Tips for your first paintball match

Paintball has been enjoyed for years by people on stag dos, birthdays, corporate events, team building and more. It's an exhilarating team sport and heaps of fun. That said, it can be daunting to turn up to your first match with no experience, so Mayhem Paintball Essex offered us some tips for the best way to prepare for your first paintball match…    

Get a group together

You can turn up as a lone wolf and play, but we think it's way more fun if you organise to play as a team with your friends. Friendship and comradery are at the heart of every team, so think carefully about who you’d like to cover your back.  

Determine the attitude of your team too.  Are you playing just for fun, or are you going to take things a bit more seriously?  If things are going to get serious, you might want to discuss how you’ll communicate, and any set tactics and coordinated manoeuvres you’ll look to use.        

Prepare to get dirty

You're going to be scrambling around fields and woods, and you're going to get dirty. Bring clothes you don't mind getting caked in mud.  Again, if you’re looking to take things a bit more seriously – you might choose to get some kind of team kit.  

From personal experience I’d also consider investing in some padded gloves that will still allow the dexterity required to pull the paintball gun’s trigger, whilst providing some protection from paintball-impacts.  Getting shot in the hand with a paintball can be pretty painful.  A hoody is also a good option, to protect the neck and the back of your head.    

Listen to the safety briefing

Paintball is great fun, but there are some risks. For the sake of your own fun and safety, make sure you listen to all safety briefings offered by the venue.  Most injuries are only superficial, for example bruises, but be especially careful not to run into anything. This is easily done when you’re running for cover and the adrenaline is pumping.    

Accept that you'll get hit

You are going to get shot with a paintball gun, and it will hurt, but not that much. Wear baggy layers to mitigate the bruises if you're worried, and don't get upset when you get hit with a ball – losing is part of playing any game and you're new to this one. Take a look at this video for some more information.    

Get familiar with the rules and etiquette

  • The actual rules for the game you'll be playing might vary between the venue, the specific game you're playing, or even the players you're with. Some things are always true, though:
  • Don't 'bonus ball' players. Once they're out, they're out, pointless cruelty drives players away.
  • Admit when you're hit and leave the field of play: no one likes a cheater!  
  • Don't fire blind, you could be shooting game refs or your own teammates.
  • Avoid shooting point blank. It's considered polite to offer a player a chance to surrender without being shot when they're caught dead to rights. If they refuse, it's considered appropriate to aim for a shoe, padded area, or their weapon. Avoid shooting within 10 feet, and never deliberately shoot at a player's face.
  • Never, ever shoot at a player if they're not wearing a mask, regardless of your distance from them.  We're sure you'd never do it, but it's wildly unacceptable to shoot at local wildlife.
  • Get mobile  The fear of getting hit can cause players to freeze up behind obstacles. Shed the fear and get moving, it's the only way to win.
  • Talk to your team  In any sport, communication is key, and paintball is no exception. No one's expecting your team to operate like SWAT, but working as a team to overcome your opposition is part of the fun and gives you the best chance of winning a round.
  • Relax  Be aware that you’ll be pretty ‘hyped-up’ whilst playing, and it’s easy to get upset when you’ve been shot.  This is your leisure time, you're here to have fun! Don't let losing a round of paintball ruin your day.