What Is Paintball?

Paintball is an exciting sport in which two opposing teams compete using paintball markers powered by compressed gas.The markers propel small capsules of harmless paint. Opponents exit the game when marked by paintballs,and the winning team is the first to eliminate all opponents and/or achieve an assigned task such as capturing a flag.

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Paintball in Victoria

Paintball is an established team sport in NSW, SA, Qld, WA and ACT.In 2006, changes to Victorian Regulations have made development possible in Victoria,and there are now 8 premises operating around Melbourne, Geelong, the Peninsula, and northern Victoria.Phoenix Paintball at Rawson is the first licensed public venue in Gippsland, being located in the prime Walhalla & Mountain Rivers tourism region.It aims to the most attractive, varied, professionally run venue in the state. 

World-wide Popularity

Since starting in the mid-1980s, paintball popularity has grown steadily.It recently passed snowboarding as the fourth most popular ‘Alternative Sport’ in the US, having 9.6 million participants in 2004.Its popularity is greatest in USA, Russia, UK, Germany, France, South-east Asia and Israel.It is primarily male-dominated, although in practice women often out-perform men.


Paintball is refereed by trained marshals, and is strictly regulated through an industry-based Code of Practice,approved and enforced by Victoria Police. This includes standard Personal Protective Equipment (eg. goggles and full face mask),$10M Public Liability Insurance and zero alcohol tolerance. Statistically (injuries/1000 participants),its safety record is better than golf, cricket, football and lawn bowls. 

Paramilitary Image

Paintball is a leisure/sporting activity, which can be likened to an adult version of hide and seek, or a water-pistol fight.Its aim is for each team to tag the opposition according to various game scenarios and field settings(eg. natural bushland, and built or inflatable hide structures). Camouflage clothing often is used for hiding in bush environments,but not to give a war-like image. The advertising code specifies that no more than 50% of images can have a military appearance.Similarly paintball markers are not “guns”, and must not have the appearance of weapons.The main purpose of the game is not to glorify war, but to build teamwork.Indeed players often develop an aversion to war because of their experience of personal vulnerability in a “shoot-out” situation.

Environmental Impact

Paintballs are made from biodegradable gelatine and water-based food dyes, and evidence of them generally disappears within a few days. A 10m buffer zone is designed to exclude them from any watercourses. Any impact on vegetation is minimal, as the activity involves more stalking and hiding, than running. The noise from the compressed gas-operated markers has been measured at ~72dbA at 1m from source, which is much quieter than a lawn mower. Overall noise levels are similar to tennis or hockey, with the loudest noises being the shouting of team members.