Be honest – do you think airsoft has killed paintball?

If you thought the paint was on its way out because of the pellet – then think again.

Paintball still has a huge worldwide following, and continues to be more popular and widespread than it’s younger cousin.

New players are coming to the sport all the time, which begs the question – how old do you have to be to play paintball?

You’ll find the answer below – with a particular emphasis on the USA. So, read on to discover if we can’t get you and/or your kids into this thrilling hobby.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on RiflePal. For more information, read full disclosure here.

Paintball Age Limit USA – Too Long, Didn’t Read

It’s not going to take a whole article to provide the answer, especially if you don’t have time to read all the useful extra details.

In the USA, the age requirement for playing paintball is generally 10-years-old. This is more to do with insurance coverage than it is the maturity of the individual child.

However, low-impact paintball fields are available, where the age of the child can be as young as eight.

Parents or guardians of all minors are required to sign a waiver at all paintball arenas. This is for anyone lucky enough to be under the age of 18.

There is no upper age limit – so long as you’re capable, fit, healthy, and comfortable with your own ability. However, some events might be private, or specifically for younger players only.

Of course, you should always check local ordinances, as there might be some caveats depending on the state, or the region/country in which you live.

Ask at your local paintball field or event for full confirmation, as they often have in-house rules prohibiting youngsters from participating in certain games and events.

But much like airsoft, I would recommend that paintball is most suitable for kids over the age of 12.

Having said that, you can take a look at the following video of 10-year-olds playing more-or-less successfully for the first time.

Can Kids Play Paintball?

Like airsoft, paintball is a competitive combat sport that uses ballistic ammo and special weaponry to eliminate enemy players and/or an opposing team.

Different types of games can be played, including speedball and woodsball, as well as full-on military simulations and reenactments.

And like airsoft, when a child first mentions a desire to give this adrenaline-fueled pastime a go, parents are often understandably concerned.

But there’s no reason your little soldiers can’t enjoy a match, providing rules and regulations are adhered to, the right gear is worn, and safety is the watchword.

Most regular paintball fields and arenas around the US will have an age restriction of 10-years-old, but it might vary state-to-state, and field-to-field.

As such, it’s best to check your local arena to find out their in-house rules. Remember, some fields and events won’t allow children to play, as the big boys and girls often play rough.

Many older players don’t like sharing the field with youngsters, as they’re often not as competent in the line of fire as more experienced combatants.

However, dedicated games for youngsters are commonplace, sometimes only allowing children to participate with a maximum age limit per game.

And you can often hire out a field for the whole day, so you’re guaranteed that no adults will be picking on kids half their size and a quarter their skill set.

Here at Riflepal, we also wrote an article on airsoft age restrictions – and the two sports are not that dissimilar in this regard.

And as I mentioned at that link, while a child’s maturity, motor skills, character, and abilities should be considered on an individual basis, I personally believe that children over the age of 12 are best suited for both sports.

This is particularly true when it comes to more competitive games, MilSim (Military Simulation), and more advanced play.

For younger children, I’d recommend seeking out low-impact paintball fields, where kids as young as eight can participate in a controlled environment.

The last thing you want is a bad experience at a young age – even if it was the child’s request to play originally.

This can have a negative effect on the youngster’s development, and they might never want to be involved again. Common sense and caution goes a long way.

Still, we’re here to help put your mind at ease, and to encourage you to allow your child to reap the benefits of playing one of the most addictive, adrenaline-fueled sports in the world.

kids holding paintball guns

Kids and Paintball – The Advantages

Why should you allow your child to play paintball in the first place?

Well, as well as being incredibly exciting, the sport carries significant advantages for the developing child.

  • It’s perfect for getting children outside and away from the TV.
  • Paintball is a great way to keep fit, strengthen muscles, build stamina, and stay physically healthy.
  • Children can learn about tactics and teamwork, as well as leadership skills in certain scenarios.
  • It builds character, honesty, and integrity.
  • It can develop cooperation skills, and boost confidence and morale.
  • The environment is ideal for social interaction, finding and making new friends.
  • It’s an awesome way to release pent-up energy and stress.
  • It’s a great way for parents/guardians and children to play and grow together. A genuine bond can form.

And if that’s not enough (I’m sure there are many more – depending on the individual), perhaps the best advantage is that your child won’t nag you anymore.

That, and maybe you’ll fall in love with the sport at the same time.

What is a Paintball Gun?

Commonly called paintball markers, the guns used in this sport are very different from airsoft rifles, and even more so than real firearms.

They’re easily identified by a large, often bean-shaped container or “hopper,” which is located somewhere on the weapon. This typically holds 200 rounds of paintball ammunition.

Powered by Co2 canisters or compressed air, the guns can be pump action or semi-automatic. Full auto guns are out there, but it’s unlikely they will be available at most fields, are often very expensive, and more commonly reserved for tournament play.

A standard paintball gun is capable of firing its ammunition at a rate of around 300 fps, which is often the limit for most paintball fields. When playing indoors, this might be reduced even further.

Markers fire spherical paintballs that are constructed of vegetable-based, non-toxic substances. They’re also water-soluble, so they should come out in the wash.

In my first-ever paintball game, I somehow managed to get the “paint” in my mouth, and it actually tasted rather nice! (I wouldn’t recommend encouraging the consumption of multiple paintballs, however.)

Larger than airsoft pellets, paintballs break apart upon impact, creating an obvious hit marker that is difficult to wipe away. As such, one of the main advantages of the sport over airsoft is that it’s more difficult to cheat at.

(This is obviously another tick in the pro column when it comes to playing with overly-competitive kids who don’t like to lose.)

Another advantage a paintball gun has over an airsoft weapon, is that it doesn’t require the blaze-orange tip at the end of the barrel.

However, paintball guns don’t look like real firearms at all, so if you or your child is looking for realism and accurate military simulation that’s as close to real life as possible – airsoft is where it’s at.

This article on airsoft vs real military gear might be of more interest to you.

paintball player shooting with electronic paintball marker

How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy a Paintball Gun?

Just like airsoft guns, paintball weapons are not to be considered as toys. In the wrong hands, without proper supervision and safety protocols, they can still be very dangerous.

Which is why they are classed as firearms in US law.

As such, you’re not allowed to purchase a paintball gun in the US if you are under 18-years-old. It’s also forbidden to give a minor a paintball marker, although this is likely to vary from state to state.

However, in spite of the firearm classification, both children and felons are allowed to play the sport at a dedicated paintball field or arena.

Again, just remember to research the laws where you are.

For more information, you can check out the legislation of paintball guns at that link, and go here for the best cheap paintball guns to get you started on choosing a weapon.

Is Paintball Dangerous?

Outside the paintball age requirement, this is perhaps the most commonly asked question from concerned parents and guardians – not to mention the kids themselves.

How dangerous is paintball?


How much does it hurt?

The answer(s) depend on a number of factors, just like it would do on almost any sport or pastime on the planet.

Including tiddlywinks.

And providing a participant has the right kind of mask, eye protection, and suitable clothing, most players will avoid serious injury. Hundreds of games take place every week without notable incident.

However, that’s not to say accidents don’t happen. This is a physical, fast-paced sport, often played in challenging environments – particularly when enjoyed in abandoned buildings and backwoods.

Even adult players can get injured easily if due care and attention isn’t taken. Rolled ankles, bruised knees, scraped hands, stubbed toes, and more are possible and common.

Take some precautions, wear the right gear, stay fit and healthy, warm-up before a game, and stay sharp in the field – and you and your child will enjoy an injury-free, thrilling experience.

Head on over to this article on the best paintball pants available on the market. Find a pair fit for a child, with knee pads, and you’re good to go. Most of the decent paintball brands will offer kit for kids as well as adults.

Leg protection is very important, as players have a tendency to dive and slide for cover – often on their knees. This is particularly true when playing speedball, and knee pads are highly recommended.

paintball player in protective uniform and mask aiming sniper rifle

And while you shouldn’t wrap your child in cotton wool (such injuries help build character), caution should be taken when considering if your loved-one can handle it in the first place.

Without wanting to put the fear into you, paintball hurts more than airsoft. Now, neither you nor your child should shirk from this, but you should be aware that it’s going to sting a bit.

This is why I would suggest trying a low-impact paintball field first, particularly for younger children, and in case there’s any initial apprehension.

I was around 13 when I organized my first paintball session with a class from school, and there wasn’t a boy or girl in that group who wasn’t more than a little nervous to begin with.

But once the first hit is out of the way, and you know what to expect – you get used to it. Avoid wearing tight clothing, as loose garments can help absorb the impact of a paintball.

For more detailed information, read this article on paintball vs airsoft – which hurts more?

Perhaps the most vital piece of equipment is the paintball mask. Follow that link for some quality examples – and don’t cut corners, here.

Paintball masks are different from airsoft, ski-goggles, BMX helmets, and everything else you can imagine. They’re designed to be shatterproof, and protect the full face from powerful projectiles, even from point-blank range.

While all good fields will provide masks on site, nothing comes close to having your own, only used by you (or your child) and set up to fit perfectly.

Aside from the essentials, there’s plenty more gear and apparel you and your child can wear and use for a paintball match.

Take a look at this article on what to wear for paintball for some excellent suggestions, and head on over here for some expert tips and advice when it comes to paintball for beginners.

Remember, just like airsoft, building and developing a paintball loadout is one of the most fun and enjoyable aspects to the sport – which can be exciting for both children and big kids, alike.

paintball team shooting with markers in forest battle


How old do you have to be to play paintball? In the US, it’s 10-years for most regular fields, and eight-years for low-impact arenas.

However, the final decision lies with the parent or guardian, and I would take all the factors into account before making the call.

Paintball is a more punishing sport than airsoft, and I would suggest you err on the side of caution when weighing up the pros and cons for younger children.

Let me know if you have any further questions, or if you would like to comment about your own experiences on this subject. Perhaps you have a great early-paintball story we’d all love to hear?

I hope you and your family are staying safe, and I wish you all the best in discovering this awesome and rewarding sport – no matter your age.