Paintball Doesn’t Have to Hurt If You Play Safely

Paintball Doesn’t Have to Hurt If You Play Safely
Justin Toohig
In Sport

Statistically speaking, you are more likely to be injured playing football than you are playing paintball. Here’s why:

Paintball has a reputation for being a dangerous activity, but the statistics don’t support this idea. In fact, football, skiing and even bowling are all more dangerous activities than paintball if you look at the hospitalisation rate for each sport.

There are a couple of reasons why this is the case.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that paintballing is a non-contact sport. Injuries are relatively common in sports like rugby, boxing and even football because players come into contact with one another all the time, and these impacts can cause injuries. Even an activity like skiing, which is supposed to be a non-contact sport, can be dangerous because the chances of an accidental collision are quite high on a crowded slope. In contrast, paintball players naturally keep their distance from one another and opposing players must keep a minimum distance from one another, which reduces the chance of an accidental collision.

Secondly, it’s important to remember that paintball is always played with safety equipment. The paintball markers that we use are capped at 300 fps — this means that a paintball fired by one of our markers will travel less than 300 feet per second. At this speed, a paintball might sting a little but it won’t cause an actual injury.

The only part of the body that is vulnerable to a paintball travelling at 300 fps is the eye, which is why all paintball players must wear a facemask. Facemasks are specifically designed to easily withstand the impact of a direct hit from a paintball so paintball is extremely safe when a facemask is worn. You might be surprised to learn that the majority of paintball injuries are a result of slips and trips during a game, the kind of accident that can occur in any sport. While it’s never nice to fall over, doctors agree that the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks posed by slips and trips. Only 4% of paintball injuries requiring a hospital visit were eye injuries.

So long as you are wearing a facemask and keeping a minimum distance from other players, a paintball marker is actually very unlikely to cause an injury, which is why paintballing has a lower hospitalisation rate than bowling. This might seem strange, but it’s actually just physics. A bowling ball is very heavy weight that you hold by your fingers, one of the weakest parts of your body. A paintball is not very heavy at all, so as long as the power is limited to under 300 fps and players keep their distance from one another, it’s extremely unlikely to cause an injury.

Of course, paintball becomes much more dangerous if you aren’t following the rules. On a professional paintball field the marshals are there to keep everyone safe. They’ll stop the game if they see a player without their facemask and they’ll even eject a player from the game if they can’t follow the safety rules. Many of the worst paintballing injuries occur outside of professional fields, usually when children (or young adults) are messing around without taking safety precautions.

Here are ten rules that will minimise your paintball risk:

  • Always wear a full facemask when you are in a paintball zone. Only take the facemask off once you have left the paintball zone. The facemask should be UK safety certified and should fit comfortably while covering the face.
  • Use a UK safety certified paintball marker that is limited to 300 fps. While not playing paintball, all players should have their paintball markers pointed at the ground and the barrel should be plugged with a barrel sock.
  • Players should only fire .68 calibre UK safety approved paintballs. Do not fire attempt to fire anything other than a paintball from a paintball marker.
  • Players should wear sturdy footwear with plenty of grip to minimise the risk of trips and slips.
  • Players should wear appropriate clothing which they can exercise in comfortably. Most paintball sites provide players with camouflage overalls. While covering up any exposed skin can reduce the pain of being hit by a paintball, too many layers can increase the risk of dehydration.
  • Players must not fire at opponents that are too close, if you happen to run into someone who is closer than fifteen feet, you should back away until you are at a safe distance.
  • Players should listen to the marshal at all times. The marshal will keep an eye on the game and take steps to reduce the likelihood of an accident. If they spot something risky, such as a facemask which has come loose, they should pause the game and ask all players to put their markers on the ground while the affected player adjusts their facemask.
  • If you’re eliminated from a game, put your hands up and shout “OUT” as loudly as possible. Players should not fire at a player who is out.
  • Only the marshal or another experienced professional should alter the cylinder in any way. If a player has a problem with their marker, they should inform the marshal.
  • Only those that are healthy, fit and sober should play paintball. Playing paintball while ill, injured or under the influence of drugs or alcohol is much more risky.

Playing paintball is much safer than many people realise, especially when all the rules are followed. I’ve been playing paintball for almost twenty years and I’ve never seen an injury that is more serious than a bad fall. Stay safe and enjoy playing paintball.

Justin Toohig

About Justin Toohig

Justin Toohig was born with a paintball marker in his right hand. He took part in the country’s first under-15 paintballing tournament and spent his mid-twenties travelling the world and playing paintball at a professional level. Justin founded Paintballing Ltd in 2010, an organisation that now has 75+ premier paintballing sites in the United Kingdom.

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