These contests are held in fields, forests, wooden forts, or any combination of the above and often feature various obstacles and barriers that allow for strategic game play.
Games generally involve various objectives, such as Capture the Flag or Elimination.
Standard equipment includes paintball masks, which protect the eyes and face from incoming projectiles, and skin protecting clothing.
Camouflage is popular, especially when playing in wooded areas.
Long sleeves are common to protect exposed skin from hazards, and heavy duty shoes are often preferable.
The paintball gun is the main armament and many types of guns are available.
Guns can be simple pump action affairs, semi-automatic, or even mechanically and electronically controlled automatics.
Guns use compressed gas, usually CO2, to fire paintballs at opponents.
Paintballs travel very rapidly and can cause welts if hitting exposed or lightly covered skin from short or medium distances, which is why many players wear protective clothing.
A paintball explodes on contact, which marks the player it hits as "dead.
" Paint is non-toxic and machine washable.
At the beginning of a round, teams are decided upon.
This can be a simply matter of having captains choose players one after the other; to predetermined teams that have played with each other before.
Teams generally wear identification marks, such as colored flags on their arms, to indicate which team they are a member of.
Teams then move to their prospective side of the playing field and the match begins.
Strategy is integral to achieve whatever the objective is, and teams that work well together which often emerge victorious.
Making good use of cover and firing accurately will limit team casualties as they pursue victory.
Referees are common in organized paintball games and will enforce rules and boundaries.
When a player is shot they will call out that they have been hit and will usually raise their arms and gun above their head to show they are "out" before heading for the nearest exit point.