Are you interested in paintball? Does the thrill of playing "tag" at 200 miles per hour sound exhilarating? Paintball is a fast growing sport which is stereotyped as being "mock combat". Nowadays, it's anything but that! Paintball is a sport, simply put, it's a competition between teams.
The first and foremost important issue with paintball is safety. Unsafe conditions can lead to serious injury. Just as a football player needs to wear pads and a helmet, paintballers need common sense and protective gear. The most important gear is an approved face mask, protection of the eyes is essential and not wearing a mask is asking for trouble. Do not substitute an approved mask with workshop glasses or sunglasses! Proper face protection can be purchased in many places; Sector 7G, Sportstown, Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart, Sports Authority, K-Mart, Airguns Alaska, as well as many online resources.
After acquiring a mask, you should think about your clothing. Most players prefer that their bare skin is covered. This includes long sleeve shirts, pants, a neck guard, gloves, and a hat. Some players wear coveralls, which are an excellent choice for recreational play. Remember that, even though paintballs are water soluble, sometimes the dyes can stain cotton clothing, so don't plan on wearing these clothes out to dinner anymore. Polyester and nylon tend wash out nicely. Use a cold wash cycle and don't heat dry.. this will tend to "set" the stain.)
The last issues of safety involve the paintball guns, or paintball "markers" as I like to call them. Paintball masks are approved up to 300 FPS (roughly 200 miles per hour!). This means that 300 Feet Per Second is the MAXIMUM your marker should ever fire a paintball. Almost all guns are adjustable and any field will have an available chronograph which can measure your FPS. In small areas or recreational play, 250 FPS is a good speed to consider. Another safety issue for your marker is a Barrel Plug. Barrel plugs are placed in your markers barrel when you aren't playing. If the trigger is accidentally pulled, and the safety is off, a barrel plug will prevent the paintball from leaving the marker. All fields require the use of barrel plugs. Remember before playing your game, to review with all players what your game guidelines are. Will you offer a surrender when in close range? At what distance? What is the goal in this game? Elimination? Capture the flag? Clear communication at this point can prevent arguments later on. If there are an odd amount of players, one player should referee.
Now that you have completed safety 101, it's time to review what it takes to get into paintball. The best way to see if this is your sport, without investing a lot of money, is to rent or borrow equipment and play a few games.
Once you're hooked (I know you will be), you can start asking yourself (and everyone else) - "What paintball marker should I buy?"
If you feel that you're the recreational type who doesn't plan compete, then consider a Tippman Model 98. Tippman has always made a solid marker that is priced for entry to mid-level markets. Of course there are other choices, be sure to shop around and listen to the players as they tend to know how different markers perform. Some may even be selling their equipment in order to upgrade. Be sure to buy a face mask. You may have to purchase a loader for your marker too. These are readily available, and the basic ones are cheap. Motorized loaders are available too, these are useful if you shoot high volumes of paint in short bursts. Lastly, you will need an air tank, either C02 or compressed.