Do you know your legal vs illegal UK paintballing activities?
BattleGear UK aims to bring you a comprehensive but transparent guide on what you can and cannot do with your paintball marker (gun) and what safety and legal precautions you should be taking if you own a marker or are planning to buy one.
Paintball is a high-intensity adrenaline-filled game that requires a paintball marker and approved safety headgear (goggles/mask) to play. A paintball marker is deemed to be a firearm in UK law. It can not kill but can cause injury if handled improperly. It is therefore understandable that there are rules around owning and using a marker, where you can play and safety precautions that should be adhered to at all times. But do you know the legal vs illegal UK paintballing activities, and do you have questions about what you can and cannot do?
While owning a paintball marker is legal in the UK, some stipulations and rules must be followed to ensure the safety of yourself and others around you. Most of the regulations surrounding Paintball markers can be found in the Firearms Act of 1968 under the section Air Weapons, which supports regulating the sport and keeping it both fun and safe. Subsequent additions to the act have had some impact on the use and ownership of Paintball Guns and we have attempted to include the relevant parts here for your convenience.
Under UK law “paintballing” is a permitted activity. By extension, owning a paintball marker is permitted but you will require a “defence in law” should the authorities come knocking at your door regarding your ownership of a paintball gun. Declaring yourself to be a paintballer (a person who participates in the sport of paintball on a regular basis) is not proof in itself. You will need valid documentation to support your claim which is one of the reasons why the UKPSF exists.
The United Kingdom Paintball Sports Federation (UKPSF)
In the UK we follow the law and also abide by the United Kingdom Paintball Sports Federation (UKPSF), which is the governing body for paintballing in the UK. They are responsible for regulating the sport, providing guidelines, liaising with the government regarding the sport and underwriting the rules and regulations that are used by paintball sites, event organisers and players. From 2022 membership to the UKPSF is mandatory for purchasing a paintball marker in the UK. Membership starts from just £3 per year at the time of this publication.
Playing paintball in residential or public places
DON’T DO IT! You should only use a paintball marker at a designated paintball site or where an event organiser has carried out the necessary Health & Safety assessment, submitted it to the local authority and had it approved before the event. And then you can only use your marker under the authority of the site owner or event organiser. In other words, do not assume that just because you are at a paintball site you can start shooting your paintball marker in the play area.
In the unlikely event that an accident occurs involving a paintball marker at a paintball site. That site should have 3rd party liability insurance in place. Make sure the site you choose to play at has insurance. All UKPSF sites have the necessary insurance as part of the requirement for being a registered member.
The law is quite clear that you should not use your paintball marker in any residential places as this could cause injury to members of the public and is an arrestable offence. It is advisable that you avoid shooting in your garden which is private land. If a paintball should stray out of your boundary you will be breaking the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. This could carry some serious consequences for the offender.
The rules of paintball markers:
- Only frangible projectiles should be used with your paintball marker. Non-frangible rounds are a modification or misuse of a paintball marker and can land you in big trouble if discovered.
- All HPA (High-Pressure Air) and Co2 bottles/cylinders/tanks should be checked and tested regularly. The date when a bottle needs to be tested is marked on the tank. Typically testing is required every 5years at an approved test centre. You can organise this through any reputable retailer such as Battle Gear UK.
- Paintball markers should be restricted to firing at 300fps maximum for safety. Anything over this is unacceptable and dangerous in paintball. Most paintball sites set the fps lower to allow for a margin of error. You’ll be asked to demonstrate the fps (feet per second) of your marker before playing by a marshal (site official) with a chronographic meter and told to adjust the velocity accordingly.
- Anyone who owns a paintball marker should not open carry it into a public place. It should be safely stowed in a proper kit bag and fastened shut – Open carrying could be seen as breaking the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. If found guilty, this could carry a prison sentence of up to 4 years.
- You must be 18 years of age or more to purchase a paintball marker. You can be gifted a marker if younger than 18.
- Paintballing is a permitted activity under UK law but the keeper should possess suitable documentation to justify ownership. UKPSF membership is suitable provided the intent is to play paintball.
Fully Automatic or Burst
Is not illegal in the UK but the UKPSF strongly recommend against paintball sites allowing fully automatic or burst paintball markers for safety reasons.
What can you do with your MagFed paintball marker?
As previously mentioned, paintballing is first and foremost a fun safe sport. With playing locations across the UK, there are many venues to choose from where you can use your paintball marker. Whether you are part of a group looking for a recreational activity or you are a solo player looking for an event to be part of, there are paintball social platforms, forums and events companies that offer fast-paced and adrenaline-fueled paintball events from beginners to veterans.
Whilst you cannot carry your MagFed marker openly through your local streets when it is fully loaded, you can dismantle and pack it into your kit bag, so you are ready to travel to your next event. If you are planning to travel abroad, however, we would recommend you check the rules of the specific airline, country and state you are travelling to as there are different regulations for paintball markers depending on where you are in the world. What we can tell you for sure is that you will not be able to take your paintball marker on as hand luggage with any airline!
If you don’t own a paintball marker yet, it’s worth looking for events or paintball venues where you can hire or test markers. Doing this can give you an excellent feel for the sport and whether you would want to invest in a MagFed marker so you can participate in events around the UK.
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BattleGear UK are proud to guide you on legal vs illegal UK paintballing activities
As a growing sport, it’s essential that all those who are avid paintball fans or who are about to become one follow and adhere to the rules and regulations in order to protect members of the public, other players and the reputation of the sport.
The paintball industry is a rapidly growing one in the UK. It’s a sport with a great future, one that will provide many young people with access to a great experience. However, if rules are not understood or followed, tighter restrictions may be placed on the sport with the result that it will become almost impossible to play in the future. BattleGear UK is proud to guide you on legal vs illegal UK paintballing activities.
BattleGear UK is a large supplier of MagFed paintball markers and accessories for beginners through to experienced players. Our markers adhere to all rules and guidelines to provide a safe but exciting game for all who are passionate about the sport.