Paintball for Kids: A Parents Guide


Paintball is a fun and exciting activity for players of all ages, including kids. Matter of fact, it is a great way for kids to run around and burn off a bunch of energy and have a good time all at once.

As a parent, I am sure you have a few questions about paintball and what to expect. Lets go over some of the most common questions I hear in detail and if by the end of the article you have any other questions, please feel free to use the “contact me” link at the bottom of the page.

Is Paintball Safe for Kids?

Yes, Paintball is safe for kids. The staff members at the paintball field you will be attending will supply the proper safety equipment, show you and your child how to use equipment, and provide a field ref to make sure everyone is playing safely.

The paintball industry as a whole is committed to the safety of all players both on and off the field. The masks, paintball guns, air tanks, and paintballs are held to high standards and regulations to provide a safe playing environment for everyone involved.

Your local paintball fields number one goal will be the safety of all participants. They will provide a safety briefing and give details on how to properly use all equipment you will be renting from them as well as how to fill your air tank and tips on how to play.

You can ask a staff member questions at any time. Keep in mind that each field may have slightly different rules and could change depending on what type of game is being played. The major safety rules like keeping your mask on while on the field will be universal and will never change.

Do Paintballs Hurt?

Yes, getting hit by a paintball can hurt especially if you get hit on the bare skin up close.

Most paintball hits will be further away and and only sting for a few seconds. It is primarily the sudden shock of getting hit by a paintball that surprises you the most. Plus, just about every field that I go to that has kids playing and enforce extra rules to prevent a child from walking off the field in tears.

There are also other variants of paintball called Low Impact Paintball or Paintball Soft. I go into more detail about this great option that lots of paintball fields are offering below.

Most paintball fields offer extra padding or jump suits that players can wear to help reduce or eliminate the sudden sting of a paintball. Just ask for one at any time if you feel like you want one.

You can read more about how to dress and the rules fields have in this article I wrote below:
www.paintzapper.com/does-it-hurt-when-you-get-hit-by-a-paintballOpens in a new tab.

How Old Does Your Child Need to be to Play Paintball?

The minimum age for paintball is 10 years old with parents consent.

This may vary from field to field, but the majority of paintball fields allow players as young as 10 years old to participate.

Most fields will require parental consent up to 17 years old and have the parent or legal guardian sign a safety waver for the child to play.

How Much Does it Cost to Play Paintball

A paintball player with no gear can expect to pay between $35 to $70 for everything they will need to play paintball for a day. This price will vary depending on what field you go to but will typically include admission, mask, paintball gun, and paintballs.

You can usually save some money per person if you register as a group. By registering and paying ahead of time, the field can prepare for your arrival and supply you with your own personal referee for your group if it is large enough.

For more information on how much it is to play and how to save some money, you can read my article linked below:
https://www.paintzapper.com/cost-to-play-paintball/Opens in a new tab.

Low Impact Paintball

Low Impact Paintball is just like regular paintball but uses a smaller sized paintball that has roughly a third of the impact energy of a standard paintball.

Low impact paintball is also called Paintball Soft and 50 Cal. Because we are using a smaller paintball, the gear is smaller and lighter making it easier for the younger players to hold and shoot while reducing the sting when they get hit. It is a major win win for families with younger kids that want to play paintball

Standard paintballs are 68 caliber (0.68 inches in diameter) and Low Impact Paintballs are 50 caliber (0.50 inches in diameter). This allows you to experience paintball to its fullest without it hurting anywhere near as much as regular paintballs.

The age restrictions for Low Impact Paintball is slightly lower allowing children as young as 7 years old to play paintball. You will have to check with your local field if they offer this style of paintball and what their age limits are for their field.

What to Expect at the Paintball Field

If this is your first time going to a paintball field, it may be a little intimidating at the beginning. Lets walk through what will normally happen at most fields so you have a better understanding of what to do when you arrive.

If you want some handy tips for playing paintball for the first time, check out my Beginner Paintball TipsOpens in a new tab. guide for extra information.

Registration

The first step of the process is registering your child or your group. This can be done on line through the fields website, by phone, or in person.

You will need a safety waver for every person who will be stepping on to the paintball field, regardless if they are playing or taking pictures. If you are taking your child’s friends, they will need safety wavers filled out and signed by their parents or legal guardian. This can be found on the fields website or by emailing them.

From here, the front desk will provide you with your equipment needed for the day or direct you to where you can pick up your gear.

Safety Speech

A field staff member will provide you with the fields rules and what they expect from all players. It is important to pay attention to these rules as any major violations may have the player or the entire group ejected without a refund.

The person providing the speech will add emphasis on keeping your masks on at all times while on the field and keeping your barrel cover on at all times when off the field. These are the two most important rules of the entire sport, closely followed by listening to your ref when they need you to do something.

The Ref or staff member may also show you how to fill your air tanks and how your rental equipment works. Pay attention as you will need to do these steps yourself later in the day. You can always have them do it for you if you are uncomfortable doing it.

Prepare Your Gear

Before you start filling up with paint and putting on masks, you will need to find a table, bench, or section for your group that you can designate as “your area” so everyone knows where to come back to after each game.

From here, it is time to prepare your gear for play! Your air tanks will most likely be filled but it is a good idea to see how much air is in the tank by looking at the pressure gauge. If you see the pressure between the 2 and 3 you should be fine (pressure is measured in thousands, so between 2,000psi and 3,000psi).

You will need to fill your hopper with paint, equip any protective padding if you requested it, and make sure your mask fits properly. If you mask is loose and you are uncertain how to tighten it up, immediately find a staff member or experienced player to show you how to tighten the mask strap. I have a visual aid in my beginner tips guide linked hereOpens in a new tab..

After your gear is ready, you will most likely have to test your paintball guns velocity. Sometimes the field does this before handing you the gear, but some fields will have you test the gear again or before every game. Your ref will show you how to do this and verify that your velocity is within the safe range for play.

Separated into Teams

Now it’s time to pick teams! If you want to stick together as a group, make sure to tell the ref or staff member who is dividing everyone into teams.

Every field that I have gone to will typically separate experienced players from the absolute beginner unless everyone is in agreement to play as one big group.

The ref will do their best to divide everyone up into as even of teams as possible to make the game more fun for everyone. This may take a few games to get right and the experienced players like myself will usually assist or play in a very relaxed manner to even it up.

Once teams are chosen, the game format is picked and the ref will give the rundown on how the game will be played. The normal game that is played most the the time is basic elimination, where either team has to fully eliminate the other team within the allowed time to win.

3, 2, 1, GO!

Now for the exciting part!

Nearly every kit I have met on the field enjoyed themselves after their first game and were eager to start the next game!

Try not to get frustrated if your child is staying near the back and not pushing up like the experienced players. Let hem play at their own pace as they may actually think they are doing really good and having a blast! Feel free to provide encouragement over the net, but don’t cheat and call out other players positions for them to shoot at.

If you signed a waver yourself but don’t wish to play, you may be able to rent just a mask and stay on the sidelines to take pictures. This way you don’t have to take pictures through the protective netting and can get some really cool shots of your child in action! You might get hit by a paintball, but it really isn’t as bad as people make it out to be.

– Kids Like Shooting Paintballs

The highlight of playing paintball for any kid is when they get to shoot their paintball gun. It doesn’t matter what they shoot at, they just want to shoot. Even if they don’t get anyone, every kid I know who has played paintball love to shoot their paintball above anything else.

Help keep an eye on them, they may not be able to judge how many shots they have left and may even shoot through half of their 200 round hopper before the game even starts. You could just say, “don’t shoot it all yet, save some for the other team!” to help them remember not to shoot it all.

– The Refs Need to Have the Final Word

Your field Ref is responsible for the players on the field and by letting them do their job without distraction or competition will make sure everyone playing on the field safe and having a good time.

Let them do the task they were hired for and do your best not to alter the field hierarchy, the Ref or staff member overseeing the game needs to have authority over the game in front of them so they can quickly and decisively communicate and make orders as needed.

You are allowed to voice concerns and step in during an emergency, but please let the refs do their jobs. Making sure the refs have the last word on the field makes sure that all participants know who to listen to without any hesitancy or questions.

Prepare for the Next Game

After your first game, you will want to make sure your child or party properly puts their gear back in your area so no one leaves their gear on a random table and forget where they put their paintball gun.

Make sure everyone drinks water and has a snack or two throughout the day, but not too much at once or they may get an upset stomach the next game. They may be really excited and if they are with their friends will be chatty. Just make sure they have something to drink while they talk.

They will need to wipe off any old hits on both the body and gear. This way you get the messy part out of the way and are less likely to get the fresh paintballs messy and makes the Refs job easier to determine if a player is hit or not.

Before the next game, everyone will want to refill their air tanks and add more paintballs to their hopper. This way, when the game is called, everyone is ready to go with fewer delays.

What Should You Wear to Play Paintball?

Proper clothing and shoes will need to be considered both for safety and comfort.

Every field I have gone to require all players to wear fully closed shoes of some fashion when on the field.

Most new players usually use their oldest pair of shoes as they can get dirty really fast on the field. They don’t have to be anything fancy, just something safe to run in. Lots of players will use cleats if they have them but aren’t required.

Your kids will want to wear loose fitting long sleeve shirt or sweater and pants. I specify loose fitting clothing as they allow you to move around freely and can help reduce some of the pain from direct hits compared to tight fitting clothing.

Do Paintballs Stain?

While it is ideal to wear old clothes to play paintball, you shouldn’t worry about paintballs ruing your clothes if washed properly.

Most paintball fields use paintballs that are easy to wash out of clothes and shouldn’t stain most clothing. It is ideal to wear darker clothing just in case the pigment doesn’t wash completely out.

The best way I have found to wash my clothes and remove all signs of paintball and dirt is to do the following:

  1. Wash your paintball clothes separately from other laundry in a smaller load with regular detergent.
  2. Use the Pre-Soak function to dissolve most of the paintballs and loosen the dirt.
  3. Wash with warm or hot water on “heavy soil” setting.
  4. Use 2 rinse cycles for best results.

What Should You Bring to the Field?

If you are new to the sport, you don’t need to buy any paintballs or paintball gear as the Paintball field will have everything you need. If you happen to have some gear that works, feel free to bring it but paintball fields will cover all the necessary playing supplies you will need.

Do not buy your own paint. The vast majority of paintball fields are Field Paint Only (FPO). This is for two reasons; 1) the paintballs purchased at a box store may be old and have gone bad (yes they have a shelf lifeOpens in a new tab.) and 2) it help the field stay in business.

What you will need to bring with you are general supplies and maybe some comfort items. Here is a list of items you will want to bring with you:

  • Food (light snacks and meals, nothing too heavy)
  • Drinks (Water and Gatoraid/Poweraid. When in doubt how much to bring, overestimate)
  • Cooler with ice
  • Chairs, table, and canopy (call your local field and see if you need them first)
  • Paper towels
  • Spare clothes and shoes
  • First Aid Kit

Can Your Kids Play Paintball Without a Group?

You don’t have to have a large group to play paintball, many players just go by themselves and play with the general population. This is what I do 90% of the time and is quite fun.

The paintball community is quite receptive to new players and are accepting of anyone wanting to hit the field with or against them. Plus, I can guarantee you that you will run across other new players playing for the first time for your child to hang out with.

Of course, you can play paintball with your child as well! I have found many kids would love the chance to play next to their parents or even see how they do by playing against them. This provides a very fun bonding experience for everyone.

Bring Clothes or Car Seat Covers for the Trip Home

Lets face facts, you can and will get quite dirty while playing paintball and the last thing you want is a sweaty, dirty child with paintball goop all over them sitting on the nice clean seat in your car.

I suggest bringing a spare set of clothes, a large towel, or an old sheet to cover the car seats with before sitting in in the vehicle. It is much easier to clean a towel or sheet than cleaning off your car seat.

Getting Your Child Their Own Paintball Gear

If your child (or even you) find they really like the sport and wants to keep playing paintball, you may want to look into getting some paintball gear of their own.

Owning and using your own gear may be expensive at the beginning, but if they keep playing the cost of buying the gear will offset the cost of renting each time. Plus, player owned gear is usually better quality than the basic rental gear you will get at the field providing a better player experience.

What to Look for when Buying Paintball Gear

For anyone looking to buy paintball gear for the first time, the massive variety and options can be overwhelming.

I will break down what you need to know for each type of gear you will need. The bare basic gear any player will need to have to play paintball is a Mask, Paintball Gun, Hopper, and Air Tank. There are extra things that make paintball a little more enjoyable like gloves, pod packs. pods, and other accessories and I will touch on those as well.

– A Word of Caution on Pre-Packaged Player Packs

I don’t like to suggest the paintball “starter kits” marketed to new players as they usually only give the most basic paintball masks that are unpleasant to wear and come with obsolete CO2 tanks that very few fields will fill. Some of the starter kits don’t even give refillable tanks but have small one time use CO2 tanks, so you will have to purchase cartridges or a whole new tank later on.

You will eventually spend more money on a prepackaged paintball starter kit just to make it halfway decent vs if you just purchased good gear individually to begin with.

– Masks

Paintball masks are the most important piece of equipment any player will own. If that surprises you think of it this way, a player can have thousands of dollars put into the most modern paintball gun but if they don’t have a mask they are not allowed on the paintball field at all.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a decent mask but you definitely don’t want to buy the super basic starter masks. The basic masks are usually uncomfortable and can fog up easily.

What to look for in a good starter mask:

  • Thermal Lens – Much higher resistance to fogging.
  • Comfortable Foam Lining – Less irritation and more comfort.
  • Easy to Clean – Disassembles easily to clean out paint and dirt.

Suggested Starter masks:

  • Dye Special Edition Thermal Mask – Thermal lens, easy to clean, great vision, extra ventilation, comfortable foam, but not the best option for glasses. Click here to pick one up on AmazonOpens in a new tab..
  • Empire Helix – Thermal lens, easy to clean, great vision, sturdy design, fits over most glasses, but foam is a bit on the stiff side. Click here to pick one up on AmazonOpens in a new tab..

– Paintball Guns

Not all paintball guns are made the same and if you buy used, you run the risk of getting broken gear that you may not know how to fix. Thankfully, paintball gun manufactures have made some great options for new players at budget friendly prices.

You don’t need the fancy electronic paintball guns to run with the big boys. In the hands of a confident player a basic paintball gun can be just as effective as the more expensive variants.

What to look for in a beginner paintball gun:

  • Reliable – The last thing you want to do is have your gear break on the field.
  • Easy to maintain – The easier it is to clean and do basic maintenance on, the more it will be maintained and will last longer.
  • Light weight – If it is too heavy or bulky it may be too tedious and exhausting to carry around.
  • Mechanical or Electric – Mechanical paintball guns are easier to use and maintain, but electronic versions come with nice features like sensors to make sure you don’t accidentally chop a paintball in half when shooting.

Suggested beginner paintball guns:

  • Tippmann Cronus Tactical – Reliable design, simple mechanical trigger, looks really cool, requires very little maintenance, but is harder to clean and is a little heavy. Click here to pick one up on AmazonOpens in a new tab..
  • Azodin Blitz 3 – Electronic design, aluminum body, light weight, easy to clean, very simple design, comes in multiple colors and is affordably priced for a basic electronic paintball marker. Click here to pick one up on AmazonOpens in a new tab..
  • Planet Eclipse EMEK – Highly reliable design, easy to maintain, hardly requires maintenance, uses the same internals as more expensive paintball guns, but is slightly more complex and a little more expensive. Click here to pick one up on AmazonOpens in a new tab..

– Hoppers

You will need a paintball hopper to feed paint into the paintball gun. Without a decent hopper, the chance of blank shots and paintballs getting chopped in half by the bolt when shooting increases.

There are plenty of beginner friendly hoppers in various price ranges that feed fast enough to keep up with most basic paintball guns. I am going to link the best ones below so you don’t have to dig through all the options.

What to look for in a beginner paintball hopper:

  • Gravity Fed or Electronic – Electronic hoppers use motors to feed paintballs quickly, gravity hoppers are simple and some are specially made to feed quickly.
  • Maximum Capacity – Standard paintball hoppers hold about 200 paintballs and that is where you should start looking.

Suggested beginner paintball hoppers:

  • Empire Splitter – Simple gravity fed design, specially designed internal shelf allows paint to feed fast enough for mechanical paintball guns, very affordable. Click here to pick one up on AmazonOpens in a new tab..
  • Planet Eclipse PAL Loader**Only works on the Planet Eclipse EMEK, EMF100, and Etha 2** Simple mechanically agitating hopper, great price alternative to electronic hoppers. Click here to pick one up on AmazonOpens in a new tab..
  • Empire Halo Too – Electronic motorized hopper, feeds fast enough for electronic paintball hoppers, best bang for the buck motorized hopper on the market. Click here to pick one up on AmazonOpens in a new tab..

– Air Tanks

Air tanks are needed to power the paintball gun and shoot paintball. I only recommend High Pressure Air (HPA) tanks and not CO2 tanks. CO2 tanks are considered obsolete and most paintball fields cannot fill them.

Most paintball guns on the market today will only run on HPA paintball tanks and they are the current industry standard. If you want to learn about the differences between HPA and CO2 tanks, you can read the article I wrote by clicking hereOpens in a new tab..

What to look for when buying a beginner HPA tank:

  • Size – Larger tanks may hold more air but weigh more. Stick to a 48ci 3000psi tank (also called a 48/3000). This will be more than enough for any regular player at a field as they usually offer unlimited tank refills.
  • Regulator quality – I prefer using tanks from reputable companies. Cheap China knock off regulators just don’t last very long (1 – 2 years) and usually can’t be fixed.
  • Material and Price – There are 2 types of tanks, aluminum and fiber wrapped. Fiber wrapped HPA tanks may be much lighter and hold more air, but cost 2-3 times more than a basic aluminum tank.

Suggested beginner paintball tank:

– Barrel Cleaners

It doesn’t matter if you are an absolute beginner or a seasoned professional, you will break a paintball in your barrel and it will throw off your accuracy.

Thankfully there is a cheap tool that you can keep in your pocket and cleans out your barrel so you can keep playing, the barrel swab.

Just about every player like myself has anywhere from 2 to 20 of them as they are one of the most essential tool any player can have on the field.

The two that I like and use are the Exalt Barrel Maid (link to Amazon) and the Virtue Barrel Swab (link to Amazon)Opens in a new tab.. They absorb the paint in the barrel allowing the player to shoot accurately once again.

– Soft Goods

Gloves, padding, and beanies are great options to protect the hands, chest and top of the head from paintballs.

You can find a bunch of basic paintball chest protectors online, but I have rarely found the need to buy one for myself as most fields will loan you one if you ask. Most fields give priority to kids and ladies, so your kids should be able to pick one up if there are any available.

I find that wearing a hat backwards or an old beanie helps make the mask fit more snug and provides an extra layer to reduce a paintball hit to the head. It just makes it more enjoyable for the kids and allows them to worry less about getting hit.

There are a multitude of gloves on the market from shop gloves to paintball gloves. If you want to learn more about them, check out my article to see what options are available to you by clicking hereOpens in a new tab..

– Pod Packs and Pods

Pod packs and pods are designed to hold extra paintballs so a player can reload on the field when their hopper is empty. These are handy for longer games but isn’t absolutely necessary to have.

– Extra Accessories

There are a nearly endless selection of extra gear you can buy for paintball and you can spend days looking through them.

I made a handy list of extra gear that most players will find useful in one way or another. New players won’t need any of it but they may come in handy later on down the line. You can see them by clicking hereOpens in a new tab..

Any Questions?

If you find yourself with a question, please feel free to use the “contact me” link below to send me an email. I try and check my inbox every day but could be delayed if I am at a paintball event or out of town.

Paintzapper

Florida based paintball player with 20 years of experience playing everything from recball to 24 hour scenario events.

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