Paintball is an equipment-oriented sport. Players must have at least a paintball gun, mask, air tank, and hopper to play. Gear such as ball-carrying packs and tubes and barrel cleaners is also desireable. Some of these items can be found at major sporting goods retailers, but everything can be purchased from dedicated paintball shops or online stores. A local paintball shop will be the most useful in helping you select the right gear, but the cost may be higher than shopping online or in a big sporting goods store. However, the paintball store experience may save you time and trouble in the end.
Choosing the Right Paintball Gear
1. Buy your protective goggles/facemask. Having a proper-fitting set of goggles is very important. Take the time to try on different goggles or read user reviews online. When you find a set that fits comfortably, keep it. The cost may be more than you originally planned–but in the long run, it’s worth it.
2. Pick out a paintball gun. First-time paintballers typically should buy an entry-level semiautomatic model. These are simple to operate and maintain and are more than adequate for playing paintball at a beginner’s level. One recommended brand is Tippmann, which markets durable and reliable paintguns that are also easily upgradeable.
3. Pick a gas system. The use of compressed air (HPA or “nitrogen”) tanks is recommended. Compressed air is easy to fill and see how much is used and it works with all paintguns. Players on a budget can start with a 3000psi “preset” aluminum compressed air system that simply screws into the paintgun’s air system adaptor (ASA).
4. Select a motorized hopper (the pod that holds the paintballs for the paintgun). Most paintball guns either come with no hopper or a basic plastic one. A motorized hopper uses a mechanism to agitate and/or force paintballs into the paintgun. While this is not a critical purchase, it can certainly improve a gun’s performance, especially with faster-firing or low-recoil paintguns.
5. Buy paintball-carrying gear. Typically, paintballs are carried in plastic tubes called “pods” that about 3 inches in diameter and 10-to-14 inches long with flip-top lids. Pods are carried in packs, which come in a wide variety of types. New players should consider a two-pod or three-pod belt pack with 140-round pods. A full hopper and two pods typically hold 450-500 paintballs, which can get most players through two to three games.
6. Round out your shopping with small items such as a barrel squeegie (usually either a stick or a cable with neoprene or rubber disks or a fluffy wrap that you run through the barrel to clean it of broken paintballs) or protective gear such as gloves and knee pads.