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Paintball Success Tips, Issue #19 -- 12 Paintball Rules
June 21, 2005
Do You Know All The Rules,?

12 Basic Paintball Rules To Keep You in the Game

The following article was reprinted with permission from the author of Paintball Heroes, Lee Ingram. Paintball Heroes is a paintball tips and tactics guide that you should have in your bag of tricks. Get it. You won't be sorry.


Knowing some basic paintball rules will make your first game much more enjoyable. When you know the rules, you won't show up dressed inappropriately or with the wrong equipment and marker. At the least, knowing the rules can save you some embarrassment; at the most, it can save you from finding out you're not allowed to play.

1. Eliminations and Markings

According to the American Paintball League's rules for tournament paintball, "A player is eliminated from the game when he is marked anywhere on his body, clothing or equipment with a quarter-sized or larger splat caused by a direct hit from a single paintball." The size of the splat that indicates elimination may vary from tournament to tournament and field to field. Tournaments may also have rules for other kinds of marks, including the size of combined splats.

Other considerations will be: who to eliminate if two players are hit at the same time (usually both), what a player should do if they think they're hit but can't see the mark, how persistent a player is in seeking verification from a referee, etc.

2. Vandalism

Shooting at anything outside the shooting range and playing field will be considered vandalism. Cars, spectators, lights, speakers, buildings, birds, and critters are OFF LIMITS!

3. Gun Safety

You must use a barrel blocking device except when in the playing field or on the shooting/chronograph range. A barrel blocking device could be a barrel plug or sock. A plug goes into the barrel, whereas a sock fits over the barrel.

A chronograph is a device that uses sensors to measure the velocity (speed) of a paintball leaving the barrel. You will be required to check your gun's speed at any commercial paintball field. Paintball guns are capped at 300 feet per second, but some fields will require a velocity of 280 FPS or less (e.g., for playing indoors or at night).

Your marker will be chronographed before every game. Tournament players may be required to have their gun chronographed during and after the game as well. Penalties are applied for tournament players found with "hot guns" unless the player asks for a chronograph.

Fully automatic guns and guns with autoresponse triggers are not allowed on commercial paintball fields or in tournaments.

4. Insurance and Waiver Forms

You will be required to sign a waiver to relieve the paintball field or organization of any liability if you get hurt, or your equipment is damaged or stolen. If you are concerned about personal injury insurance or theft insurance, you should check with your insurance agent. An example of a waiver can be found here:

5. Surrender

Many fields will expect you to follow their recommendations for surrender. In other words, if you are 5, 10, 15 or even 20 feet from an opposing player, you should ask them to surrender. If they fire at you instead of surrendering, you are usually free to return fire.

6. Structures

Climbing on bunkers, structures, buildings, logs and trees is not usually allowed in tournaments or on commercial paintball fields. Altering structures, trenches or bunkers is also not allowed. However, both these things may actually be encouraged in scenario games.

7. Referees and Judges

The decisions of referees or judges (tournaments) are final. Arguing with a referee will get you eliminated from the game. If you need to dispute a point with a referee, wait until after the game.

8. Clothing

Some fields and most tournaments do not allow short pants or short-sleeved shirts. There's a very good reason for this rule: paint balls sting and leave welts that can last for several days!

Tournaments will usually specify the kind of material a player's clothes can be made of (not a slippery material that can easily be wiped clean of paint) and the style of clothing (not oversized or baggy). They will usually forbid the wearing of camouflage patterns and ghillie suits as paint doesn't show up easily on these.

9. Goggle Systems

While games are in progress, it is mandatory for anyone near or on the shooting range or playing field to wear goggles that meet ASTM F1776 standards. This includes judges, referees, players and spectators.

Goggle systems must include a full face mask and ear protection made for that model. No component of the goggle system may be altered from the manufacturer's specifications.

Goggles must be worn at all times in the chronograph/shooting range and on the playing field. Any player removing their goggles FOR ANY REASON will be eliminated from the game immediately.

If you are having problems with your goggles fogging up, or you need to adjust your goggles for any reason, signal to a referee. They will supervise you while you remove or lift your goggles. This rule even applies to wiping the sweat from under your goggles. Tournaments will apply a penalty to any player lifting their mask and eliminate them from the game.

10. Paint Balls

Only field paint is allowed in tournaments and on most commercial paintball fields. This eliminates the problem of old, brittle paint balls (or frozen paint balls!) being brought to the field. Check the rules at your field. BYOP = Bring Your Own Paint; FPO = Field Paint Only. Tournaments are very particular about paint and most won't even allow "blood red" colored paint on the field.

11. Foul Language

Using foul language is an infraction of the rules in tournaments and will be cause for elimination. Recball fields and scenario games may have more lenient rules, but to be safe, DON'T SWEAR!

12. Age Limit

All commercial paintball fields will have an age limit as paintball is not a game for young children. Paint balls travel at high speed and can cause bruises and welts even through clothing. A paint ball accidentally hitting someone in the eye can cause permanent damage. Players must accept the risk of serious injury and sign a waiver to that effect.

Knowing the Rules Will Keep You in the Game

Of course, these are not all the rules for playing paintball and rules differ from field to field. However, these basic rules will ensure that you're allowed to play paintball anywhere.

All other rules you may encounter apply to things that will be within your control on the particular field you're playing on. For instance some fields allow head shots (called "goggling") and some do not. This rule is one you learn on the spot as you read the rules for the field before you start the game. Reading the rules is important and will prevent you from being eliminated from the game unecessarily. "I didn't know," isn't an excuse any referee will accept!

©Paintball Heroes

© 2005

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