The Rules of Paintball

In this article, you will discover the rules of paintball and their importance. I’ll guide you through these rules, helping you gain a solid understanding of what keeps this thrilling sport fair and enjoyable.

By following the rules of paintball, you will maximize your experience, ensuring fun for everyone involved.

Let’s begin!

The Rules of Paintball
The Rules of Paintball

Paintball Game Rules

Start Game Rules

  • Before the game starts, the team flags are hung on each team’s starting base.
  • The game starts only when the referee puts his hands down.
  • Players are allowed to remove the paintball barrel cover only when the referee signals that the game starts.

General Game Rules

  • Each player has the right to call for a paint check from the referee. When a player asks for a paint check, the game stops and the players stay in the same place. The game resumes after the referee finishes the paint check and makes the signal for re-starting the game.
  • The player who moves or changes position during a call for a paint check will be eliminated by the referee.
  • Players are not allowed to shoot or hit the referee.
  • Players that are eliminated are not allowed to shoot or hit the active players.
  • Players cannot move or carry the bunkers or other parts of the paintball field.
  • The player who is shot is not allowed to wipe the paint.
  • Players should conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike way
  • Players are not allowed to get physical or manifest any aggressive behavior.

Hit Rules

  • A player is considered to be eliminated if she/he is hit by a paintball that breaks and stains her/his clothing or equipment.
  • When a player is eliminated, she/he must shout “out” or “hit”. She/he must leave the field walking with the paintball gun raised above her/his head.
  • A player is not considered eliminated if she/he is hit by a paintball that does not break.
  • A player is not eliminated if she/he is splashed by an amount of paint due to a paintball impact near him.
  • The eliminated player heading for the exit is forbidden to talk with the still-active players
  • If two players mark each other at the same time, both players are eliminated.

End Game Rules

  • The game ends when the referee whistles or calls “game over”. It can also end when all players of a team are eliminated or when a team’s flag is captured by the opponents.
  • The game can also end when the time is up. The game can last from 15 to 30 minutes. The referee is the one who keeps track of the time.

Scoring Rules

  • A team is awarded for every player that eliminates from the opposing team.
  • A team is awarded when it captures the flag of the opposing team.
  • A team is awarded when it hangs the flag of the opposing team in the flag station.
However, the exact scoring rules depend on the paintball facility, tournament, event, or organization.

Winning Rules

  • Elimination: The winning team is the one that eliminates the players of the opposing team. The team with at least one player on the field at the end of the game wins.
  • Flag capture: The winning team is the one that manages to capture the opposing team’s flag and return to its base.
  • Objective completion: The punishing team is the one that managed to complete the most objectives of the game. The team with the most points wins.
  • Time-based: The winning team is the one that collected the most points according to the criteria of the game: elimination or objectives to be completed.

Paintball Referees Rules

What is a paintball referee?

A paintball referee is a person in charge to oversees the game. Depending on the situation, there are two types of referees: a head referee and an ultimate referee. The head referee is responsible for the game itself, while the ultimate referee exists only in tournaments or other events, and is in charge of the event itself.

Now, let’s see the paintball referee rules:

  • Each paintball game must have a minimum of one referee.
  • The referee is the one that starts the game, checks players for paint checks, makes decisions and ends the game.
  • The decision made by the referee is final and cannot be appealed.
  • All paintball players must respect and follow the instructions of the referee at all times.
  • The paintball players that do not respect the instructions or decisions made by the referee are penalized or eliminated from the game.
  • The referee is not allowed to put a player back in the game after elimination.
  • Players are not allowed to shoot or use as cover the referee. If the referee stays in the player’s way, the player can ask the referee to move.

Paintball Referee Hand Signals

  • Eliminating a player: The referee puts one hand on his head and points with the other hand stretched to the eliminated player. The referee can also shout “out” to make it clear to the player and the other players about elimination.
  • Clean player: The referee signals that a player is clean and has not been hit by raising a finger in the air and moving it in a circular motion.
  • Penalties: The referee signals a penalty by using:
    • a yellow flag to signal a minor or one-for-one penalty. For a one-for-one penalty, the referee can also hold one arm in the air until the penalty is assessed. The referee may shout “out” too.
    • a red flag to signal a major/ gross-major or two-for-one penalty. For a two-for-one penalty, the referee can also hold both arms in the air, and drop one by one when the penalties are in place.
  • 10 seconds before the start game. The referee raises both hands in the air, shouts “10 seconds”, and then lowers his arms immediately after the game starts.

Team Rules

  • Paintball can be played in two or more teams, each team consisting of a certain number of players.
  • The number of players on each team must be similar to the other teams.

Paintball Field Rules

  • Paintball should be played on a designated playing field.
  • The paintball field may vary in size and terrain.
  • The paintball field may include obstacles like trees, rocks, old vehicles, tires, and bunkers to provide cover for players.
  • Before the game starts, teams must establish the field boundaries.
  • Before the game starts, teams must mark the dead zone or staging area and make it known to all players.
  • Players can shoot only within the designated field boundaries.
  • Players are not allowed to shoot outside the field boundaries during a game.
  • Players cannot shoot any player in the dead zone.
  • Players must not damage or alter any part of the field during the game

Paintball Equipment Rules

– Players are allowed to exchange the paintball equipment during the game.

Paintball Mask and Googles Rules

  • A paintball mask and goggles must be worn the entire time.
  • Players are not allowed to remove the mask and goggles during the game, not even for a small period.
  • The paintball mask and goggles can only be removed once a player is off the field and in a designated safe zone called a dead zone or staging area.
  • Players must wear masks and goggles that are specially designated for paintball.
  • The paintball mask and goggles must be properly fitted. They should not be loose or have gaps that could allow paintballs to enter.
  • The paintball mask and goggles must be in a good condition to be used. Players should not use masks or goggles that are damaged or have cracks.

Clothing Rules

Footwear Rules

  • Players are not allowed to wear shoes with metal/ceramic cleats, sharp-pointed cleats, or spikes.
  • Players should not wear open-toe shoes or sandals. These types of shoes do not provide protection for the feet and increase the risk of injury.
  • Players should wear closed-toe shoes, such as athletic shoes or boots.

Paintball Protective Equipment Rules

  • Players may wear a single pair of padded gloves.
  • Players may wear headgear.
  • Players may wear neck protection.
  • Players may wear groin protection.
  • Players may wear a chest protector.
  • Players are allowed to wear shin and knee protection. It is recommended to wear them under clothing.
  • Players are allowed to wear forearm and elbow protection. It is recommended to wear them under clothing.

Barrel Cover Rules

  • Players must have a barrel cover on the field.
  • The barrel cover should cover the paintball gun barrel and fit correctly.
  • The barrel cover must be attached to the paintball gun at all times, even when the paintball gun is not used. Therefore, the barrel cover must be put over the barrel even in the dead zone or staging area and when walking to or from the field.
  • The barrel cover can be removed when the players are actively engaged in the game in the designated field.
  • The player that does not comply with the barrel cover rule can receive a warning or be asked to leave the paintball field.


– Players can carry any number of paintballs on the field.

Paintball Gun Rules

  • Each player must have a paintball gun or marker.
  • Players can use electronic paintball guns or mechanical paintball guns.
  • Paintball guns can have a maximum velocity of 280 feet per second. Paintball guns with a higher velocity than 280 feet per second are not allowed on the paintball field due to the high risk of injury.
  • The paintball gun or marker must be in a good condition.
  • The paintball gun barrel can include porting, slots, and inserts.

If you have more ideas, tips, or other details you’d like to share with the community, feel free to leave a comment below.


About the author: Dave Grayson

I was always the kid who could not stay put for more than two consecutive seconds. So naturally, my parents decided to make everyone’s life easier by paying for all sorts of sports classes that could successfully burn my excess energy in a healthy way.

I’ve always enjoyed all sports and I cannot imagine my life without at least four days a week of physical activity. Keep reading...

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