Paintballing can be a safe, yet challenging sport for kids and adults alike. To make the most of your paintballing experience, there are several important pieces of equipment you need to get familiar with.

Paintball Marker. The most important piece of paintball gear is the gun, also called a paintball marker. There are a variety of markers available in different sizes and strengths. When you are considering the purchase of marker, be honest with yourself about your skill level. If you are an occasional or recreational player, go with an inexpensive gun. If you are more serious, it is worthwhile in the long run to buy a higher-end elecrto-pneumatic or blow-forward gun. Many of the recreational guns use a carbon dioxide pressure system while the higher end models use a high pressure air or nitrogen system. The carbon dioxide system, while cheaper, is influenced by temperature changes which can impact the velocity and accuracy of the paintballs.

Paintballs. Once you've got a marker, you will need ammunition. Paintballs used to be made out of oil-based paint, but today most are made out of water soluble mineral oil and non-toxic coloring. If you want to be a serious gamer, opt for higher quality balls which are more spherical (making them more accurate) and have smaller shells (making them break easier on impact) than cheaper counterparts.

Saftey Mask. You will also need to get a saftey mask. These are masks made specifically for the sport and they are required safety protection for all players. Typically, they provide protection not only to your eyes, but to your face and head as well. A good mask will have a wrap around lens that covers your eyes, similar to what skiers and snowboarders wear. There is also usually a wrap around piece of plastic that will cover the face and brow area. There are plenty of cheap masks out there, but be sure to consider quality, comfort and safety as well.

Clothing. The next thing you should consider is your apparel. Your clothing should be heavy-duty to absorb the impact of the paint balls. Some people opt to camouflage pants and shirts to help them stay hidden in wooded paintball play, but heavy sweats work just as well. You should also wear tennis shoes in order to stay agile since paintball can require a lot of moving and running. If you are looking for more foot protection, a pair of broken in light-hiking boots would also work.

In addition to the necessity paintball gear items, here are common accessories you might find useful during play.

Paint Pod. A paint pod is tube that holds paintballs and helps protect them against breakage during play.

Cable or Rod Squeegee. Squeegees are designed to clean out the barrel of your marker, which can get dirty with paint and shell residue. Keeping the barrel clean is important for maintaining your marker's accuracy.

Harness. Harnesses are usually vests or hip belts and are used to carry paint pods or any other items you might want to carry.

Understanding your paintball gear and accessories are an important part to not only becoming a better player, but also ensuring the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved.