1. SAFETY RULES
Like many sports, safe participation in paintball requires observance of proper safety procedure. When safety rules are followed, paintball is extremely safe, with an injury rate of only 0.2 injuries per 1,000 exposures. Injury rates for other common team sports are much higher, including 12 times as high for soccer (2.4 injuries per 1,000 exposures) and 7 times as high for baseball (1.4 injuries per 1,000 exposures). Put another way, a player who played paintball twice a week would expect to play for 50 years before sustaining an injury.
The most important rule in paintball is that all players must wear a protective goggle system (or "mask") at all times when they are playing or near other people who are playing. While paintballs will not cause permanent injury to most areas of the body, the eyes, and to a lesser extent the ears, are vulnerable to serious injury if hit by a paintball. Paintball masks are specifically designed for the sport, with the goggles being capable of withstanding a direct hit from a paintball travelling at 300 feet per second. A mask that protects the rest of the face and flaps that cover the ears are attached to the goggles. Most commercial paintball fields require players to wear a mask designed specifically for playing paintball. You can find a wide range of masks approved by the government for paintball play in the market. If you do not find the one you want contact a professional for help. Paintball players must never remove their goggles during a game or when other people are playing nearby. This rule is zealously enforced at all commercial fields, and players that violate this rule are given at most one warning before they are sent home. Most commercial fields have a well-defined area, usually separated from the field with a wall or netting, where it is safe to remove the goggles.If a player’s mask falls off during a game, he or she should immediately lie face down on the ground and cover his/her head. Any player who sees this should alert game officials and other players to stop the game until the player is able to replace their goggles.
3. PAINTBALL VELOCITY
In addition to the mandatory use of masks, paintball markers must not fire paintballs that exceed a certain velocity. The industry standard maximum velocity is 300 feet per second (about 200 miles per hour). Paintballs traveling faster than 300 fps will leave large bruises and can potentially break the skin or even fingers. Many commercial paintball facilities mandate a lower velocity (usually 250 to 295 fps) in order to create an extra margin of safety. Lower velocities can still be painful at point blank range, and should be avoided when possible. Players sometimes wear thick jackets and gloves to cover any exposed skin.Paintball velocity is measured using a chronograph. Chronographs are standard equipment at commercial paintball facilities, but must be purchased if not playing at a commercial location. Players who play without first using a chronograph put themselves and other players at risk. Because changes in temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure may affect a paintball's velocity, markers should be chronographed several times throughout the day. Paintball markers should also be chronographed after any adjustment or replacement of parts (e.g. the barrel) that might significantly change the marker's velocity.
4. BARREL BLOCKING DEVICES
All players must use some sort of barrel blocking device on their paintball marker when not actively playing. These devices generally take the form of a small bag (known as a "barrel sock") that covers the front end of the barrel and work by catching any paintballs that are accidentally fired. For a long time, barrel plugs, a piece of hard plastic with rubber o-rings placed into the front end of the barrel, were the most commonly used barrel blocking device. But because they had the potential to fall out or be shot out (turning them into hard plastic projectiles), barrel socks are now the de facto standard at many commercial fields.
5. PLAYER ELIMINATIONS
Players eliminate each other from the game by hitting their opponent with a paintball. Players are generally considered 'hit', 'marked' or 'tagged' when a paintball shot by another player strikes and breaks on the player leaving a paint mark. Any size mark counts as an elimination qualifying mark. Splatter or paint that gets on a player when a ball breaks near him and sprays paint on to him, does not eliminate a player, though depending on the field's specific rules, the splatter that is larger than a nickel or dime is considered an eliminating hit. A hit with no mark may count if the hit is observed by a referee. Once a player has been hit, they are eliminated from the game. Most fields count hits on all body parts, and any gear the player is carrying or wearing, as eliminations. This includes foot shots, gun shots, backpack hits or if you're carrying a garbage can lid as a shield, a hit on it counts as an elimination. Some fields however confuse matters by allowing certain shots not to count as a way to make the game easier. Some fields allow gun hits to be safe, and some allow elbows and knees down to be safe. The problem associated with allowing certain hits not to count as eliminations are that players go to other fields with other rules and play through a hit which then brings out calls of cheating.If a player is uncertain whether a mark or strike they have received is a valid hit or not, possibly because the mark is from the spray of a paintball breaking on another nearby object, or because they can not see the part of the body where they have been struck by a paintball, or because the paintball may have been shot by a player who had already been eliminated, the player should ask a referee to determine whether or not the player has a valid hit. This request is commonly referred to as a 'paint check', and is most often requested by the player yelling the words 'Paint Check' to a nearby official. Some game rules allow an official to call a player 'neutral' during a paint check so that the official can more closely inspect a player. If a player is called neutral, they must discontinue play while being checked and opponents may also not fire or advance on the neutral player.Players may also be eliminated from the game for reasons other than being hit by a paintball, including calling themselves out by saying "I'm hit!" or "I'm out!", due to a penalty, from paint marks from paint grenades or paint mines (in games where such equipment is allowed) or for game infractions like stepping out-of-bounds.Because players who call themselves out are eliminated even if they are not actually hit, players should always check to see if a paintball that has hit them has indeed left a mark. A paintball may simply bounce off a player’s body, which does not count as a hit. Players may also call for a paint check on another player if they believe they have marked an opponent to ensure the player is promptly eliminated from the game, especially if the opposing player may not be aware they are hit or may be attempting to hide or remove a hit. Removing a hit and continuing to play is a severe form of cheating commonly known as 'wiping' and can result in severe penalties, including being permanently banned from the playing location at a recreational or commercial facility, but in tournaments a penalty of “2 for 1” may be called. This is where the cheating player and an additional two teammates are eliminated from play.
Some rules require that a player within a certain distance of an unaware opponent (usually 10 to 15 feet) must demand the unaware player's surrender (by yelling "Surrender!" or "Mercy!") before they may open fire. If the opponent complies verbally, or by raising their hand or marker, they are considered marked and are out of the match. However, the challenging player may fire upon them if they refuse or attempt any hostile action (such as turning to fire).While waiting for a response, however, the player can still be hit by other opponents. Getting hit by a paintball from close range can be particularly uncomfortable, and it is thus polite and good sportsmanship to offer surrender instead of unnecessarily shooting an opponent at close range.In almost all tournament play, there is no surrender rule, and if a player catches an opponent off guard, they are free to fire at him. Moves such as a 'run through', where a player sprints down the field shooting as many of the opposing team as he can, have developed over time and are now very important plays. Another popular move is "bunkering", where a player charges up to the bunker or barricade that an opposing player is behind and shoots them from over the top or around the side of the bunker