Paintball Safety Rules: 101
The game of paintball can be an absolute blast. Fast-paced gunfights, high-octane flanks, clutch shots — they’re why we play the game. While it can be easy to get caught up in the moment while the adrenaline is pumping through your veins, paintball safety is what keeps the sport going. It’s why every field will walk you through their safety guides and have you sign a waiver. We know talking about safety can seem like a major buzzkill, but nothing will put a damper on the day like someone getting injured on the field. It’s the old saying coming to life, “it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.” This old adage isn’t just for grumpy old boomers. Paintball is fun because it’s safe. Nobody wants to get hurt while out on the field, and you certainly don’t want to be the one that causes an injury. So, let’s go through the nitty-gritty and all of the ways you can keep yourself and fellow players safe and having fun so that you can come back to the field ready to throw some paint.
Never Take Off Your Protective Gear
Rule number one shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you enter a playing area, target range, or chronograph area — you must be wearing protective goggles and a face mask. Point. Blank. Period. Paintballs move at 280-300 feet per second (fps), which is roughly 190 mph. Protecting your face and eyes is crucial, and getting hit without wearing this safety gear can result in serious injury and even death. Never, under any circumstance, remove your protective gear while you’re in a designated area for shooting paintballs. Additionally, you’ll have to wear barrel sleeves while outside of designated shooting zones. Keep these on before heading in, and remember to put them back on before coming out.
Wear the Right Clothes
The right paintball gear for your games isn’t limited to paintball goggles and helmets. While you may go to your local field and see some players roaming around in t-shirts and shorts, it’s certainly not recommended. Long sleeves and long pants can help add some extra protection from incoming shots. If you’re playing woodsball or even outdoor maps filled with makeshift bunkers, barriers, and cover — long sleeves and long pants can help protect you from the elements. Whether it’s prickly or poisonous plants in the woods or a sharp edge on a piece of cover, that added protection can safeguard you from an annoying itch or scrape.
Be Ready For the Chronograph
While playing some paintball with friends is all on the honor system, heading to your local paintball field will mean submitting your marker to the chronograph. Typically, the average paintball field has a top speed of 280 — mostly due to the fluctuation of Co2 or compressed air. This is to keep games fair, safe, and fun for everyone. When you get hit with a paintball flying at 280 fps, you’re going to feel it. There’s no need to crank up the speed of your gun, and you certainly don’t want to be playing against others topping out their fps. Be ready to have your paintball marker put through the chronograph.
Shooting Stays Inside Designated Areas
Under no circumstance should anyone be firing their paintball gun outside of designated areas. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re in a designated area, chances are you shouldn’t have your finger anywhere near the trigger. If you’re at a local field, there are three primary areas where firing your paintball marker is acceptable.
- In the designated play area during a game
- At the target range, when given the green light
- In the chronograph area, when your marker is being tested
Pay Attention to Paintball Field Rules
Before jumping into a game, a member of the field’s team will go over general safety guidelines, field-specific rules, and other important information. It doesn’t take long, so pay attention. This is especially true for field-specific rules. Even if you’re a paintball veteran, every field is somewhat unique. Nobody is too high and mighty to get a refresher on general safety instructions and the local field’s rules.
Once you’re out on the paintball field, there are a few general safety rules and unspoken laws of paintball. This isn’t airsoft; there’s not much to debate when someone gets hit. If you see someone get hit and raise their hand, stop shooting. There’s no need to give them half the hopper if they’re already out. Paintball is competitive, but it’s all fun and games. Overshooting can leave players with a bad taste in their mouth, and no one wants to play with someone who puts 4-5 extra shots into the opposing players.
Close Range Engagements
Every field has different rules when it comes to close engagements. It’s not rocket science when we say that the closer the shot, the harder it’s going to hit. Engagements less than 20 feet have what is known as the “surrender rule.” You typically won’t get into full-blown shootouts this close, but if you’re coming around on a flank or you’re in stealth mode — you could end up on top of the enemy players. In this case, if you have an obvious elimination on your hands, ask them to surrender before firing. 99% of the time, they’ll take the surrender because close shots are no fun.
Check Your Fire
Paintball safety means having the utmost restraint in the heat of battle. While it’s difficult to always keep a level head and calm composure, there are a few things you should keep in the back of your mind while on the field when it comes to how you play. These are general rules that will help keep everyone safe and having a great time while on the field.
- Aim for the torso when firing at enemy players. Yes, everyone is wearing head protection, but shots to the neck or back of the head can be painful. It’s best to aim center mass (plus, it’s the biggest target).
- Watch out for refs while out on the field. You’ll know what they look like, and they’ll do their best to stay out of the line of fire. But keep an eye out and check that it’s not a referee before going full wild-wild west.
- Don’t shoot at neutral players after a hit. Once hit, a player will raise their hand and attempt to get off of the field as quickly as possible. These players are neutral and are off-limits. Let them get out of the line of fire before going for another elimination.
- Avoid blind-firing your paintball gun. Examples of this are pointing your marker above or around cover and firing without knowing what you’re shooting at. If you can’t directly see where you’re firing, don’t fire.
Stay Safe Out There
Hopefully, this brief gives you everything you need to stay safe for your first paintball outing or gives you a much-needed refresher on the general paintball safety rules. Paintball is an adrenaline-pumping experience, but that doesn’t mean it has to be dangerous. Safety first, always.