Paintball is a competitive team shooting sport in which players eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with spherical dye-filled gelatin capsules ("paintballs") that break upon impact. Paintballs are usually shot using a low-energy air weapon called a paintball marker that is powered by compressed air (nitrogen) or carbon dioxide.
The game was initially developed in the 1980s for recreation, but now is frequently played at a formal sporting level with organized competition that involves major tournaments, professional teams, and players.Paintball technology is also used by military forces, law enforcement, paramilitary and security organizations to supplement military or other training. Paintball markers can play a role in riot response, and nonlethal suppression of dangerous suspects.
Games can be played on indoor or outdoor fields of varying sizes. A game field is scattered with natural or artificial terrain, which players use for tactical cover. Game types and goals vary, but may include capture the flag, elimination, defending or attacking a particular point or area, or capturing objects of interest hidden in the playing area. Depending on the variant played, games can last from minutes to hours, or even days in "scenario play".
The legality of paintball varies among countries and regions. In most areas where regulated play is offered, players are required to wear protective masks, use barrel blocking safety equipment, and safe game rules are strictly enforced.