Can You Play Paintball Anywhere: Public, Woods, Backyard

Can you play paintball anywhere you like? If you are searching whether you can play a paintball game in state lands, public places, woods, or the backyard of your home, then you are at the right place. This post place provides A-Z everything you need to know on where you can and can’t play a paintball game.

The straight answer is – No, you cannot play paintball anywhere you like. As per US state law, you cannot play on state lands, public places, and woods unless you get prior permission to do so. You can play in your backyard or home in certain conditions.

My Short Story

A few years ago, I got frustrated with the long travel to the nearby paintball field, the cost, time constraints, bad new players (bad as in not obeying laws). One day I gathered a few of my paintball friends and decided to play in a public land near my house. At that moment, I was not aware that we’re going to break the law, but the officer made it very clear that we did.

As he explained to me, you need to understand how state governments classify a paintball gun. Since it is difficult to explain every state’s law, I’m taking one state’s law as a reference for this post. Most other state laws are almost identical, but it is always better to check your respective state.

Michigan State Law On Pneumatic Guns

“Pneumatic gun” means any tool designed as a gun that will expel a BB or pellet by spring, gas, or air. A pneumatic gun includes a paintball gun that expels by pneumatic pressure balls filled with dye for the purpose of marking the point of impact.

Thus, as per Michigan State Law, a paintball gun is a kind of Pneumatic gun that works with air pressure or spring. Now, let’s take check whether it is legal or illegal to use a pneumatic gun in each respective case:

  • State land
  • Public land
  • Woods 
  • Your backyard
  • At home

Can You Play Paintball On State Land

Can You Play Paintball On State Land

What Is State Land?

State land means public land controlled by the Department of State Lands

A one-sentence answer is a land that is governed or controlled by a State government. For example, a public land area in New York City will be under New York state’s control. Like Times Square or Central Park.

So, Can You Play?

No, in most US states, you are not permitted to play paintball on state land.

Still, you can always consult with your local authority or state representative and ask for permission to play on state land. Sometimes depending on the location and state law, you will be granted permission.

Before discussing public land, let me give a quick insight into the difference between state land and public land.

What’s The Difference Between State Land And Public Land?

The American public owns all federal public lands, including National Parks, National Forests, Wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, and wildlife preserves. By contrast, state lands are held by state governments, and most of them are required to generate revenue.

Thus, State land is under the state government’s control, which may generate revenue for them somehow. On the other hand, every citizen has a right to public land as it is supposedly owned by the people.

Can You Play Paintball On Public Land

Can You Play Paintball On Public Land

As we understood, the public has the right to public land. Does that mean you can play paintball on public land?

No, you cannot play paintball on public land without prior permission from your local authority. Playing paintball on public land without permission is considered a form of vandalism.

To help you understand this better, let me take an example of what Michigan State says about playing paintball on public land.

Rule 299.922(I) states “On lands owned or under the control of the department it is unlawful for a person or persons to do any of the following…paint or otherwise mark any tree or rock on any lands, waters, structures or property…”

Considering the above rule, paintballing on public land without government permission is regarded as vandalism. To know more about vandalism, visit this link.

So, you should avoid using public land for playing paintball. However, this would be much easier to get permission for. As if you show enough responsibility (perhaps even sign a declaration) for taking care of the land (cleaning, being safe, etc.), your local authorities are way more likely to grant your permission.

Can You Play Paintball In The Woods

Can You Play Paintball In The Woods

Yes, you can play paintball in the woods, but only in certain areas. It is always better to check with your local law enforcement or forest ranger regarding this. Most woods which are open for hunting will be open for paintball games too.

Warning & Tips For Playing In The Woods

  • First, check with a ranger and get permission to play.
  • Never play during hunting season.
  • If you play in the hunting season, make sure to play in a quiet area, leave signs around, and ask the rangers to let hunters know.
  • Never harm any animals.
  • Never play near camping areas or trails.
  • Clean all of your paintball trash before you leave the area.
  • Never cut any trees for game use.
  • Be vigilant of animals and people throughout the game as you are playing in the woods.

Can You Play Paintball In Your Backyard Or Home

In Your Backyard Or Home

Yes, you can play paintball in your backyard as long as you’re not disturbing the public. There is no state law stopping you from playing in your backyard.

Just make sure to follow a few safety measures:

  • Make sure your backyard is fully surrounded by walls, fence, or tarp.
  • Never disturb your neighbors or the public while playing by shooting outside, making too much noise at inappropriate times, etc.
  • Don’t shoot paintballs at any buildings, shared walls, or animals.

If you are planning for a paintball game in your backyard, you might be interested in reading my article on how to build a paintball course at home.

Related Questions

Is carrying a paintball gun illegal? It is illegal to carry a paintball gun that is loaded and fully functional in a public area. Therefore you can have a paintball gun as long as it is fully dismantled and inside a bag or box.

Can a paintball gun kill a bird? Yes, a paintball hit can kill a bird. Most paintball guns can shoot at a speed of 300 fps (feet per second) which is enough to kill a bird (or severely debilitate it) in case of a direct hit.

Can you paintball in cold weather Yes, you can paintball in cold weather if you wish to do so. There is no law restricting you from playing in cold weather. But, the game will be a lot more dangerous because of slipping, and your paintball guns may get damaged.


As we discussed in this post, you cannot play paintball anywhere you like. As per US state law, you cannot play in state land and public places unless you get prior permission to do so. However, you can play in your backyard and most woods under certain conditions.

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