Standard Rule Book for Tournament Paintball


  1. The spirit and intent of these rules and the duty of the enforcing officials is to ensure safe play; to promote fair, unbiased competition; and to sustain the level of organization and good sportsmanship necessary to keep tournament-level paintball a positive activity.
  2. The tournament producer is the final authority regarding these rules. The producer may designate an overall director of judging. The judging staff ("referees" or "marshals") also may include one or more ultimate judges, head field judges, field judges, chronograph judges, and other designated members of the judging staff.
  3. Modifications to these rules may be required by particular situations, including but not limited to insurance requirements, laws, or regulations; in such instances, the tournament producer may modify these rules as necessary. Questions regarding modifications should be directed to the tournament producer or his designated representative before the tournament begins.
    1. Paintguns & Power Systems:
      1. Paintguns must meet manufacturer and insurance safety guidelines regarding triggering mechanisms, the trigger guard, and safety devices such as a barrel plug (a squeegee is not a barrel plug).
      2. Each player may carry and use only one paintgun and barrel per game.
      3. No external velocity adjusting devices, which would allow a player to adjust the velocity of his paintgun without the use of tools or disassembly, are permitted. All velocity-affecting pressure regulators, which can be adjusted without the use of tools or by disassembly, must have locking rings or tournament caps.
      4. Only pump or semi-automatic paintguns are allowed. It is each player's responsibility to consult with the tournament producer prior to the event regarding definitions and limitations of this rule.
      5. Paintgun Power Sources: All paintguns must use either CO2 (carbon dioxide) or compressed air/nitrogen as the power source unless the producer specifically approves other sources. All components (fittings, hoses, valves, cylinders, etc.) of the high-pressure system must meet the manufacturer's safety standards.
      6. At tournaments that do not restrict the type(s) or number of gas power sources/cylinders, a player may carry multiple systems onto the field as long as they are configured in such a way as to allow the paintgun's velocity to be stabilized at 300 fps or lower.
    2. Goggle Systems:
      1. It is mandatory for every person (judges, players and spectators) to wear an approved goggle system when they are directly exposed to fields while games are in progress, or when they are directly exposed to any authorized shooting area while paintguns are being discharged.
      2. Each goggle system must include an approved full facemask and ear protection made specifically for that model of goggle. The goggle system components shall not be altered from their original factory condition. All goggle systems are subject to safety inspection and approval.
      3. A player whose goggles are accidentally dislodged (sufficient to expose the eyes) during a game shall be eliminated from the game; if, when this occurs, the player whose goggles accidentally dislodged has already been eliminated, the judge shall not eliminate an active player.
      4. An active player who deliberately removes his goggles (sufficient to expose the eyes) during a game, other than with the approval and under the direct supervision of a judge shall be eliminated from the game.
    3. Clothing & Gear:
      1. Players must wear full-length pants and a long-sleeve top (e.g., shirt, jacket or pullover). Pants and shirtsleeves must be fully extended during game play to the ankles and wrists respectively. A player may wear only one layer of clothing underneath his exterior pants and top. The player's clothing may not resemble or be of a similar color to that of the judges, and it may not be of a color/pattern similar to that of the flag(s) or armbands being used at the event. A player may not wear or carry any multi-colored or patterned clothing and equipment that makes distinguishing a paint mark difficult for the judges.
      2. Unless specifically allowed by the tournament producer, knee, shin, and elbow pads, and neck protectors must be worn on the outside of the player's clothing. Harnesses, vests, pouches or similar gear must be worn on the outside of all clothing. Tops must be tucked into the pants.
      3. Clothing must be sized to fit the player. A player may not wear oversized, draping and/or excessively baggy clothing. Clothing may not be made of overly absorbent cloth or highly padded cloth, nor of water repellant cloth/material that allows a paint mark to be wiped away quickly and cleanly. Ghillie-type material, which makes paint marks difficult to locate and identify quickly, may not be worn or attached to the player's equipment or goggles.
      4. Prohibited Devices. Players shall not use and/or carry onto the playing field: artificial sounding devices (e.g., whistles, clickers, horns); shielding devices; artificial light sources; heat generators (e.g., matches, lighters, heat packs); weapons, flares, paint grenades, paint mines, or any form of pyrotechnic devices; tools and spare parts capable of affecting a paintgun's velocity; silencers or sound suppressers; slingshots, blowguns or any device capable of propelling a paintball other than the single approved paintgun per player; radios and similar communication, signaling or listening devices; or items that might be mistaken for a flag.
      5. Paintballs: A player only may use paintballs that remain in fresh, unaltered, untreated factory condition as per the manufacturer's specifications. No "blood-red" colored fill is allowed.
    1. There shall be only two flag stations on a field for dual flag games, and only one flag station for single flag ("center flag") games.
    2. Field boundaries must be clearly marked.
    1. Players must meet event eligibility requirements.
    2. Rosters: Players may not be listed on more than one team roster per event, and a player may not change teams during an event.
    1. Maximum Paintball Velocity: The maximum allowable velocity for any event is 300 feet per second (fps). Event rules may reduce the velocity limit.
    2. All paintguns are subject to a chronograph check before, during and after a game.
    3. Pre-game Chrono Check: Before each game every player must report to the field's designated chronograph. An equal number of players from each team will be chronographed. The velocity check shall consist of three (3) consecutive shots over the chronograph. A set of three (3) shots must be taken with each power source/cylinder a player takes onto the game field. No single shot may exceed the event limit. Any paintgun shooting over the event limit shall not be allowed in the game. Players may attempt to re-qualify paintguns, providing games are not delayed. A player may go into a game without a paintgun.
    4. Between chronographing on before a game and chronographing off after a game, without the express permission and supervision of a judge, a player commits an infraction if he adjusts, disassembles or otherwise alters or tampers with the velocity regulating components of his paintgun. If the player is active, the judge will eliminate him; if the player has already been eliminated, the judge will assess a POINTS PENALTY of -10 (10 points are subtracted from the team's score).
    5. An eliminated player commits an infraction if he discharges his paintgun, bleeds off gas, removes the cylinder, or turns off the valve; the judge will assess a POINTS PENALTY of -10 (10 points are subtracted from the team's score).
    6. During a game, a player must allow a judge to chronograph his paintgun upon request. The judge will call the player neutral, and the player must cease all play-related actions and follow the judge's instructions. If the player refuses to follow the judge's chrono check directions, the judge will eliminate him; in addition, the judge will assess a POINTS PENALTY of -50 (50 points are subtracted from the team's total). The game check shall consist of one (1) shot over the chronograph without any clearing shots. This shot may not exceed the event limit. If this shot exceeds the event limit, the judge will eliminate the offending player. The player must submit to a post-game chronograph check where a further Points Penalty may be assessed according to post-game chrono check rules.
    7. Post-game Chrono Check: Every player must report to the field's designated chronograph immediately after the game ends. After each game an equal number of players per team will be chronographed. The velocity check shall consist of no more than three (3) clearing shots immediately followed by one (1) shot over the chronograph. If the single chronograph shot exceeds the event limit, two (2) additional chrono shots are required; those three chrono shots will be totaled and the judge will assess a POINTS PENALTY of -1 point for each fps over three times the event speed limit (1 point for each fps will be subtracted from the team's total score, up to a maximum of 50 penalty points per player per game).
    1. A player is eliminated from the game when he is ordered off the field or eliminated by a judge, or when a player signifies his elimination whether marked or not.
    2. Out of bounds: A player whose body or equipment accidentally or deliberately extends beyond the vertical plane of the boundary shall be eliminated.
    3. A player who deliberately shoots at another player across a boundary or from out of bounds commits an infraction. When witnessed by a judge, a player marked by a paintball from across a boundary will be returned to active status.
    4. A player who climbs on a tree, a bunker, a structure or a prop will be eliminated.
    5. A player who deliberately alters terrain or structures, or tampers with a bunker, will be eliminated.
    6. A player who deliberately uses a non-participant or a movable object as a shield will be eliminated.
    7. Start of Game. The countdown and "game-on" signals will be issued to both teams simultaneously. No more than the prescribed number of players may be on the playing field when the game-on signal is given or at any time during the game. A team may start the game with fewer than the prescribed number of players. Games will not be delayed for late players or for equipment malfunctions. A referee will eliminate any player who is not within his team's starting area when the game-on signal is given or who leaves the starting area before the "game-on" signal.
    8. Each player must maintain possession of any equipment or clothing (including his armband) that he carried onto the field except for the following disposable items: paint pods/loading tubes, squeegees, paper towels, and spent 12-gram cartridges. Intentionally discarding equipment is an infraction. Unintentionally losing possession of non-disposable equipment for more than five seconds also is an infraction. Any equipment more than 3 feet away from the player is considered discarded equipment.
    9. A player is eliminated from the game when he is marked anywhere on his body, clothing or equipment with a quarter-sized or larger splat caused by a direct hit from a single paintball. The size of the paint mark is cumulative. If two splat marks (e.g., one on the loader and one on the goggle) are from the same paintball break and are larger than a quarter when combined, then the player is eliminated.
    10. A player is eliminated from the game when he is marked anywhere on his body, clothing or equipment with a quarter-sized or larger splat caused by an indirect (when a paintball breaks against a secondary object and splatters/sprays the player) hit from a single paintball, except when the indirect splatter was witnessed by a judge.
    11. If two or more players are marked simultaneously, both shall be eliminated. A judge will decide which player(s) is eliminated when the players involved do not agree on the order in which they were marked.
    12. It is the player's responsibility to notify a judge and receive the judge's acknowledgment when he is marked other than by a shot (e.g., by kneeling on a paintball, from cleaning his paintgun, from leaning against a paint-stained object, etc.). If the judge determines the mark was not from a hit, the judge will wipe off the mark.
    13. It is each player's responsibility to check himself and call himself out when he has been marked from an obvious hit. An "obvious" hit is a direct impact that leaves a quarter-sized or larger splat and that, in the judge's determination, the player should physically sense.
    14. When a player receives an "obvious" hit that the player can visually verify, he must signify his elimination immediately. A player may seek reasonable cover in the immediate area if he is unable to visually verify an obvious hit and if remaining in his current position while waiting to be paintchecked will leave the player exposed.
    15. Blatantly shooting a player after he has signified his elimination is an infraction.
    16. A player who fails to continuously call for a paint check after an obvious hit which the player cannot visually verify commits an infraction. +1
    17. A player who receives an obvious hit and continues aggressive play (shooting, advancing, communicating with teammates, handing off supplies, etc.) commits an infraction. +1
    18. A "questionable" hit is a mark that, in the determination of a judge, the player probably did not physically sense. A player who receives a questionable hit will be eliminated from the game but has not committed an infraction. If, however, a judge determines that the player became aware of a questionable hit and then continued to play, the player has committed an infraction by continuing aggressive play after an obvious hit. +1
    19. A player who has been eliminated and/or signals himself eliminated, and who then shoots at an opponent from on or off the field, commits an infraction. + 2
    20. A player who deliberately attempts to hide, remove, or conceal a paint mark commits an infraction. +2
    1. An eliminated player is allowed to verbally signify his elimination once only, simultaneously with his visual elimination signal. +1
    2. A player must immediately signify his elimination by fully extending his paintgun above his head and keeping it raised until he has crossed the field boundary; failure to do so is an infraction. A player shall allow a judge to take his armband off, but if a judge is not available to do so, the player shall remove his own armband and give it to a judge. +1
    3. An eliminated player must exit the field as quickly and directly as possible, following the directions of the judges. A player should insert a barrel plug into his paintgun's barrel when he crosses the field boundary. An eliminated player who fails to proceed promptly and directly to the field's holding station, without stopping to spectate, commits an infraction. +1
    4. An eliminated player who communicates, verbally or visually, with his teammates, commits an infraction. +1
    5. An eliminated player who discards or passes off equipment or supplies commits an infraction. +1
    6. A player who fails to call for a paintcheck and waits until after the game ends to signify his elimination, and/or who has an obvious hit but attempts to report as "live" (active) after a game, commits an infraction. The offending player shall be counted as an elimination; additionally, the judge will assess a POINTS PENALTY of -20 points (20 points will be deducted from the team's score).
    1. Paintchecks may be requested by any active player any time during a game, but judges are not required to respond to superfluous and/or distracting requests. Nor will judges answer questions regarding game situations (e.g., time remaining, location of flags, disposition of active players, etc.). The time clock is not stopped for paintchecks.
    2. Judges may visually check a player without performing a "neutral" paintcheck (without "calling him neutral"). During these non-neutral paintchecks, play continues across the field without restrictions to shooting and movement.
    3. Neutral Paintchecks: A judge will perform a "neutral" paintcheck if, in the performance of the check, he will expose the player to hits or interfere with normal game activity. A player becomes neutral only when a judge gets close enough to touch the player, tells the player he is neutral, and signals the player's neutrality to the rest of the field. A player who calls for a paintcheck on himself remains in play unless and until a judge performs a "neutral" paintcheck on him.
    4. When a judge performs a "neutral" paintcheck, he must signal the player's neutrality to the rest of the field by 1) raising a neutral flag high above the player's head or 2) raising one arm/hand high above the player's head.
    5. A judge may signal a player "eliminated" by outstretching one arm/hand to point at the player and putting his other hand on his head. A judge may signal a player "clean" by outstretching one arm out to each side.
    6. An active player shall not shoot or advance directly toward a neutral player, and shall not enter a 25-foot (25') radius around the neutral player.
    7. A neutral player becomes active when the judge tells him he is clean/may resume play, and signals to the rest of the field that the player is now active.
    8. Judges, not the player, will wipe off indirect spatter and wrongful hits, such as when players are hit after being called neutral.
    9. A player who attempts to remove paint splatter and/or spray off his clothing or equipment commits an infraction. However, the exception is a player's goggle lens; a player may wipe off his lens only after receiving direct permission from a judge.
    1. Unless spectator coaching/cheering is allowed by the event producer, spectators shall not point at nor communicate with active players, nor shall they distract judges and/or interfere with the game.
    2. Spectators must follow the directions of the judges. Non-playing spectators must have in their possession some type of picture ID, and they must show it to a judge upon request.
    1. A flag is designated as "pulled" or "secured" when it is removed from its station and held in the possession of an active player.
    2. A player shall not be eliminated for taking possession of a flag with quarter-sized or larger paint marks on it. A quarter-sized or larger hit to the flag while it is in a player's possession must be witnessed by a judge to be deemed an elimination of the flag carrier.
    3. A flag carrier must hold the flag in the hand and must keep the flag visible at all times. The flag may be handed off between active players.
    4. Any active player may pick up a dropped or discarded flag, but in a dual flag game, players may not intentionally touch, move, shoot or disguise their team's own flag. A player is presumed to know which flag is his own team's flag.
    5. If a flag is abandoned for more than five (5) seconds, a judge shall pick it up and return it to the appropriate flag station as quickly as possible. Resetting the flag in its station nullifies the abandoning team's pull.
    6. In single-flag (center flag) games, a flag "hang" is awarded when an active player touches the suspension point or breaks the plane of his opponent's starting station with the flag. In dual-flag games, a flag hang is awarded to the first active flag carrier from either team to touch the suspension point or break the plane of his team's flag station with the opponent's flag.
    7. A flag carrier automatically becomes neutral when he breaks the plane of the station or touches the suspension point. A judge will check him for paint marks. If the flag carrier is clean, the game ends. Should game time expire during the check of the flag carrier, the flag hang will be awarded if the carrier is clean. If the flag carrier was marked prior to breaking the plane or touching the suspension point and game time did not expire during the check, the judge will back the eliminated flag carrier out of the station approximately 25 feet (in the direction he came from) and the game continues.
    8. If the flag carrier is eliminated he shall stand holding the flag at shoulder height, with the majority of the flag or flag cloth clearly hanging exposed, until an active player takes it from him or the game ends.
    9. The eliminated flag carrier commits an infraction if he hampers a flag pull by an opposing player. +1
  10. GAME END
    1. The head judge will give the game-end signal when a flag is hung, the time period for the game expires, or the last player on a team is eliminated via a penalty. All shooting must cease at the game end signal, and players on the field should install barrel plugs.
    2. A player who signals the end of a game commits an infraction.
    3. The head judge of a field may "freeze" the field, signaling all play to stop, because of an emergency, injury, safety hazard or other serious game problem. The judges will instruct the players as to the actions required. The head judge will resume play with a 10-second countdown after notifying the field how much time remains in the game.
    1. A person may not argue with a judge, hinder/interfere with a judge's performance, and/or disregard a judge's warning during a game.
    2. A person may not engage in loud arguing, cursing or insulting name-calling regardless of where or to whom it is directed (toward a judge, player, spectator, self, etc.).
    3. Engaging in confrontational arguing or severe, abusive cursing or name-calling, and/or threatening physical harm to another person, is an infraction. If the offending player is active, the judge will eliminate him; if the offending player has been eliminated, the PENALTY is +1. In either case, the judge also will assess a POINTS PENALTY of -50 (50 points are subtracted from the team's score).
    4. Making belligerent physical contact with another person by deliberate bumping, pushing, shoving, use of an object, etc., is an infraction. When this occurs, the judge will END THE GAME and the offending player's team shall forfeit the game. Additionally, the judge will assess a POINTS PENALTY of -100 (100 points are subtracted from the team's score). If a player from each team commits this infraction, both teams shall forfeit and the POINTS PENALTY of -100 shall be deducted from each team's score.
    1. Game Points: Game points are earned by teams according to their performance. Accumulated points will be used to rank contestants throughout the event for seeding positions and to determine which teams advance to the next round.
    2. Standard Game Points System:
      Event Active players at game end Opponents eliminated First flag pull Flag hang TOTAL
      3 player 3 each 7 each 20 points 50 points 100 points
      5 player 2 each 4 each 20 points 50 points 100 points
      7 player 1 each 3 each 22 points 50 points 100 points
      10 player 1 each 2 each 20 points 50 points 100 points
    1. This Tournament Rules Book is not an exhaustive reference regarding rules, infractions and penalties. Penalties may be increased, decreased, or declined by the director of judging or an ultimate judge, at his discretion, in particular circumstances.
    2. It is each player's responsibility to consult with the tournament producer prior to the event regarding definitions and limitations of the rules.
    3. A violation of these specific rules, as well as a violation the spirit and intent of these rules, is an infraction.
    4. Each player must immediately submit his equipment, his paint, and himself for an inspection whenever requested by a judge.
    5. Players must follow all of the directions of the judges. Since the instructions of the judges supercede these rules, a player shall not be penalized for following the directions of a judge.
    6. Appeals. All decisions by the judges are final. Questions or appeals may be addressed by the team captain(s) to the head judge of the field immediately after the players have chronographed off after the game.
    7. A "+1" signifies that the judge will eliminate one active teammate of the offending player. A "+2" signifies that the judge will eliminate two active teammates of the offending player.
    8. Successive or continuing infractions are grounds for successive penalties. Example: the offending player is an active player and commits the infraction of arguing with a judge; the judge eliminates him from the game. He continues to argue with a judge; the judge eliminates an active player from his team. If he continues to argue, the judge eliminates another active player from his team.
    9. Certain infractions result in Penalty Points. Successive or continuing infractions are grounds for successive penalties.
    10. When a "+1" or a "+2" penalty eliminates the last player from a team, the other team will be awarded the flag hang automatically. First pull also will be awarded if one has not occurred earlier in the game.
    1. The producer or his designated representative is the only person authorized to penalize a player with probation, suspension, and/or expelling a person from a tournament.
    2. A person expelled or suspended from a tournament must leave the premises and not return.
    3. Where ID cards are required by the tournament producer, a person who refuses to show his ID card to a judge will be expelled from the tournament. If his teammates refuse to identify the player, every person on the team's roster will be expelled from the tournament.
    4. PRODUCER FORMATTING: Tournament and event producers may have specific formatting (e.g., game time limit, size of playing field, limited paint, pumpguns only, Rookies only, etc.).

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