Whether you’re a stickler for the rules or prefer to make it up as you go, paintball rules aren’t the type to be ignored. If you do not know them or ignore the rules, your opponents will be unhappy, fellow teammates will frown at you, and one of the paintball venue’s referees might have words to say too.
Not knowing the rules is no defense. Why? Because they include fair gameplay, public safety, and the safety of the other players too.
Paintballs shoot out of paintball markers at surprisingly high velocity. Aiming carelessly will ruin your game and it could be ended prematurely. Don’t stop the fun too early!
Table of Contents
Overview of Paintball rules
- Unless playing in a commercial paintball arena, establish proper boundaries for play.
- Create a staging area or “dead zone.”
- Ensure teams are balanced fairly to avoid one-sided games.
- Establish game objectives and any unique rules applied.
- Hit rules matter. What is a hit and what is not?
- After being hit, raise your arm, and walk off the field.
- Do not taunt other players when leaving the field.
- Food and drinks are only allowed in the staging area.
- No rearranging physical obstacles during a match.
- Fire in plain sight, not through gaps in a wall.
- If you’re not sure if you’ve been hit, ask for a paint check.
Establish proper boundaries for play – For open-air locations, create boundaries that are large enough and clear enough for players. Create bases for each team, preferably not directly facing each other.
Create a staging area or “dead zone” – Players need a place to get ready, check their paintball gun, and ensure they’ve properly fitted their headgear. They must always be aware of the line of fire, so stray paintballs won’t come flying inside the staging area.
Ensure teams are balanced fairly – Too many expert paintball players on one team with beginners on the other isn’t fun for anyone. Mix it up!
Establish game objectives and any unique rules applied – Everyone needs to know what the game objectives are. Also, any unusual rules need to be clarified to both teams before the game begins.
Hit rules matter – Make clear what is a hit. And what is not? Paint splashing off an object and onto a player’s clothing shouldn’t be a hit. Some paintball versions allow multiple hits before being eliminated.
After being hit, raise your aim, and walk off the field – Once hit enough times to be out of the game, raise your arm/hand, and say that you’re, “Out.” This is the established way to signal to everyone that you’re out of the game.
Do not taunt other players when leaving the field – Be professional. Don’t swear or be rude when losing. Everyone plays paintball for enjoyment.
Food and drinks are only allowed in the staging area – The playing field is not the place to grab a bite. Paint could get into beverages too.
No rearranging physical obstacles during a match – Obstacles are placed in the playing areas to give them definition and for players, necessary cover. Do not move these around during a match.
Fire in plain sight, not through gaps in a wall – Players should not covertly fire through gaps in the wall. Give others a fighting chance to win.
Ask for a paint check – If you’re unsure if you’ve been hit by a paintball or not, it’s within the paintball rules to ask a nearby referee or another player to check you. Any player is neutral when checking for paint on another player too.
Paintball Safety Rules
- A helmet or a face mask, and safety eye goggles must be worn in active fire areas.
- Zero blind firings.
- Do not fire at a person who isn’t wearing protective clothing.
- No non-paintball weapons are permitted.
- All paintball markers should be calibrated before entering the field.
- Allow opponents to surrender when they’re too close.
- Wait until back in the staging area before removing paint stains from apparel or gear.
Face masks and goggles – In the chronograph testing locations, firing range, or target range, face masks/helmets, and goggles must always be worn.
Zero blind firing – Players must be in the open and have a target in their sights before firing. Firing randomly can create safety concerns or lead to paint reaching non-playing areas or into the staging area.
Avoid firing at unprotected people – When someone accidentally walks into the play area and isn’t wearing protective gear, e.g., goggles or a face mask, do not fire on them. They could get injured.
No non-paintball weapons permitted – Only approved paintball guns are allowed. No other type of weapon is permitted.
All paintball markers should be calibrated before entering the field – Markers should not shoot paintballs faster than a per second rate of 285 feet. Otherwise, they pose a safety risk.
Allow opponents to surrender when they are too close – Firing at someone too close can cause unnecessary pain when the paintball hits their body. Let them surrender voluntarily if they wish to do so.
Remove paint stains from apparel or gear only in the staging area – Pay attention to your safety until you’re outside the playing area. Keep your helmet and face mask on until reaching the staging area. This avoids accidental impacts on the face, eyes, or mouth.
Rules of the Field
Paintball arenas often have unique paintball rules. These may differ from the rules of paintball as you know them.
There are also various exciting game modes to choose from. These allow players to have more fun by mixing things up. Here are a few of the better modes:
The Elimination mode is where one team tries to hit all opposing team members or get them to surrender. These are time-limited.
Attack and Defend
One team defends its position while the other tries to take it over. Winning this game is either when all opposing players are eliminated/surrendered, or your team successfully takes over the other team’s base.
Capture the Flag
Two modes apply with Capture the Flag. Either a centrally located flag or two flags, one from either team’s side. The objective is to take over the flag more times than your opposing team.
In Bomb Squad, the bad guys plant the bombs before the good guys’ team enters the field. Then they try to find the bombs and return them all to the starting point while the bad guys attempt to prevent this.
King of the Hill
Lastly, for King of the Hill, two players try to best each other. The winner stays on and meets with his next opponent. It’s not quite a battle to the death, but it’s the next best thing!
Did any of the paintball rules surprise you? What’s your favorite game mode? Let us know.
James has traveled all over the US looking for the perfect field to lay it all down and show off his skills. He is driven to win with his team no matter what. With 5 years of tournaments, he shares his extensive knowledge with other players!