Do Paintballs Hurt?

How You Can Avoid Pain from Being Hit with A Paintball

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

Do Paintballs

Yes, paintballs can hurt. They are often said to sting. Sting is actually an overstatement. Unlike a bee sting, a paintball hit isn’t deep like a bee sting. The radiating sensation lasts momentarily. A better description is uncomfortable. Flick your finger hard against your wrists. That’s what a paintball hit feels like. It’s not painful is it? It’s unpleasant. It’s not something you want over-and-over, but it’s not painful.  Yet we must use the word, pain in the absence of any better description. And at some point, a paintball can be painful. That’s due to people playing the game wrong or not playing the game at all. Pain level is dictated by distance, protection and where you are shot. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of how a paintball hurts. 

Paintball Infographic | Four Factors of Impact in how paintballs cause pain

WHAT DOES PAINTBALL PAIN FEEL LIKE?

The big question mothers want to be answered is about pain.  Consider this, compare the worst hit by a paintball to a broken arm, and a paintball hit doesn’t come remotely close. Paintball players don’t even like the word, ‘pain’ associated with being hit by a paintball.  With that said, it is worth understanding what the impact of a paintball feels like. 

So is pain even a fair term? It’s not. Yes, being hit with a paintball can hurt. Most often being hit with a paintball does not feel painful, and you don’t get ‘hurt’ by being hit with a paintball. 

Pain implies an ongoing experience. Paintball hits are not like that. But if you searched Google on this subject, you most likely included terms such as pain or hurt

We are supplying answers to a question we don’t even like to answer in the context of pain. 

Next, paintballs don’t feel like bee stings or needles.  Have you ever been stung by a bee?  A bee sting is extremely sharp and penetrates deep. Paintball hits are a fleeting sensation that only radiates at the skin surface. 

If paintballs truly hurt, people wouldn’t play the game. But this question is asked by every mother (or father) with concern for their child’s health and safety. The fact is paintballs hurt on thin skin more than thick skin. They hurt more on bare exposed skin. But they don’t hurt much at all. With that said, the level of pain does increase in more intense paintball situations. The comforting news YOU or any parent can take from this article is that NEW PLAYERS ARE SHIELDED from intense paintball gameplay. That can’t be stressed enough. Pain levels, 9 & 10 illustrated below just won’t happen to a paintball player at a birthday party or friendly first-time paintball group. DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE HIT WITH A PAINTBALL? 

Paintball Pain Scale Chart

Is pain even a fair term? Not really. Yes, being hit with a paintball can hurt. Most often it does not as our scale below will outline. 

Pain implies an ongoing experience. Paintball hits are not like that. But if you searched Google, you used the term, pain or hurt. We are supplying answers to a question we don’t even like to answer in the context of pain. 

Do Paintballs Feel Like Bee Stings?

Paintballs don’t feel like bee stings or needles. Paintball hits are a fleeting sensation you only feel at skin surface. If paintballs truly hurt, people wouldn’t play the game. But this question is asked by every mother (or father) with concern for their child’s health and safety. The fact is paintballs hurt on thin skin more than thick skin. They hurt more on bare exposed skin. But they don’t hurt much at all. With that said, the level of pain does increase in more intense paintball situations. The comforting news YOU or any parent can take from this article is that NEW PLAYERS ARE SHIELDED from intense paintball gameplay. That can’t be stressed enough. Pain levels, 9 & 10 illustrated below just won’t happen to a paintball player at a birthday party or friendly first-time paintball group. 

Paintball's Don't Cause Real Pain

We made the point clear, right? But pain is relative. A paintball that causes you mild irritation you just a little, may cause the next person to really wince. A standard to measure impact will help you avoid paintball discomfort. Above all, 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 performing jackass style stunts.

However, their 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. Consequently, 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. NOTE: One of the four worst locations on your body to be hit is your fingers. It legitimately feels bad to be hit in your fingers. Speedballers don't wear gloves as triggers are sensitive and gloves prohibit shooting at times. Yet, in this photo you see the player being hit in the fingers and he's not reacting. That's because despite the word, 'hurt' or 'pain' being attached to the hit, it's NOT THAT BAD! It's not so bad you want to yell "Ouch!" or quit playing. 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 increase the sensitivity scale. 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. While Bunkering can be agreed upon by adult players, some fields won't allow it under any circumstances. Let the nutty bachelor parties play a bunker game. Nobody, absolutely nobody wants to be shot from point blank.
Therefore as a result of a standard paintball speed requirement, we establish consistent distance. That includes: Paintballs, bouncing, breaking and how much they will 'smart' on your skin at what distance. At 270 fps you can expect a paintball to smart at a level you won't like but won't ruin your day when shot at an average distance of 75 feet. Specific distance pain (think sharp fleeting) 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 you 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. Two layers are good. Three is great.

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

The 4 Worst Locations on the body to be hit with a paintball.

In Conclusion  | Safety Saves You From Any Possible Pain
Paintballs parks instill safety. They fire employees who don’t operate at the highest safety standards. 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. Rest assured, with this high regard for the sport 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 a major game event’s 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.

Paintball Injury Questions & Answers

What is the main reason paintballs hurt?

Playing anywhere other than a paintball park is the number one reason for paintballs hurting more than they ever should. 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.

Where is the best place to be hit with a paintball?

The least painful place to be hit with a paintball is a hard part! Those locations would be on your paintball goggle or paintball gun. Avoid shots to your neck, fingers, flank or back of your thigh. All other body parts have less nerve sensitivity due to thicker skin.

Why Do Paintballs Hurt?

Paintballs travel at no less than 184 miles per hour. Nerves below your skin respond to the impact. Some skin layers are thinner than others such as at your neck, flank, fingers and the back of your thigh. More layers or padding in these areas are your best safeguard.

What Factors Influence Paintball Pain?

Four factors influence various paintball pain and injury: Velocity, range, protection and location. Velocity is a constant standard whereas range, body cover and where you are hit are variables.
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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