is paintball a sport?

Is Paintball a Sport?

Paintball is a game where players eliminate opponents using pellets fired from paintball markers. But, is paintball a sport? If you ask avid paintball players around the world, you’ll get a resounding yes. But, if you ask the average Joe, the answer you’ll get is a bit more complicated.

Is paintball a sport? Yes. Paintball is a shooting sport with multiple types of competition for both teams and individuals. Players shoot round gelatin capsules filled with dye, referred to as paintballs, that break on impact. The paintballs are fired from a paintball gun, but the technical name for the device is a paintball marker. Games occur on indoor or outdoor fields and have wide-ranging objectives depending on what is being played.

Paintball is competitive or recreational and requires skill and athletic ability. It can be played as part of a team, or individually such as in shooting trials. It usually requires a referee, keeps score, and has a clear winner. There are a variety of ways it is played. Let’s dig in…

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What is Paintball?

is paintball a sport?

Players shoot and eliminate opponents from the game by hitting them with paintballs that break on impact. In shooting trials, players compete against each other against the clock. 

On the organized side, the sport is very formal, involving big tournaments, and there are even professional teams and players. Play may be much more casual on the recreational side yet still offer a competitive aspect. 

Paintball guns, or markers, are air weapons with a low enough velocity firing capacity to not be dangerous. They are powered by compressed air or carbon dioxide. 

The fields paintball is played on vary. They may be indoor or outdoor and many sizes. Some use natural setups, and others use artificial bunkers for cover.

Games vary but may include:

  • Defense and attack
  • Capturing an area of the field
  • Elimination
  • Capturing items hidden around the field

The length of a game can vary greatly but can last from minutes to hours to days, depending on the type of game. 

As with any shooting sport, safety always comes first. Most rules stipulate players must wear protective gear, including masks and eye protection at a minimum. Some fields and regulations may require more. There is strict enforcement of game rules for player safety. 

Types of Paintball Games: What is the Goal of Paintball?


Paintball tournaments usually involve the bracket system and are designed to test skills. Events may be held throughout the year, depending on the field type and season. There are a variety of tournaments with multiple skill divisions that allow for amateurs to professionals to compete.


Played on an open field, speedball uses obstacles for cover. The obstacles were originally flat and wooden, but the game has evolved to use inflatable fabric ones instead. These may be referred to as bunkers and are safer for players who may inadvertently run into them in the middle of play. They can also be reconfigured on the course to change things up.


Woodsball comes from the original game, which was teams playing in a natural environment using various stealth and concealment tactics. It now refers to paintball games played on natural-terrain fields, usually with trees, berms, and other cover.

Scenario Paintball

Scenario games are played where each side is given tasks throughout the game. It is a live-action role-play with a storyline. Depending on who is producing the game, this type can vary greatly.


MilSim stands for “Military Simulation’ and does what it says: simulates military reality.

Meeting objectives is an essential part of this type of play. The focus is on logistics, mission, and how to address limited resources.

Over time, changes have been made to the way paintballs are fired from the gun. This type of military simulation play now rivals that of airsoft, another shooting game that uses more realistic weaponry.


MFOG stands for Mag-Fed Only Game, meaning markers cannot use bulk loading devices for their paintball ammunition.

They can only use a magazine, limiting the marker capacity, which adds another level of logistics.

eSport Paintball

As technology has evolved, it only makes sense it would trickle into games like paintball. In this type of play, each player uses smartphones to interact with the game they are playing.

The app provides access to many features, including live scoreboards, artificial intelligence, location and mapping, and more.

Time Trials

This type of paintball play is all about who can be the fastest and most accurate. Each player is individually moving through a course, shooting at targets.

The runs are timed, and all players compete against each other for the fastest time. 

Zombie Hunt

Popular around Halloween, this is a fun concept where people dressed as zombies attack participants on a “hayride.” Paintball markers are mounted on the trailer players ride on, and the goal is to defend themselves with paintballs as the zombie’s attack.

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