PAINTMARKER SAFETY


INTRODUCTION

Safety is the most important facet of this sport. Paintballers must strive to be safe and conscientious. No one wants anyone to get hurt.

With this in mind, the IPPA (International Paintball Player's Association) set up some safety guidelines. However, when used and handled properly, a paintball marker is less harmless than a rubber band.

1. ALWAYS PAINTMARKER AS IF IT WERE LOADED AND READY TO FIRE

If you treat it that way, you'll always be careful. I worked at a field for a number of years and I can't remember how many times I was shot by players who had an "empty" paintmarker. The owner of this field had a sign in the garage, where we worked on the paintmarkers, that said: "ALL PAINTMARKERS ARE LOADED AND READY TO FIRE". When you are unsure, always automatically default to this rule.

2. POINT YOUR PAINTMARKER ONLY AT WHAT YOU INTEND TO SHOOT

For instance, don't point your paintmarker at someone while you're waiting for the game to start. By that time everyone has their goggles on and their barrel plugs out. No one wants to get shot from two feet away. A simple slip of the trigger finger and you've lost a friend.

3. KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO SHOOT

This means until the actual instance of shooting. I've seen players trip and accidentally shoot a teammate at point blank range. You're not allowed to shoot ANYONE at close range, not just the opposition. Close range shots are painful, that's why they're not allowed.

To most paintballers, nothing says "stupid" more than being shot accidentally by your team mate.

4. BE CERTAIN WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SHOOT BEFORE YOU SQUEEZE THE TRIGGER

Paintballers take it for granted everyone else is wearing their goggles. Unfortunately we're dealing with the frailties of human nature. Some idiot is bound to take their goggles off to "see better".

Also there have been occasions when the occasional unwary hiker or jogger have strolled into a paintball area, despite the strips of yellow tape surrounding the playing area. I've even seen people on horseback.

5. PUT A BARREL PLUG SECURELY INTO THE MUZZLE OF YOUR PAINTMARKER WHEN YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF A DESIGNATED SHOOTING AREA; IF YOUR PAINTMARKER HAS A MECHANICAL SAFETY, PUT IT ON "SAFE"

(For those of you who don't know, a barrel plug is a barrel blocking device that keep an accidentally fired paintball from exiting the barrel. This is used in designated safe area outside of the playing areas where players are permitted to remove their safety goggles.)

As an extra precaution you should also ensure that there is no paintball in the chamber ready to fire. I always try to "plug an empty chamber". When there's no paintball ready to fire, if the paintmarker's trigger is accidentally pulled it's one less thing to worry about.

6. WHEN YOU HAVE FINISHED SHOOTING FOR THE DAY, REMOVE THE POWER SOURCE AND ALL PAINTBALLS FROM YOUR PAINTMARKER

This way you won't be taking it out of the bag a week later and thinking, "Is it unloaded? Did I disconnect the tank?" When in doubt, always refer to Rule # 1.

7. CARRY YOUR PAINTMARKER IN A BAG OR CASE WHEN YOU ARE AWAY FROM THE FIELD

Paintmarkers have been mistaken for real firearms. Those who do not know the difference will give you the benefit of the doubt and think you're carrying some sort of weapon. This usually gets the unwanted attention of the local constabulary--who have REAL guns.

8. CLEAN OR WORK ON YOUR PAINTMARKER ONLY AFTER THE POWER SOURCE IS COMPLETELY REMOVED FROM THE PAINTMARKER

The power sources, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and high pressure air operate at very high pressures. Seemingly innocuous parts will turn into lethal projectiles when the power source is still attached as you're taking the paintmarker apart. In my earlier years of playing I learned a very important lesson. Luckily the only thing I have to show for my ignorance is a hole in the ceiling of my workshop. A big hole. To make it hit home further, the marker was powered by a half spent 12 gram. Imagine what a connected C/A tank would have done.

9. ALLOW ONLY A QUALIFIED AIRSMITH TO REPAIR OR MODIFY YOUR PAINTMARKER AND ITS POWER SOURCE

Again, you're working with high pressure gasses. A hole drilled into the wrong place could ruin more than your paintmarker.

An additional Rule, from yours truly

10. KEEP PAINTMARKERS OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN

Kids shouldn't be playing with them. Remember Rule 7? To be even more secure, store air, paintballs and paintmarkers in separate, locked containers.

Paintball is the safest sport in the world, and we have very stringent safety rules. That doesn't mean they should be followed blindly. A little explanation as to why we have the rule brings better understanding. With better understanding, we have even higher safety levels.