Paintball FAQs

Wondering what X-Ball is? Not sure about the equipment that players wear? Those answers and more are in these frequently asked paintball questions. Get to know more about the sport today!

Mykel Kovar in paintball field


What is Paintball?

The game of paintball is a team shooting sport that’s played both on the recreational and competitive levels. The game is a version of “capture the flag.” Players shoot dye-filled gelatin “paintballs” at one another and a player is eliminated when they are a paintball hits them and breaks, covering them in paint. There are many different versions of paintball with slightly modified rules. In general, the object is to retrieve a flag from the opposing team’s side of the field or hit the buzzer connected to the opposing team’s base.

Where can you start playing?

Paintball is a global sport. Paintball fields are available in many cities across the United States, as well as countries around the world. They usually offer an “outing” or “rental day” experience like go-karting or golfing for an afternoon, where rental equipment is available. Most people play paintball as part of a group outing, like a birthday party, bachelor or bachelorette party, or team-building outing.

What is a bunker?

Bunkers are structures on the field of play that provides players with cover so they can avoid being hit by paintballs from opposing players.

What is Competition or Tournament Paintball?

Besides just the weekend outing for fun, an entire world of “competitive” paintball exists. Teams play in bracketed tournament formats usually held over multiple days. Paintball tournaments exist on the local, regional, and national levels.

Wait, There’s Professional Paintball?

There is! There have been a handful of different professional paintball leagues and series active throughout the United States and Europe starting in the early 1990s.

Today, the NXL is top professional and amateur tournament series in both the U.S. and Europe.

How Does Pro Paintball Work?

Teams compete for thousands of dollars in prize money per event with individual winners crowned in each tournament, similar to golf. The sport’s largest price, the World Cup, is the longest running and most prestigious event in professional paintball.

There are also series and season championships awarded for teams with the most points gained by the end of the season by having the highest consistent placings.

How Does A Pro Paintball Team Work?

Paintball teams are independently owned and operated separately from the leagues. They rely entirely on sponsor partnerships with brands and manufactures, similar to other action sports like motor-cross or snowboarding.

What is Xball?

XBall is a fast-paced, hyper-athletic form of 5-on-5 paintball. The format was first introduced in 2002. XBall in its original format mirrored hockey with penalty boxes, halves, and teams rotating multiple “lines” of players throughout a game.

Today, a modified version of XBall is the main format of the National XBall League (NXL).

What are 7-man & 10-man Games?

7-man and 10-man paintball are older, more traditional styles of tournament paintball (featuring 7 v 7 or 10 v 10, respectively). The formats are often regarded as a more strategic style of paintball. Scoring is more complex, with points awarded for flag pulls, flag hangs, and bodies alive.

What is Hyperball?

Hyperball is a high-intensity style of paintball played in a smaller, confined space. Hyperball fields are filled with multiple bunkers that are made of corrugated pipe arranged in unique formations to provide cover for players. It’s often associated with 10-man paintball.

What is Speedball?

Speedball, or Airball, is style of paintball that’s played on a smaller field (only a few hundred feet in length) that’s filled with colorful, air-filled bunkers in various shapes made of vinyl. These fields are also surrounded by a black mesh netting to allow for spectators.

What is the snake?

The snake is a bunker or group of inter-connecting bunkers located down one of the two sidelines (or “Tape lines”) on a tournament paintball field. The name comes from how it looks, as it runs almost the length of the field—north to south—but is only a few feet high off the ground. It’s normally played in a kneeling, squatting, or prone position. It’s a key bunker that provides players some of the best angles to use against their opponents, but provides little cover. Typically, the smallest or fastest members of a team are their “snake guys.”

What’s a “dorito”?

In paintball, a dorito isn’t referring to the snack chip. On a Speedball or Airball field, you’ll see a collection triangle bunkers running almost the length of the field, located on the tapeline opposite “The snake.” These bunkers are what’s known as a “dorito” and the sideline of the field is called the “Dorito Side” or “D-Side.” These bunkers are typically large enough to be played standing up, as well as kneeling.

Want to learn more?

Find paintball parks nearby, learn more about equipment used by everyday players, and get out out to play your first game with the help of the film’s partners: PB Nation, Planet Eclipse, and NXL Paintball.

PB Nation Field Finder

Planet Eclipse

NXL Paintball


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