10 Basic Paintball Rules – Beginners Guide to Paintballing

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Paintball is an exciting sport that tests your athletic skills, cunning, and luck. It’s a team exercise that requires cooperation, but it is also based on individual ability. All in all, it’s a rewarding experience; however, the sport poses risks to health and safety, making it crucial for all participants to know the common rules of paintball.

Paintball rules are important to follow — this is true whether you’re a beginner playing paintball for the first time or a seasoned veteran of the sport. Most of the rules come down to basic safety guidelines, designed to prevent injury. The other rules deal with the basic gameplay, which is essential to follow for everyone to have a good time.

There’s a primal thrill to paintball. It’s one of the most satisfying epic battle experiences you can (safely) have in 2022. This sport is fun and competitive, offering adventure, action, and adrenaline. On a basic level, this is a game about using one’s skills to get the upper hand over their opponent.

This is still a team sport, though, and knowing how to play ensures everyone has the best experience possible. As well, you can avoid common paintball injuries by following the basic rules. In this article, learn the basic paintball rules before playing for the first time!

Only Fire Paintball Markers In Designated Shooting Areas

When you play paintball, there are areas designated as shooting areas. No firing is allowed in the other safe zones. This is a safety concern; in the shooting areas, everyone wears safety equipment at all times and is prepared to be fired upon. In the other areas, however, players may have their equipment off — or you may even hit someone not participating in the game. This is probably the most important paintball rule of them all.

Use Appropriate Equipment At All Times

paintball player playing the game in rain

While it hurts to be hit by a paintball, you can be seriously injured if hit in an unprotected spot — especially in the eyes and ears. The essential safety gear for playing paintball includes a mask and goggles made for paintball, appropriate clothing, and reliable footwear. The goggles must be made for paintball and are in good repair; if your eye protection fails in the middle of the game, you’re at risk for a serious injury.

The most common paintball injuries that require hospitalization are eye or ear injuries from getting hit in the head without protection and lower-body injuries from overexertion and falls. You can easily avoid the former by wearing adequate protection and the latter by wearing appropriate footwear for agility (and knowing your fitness level and playing within it).

You should wear a mask in the playing areas at all times. Not wearing a mask can lead to serious injuries, including loss of sight or loss of hearing. Similarly, you should never fire at anyone not wearing safety gear.

Your paintball marker should also be safe to use. Likely, if you bring in your marker, it will have to be chronographed before play to ensure that it does not exceed 285 feet per second. Keeping your paintball gun clean and in good repair can prevent malfunctions, which can cause injury (or at least disrupt the fun).

Watch Where (And What) You Shoot

Don’t blind fire when playing paintball. You need to see where you are firing at all times. If you’re unsure about a target, use common sense. If you don’t look where you fire your marker, you might hit someone with their safety equipment off or even the referee.

You should also not be intentionally firing your paintball marker at anything other than players in the game. Never shoot at wildlife — it’s cruel, and will almost certainly get you kicked out of the game.

What To Do When You’re Hit Paintball Rules

As soon as you’re hit, you are out of the game. Call “out” to tell the other players that you are hit. Alternatively, if you aren’t sure if you’ve been hit, call “paint check,” and a referee will come to look you over.

Immediately after a hit, you need to exit the game. Raise your arms and marker above your head to signal to the other players you have been hit. Then quickly head to a safe zone. Once you’ve been hit, you’re dead — never fire your marker after being hit.

Any player a referee is investigating for paint is considered neutral; you are not allowed to shoot neutral players. Similarly, you cannot wipe the paint off of yourself during a game. That would be poor sportsmanship. Follow the code of paintball rules for fair play.

Obey The Referee

Paintball works best when a qualified and competent referee oversees gameplay. It’s their job to ensure all players are following the rules. If you have any disputes during the game, you can signal the referee to settle the matter. It’s important for everyone’s safety (and fun) that you respect the referee, obeying their rulings on paintball rules throughout the game.

If a referee says that you are out of the game, don’t argue with them — it is disrespectful to the referee and can disrupt the fun of the match.

No Point Blank Shots

Even with protective gear on, getting hit by a paintball at close range hurts. Certain areas are worse than others: the groin, back of the neck, lower back (kidneys), inner thighs, hands, and any bare skin are the most painful places to be hit.

It’s good etiquette to allow anyone within 20 feet an opportunity to surrender without being shot. Never sneak up on someone and shoot them at point-blank range; it’s unsafe (and kind of a jerk move).

Respect The Playing Area (& Players)

players shooting on paintball playing field outdoors

The playing field is shared, so don’t be a jerk about the environment. You shouldn’t move any of the bunkers, shelters, or other field parts. Don’t climb trees either, since you could fall and get injured (most facilities also have rules against climbing). It should go without saying, but don’t intentionally fire at or damage the environment.

Similarly, follow the guidelines about safe zones and active shooting areas. When in the safe zone, you shouldn’t be yelling at the active players or trying to offer advice.

No Foods or Drinks In The Playing Area

You shouldn’t have any food or drinks in the playing area because you can’t eat or drink anything without taking off your mask. Removing your safety gear in active shooting areas can result in serious injury.

Use Barrel Sleeves

When not in the active shooting area, you should have a barrel sleeve (aka barrel sock, barrel cover, etc.) on your marker. This safety device covers the end of the barrel and prevents misfires.

When exiting the shooting area, you need to put the barrel sleeve on your marker. When you first enter a game, keep the barrel sleeve on until reaching the designated shooting area.

Remember: This Is A Team Sport

Paintball is a group activity — and while winning may feel important, ultimately, the true aim should be to have as much fun as possible while playing. Being a team player, and working towards a common goal, makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Your level of sportsmanship during a match significantly impacts the other players’ experience. Take the paintball rules seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.


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