t play. But if you do sign the waiver, you just signed away your right to be stupid and avoid responsibility for your actions.

Issuing Paintball Gear

Once your party leader has taken care of expenses or planned payment, you get your gear. Every field will issue the following.

  1. Paintball Gun – Technically called a paintball marker
  2. Paintball Mask – Unisex, offering full facial coverage. The all accommodate glasses
  3. Armband – Team colors sometimes assigned at game time

Do Rental Paintball Guns Suck?

The short answer is no. They won’t shoot at as fast a rate as electronic markers, but many if not MOST fields will upgrade your rental into an electronic. If you can afford it. Yes. Do it. While the standard rental does not suck, it is not as exciting to shoot as an upgrade. There is no denying that. You can read more on that in our Q&A article, Should I Rent A Paintball Gun?


The briefing will cover:

  • Gear
  • Safety
  • Game Type Rules

The briefing is 90 percent on safety. But you will be told how many shots your propellent tank should get you and how to know when it is low. Many fields will not allow new rental players to fill your own propellent for safety reasons.

You’ll get the same on your loader, which most hold about 180 paintballs. Don’t call them bullets. Paint is paint, not bullets. Say bullets and your n00b is showing. Never pick up paint from the ground and attempt to use it. Once it hits the ground, leave it. It will damage the gun.

Safety in paintball comes before all things. The best way to stay safe in paintball is to develop safe habits.

These habits are ones of which you will always exercise the rest of your paintball career.

For example, always walk with your paintball gun pointed down when not in-game. Why? If you accidentally pull the trigger, you’ve shot at the ground, never risking a shot to the back of someone’s head for example.

A referee will address your group with a 2 to a 5-minute safety briefing. Here is what to expect.


Never take your mask off when outside of staging

barrel cover

Barrel cover on the moment you are out in a game

gun safety switch

Always activate the gun safety when you not in-game

carrying your gun

If you are not in-game, always walk with your gun at your side as mentioned above

finger off the trigger

Again, not in-game? Keep your fingers off the trigger

Basic Game Rules For Any Game Type

  • Out of paint? You’re out
  • Out of propellent, You’re out (compressed air or c02)
  • Some places will let you stay if a friend is nearby to give you paint or trade out marker with a player exiting the field
  • No blind firing. You must see what you’re shooting. You will be called out for hanging a gun out of a bunker and blindly pulling the trigger
Blindfire at Paintball Is Punishable By Death. Okay, Not Really - You Will Just Get Removed From Game
Blindfire at Paintball Is Punishable By Death. Okay, Not Really – You Will Just Get Removed From Game

Tips For Your Paintball Mask

If you can’t see, you can’t shoot. If your paintball mask fogs up, don’t ever lift it to clean it. Believe it or not, people do it and it is possibly the most irrational decision a person can make. You risk great personal injury. So you don’t believe people do it? Okay…

This Guy Is About To Get Pounced On. Really. Refs Are Trained To Launch Themselves Atop Players To Save Them
This Guy Is About To Get Pounced On. Really. Refs Are Trained To Launch Themselves Atop Players To Save Them

Will the Teams Be Fair?

Refs will attempt to keep the teams balanced all day. However, some groups insist on being together and this can at times prove a challenge to the staff working that day.  On a whole, players can switch teams but refs and staff will have the final say.

In this photo, I’m DangerMan is playing with new players. An established player’s role is to coach them. He won’t take point. He supports them, advises and leads from behind. If they all get shot out, then he can showcase. Expect this at your local field from an experienced local.

Paintball Tips

What Are The Worst Paintball Tips?

The worst paintball tip is to wear a hoodie. You don’t need the best or newest gun. Do not use conservative military tactics. Paintball is a game of tempered aggression.

Is Paintball Safe?

Paintball is safer than most sports. Did you know most paintball injuries are sports-related? Paintball injuries from shots fired or tank bursts are below 10% of all injuries. Paintball is safe when played at paintball parks.

How Old Do You Need To Be To Play Paintball?

Most paintball parks agree the age requirement for paintball is age 10. Age 10 is an unofficial standard adopted by all paintball parks. Some will allow players as young as age 7 to play with strict, constant adult attendance.

What is paintball?

Paintball uses 68 caliber gel-filled shells shot through a paintball marker. Teams play objective-based and-or elimination. A player leaves the game when a thumbnail size of paint has marked them. Paintball is a game of tempered aggression using tactics and athleticism. Paintball is a game of angles.


Are You New To Paintball? If You Have Never Played Paintball Use This First Time Beginners Guide To Paintball


Paintball is a simple game to understand and master. It is intimidating to new players, but new players have as good a chance of survival as established players. The game just isn’t that hard. Knowing these things before you go will absolutely make for a better day. Don’t stop with this article, read more articles here in the HOW TO PLAY PAINTBALL department of DangerMan’s Lair. There are 100’s of videos on YouTube by DangerMan too! Just visit,

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Managing Editor / DangerMan's Lair - DangerMan Media Author: DangerMan's Paintball Bible. Writer. YouTube personality. Professional marketing management expert in social media, production, and analytics. Past experience as VP of Marketing for Internet-based businesses. Father of two boys. Weekends are often spent outdoors as a paid promotional celebrity paintball player. Free time is spent many weeknights on the streets of New York City, literally — inline skating. Don't worry. There is safety in numbers skating with hundreds of others on the streets of Philadelphia and Manhattan.