WHAT IS A PAINTBALL & IS IT ECO FRIENDLY?
Are paintballs safe for our environment? What’s inside of a paintball? We've got a lot to cover so let's start with the most popular questions:
What is a paintball? Paintballs come in two sizes: For kids, there’s a .50 Caliber paintball marker that uses small paintballs (Low Impact) and the standard .68 Caliber. The "shell" of a paintball is actually a gelatin capsule. Paintballs are biodegradable, water-soluble, they won't stain clothing and all ingredients used in their making are food-grade quality.
How are paintballs made? We start off mixing water and gelatin in a huge mixing bowl, this is going to make the shell of a paintball. This mix is heated and fed into a machine that spreads it out very thin and presses it into a half-shell mold. Then, the two half shells are pressed together and injected with the filling. It’s kind of like how they make liquid gel cap medicine. The exact ingredients and mix can vary, depending on if we want a paintball that’s a brittle tournament grade like Redemption Pro, or something with a thicker, more robust shell and able to shoot through leaves and brush. There’s even a Winter Grade mix that will shoot reliably in colder weather. After they are formed, the paintballs are then dried, quality inspected, sorted and packaged.
Are paintballs actually filled with paint? Nope. So what's in it? Paintballs are filled with a simple coloring and an ingredient called Polyethylene Glycol or "PEG."
Is Polyethylene Glycol safe? Yes! If you're ever unfortunate enough to get it in your mouth while playing, know that it may taste bad but it's not harmful. PEG is in everything from skin creams to toothpaste, and it's even used in cough syrup.
Now that you know what they're made of, what makes a paintball good? What’s the difference in a $30 case of paintballs and a $60 case of paintballs? A paintballs quality is dependent on four main characteristics.
SHAPE - To achieve superior accuracy you'll want a perfectly round ball with a smooth and seamless shell. The shape of a high-quality paintball is incredibly consistent down to a thousandth of an inch. This is referred to as the Bore Size of the paintball and most experienced players even have Barrel Kits used to match this variance with their paintball marker. This will give them a competitive edge with the overall accuracy of their shots.
FILL COLOR - The very best paintballs will have a bright, recognizable fill color like Graffiti. No matter where you hit your opponent you'll instantly be able to see it from a mile away. No matter what color the paint is, it will wash out of clothes completely without staining.
BRITTLENESS - This is how easily the gelatin capsule will break on impact. Speedball players use an Electronic Paintball Marker that's very gentle on the most fragile paint, while in woodsball, you can use a Mechanical Marker and you may want a thicker shelled paintball that will shoot through brush and leaves but reliably break on your target.
FILL DENSITY - Hard to hide and impossible to wipe off, outstanding paintballs will have an incredibly pasty, glue-like fill. Depending on where you hit your opponent (in their Harness or other Protective Equipment) they may not even feel it. It's important to use a paintball that will leave a lasting gooey, thick splatter that a referee can check.
You've probably seen paintballs sold at large retail chains and supercenters. While all paintballs are safe, off-brand paintballs will be lacking in these four categories. Low-quality paintballs can have more oil in their mix or use a dye that won't wash out as easily. We urge you to use mid to high-quality paint like what’s sold at your Local Field and Paintball Store. A case of paintballs holds 2,000 rounds. They should be individually separated with cardboard dividers into four 500 count bags, vacuum sealed with Silica gel packets for moisture control.
How should I store my paintballs? They should be stored in a cool, dry, climate controlled room between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit (10-21 degrees Celsius) and always handled with care. If all of these conditions are not met, paintballs can become too brittle, form dimples, harden, break or swell. This will make your marker inconsistent, inaccurate, and could affect the velocity of the paintball. These are all reasons why most fields use "Field Paint Only." If you have your own paintball marker, to get a good calibration you must test and adjust your marker using a Chronograph and field paint before playing. If renting your equipment, your rental marker is regularly inspected, cleaned and adjusted for you.
Keep in mind paintball can be a messy sport. What do I wear when playing paintball? Hoodies, an old pair of blue jeans and maybe a Hat/Beanie to start. The protective equipment you can choose from varies greatly and is really just preference. From Neck Protectors, Gloves and Slide Shorts to Knee and Elbowpads. Most fields will rent Chest Protectors and Tactical Vests . The most important piece of safety equipment will be your Mask. As you start to develop a play style favoring woodsball or scenario you'll want to look into Jerseys and Pants from our Kilo, Tango, Sierra, and Zululine. For Speedball Jerseys and pants, check out our Fate, Crusade, and Redemption. That's the basics of what a paintball is, so no matter what your play style, what you decide to wear or where you play, now you know paintball is safe, fun and most of all harmless to the participants and the environment.