Is Paintball a Dying Sport? The Colourful Truth Revealed

is paintball a dying sport?

In the vibrant realm of paintball, where brave souls clash in a symphony of color and camaraderie, whispers of change and uncertainty rustle through the trees like leaves in the wind. From the seasoned veterans to the eager newcomers, all are left to ponder the future of this beloved pastime that has captured the hearts of countless thrill-seekers.

Gather ’round as we embark on a fantastical, curious, and ever-so-slightly whimsical quest to explore a burning question that has ignited the imaginations of many: “Is Paintball a Dying Sport?”

Despite this decline, the sport maintains a dedicated following, with many players actively promoting it whenever possible, suggesting that it is not quite dying just yet.

Several factors have contributed to the waning popularity of paintball, such as the high costs of equipment and paintballs, which can be a deterrent for those on tight budgets.

Additionally, the emergence of alternative adrenaline-fuelled activities may be drawing potential participants away from the sport. So, while paintball may be experiencing a decline, it is not necessarily doomed to fade away completely.

As intrigue surrounding the future of paintball mounts, this article will delve into the reasons behind its declining popularity, the current state of the sport, and what could potentially be done to revitalise interest and boost its appeal to a wider audience. Read on to discover the true fate of paintball amidst the fierce competition of modern recreational activities.

Is Paintball a dying sport? What does the numbers say?

#Decline Stats
1The number of paintball players in the United States dropped from 10 million in 2010 to 7 million in 2018 and even less in recent years. 
2Paintball related revenue decreased from $500 million in 2010 to $350 million in 2018 and is only declining 
3The number of paintball fields in the United States has decreased by nearly 25% since 2007. 
4Paintball has been declining in popularity since the early 2000s.
5The average spending of a paintball player has dropped from $50 per visit in 2005 to $35 per visit. 
6The average number of players per paintball field dropped from 90 in 2005 to 63 in 2018 and even further in recent years. 
7The majority of paintball players are between the ages of 18 and 24.
8The number of paintball courses and parks has dropped by almost 50% between 2005 and 2020. 
9In 2021, only 10% of paintball players were female.
10Over 40% of paintball players have not played in more than 3 years.
11In 2021, fewer than 1% of paintball players were under the age of 18. 
12The number of paintball equipment retailers has decreased by over 50% since 2005. 
13Over 123 paintball arenas have closed since 2006. 
14The majority of paintball players play less than 4 times a year. 
15The average paintball field loses money every month. 
16 The number of paintball tournaments has decreased by over 70% since 2005. 
17Paintball fields are increasingly reliant on corporate and group events. 
18Paintball fields have seen an overall decline of nearly 40% since 2000.
19The number of paintball markers (guns) sold has decreased by nearly 60% since 2005. 
20Paintball fields are facing increasingly stringent regulations in some states and countries.

Factors Influencing Paintball’s Popularity

Factors Influencing Paintball's Popularity

Cultural Shifts

Over the years, the popularity of paintball has been influenced by changes in culture and trends. Emerging adrenaline-fuelled activities, such as airsoft and virtual reality gaming, have attracted the attention of potential paintball players. Additionally, the sport’s audience demographics may have shifted, contributing to a decline in recreational players.

Economic Factors

Paintball, being an expensive sport, has made it difficult for some individuals to participate. The significant costs associated with paintball markers, paintballs, and field entrance fees can be a barrier to entry. Furthermore, economic challenges such as recessions may have caused people to prioritise their finances and avoid spending on leisure activities like paintball.

Safety Concerns

Safety concerns have also played a role in paintball’s popularity decline. Although the sport is relatively safe when the proper gear and precautions are used, accidents and injuries can still occur. These concerns can deter potential players from participating, leading to a decrease in overall interest.

Current State of the Paintball Industry

Current State of the Paintball Industry

Sales and Market Trends

While paintball has seen a decline in popularity since the early 2000s, it remains a billion-dollar industry with around 10 million people in the US alone enjoying the sport throughout the year. Since 2015, paintball has experienced a consistent plateau in participation, though some fields and events have been witnessing an upward trend. The industry still holds appeal among dedicated players who continue to support and promote the sport.

Innovation and Technology

Technological advancements have provided opportunities for growth and innovation within the paintball industry. Equipment such as markers, safety gear, and clothing have seen improvements in recent years, providing better performance and safety for players. Furthermore, the introduction of new game formats, such as mag-fed and pump-action play, has generated fresh interest in the sport.

Focus on Professional Competition

One factor that has remained strong within paintball is the focus on professional competition. High-level tournaments and leagues continue to attract dedicated players as well as spectator interest. This could potentially create opportunities for the paintball industry to evolve and find new avenues for growth.

While the current state of the paintball industry faces several challenges, it still enjoys a dedicated community of players, advances in technology, and a thriving professional competition scene. These factors may help sustain the sport and potentially generate renewed interest in the future.

Comparing Paintball to Other Extreme Sports

Comparing Paintball to Other Extreme Sports


Airsoft is a popular alternative to paintball, using plastic BBs instead of paintballs. It requires less equipment, with players typically wearing less bulky protective gear, offering a more tactical and realistic experience. In comparison to paintball, airsoft has seen growth in popularity due to its focus on military simulation.

Laser Tag

Another alternative to paintball is laser tag, a non-contact sport using infrared beams to tag opponents. Laser tag appeals to a wider audience, including children and families, as it poses fewer safety risks and requires no protective gear. However, it lacks the adrenaline rush and physicality of paintball, making it more suitable for casual players.

Archery Tag

Archery tag combines elements of archery, paintball, and dodgeball, requiring players to shoot foam-tipped arrows at opponents. It offers a unique experience with a lower-impact alternative to paintball. While not as widely known, archery tag has gained popularity in recent years due to its novelty and appeal to target sport enthusiasts.


Reball is a paintball alternative using reusable rubber balls instead of paint-filled projectiles. It shares many similarities with paintball, providing a similar adrenaline rush and gameplay experience. Advantages of reball include cost-effectiveness and the ability to play indoors without the mess of paint, but it remains a niche option compared to paintball and other sports.


Nerf battles offer a fun, low-impact alternative to paintball, using foam dart blasters instead of paintball guns. This sport is particularly appealing to children and families, as it’s less intense and more affordable than paintball. Despite its popularity among younger players, nerf battles may not provide the same level of excitement and competitiveness for more experienced paintball enthusiasts.

The Future Outlook of Paintball

Is Paintball Dying? The Future Outlook

While the popularity of paintball has seen a decline since 2000, the sport is far from dying. In recent years, it has maintained a steady plateau in participation and overall activity, with some fields and events even noticing an upward trend in attendance. In this section, we will discuss initiatives to further revive the sport and potential challenges it may face.

Reviving the Sport

For paintball to thrive, dedicated players and organisers must continue promoting it. Innovative ideas, such as introducing new game modes and making the sport more accessible through offering affordable equipment and fees, could play a significant role in attracting players. Moreover, collaborating with businesses, schools, and communities to host tournaments and paintball events may raise awareness and fuel interest in the sport.

Potential Challenges

One major challenge facing paintball is the cost associated with participating in the sport. Equipment and paintball expenses can be quite high and deter players, particularly those on a tight budget. Addressing this issue by offering more cost-effective alternatives and rental options could mitigate this obstacle.

Additionally, paintball organisers must keep up with safety regulations and measures to ensure a secure and enjoyable experience for players. As the sport can be quite physical and intense, reinforcing safety measures might encourage a wider range of participants to join.

far of paintball as a dying sport


Is paintball a dying sport?

While interest in paintball has declined, it’s not considered a dying sport. Dedicated players continue to play and promote the game whenever possible, ensuring that it won’t run out of players anytime soon.

What factors have contributed to the decline in paintball interest?

One of the main reasons is the cost of playing paintball, as it can be an expensive hobby with equipment and paintballs costing a significant amount of money. This can deter many people, especially those on a tight budget.

What can be done to make paintball more appealing and interesting?

There are several ways to help improve the appeal of paintball, such as making it more affordable for new players or introducing new game formats. The community also plays a crucial role in promoting paintball and upholding a positive image of the sport.

paintball final thoughts

Final Thoughts!

Although paintball has experienced a decline in interest over the years, it is far from being a dying sport. The dedication of existing players keeps the sport alive, and some locations even report growth in participation. The downturn can be attributed to several factors, such as the cost of playing the sport and the emergence of other adrenaline-fuelled activities.

However, paintball continues to hold its unique appeal by offering adrenaline-packed experiences, teamwork, and highly competitive action. New developments in equipment and changes in the industry might spark new interest among a younger audience. The sport’s evolution will play a crucial role in determining its future and long-term sustainability.

In conclusion, paintball may have faced challenges over the years but it remains a vibrant sport for enthusiasts. As the industry evolves and adapts to changing preferences, paintball can still thrive, proving it is not a dying sport but one that continues to offer excitement and camaraderie to its players.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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