Paintball is a sport in which players compete, in teams or individually, to eliminate opponents by tagging them with capsules containing water soluble dye and gelatin shell outside (referred to as paintballs) propelled from a device called a paintball marker (commonly referred to as a paintball gun). Paintballs are composed of a non-toxic, biodegradable, water soluble polymer. The game is regularly played at a sporting level with organized competition involving major tournaments, professional teams, and players. Paintball technology is also used by military forces, law enforcement, para-military and security organizations to supplement military training, as well as playing a role in riot response, and non-lethal suppression of dangerous suspects.
Games can be played on very hard floors in indoor fields, or outdoor fields of varying sizes. A game field is scattered with natural or artificial terrain, which players use for tactical cover. Game types in paintball vary, but can include capture the flag, elimination, ammunition limits, defending or attacking a particular point or area, or capturing objects of interest hidden in the playing area. Depending on the variant played, games can last from seconds to hours, or even days in scenario play.
The legality of paintball varies among countries and regions. In most areas where regulated play is offered, players are required to wear protective masks, and game rules are strictly enforced. Masks are not required in the staging area
"Woodsball" is a term developed late in the history of the game to refer to what was the original form of the game: teams competing in a wooded or natural environment. Recently the term has been adopted to refer to virtually any form of paintball played in natural surroundings, as opposed to arena or artificial fields. A lot of the time, people played outdoors because it was readily available. Woodsball should not be mistaken for scenario ball; the two forms of play differ in tactics, size and rules.
Woodsball features large teams, in competition to obtain various goals and objectives. Large Scale woodsball games are commonly referred to as "Big Games" or "Scenario Games". Popular examples of this format are Cousin's Big Game in Coram, New York (on Long Island) and Hell Survivor's Monster Game just outside Pinckney, Michigan and Invasion of Normandy at Skirmish U.S.A in Pennsylvania which draws in about 3,500 to 4,500 players a year and lasts for two days. Another variant of the Big Game is the "Attack and Defend" format where large numbers of attackers try to overrun a fixed, but well defended objective such as a compound or large building.
Speedball is played in an open field filled with inflatable fabric "bunkers" which can be used for protection and or concealment. The ability for these objects to be inflatable and deflated quickly allows them to be easily moved from venue to venue during competitions. Speedball games were originally started as a way to make the game safer for players who might trip on uneven woodland terrain. Speedball is generally a fast-paced game where many more balls are used than in woodsball style games.
The original speedball playing area was a field made of manmade bunkers. To make the game faster, field owners began using black drainage pipes anchored into the ground to create a new fast-paced game called hyperball. The next major leap for paintball was the invention of airball. Players were getting bored of the same field over and over again and so they invented flexible high-strength PVC fabric bunkers filled with air. These were easily moved, so that now a field can be made into infinite variations. Over the years a standard in airball was established of a snake side and a dorito side, referring to the type of bunker used on those sides of the field. The field became identical or mirrored on both sides so as to not give one team an advantage. Also a giant center bunker began to be utilized in many fields. The newest advance in paintball is the use of artificial turf on fields. This allows less maintenance of fields, faster play and a much more even match between those two teams, as it is as close to identical on both sides as possible.
The turf fields when used for speedball are easier to maintain and have some positive benefits, however, the seams in the turf fields do not stay together well after many games are played on the field. This can cause the players to catch their foot in the seam and cause an injury. The turf fields become very wet and slippery after many games are played throughout the day; also resulting in players slipping on the turf and hurting themselves. Fortunately, players wear protective gear to reduce injuries.It is also a very exciting spectator sport.
Also known as a "paintball gun" or "marker", this is the primary piece of equipment, used to tag the opposing player with paintballs. The paintball marker must have a loader or "hopper" attached to keep the marker fed with paint, and will be either gravity-fed (where balls drop into the loading chamber), or electronically force-fed. Modern markers require a compressed air tank or Co2 tank. In contrast, very early bolt-action paintball markers used disposable silver capsules normally seen in pellet guns. In the mid to late 1980s, marker mechanics improved to include constant air pressure and semi-automatic operation. Further improvements included increased rates of fire; carbon dioxide (CO2) tanks from 9 to 20 oz, and compressed air or nitrogen in sizes from 13 to 88 ci, and finally pressures up to 5000 PSI. However, the use of liquid CO2 caused damage to sensitive components inside the marker, and was phased out in favor of compressed air.
Masks are safety devices players are required to wear at all times on the field, to protect them from paintballs. The original equipment used by players were safety goggles of the type used in labs and wood shops; today's goggles are derived from skiing/snowboarding goggles, with an attached hard shell that completely covers the eyes, mouth, ears and nostrils of the wearer. Masks can also feature throat guards. Modern masks have evolved to be less bulky compared with older designs. Some players may remove the mouth and/or ear protection for aesthetic or comfort reasons, but this is not recommended nor often allowed at commercial venues.
Elbow and knee pads
Common among outdoor sports, players can choose to help protect knee, elbow and even hip joints from jarring impact with the use of pads. For paintball, these pads are generally soft foam worn inside a player's pants to prevent abrasion of the pad against the ground.
The ammunition used in the marker, paintballs are spherical gelatin capsules containing primarily polyethylene glycol, other non-toxic and water-soluble substances, and dye. The quality of paintballs is dependent on the brittleness of the ball's shell, the roundness of the sphere, and the thickness of the fill; higher-quality balls are almost perfectly spherical, with a very thin shell to guarantee breaking upon impact, and a thick, brightly colored fill that is difficult to hide or wipe off during the game. The highest-grade paintballs incorporate cornstarch and metallic flake into the fill to leave a thick glittery "splat" that is very obvious against any background color, and hard to wipe off. Almost all Paintballs in use today are biodegradeable. All ingredients used in the making of a Paintball are food grade quality and are harmless to the participants and environment. Manufacturers and distributors have been making the effort to move away from the traditional oil-based paints and compressed CO2 gas propellant, to a more friendly waterbased formula and compressed air in an effort to become more "ECO-Friendly". Paintballs today are a standard size of 0.68" or 68 Calibre.