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paintball terminology

The Paintball Terms You Need to Know

“Dorito side!” “Snake side!” “Bump up to the god bunker!”

Bump up to the what? Why are we talking about corn chips and reptiles? What kind of strange terminology is this?

Welcome to the wonderful world of paintball. This action-packed, high-energy game is sure to have you hooked from the first time you try it.

Just how popular is the game of paintball? American Sports Data ranks paintball as the third most popular extreme sport in the U.S., behind inline skating and skateboarding.

But paintball, like most sports, has its own specialized terminology. Before you get out there and join the millions (yes, millions) of paintball enthusiasts, you need to learn the lingo.

Here’s your A-Z guide to all things paintball!

Basic Paintball Terms

  • Agitator: A built-in device that senses if there are paintballs in the hopper; it “agitates” the balls and drops them steadily into the feed tube.
  • Airball field: A paintball course with mostly (or entirely) inflated bunkers.
  • ASA: Air System Adapter. This is a screw thread device that connects the air tank to the marker (paintball gun).
  • Baller: Someone who plays paintball.
  • Barrel: The tube the paintball travels through when fired.
  • Barrel Sock: A cover, designed to stop the accidental discharge of paintballs from the gun when it is not being used.
  • Blind firing: When you shoot paintballs without looking, hoping to hit a random opponent. Banned on most paintball fields.
  • Bounce: When a paintball hits you but doesn’t break.
  • Bolt: The part that “pushes” the paintball out of the gun.
  • BPS: Balls Per Second, or the rate at which a paintball gun can fire.
  • Breech: The place in the gun where pellets are loaded and waiting to be fired.
  • Bunker: An object on the field used for cover or shelter, such as inflatables, barrels, tires, etc.
  • Burn: When a player fires large amounts of paint at a bunker so the opponent can’t lift his head to see or fire back.
  • Butt pack: Also called a harness, this equipment attaches to a belt and holds extra paintballs.
  • Center flag: A game where a flag is placed in the center of the field and each team tries to capture the flag and return it to their base.
  • Chronograph (“Chrony”): A device that measures the speed at which a paintball is fired. The standard “speed limit” is 300 feet per second.
  • Covering fire: Giving protective fire for one or more teammates while they move between bunkers.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2): The propellant used in early and lower-end paintball guns, stored inside pressurized tank.
  • Deadbox: Where eliminated players go until the game ends.
  • Dead Man Walking: You shout this to other players on your way to the deadbox so they know you’re eliminated.
  • Doritos: Stand-alone triangular bunkers, usually placed on one side of the field.
  • Double tap: Firing two shots in quick succession.
  • Dual flag: A game in which a flag is hung at each team’s starting point. The object is to capture your opponent’s flag and return it to your home base.
  • Eating paint: Slang term for taking a paintball pellet in the mouth area.
  • Fill station: A device used to refill your co2 or compressed air tank.
  • Firing modes: Paintball guns come equipped with different rates of firing, such as Burst, Ramping, Semi-Auto, and Full Auto firing modes.
  • Flag station: Where the referee hangs the flag at the start of the game.
  • Going Liquid: Usually happens on colder days, when the CO2 enters the barrel in liquid form and freezes or impedes your gun’s firing ability.
  • Grenade: A balloon-like device filled with paint, thrown with the goal of eliminating many opponents at once.
  • Head check: To quickly peer around cover in search of opponents.
  • Hot: If a bunker is “hot,” that means an opponent is hiding behind it.
  • HPA: High Pressure Air, the propellant used in modern paintball markers, stored in a pressurized tank attached to the marker.
  • Loader: Also called a hopper, this is where paintballs are held until they enter the gun’s breech.
  • Marker: Another term for a paintball gun. Considered by some to be less offensive.
  • MilSim: Short for Military Simulation, where markers, gear, and style of play are based on military tactics.
  • Open session: A public paintball event that’s open to walk-on players.
  • Outlaw or renegade paintball: Playing on private land instead of on a commercial field.
  • Painting: Slang for “playing paintball.”
  • Paintcheck: When a player isn’t sure if he’s been hit and needs confirmation from the referee.
  • Pawn: A player who sacrifices himself for the good of the team.
  • Playing on: Continuing to play after you’ve taken an obvious hit. Considered cheating.
  • PSI: Pounds per Square Inch. The unit of measure for pressure inside air tanks.
  • Playing tight: Taking extra care to remain safe and unseen behind bunkers.
  • Point Sight: LED marker used to help the player aim and take better shots.
  • Ramfire: Occurs when the hammer doesn’t blow back far enough. Results in rapid fire or miss fire.
  • Response Trigger (“RT”): Firing the gun multiple times with one trigger pull.
  • ROF: Rate of Fire, usually measured in BPS (Balls Per Second).
  • Scenario: A game with assigned characters, a storyline, and multiple objectives. May have a specific theme, like Star Wars or World War II.
  • Snake: Field cover objects (bunkers) placed in a row lengthways, usually on one side of the field.
  • Speedball: A small playing field with manmade bunkers to allow for a fast, action-packed game.
  • Squeegee: Used to clean the barrel of the paint gun.
  • Staging area: Base of operations, usually a shop or registration point.
  • Sweetspotting: Firing paint into a specific area in hopes of hitting an opponent as they move between bunkers.
  • Tape: The outer boundary of the playing field. Also called the tapeline or wire.
  • Wiping: A form of cheating when a player wipes off a clean hit and continues to play.
  • X-Ball: A game that’s played around a gigantic “X”-shaped bunker in the center of the field.
  • Zoning: Determining in advance which players will cover which areas of the playing field.

Final Thoughts on Paintball Terms

It would be impossible to create a list that included all the terminology used by paintball players, but these basic words & phrases will help you to get started.

If all this terminology still seems a little daunting, don’t worry. The more you play, the more familiar you’ll become with the lingo.

Before you know it, you’ll be using your marker to sweet-spot your opponents between hot bunkers and send them to the deadbox!