Or how to avoid being shot two minutes after the action starts!
A good rule of thumb in life is to try and avoid being shot...by anything! Well, the same goes for paintball. There's nothing more aggravating than getting up at the crack of dawn, driving for an hour into the woods, putting all your safety gear on and then taking a paintball pellet in the chest and being eliminated two minutes after the action starts. Of course, this scenario isn't too bad if it means you're the first one back for the beer and barbecue.
The goal of all paintballers is to be the last player standing. You don't want to be eliminated by being shot, hit by a grenade, land mine, or by being forced to surrender. However that's much easier said than done when there are pellets whizzing by your ears.
A player is officially eliminated from the game when they are hit, marked or tagged by a pellet that breaks, due to contact with the player, and leaves a splash of paint as evidence. Because there are various rules, the paint mark may need to be a specific size in order to eliminate you. This means that teams may need to clarify the size of a "fatal" mark before the battle begins. According to recreational play in North America, a "fatal" mark must be the size of a quarter. While in most tournament games a "fatal" mark of any size will eliminate you. If you get hit by a pellet and it doesn't break, you may also be eliminated if a referee witnesses it.
If a paintball hits another object, such as a tree, before reaching you and splatters you with paint or if you get shot by somebody who's already been eliminated it's best to ask a referee to clarify if it's a valid hit. This is generally known as a "paint check". All you have to do is yell "paint check" to a nearby official. Some rules enable the referee to inspect players up close by calling them a "neutral" during a paint check. Neutrals must stop playing when being checked. This means that opponents aren't allowed to fire or advance on them.
If you get splashed with paint from grenades or paint mines you'll also be eliminated. When eliminated most players yell "I'm hit" or "I'm out". You can also be eliminated by breaking the rules - such as stepping out of bounds during a game. If you do get hit during play, make sure to inspect yourself for a visible paint mark. Remember, you may have been hit without getting a mark. If the referee didn't see it, your opponents may call for a paint check on you, especially if you're not aware you were hit or if you're trying to hide or remove a hit. Removing and covering up hits is considered cheating. This dishonest tactic is known as 'wiping', which can result in severe punishment - such as being banned from a playing location. A penalty of "three for one" could also be called, which means the cheater and three of his / her teammates are eliminated as penalty. This is a quick and easy way to lose friends.
In some games, if you happen to creep up on an unsuspecting opponent, you're obligated to yell "surrender" or "mercy" before opening fire. Your opponent may then tell you they surrender, or may raise their hands or gun, which will eliminate them. If the opponent refuses to surrender or turns to fire, then you can let them have it. Allowing somebody to surrender is good sportsmanship, as being shot with a paintball can sting from close distance. However, in most tournament play there's no surrender rule, so you're free to fire at will.