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After watching some exciting videos about paintball, you now want to know the best way to start playing paintball yourself! The first thing you should do is take a few friends with you, maybe even encourage your co-workers at your job, and explain that you want to get some quality bonding time in. It’s important to note that playing paintball means that you’re marking opponents with paint. If you get the question, “But does it hurt?” You simply say with a smile, “There’s only one way to find out!”


Find a reputable paintball field near you that has a plethora of paintball field choices from the exciting fast-paced side of speedball to the scenic woodsy experience. Some fields even have castles you can play inside of, or town-like building structures, and other apocalyptic-themed fields adorned with old beat up cars, and if you’re lucky, opponents dressed like zombies. Safety is of vital importance, so be sure you go to a field that has netting, referees, and the right protective equipment to ensure you’ll have a pleasant experience. 



Most fields have protective clothing you can wear, or you could just show up to a field dressed in something that you won’t mind getting dirty in. Wearing an old set of jeans, even sweatpants, are ok, but investing in a good set of affordable paintball pants is a good idea. Wearing long sleeve shirts are highly recommended because your arms will be protected from paintball hits. Wear something on top of your head for extra cushion for those unexpected head shots. A beanie is ideal, and double layering that with a headband you can tie behind your head is a protective bonus. Have you ever played volleyball? For extra padding, you can use volleyball knee pads to protect your knees during those times you have to quickly get down low. The best bet is to invest in a set of paintball-designed knee pads for the best protection, especially if you have sensitive knees. For your feet, wearing softball (soccer or football) cleats are a popular choice, but wearing an old set of sneakers does the job, too. Keeping in mind, that you can throw those shoes in the washer. Because you’ll be playing for the first time, you could use a paintball pack with a few paintball pods (some call these "tubes") to carry your paintballs in, but most first time players have plenty of fun using just a hopper (the paintball holder on top of the marker) full of paintballs. 



Now that you’re covered from head to toe, hopefully you’ve gone over the safety briefing during the orientation, and they issued markers that have full hoppers of paint and aired up air tanks, make your way to the target shooting areas (also known as “Chrono Areas”) to give you a chance to test out their rental markers. Get a feel for the marker you’re about to use on the field, holding the marker tight against your shoulder, focusing on the target ahead of you. Keep your elbow tucked in and pull the trigger, keeping both eyes open. Then switch to the other hand, because learning how to shoot both left-handed and right-handed in the beginning of your paintball experience is a great advantage. 



You don’t have to overanalyze the field, because sometimes, that’s half the fun - being able to play on a field you’re not familiar with makes it exciting. Initially, it’s a bit scary, of course, but the next time you play that particular field, you’ll have a better idea of where to go and what the best bunkers are on that field. But, if there is time to “walk the field”, which means exactly that - walking around the area of the field to see what kind of shots you have from each bunker - it’s recommended that you do so to figure out where you’re going to go first, then what your secondary move will be, and so on and so forth. During this time, if you really want to be ready, name the bunkers on the field and use easy-to-remember names like “Back left”, “Center back” or “Home”, and “Back right.” Usually referees can help you figure out what the names of the bunkers are, and sometimes, it’s the shape of a “Dorito” chip, and thus bunkers like those are actually just referred to as, “Doritos”. Naming the bunkers will help you and your friends pick off opponents faster when you’re yelling out where they’re located and everyone on your team knows what those calls are.



Usually staff members will call out when games are about to begin. Take a sip of your water and remember to stay hydrated during the time that you’re at the field, and line up with your friends to play your first paintball game. Set up at the field in such a way that you all don’t start and end up in the same bunker once the game begins. Don’t be afraid to talk to the staff member or referee assigned you to in order to quickly get an idea of where people are going to take off to at the beginning of the game. Keep in mind that if the field is mirrored (same on both sides) almost exactly to the other side, then understand that most of players on the opposing team will most likely break out to the same bunkers your side will be taking off to.



Listen to the referee calling the game, usually they will count it down and say, “GO, GO, GO!”  Quickly shoot off a few balls on the start (or "break out"), paying close attention to where the opponents are running towards, then put a stream (or "lane") of paintballs in front of them, or at the entry of the bunker they’re trying to run to. Many beginners are quiet when they first start playing, not realizing that they can ask their teammates where the opponents are located. A good piece of advice when it comes to communication on the field is to basically just hold a conversation and say things like, “I’m shooting the middle bunker. What are you shooting at?” or “Where else are they?” Another great piece of advice towards the goal of winning a game is to realize that as long as you shoot one opponent, you’ve already done your job. If everyone shoots one opponent, each being different every time, you’re just that much closer to winning the game. 



Don’t sit in the back the entire time and stay in the same bunker you started off in. Take a risk by moving to the next bunker in front of you, shooting and moving simultaneously. This is just a game, you’re not going to lose heaps of money or miss out on a cash prize for losing the game. So have fun and advance down the field, giving you closer shots to opponents, increasing your accuracy the closer you get. Ask your teammates to “lay cover” by shooting at those opposing players who are the biggest threat to you by directing them and explaining that you’re going to try and move up. Be specific and ask them to “shoot the corner” or “shoot the tape” (which means to shoot down the side of the field), causing the opponent to tuck in, and stop shooting, giving you a chance to advance.



Always have the objective to have fun and make the best out of every second that you're out there on the field alongside your friends. The next game you play, try something different and move to different locations of the field even off the break. Run to the center 50 off the break one game, run to a corner the next; change it up to give you as many new scenarios as possible, while getting a great cardio session in at the same time.



When playing, treat people the way you want to be treated. Don’t try to be malicious on purpose and pay close attention to the rules. Paintball is an exhilarating experience and is a game for all ages and genders. If everyone goes out on the field being mindful and respectful of one another, then rest assured, everyone will walk away from the day of paintball looking forward to the next chance to play.


That’s how you start playing paintball and if you practice enough with that same group of friends you brought with you, or you made friends while you were there, you’ll be starting your own paintball team next and participating in a rookie tournament next in no time.

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