Why Paintballs Hurt

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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.

Four Factors Impact How Much A Paintball Will Hurt

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Paintball Bruise from Paintball Hit

Velocity or Speed

Paintballs 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. 

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

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 we refer to as paint. Paintballs are designated to be shot at a speed between 270 feet per second (that’s x miles per hour) to 300 feet per second (that’s x miles per hour). 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 number that really doesn’t change. We listed it so you know what to expect and should expect at your local paintball park.  Here again are the four factors of how much more or less pain you will feel when you are shot by a paintball. 

  1. Velocity: Speed the paintball is shot
  2. Range: also referred to as ‘distance’
  3. Protection: Layers of body clothing worn
  4. Location: Different body parts have more sensitive nerves

1. How The Speed of A Paintball Effects The Pain Level You Feel 

Paintballs at your local paintball park are 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. 

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.

2. How Various Distances You Are Shot With Paintball Impacts Pain

Inside 50 feet a paintball sting lasts a few seconds. Paintball field operators put you beyond 50 feet as a new player. As a result of controlled shooting range, a paintball it does not hurt when you are shot.

Bunkered at close range with one layer of clothing: Pain level 9-10.
Inside 25 feet with one layer of clothing: Pain level 7-9.
Inside 50 feet with one layer of clothing: Pain level 6-9.
Inside 75 feet with one layer of clothing: Pain level 5-7.
Inside 100 feet with one layer of clothing: Pain level 4.
Beyond 100 feet to 125 feet with one layer of clothing: Pain level 3
Just inside range with one layer of clothing: Pain level 2.
At range: Pain level 1 or 0.

3. How Insulating Clothing Layers Minimizes Your Pain When Hit With A Paintball

Layers of protection and where you apply your layers of clothing will cut your pain and bruising down exponentially. The sweet spot is two layers for comfort and movement. A shirt with a coat or sweatshirt is what you should aim for. 

4. Locations On Your Body You Feel The Most Pain

Here is a rating system of pain you’ll feel when you are hit with a paintball. We use a scale of 1 to 10.  A level of 1 in pain from being hit with a paintball would be equal to only noticing you’ve been hit.  A level of 10 is in pain you feel from being shot with a paintball is unbearable. 

  1. You feel the hit. The paintball did not break. It didn’t hurt.
  2. You feel the paintball hit you and again, the paintball bounced with barely any sensation.
  3. The paintball bounced off again, yet it hardly felt annoying.
  4. This paintball may break but it barely left a mark. It left a sensation of fleeting irritation.
  5. The hit may or may not break too, but now you feel a mild sting that leads you to think paintballs don’t hurt much. 
  6. This may or may not break once again but it will leave a mark and the radiating sensation is more than annoying. It’s uncomfortable, you feel it deep into the skin layer and the sensation radiates out a full two inches in diameter for a few moments.
  7. This still may not break, but it stings. Ouch. You feel it as deep and wide as #6. This will leave some redness on your skin later. 
  8. This stings a lot. This won’t just leave a read mark, it will leave a welt with purple and blue in the center of the mark. The paintball broke and while it is not quite as bad as a bee sting, it does shock you in the sudden local trauma to your skin.
  9. This hurts enough to cause an emotional reaction. The pain is very high and a lasting bee sting may be the closest feeling you can associate with it. The good news is a bee sting lasts much longer but the tenderness to the local area remains. 
  10. This is probably the result of many close-range shots, or not wearing any protection similar to just a t-shirt, but it is a visceral pain you can only tolerate if you brace yourself and are willing to suffer pain. 

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