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Twilight Paintball

Playing Paintball at Dusk


Paintball is generally thought of as a game you play in the middle of the day with a bright sun or else on a well-lit indoor field. Paintball, though, can be played in other levels of lighting, even in the middle of the night.


The most common time when you will play paintball with less-than-ideal lighting occurs after an afternoon of playing, right before the sun sets. You just want to get one more game in before you head home, so you call "game on" despite the lengthening shadows on the field. What you'll notice quickly is that, no matter how bright it looked with your mask off, once you put your mask on, it's going to be much darker, particularly if you have any tinting or a visor on your mask.

While playing in twilight doesn't initially seem that bad - you can still make out trees, teammates and field landmarks - it will get worse. The first thing you will notice is that it is hard to see other players. That one guy who always seems to be out in the open and couldn't conceal himself under a woodpile suddenly blends right in with the surroundings. Since you also have this advantage, the game will slow down as players simply don't see one another and move slowly. A field that typically hosts ten minute games will extend to twenty minutes or more. While the game lags on, the shadows will grow longer and it will become even harder to see people, eventually making it almost impossible to see. I've played more than once where the game started at dusk and finished at dark.

During the game, it's not sufficient to find a person, you also have the challenge of shooting the person that you do luck into finding. The challenge with twilight shooting is that you can't see where your paintballs go. While you may be able to see your target relatively clearly, the small size of paintballs makes them disappear shortly after they leave their barrel. Most players rely on walking their gun in to a certain extent where they modify their second shot based on where their previous shot went, but if you can't see the ball, that makes walking in your shot impossible. I remember playing where I was shooting at a player repeatedly and had no idea where my shots were going. Eventually he was hit, but it was dumb luck since I couldn't aim well enough and had to resort to rapid firing in just his general direction.

One other thing to keep in mind when playing paintball at dusk or in the twilight is that you still must clean up and go home afterward. If your last game lasts until it's dark, you won't be able to see much of anything while you clean up, particularly if you are playing under trees. To remedy this, be sure to bring a flashlight if you think it is at all possible for you to be playing until dark. I have lost multiple pieces of equipment because I simply couldn't see to pick them up and didn't have a flashlight with me.

With all this negative speaking, it almost sounds like I wouldn't recommend playing paintball in the twilight. On the contrary. The magical part about the twilight is that it offers you one more time to play paintball. Due to the challenges of not being able to see, the game become unpredictable and you never know who might come out victorious. Plus, since everybody is suffering from a similar disadvantage, players generally are pretty laid back and simply enjoy themselves.

The lighting at dusk isn't optimal for paintball, but it is sufficient. And sufficient light for paintball means one more game for you to play and enjoy.

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