Do Paintballs Hurt?

Paintball player caught in paintball firefight. Do Paintballs Hurt?Paintball player caught in paintball firefight. Do Paintballs Hurt?

Do Paintballs

Yes, paintballs hurt. They sting. Unlike a bee sting, radiating pain lasts momentarily. Pain level is dictated by distance, protection and where you are shot. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of how a paintball hurts. 

Paintball's Don't Have To Hurt

Pain is relative. A paintball that hurts you just a little, may cause the next person a lot of pain. A standard to measure pain will help you avoid paintballs inflict pain. Get a focus on what causes the pain and how you can minimize it when you play paintball.

 

Playing anywhere other than a paintball park is the #1 reason for paintballs hurting more than they ever should. Isn’t it ironic that paintball gets a bad name due to daredevil YouTubers that perform jackass style stunts and those antics make their way to the mothers of world who decide paintball is dangerous and uncivil. In truth paintball is a very safe sport. The welt of a paintball is much easier to accept than a broken arm or concussion from football. Paintball fields practice strict safety and the culture of players is to protect their own. What you see on YouTube makes headlines. Those headlines blot out scores of great safe displays of paintball in action. 

The thought of how much a paintball hurts is enough to not want to be hit by a paintball, let alone play in even the friendliest game of woodsball. A paintball is made of a .68 caliber (size) round shell filled with a colored gel referred to as paint. Paintballs are designated to be shot at a speed between 270 feet per second (that’s 184 miles per hour) to 300 feet per second (that’s 206 miles per hour). 270 seems to be the going standard today. Don’t be upset! It was 280 for many years. 

The bottom line is you should expect nothing less than a 184 mph paintball when you play.

Realistically, most all paintball fields keep their paintball firing speed to 270 fps. So while we did list velocity as a factor, this is one value that really doesn’t change. Velocity is listed for you know what to expect at your local paintball park.  

Velocity is standard, but in total there are four factors (variables) of how much more, or how much less pain you will feel when you are shot by a paintball. 

How Do You Gauge Pain From Being Hit With A Paintball?

We take the four variables above to establish if and how much a paintball will hurt when you are shot in a game. Paintballs can cause pain regardless if it breaks or bounces off of you. 

Paintball-pain-variable-1-velocity

184 mph Paint

In truth, all paintballs are shot at a consistent speed, 270 feet per second (fps). The label should be listed as a factor, not a variable. Velocity or speed at which a paintball travels can cause more pain of course. Paintball velocity at your local paintball park is highly regulated for speed. Over 90 percent of all paintball parks require all paintball guns (markers) to shoot at or under 270 feet per second (fps). It is safe to say the remaining 10 percent won't allow a marker to be shot at a speed of over 280 fps. Only the tournament teams will reach speeds of 300 fps. 

If you like to be specific, since technically speed can be 270 fps, 280 fps or 300 fps, that turns velocity into a controlled variable. For your sake as a recreational paintball player, the standard 270 fps speed requirement a paintball may travel results in a consistent means to establish what will happen at what distance.

That includes: Paintballs, bouncing, breaking and how much they will hurt at what distance. At 270 fps you can expect a paintball to sting at a pain level you won't like but won't ruin your day when you are shot at an average distance of 75 feet. Specific distance pain levels are covered next.

Speedball | Always In Accurate Range: 75 Feet

New to paintball? Don't worry about being forced into close range intense gameplay. Featured in the above photo is Speedball. If you grow into the sport, only then should you worry about paintball pain from close range shots. Featured in this photo is Lando Calrissiano. He is posted out just enough an opponent shot the only part of his body exposed. His hand and gun. Thanks to Lando and his photographer: Michael Faber

Paintball Pain Variable 3 Range

You're Lucky. No Bunkering.

Distance is a huge determining factor in how much a paintball will hurt. If any single variable has more impact (pun intended), it's the distance from which you've been shot. Paintball parks don't allow recreational paintball players to bunker. Bunkering can be agreed upon. Let the nutty bachelor parties play a bunker game. Nobody, absolutely nobody wants to be shot from point blank.

The standard speed requirement of paintballs results in a consistent means to establish what will happen at what distance. That includes: Paintballs, bouncing, breaking and how much they will hurt at what distance. At 270 fps you can expect a paintball to sting at a pain level you won't like but won't ruin your day when shot at an average distance of 75 feet. Specific distance pain levels are covered in the next section

Paintball pain variable 3 Protection

No Hoodies In The Summer

Body cover is important because it's not the amount of body cover you wear, it's the type of body cover your wear that will either make a paintball feel like a tap or allow it to behave as if you had no good cover at all. What to wear and where is the answer.

Before we get to those answers, know the foundation to operate. You dress for protection, but you also dress for comfort and freedom of movement. Wearing boots is great if it's raining and mucky out. If it's a dry summer day, stick to soft rubber cleats because heavy boots slow you down when you are dashing up to a new bunker or tree.

Next. Unless it's cold out, leave that damn hoody at home. Hoody's are a myth. Got it? Remember, you are playing recreational paintball. The field rules will keep opponents from shooting you at close range. You won't need neck protection and hoodies at paintball tell the world you're a n00b.

Don't Get Hit In The Thin Skin

Where you get hit will make a difference. Some body parts have thin skin areas and some have both thin skin and more sensitive nerves.
The standard speed requirement of paintballs results in a consistent means to establish what will happen at what distance. That includes: Paintballs, bouncing, breaking and how much they will hurt at what distance.  At 270 fps you can expect a paintball to sting at a pain level you won't like but won't ruin your day when shot at an average distance of 75 feet. Specific distance pain levels are covered in the next section

In Conclusion  | Safety Saves You From Pain
Paintballs parks preach safety. Players patrol fellow players to keep people safe. The game is one everyone learns to respect once they enter the paintball park. NOT just the field of play. With this high regard for the sport, rest assured that paintball field owners are very serious about you having a great day at the paintball field. 

As you can see below, some players will play with reckless regard. The photo below is of a player with years in the game. He was playing with little protective cover in final battle. That battle had hundreds of paintball players in it where some players choose to allow themselves to be shot up for their own reasons. Some reasons make sense such as for the good of a team objective, where others make no sense and players simply want to be riddled with welts to brag on them later. Let’s hope this player was on the noble path. 

ION - Invasion of Normandy Scenario Paintball Event

If you are worried about paintballs hurting you at a day of paintball, you are wasting energy. There are too many checks in place to keep you at a ‘safe’ range.  You won’t be placed in any game situation such as the one illustrated in the photo above. You will be playing in controlled game environments with referees and players near your skill level. When advanced players join, they generally mentor new players. Now get out there and have fun. You no longer need to worry needlessly that paintballs hurt.

Paintballer standing in middle of paintball crossfire

Paintball Pain on a 1-10 Scale

Read our 1-10 pain scale rating system if you want more on the subject of paintball pain.

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