Can You Paintball on Public Land? What Not to Do

Paintball has become a popular activity in the last two decades. It is enjoyed by men and women is more than 30 countries. People are divided into two groups that have a flag and their own bases. The aim is to “capture the flag” of the other team and bring it to your base without getting hit. Each player is equipped with a gun which is loaded with gelatine capsules that have a marking dye. Once a player has been hit, he is out of the game and needs to wait until the next one starts.


What is public land?

Paintball is a regulated activity in the US and other European countries. It cannot be played just anywhere. There are specific sites commonly known as “target ranges” where paintball is played. The government of US has made it clear that it is illegal to play paintball on public land and there are different laws for every state.

Public land in general terms refers to all the land owned by the federal or state government that can be sold or disposed of under general laws and is not reserved for any governmental purpose.

How much public land is there in the US?

The total area of public land is approximately 2.27 billion acres out of which the US government owns about 28% or 640 million acres. This means that all your National parks, forests, wildlife reserves, rivers, scenic areas and wilderness are all owned by the government.

Can you paintball on public land?

The answer to this question is not a simple yes or not. First of all, it depends on whether the area actually falls under public land or not. This can be tricky since your own front yard falls under public land and you cannot paintball on it. In a few states, you are not even allowed to display or hold a paintball gun in your front yard.

Next, you will need to ascertain what laws apply to paintball in your state. If you are unsure, try to contact the concerned authority. For example, if you want to paintball in a forest or a park, it is recommended to get in touch with the park ranger and ask for permission. In some states, firearm rules apply on paintball guns, and you don’t want to end up in a legal dispute because you didn’t bother checking the rules before playing with your friends.

Laws Regarding Paintball

Although there are no rules in the US which prohibit the possession of a paint gun by an adult, there are eight states which have different laws to regulate the use of paintball guns. Some states such as New York & New Jersey classify paintball guns as weapons and laws which apply to the use or transportation of real weapons also apply to paintball guns.

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Paintball guns are considered to be a variety of airguns and cannot be transported freely in some states. For example, Pennsylvania has strict requirements for transporting a paintball gun. You will need to ensure that the gun is emptied of all paintballs and these paintballs are kept in a closed container. The gun has to be stored in a separate box or wrapper and needs to be dissembled for it to be legally transported.


Minors are only allowed to use paintball guns under the supervision of an adult at their home or on a permitted site. New Hampshire and Rhode Island prohibit individuals below 18 years from buying or owning a paintball gun. In the same manner, Illinois prohibits children under 13 years of age from owning a paintball gun.

Public places

There are different laws in place across the states which limit the use of a paintball gun; prohibiting discharging it by a street or sidewalk, highway or on public land except for a target range.

State Laws

Different states regulate paintball activity according to their own laws. It is illegal to play paintball in Illinois unless played on designated target ranges. It is also illegal for shopkeepers to “sell, rent, give, lend or transfer” a paintball gun to anyone under 13 years of age. Doing so will incur a fine of $1000 along with confiscation of the equipment.

Virginia allows individual counties to make their own paintball ordinances.

Schools in New Hampshire can expel a student who possesses a paintball gun.

In Pennsylvania, property damage due to paintball gun is a criminal offence. It is also illegal to use a paintball gun against people who are not participating in the activity.

In Florida, paintball players have to comply with basic requirements otherwise they may be held accountable for negligence. They are responsible for hanging onto their paintball guns and refrain from causing any kind of harm to a player or a bystander.

Under Californian laws, it is illegal to display an imitation firearm “paintball gun” in public places unless when they are being brought in a commercial store or given for repair. Under a section of the same law, it is illegal to display a paintball gun on a private property that is accessible to general public i-e your front yard.

Some paintball guns may be exempt from public displaying law but need to be painted in a bright color such as red, yellow, orange, blue, green, pink or purple. However, it is highly recommended to read through your own state’s law before engaging in paintball activity at home or target ranges.

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International Laws

Several countries have laws in place to regulate paintball activity.  In Australia, the age requirements for playing paintball varies with states. Players must be 16 years old in the Australian Capital, 15 years in Queensland, 12 years in South & West Australia and a minimum of 18 years in Victoria.

Germany considers paintball illegal for anyone under the age of 18 years. In the UK, the minimum age requirement is 15 years for paintball players.

Stay Safe & Have Fun at Paintball

Paintball is helpful in taking your mind away from work and routine tasks while helping you build confidence, face challenges, make strategies and form lasting friendships. It can quickly turn into a favorite activity for many people trying it out for the first time. You can try it alone or take your friends. As a beginner, you won’t need to buy anything as the target ranges will provide you with everything you need to play.

Make sure you wear protective clothing and never take your mask off. It is always important to remember this safety feature as paintballs can make you go blind if it hits the eye.  If your mask falls off, cover your face and try to alert the referee with your head still covered. Always listen to the referee and make sure you never hit the same person more than two times.

Go ahead and ask your friends to try out paintball next time you go out.

Related Questions

Is it safe for kids to play paintball? Paintball is not only a fun activity for adults, but it is an adventure that the whole family can enjoy. Getting hit by a paintball hurts less than you may imagine as each player is covered in protective gear and a mask. Children above 10 years can play paintball. For added protection children should be encouraged to wear full head helmets to provide them with 360-degree protection.

How much does it cost to play paintballPaintball games can vary in cost depending on the paintball gun your rent, the gear you hire, and the number of paintballs used. Many places offer discounts for a higher number of people playing in your party.  One game usually lasts between 20-30 minutes. Some places require reservations and charge a higher rate on weekends and night time.