Paintball Rules Decoded: Your Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the rules in paintball is crucial for both safety and enjoyment. Whether it’s speedball, woodsball, or capture the flag, each variation has specific guidelines. Let’s delve into these rules with all the specifics you need for your next game.

Speedball Rules: High Energy, High Strategy

rules of paintball

Speedball is known for its fast pace and small fields, usually about 100-150 feet in length. Teams are typically small, ranging from 3-7 players each. The game is played with standard paintball markers, and there’s a limit on the paint (ammo) each player can carry, often around 200 paintballs per round.

The closest distance for shooting is generally 10 feet to avoid close-range injuries. If you’re hit, you’re out and must leave the field immediately, raising your marker above your head to signal elimination.

Players don’t return until the next round, which lasts about 3-5 minutes. Matches are often best out of 5 or 7 rounds. Safety is paramount in speedball – shooting someone in the face or at point-blank range is strictly prohibited.

Woodsball Paintball: Tactical and Team-oriented

Woodsball, or woods ball paintball, is played in a natural outdoor setting with varying team sizes, usually 10-15 players per team. The game allows for more strategic and scenario-based play, with matches lasting up to 30 minutes or more.

Like speedball, safety rules apply regarding minimum shooting distance and elimination protocol. If hit, you must leave the field with your marker up. Woodsball often involves multiple rounds or continuous play, depending on the scenario. Capture the flag variations in woodsball add an objective-based twist to the game.

Capture the Flag: A Classic Paintball Mode

In capture the flag, each team has a flag at their base. The objective is to capture the opponent’s flag and return it to your base. Game lengths can vary, typically lasting 15-30 minutes. The same hit and elimination rules apply as in other paintball modes. This game type emphasizes team coordination and strategy over individual prowess.

Specific Rules and Etiquette

Guns Allowed: All players must use field-approved markers. Modifications that increase firing rate or power are usually not allowed.
Ammo Count: Limited ammo enhances the strategic element. For speedball, players often start with one hopper (about 200 paintballs).
Elimination: Once hit and marked by a paintball, you’re out of that round. Announce your hit loudly and exit the field.
Re-entry: Players generally do not re-enter until the next round or game.
Safety Distances: Minimum shooting distances (usually 10 feet) must be respected to prevent injuries.
Prohibited Actions: Blind firing, overshooting, or shooting at close range is forbidden. Aimed shots to the face or back at close range are strictly against the rules.

If you’re curious to see what the rules are for the pros, check out the United Paintball Federation and click on the rulebook in the top right corner.

Understanding these rules in paintball not only ensures a fair and competitive game but also maintains a safe environment for all players. Remember, each paintball field might have additional specific rules, so it’s always best to check beforehand.

Paintball is a game of honor, strategy, and skill. Knowing the rules enhances the thrill and spirit of the game.


Playing regularly since 1997. Competed in local, regional, national and international paintball series. Founded and lead Long Beach State to a National Collegiate Championship victory. Proudly banned from the NPPL after legitimately winning a 5 on 1. Have since made it a hobby to promote paintball and at the same time make a point to call out paintball industry shenanigans and those that intentionally impede the growth of paintball. Welcome to