Gone Outdoors

How to Make a Paintball Course

by Ben Team

If you have access to a warehouse, patch of forested land or even an open field, you can make your own recreational paintball course. In addition to laying out bunker locations, adding obstacles and incorporating thematic elements, you must ensure that the course is safe for participants, referees and spectators. It is always wise to speak with an attorney before constructing your course to ensure you limit your liability and comply with local laws.

Select a Style

Consider the available area and decide what type of course you want to make. Some spaces lend themselves to specific field styles; for example, warehouses and open fields make great speedball courses, but obviously, neither will ever make good a woodsball course. Do not forget to factor your budget into the equation, as speedball courses usually require the purchase of numerous inflatable barricades, while you can largely rely on naturally occurring barricades for woodsball courses.

Sketch the Layout

Because many of the obstacles you are going to install are large, unwieldy and heavy, save yourself the trouble of moving them around by sketching out your ideas first. Create a diagram of the area to scale and begin experimenting with different barricade and obstacle locations. Do not forget to include a “dead box” for players that have been shot and areas outside the field of play in which participants can tend to malfunctions, re-load or simply take a rest.

Course Complexity

The best courses are complex enough to be interesting, but not so complex that they become cramped and limit the range of shots participants can take. If you are building a woodsball course, try to incorporate natural features of the area, such as hills, trenches and tree clumps, to create obstacles and barriers, but leave plenty of open lanes for shooting and moving. To ensure each team has access to comparable hiding spots, speedball courses usually feature inflatable barricades, but also include barrels, boxes, large cable spools and other interesting items to keep your course original and fun. For thematic or scenario-based courses, include plenty of theme-appropriate features, such as old cars, huge pipes, sandbag bunkers and elevated platforms to provide the most realistic game play possible.

Design a Safe Course

Outdoor courses must have well-marked boundaries – called tape lines – separating playing areas from spectator areas. Additionally, you must place paintball-proof netting between the field of play and the spectator area to block any errant paint from hitting innocent bystanders. Nets should be at least 20-feet-high for speedball fields, although 12-foot-high nets may work in forested areas. Align spectator areas so that they are parallel with the field of play, which will reduce the amount of paint heading towards those watching the action. In indoor ranges, spectating areas can be placed in a variety of locations, but they should always be separated via glass partitions or netting. Secure all obstacles to the floor or ground to prevent them from moving and causing injuries, and be sure all obstacles are free of sharp edges or trip hazards.

Stay on the Right Side of the Law

Always comply with all local laws and regulations regarding paintball courses. Contact your local zoning board to determine if paintball courses are legal in your area, and consult with an attorney if you plan to profit from the field or make the course open to the public. Your attorney will likely recommend obtaining liability insurance and instruct you to have participants sign a waiver before playing.

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