When asking this question is simple, the answer for this question is a complex one as it involves different kind of safety measures, rules, regulations and legality.
Shooting plastic pellets of colors used as bullets for this game at a speed of up to 100mph while traversing all kinds of obstacles and muddy terrain doesn’t sound like the safest of sports – so how safe is paintball?
People might be asking why paintball for kids especially when it comes with a bit of safety risks. But do really want to send a message to our kids that they should stay out of things involving risks while paintball can be safe to its fullest extent with protective gears?
Paintball is often considered as a perfect way to learn teamwork, decision making, embracing risks and an easy and fun way to get exercises. Life will always demand risks in every step what we need to teach our kids is to take these risks to move forward in life, right?
Before talking about safety concerns let’s have a quick look at its introduction, background and current atmosphere around the world.
Paintball, also known as war games were first introduced in UK in 1980s. Since its beginning it has developed as a popular past time with more than one million UK participants, and is now frequently played at a formal sporting level with organized competition that involves major tournaments, professional teams, and players.
Safety should be the paramount concern in any kind of sports and in a sports like paintball the pace, intensity and fun gets into a whole new level. Paintball is very safe as long as you follow the rules and use common sense. Injuries can be avoided by following simple paintball etiquette.
Here we tried to gather some of the most common questions people have and the answers relating paintball safety in order to help you understand exactly how safe paintball is.
How old a person has to be to play paintball depends considerably on where they reside. Some countries require its players to be adults, usually being at least 18-years-old, general age limit to be recognized as an adult. Other countries may not have that much rules and regulations whatsoever when it comes to paintball age limits.
For most people, insurance company is the main deciding factor here. The determining age will be that age which the insurance company allows players under their service to be on the local paintball ground which, for most of the United States, is either 10- or 12-years-old.
While it completely depends on the individual child, it is generally recommended that ages 12-to 14-years-old is the conventional age to begin the sport of paintball. Most children at that age are mature enough to understand and obey the safety rules while enjoying the game at the same time and not overreacting after getting hit.
Besides the legal age to play, there is also the issue of the proper maturity level to play which is a serious thing to consider.
If you want to know the accurate required age, the easiest way is to just call your preferred ground and ask them and they will be more than happy to explain their rules and age limits. Age limits vary from country to country and state to state, so reaching out to a local paintball facility and speaking to an owner or instructor is the best course of action.
On top of everything else, parental acknowledgment and permission is customarily required for liability reasons, so parents should be prepared to sign documents for their children under the age of 18-years-old.
Apart from conventional age, if paintball is safe or not depends on a lot of variables.
As most things in life go, the meaning of “safe” varies from man to man and on a bunch of other factors each one indicating how a paintball will be felt when it’s fired.
Factors that need to be taken under considerations are:
Even for a conventional aged player or an adult, this things are the main factors that defines safety in paintball. Variation in these factors can breach the term “safety” for a player of 10-12 years.
The paint used for paintballs is soluble in water, so that it washes easily out of players’ clothes. It is nontoxic, as well, in case a player is hit in the mouth and accidentally swallows the paint. The paint is encapsulated in a bubble made from gelatin. This is the same material used in encapsulated medicines, such as many pain killers and cold treatments, and in liquid vitamins, such as vitamin E.
The shell of paintballs is made of gelatin. Think of it something like a large supplement capsule, the material that holds the fill in well and will break with a heavy impact. Say, being propelled by a CO2 burst into your mask.
Gelatin has a number of interesting properties, but the main one that will concern most players is the fact that when dropped it has a tendency to absorb water. This can cause swelling with even a limited amount of contact time.
The fill is the liquid contained within the inside of the paintball. The consistency of these is much more varied than the shell, which is pretty much invariably gelatin. Most modern paintballs are made using water-soluble dyes contained within polyethylene glycol.
The oil-based fill is hard on equipment, makes it harder to wash off of clothing and other wearable gear, and it can have an effect on the local environment. These cheap variants are why a lot of fields will require you to buy your paint there instead of allowing you to bring your own.
For the most part, you’ll find that paintballs are completely non-toxic. You don’t need to worry if you get a splatter in your mouth during a match or anything, and they’re made entirely of food-grade materials so even eating one isn’t going to do much harm.
Unless you’re ready to take things up a level, you’ll not need any specialist paintball safety gear other than what you’re given before you enter the arena.
While knee pads, elbow pads, and chest protectors can all help protect against injury, a pair of goggles is the only essential piece of paintball safety equipment that must be worn at all times.
The reason goggles must be worn at all times is that a direct hit in the eye from a paintball could easily blind you and that’s the only part of body which can get hurt directly.
If, for any reason you do need to check your goggles while the game is going on, or you just need a time-out, each of our playing areas has its own safe arena where you can give your goggles a wipe-down or take a breather – as comfortable as our eyewear is, it’s always good to be able to take them off in between games in complete safety.
When you get hit by a paintball, does it actually hurt? This is one of the most common questions that parents ask about the sport and the answer is quite simple. Yes, a paintball can hurt sometimes, but the severity of the pain depends on the circumstances. Following standard safety recommendations can reduce the amount of pain you feel.
How badly a paintball hurts also depends on how much padding or protection you wear. If you are dressed in jeans and a t-shirt alone, expect small bruises that will fade in a few days.
If a paintball breaks on bare skin, you will most certainly feel it and it does hurt. It can be even worse if the paintball bounces off and doesn’t break. However, this can be avoided if you wear the right clothes.
The speed of a paintball is measured in feet per second (fps) because of the short range of the markers. So, fps is the scale to measure how fast a paintball marker is shooting, as the speed of the paintball is directly involved with the impact. As we are here to know if paintball impact is safe or not, understanding fps is a must.
The average paintball marker can shoot 300 fps, or slightly below this. Most paintball playing fields require a maximum of 280 fps for safety purposes. With an effective range of 80 to 100 feet for the average 280-fps marker, a paintball can reach its target in about one-third of a second.
A chronograph test is used to measure the speed of a paintball gun, and it is a very easy process. A field owner may ask to “Chrono” personal marker prior to a game to ensure that players are not shooting out of their safety range.
People typically don’t relate to speed in fps, but once the conversion is made to mph or km/h, the speed of a paintball becomes very real. To put this into perspective, the velocity of a .22 long rifle is, on average, 1,260 fps, which is 856.8 mph or 1382.6 kph. While a paintball is certainly not that fast, it’s still very fast.
The standard paintball velocity of 280 fps is set for safety reasons. It is both effective at ensuring the paintball bursts when it hits the target, and that it does not hurt the person who has been shot.
There’s no denying those paintballs can sting, and may even leave a bruise if they hit any exposed skin, but in reality, you’re no more likely to pick up an injury paintballing as you are playing football, rugby or any other sport that can result in scrapes and bruises.
There are basically two types of paintball Injuries that players suffer from, they are bruise and welts.
Bruises also known as contusions in medical terms are caused when the Paintball impacts an area with a lot of little blood vessels causing the vessels to break or damage, which creates a discoloration in the area that will eventually fade away.
On the other hand, Welts are the other type of Paintball can be described as a more impactful version of bruise with the exception that you get a fair amount of swelling at the paintball bruise.
It might surprise you to learn that, despite all those high-velocity paintballs flying about, twisted ankles are the most common type of paintball injury.
Pellets with muzzle velocities of 100 to 300 feet per second are potentially harmful to ocular structures and also to the intra-abdominal solid organs.
American research showed that the most common body part injured in paintball is the eye. It also showed that the vast majority of eye injury victims were not wearing protection such as paintball facemask or goggles.
Injuries from being struck by a paintball are quite rare on a site which abides by proper rules.
In reality, paintball is relatively safe and most injuries come from falling or running into obstacles on the field. The most serious injuries, though very rare, come from players taking off their masks and other safety equipment. In general, if you follow the safety rules of paintball, it’s a very safe sport.
It may surprise you to know that a 2003 study by the National Injury Information Clearinghouse (U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission), stated that paintball is safer than bowling, running, and almost every other popular sport.
Many people who play paintball will tell you that their most serious injury comes not from being shot, but by running around the field. They may twist an ankle, trip while running into a bunker, or slam their elbow on a tree.
There is the potential for serious injury, however, and it often comes with carelessness. The most common major injury happens when a player takes off their mask and gets hit in the eye. The importance of safety equipment, particularly eye protection, on the paintball field cannot be stressed enough.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ARHQ). Data from their study shows only 614 people ended in emergency department and 12% of them were admitted to the hospital.
This means that the vast majority were treated and released, implying that the injury wasn’t overly common at all. The odds of a serious injury, then, are astronomically low.
You are going to be surprised at how safe paintball is compared to other sports. In the United States there are 0.2 injuries per 100,000 exposures for paintball a year.
That compares to:
In fact, paintball has one of the lowest injury rates of any sport in the United States. Also, do remember, if your child is playing paintball on an organized field with a referee there are set rules, and those rules are the key to make paintball safer than any other sports.
Also, there are a lot of safety measure and checking first before playing paintball, guns are checked for the rate of speed of a paintball leaving the barrel. Paintball companies use Feet per Second (FPS) to measure the speed.
Depending on where you live, your country’s or state’s laws, this can range from as low as 170 FPS to 300 FPS. The lower FPS is more to do with a jurisdiction’s definition of a firearm and is not directly proportional to injury or safety. The higher FPS of 300 is the standard in most jurisdictions and fields as it is the highest, safest speed.
Some fields also have a surrender rule that if an opposing player is within 20 feet and you have a shot on them the opposing player must accept a surrender. Some fields that don’t have a surrender rule has a lower maximum FPS.
These are some major factors that makes paintball a safer one.
Sadly Paintball tends to have an ill-deserved bad reputation when it comes to statistic. Paintball is one of the safest sport for kids to play with 45 injuries for every 100,000 participants which makes it much safer than basketball or football comparatively.
Most of the injuries that do occur in Paintball are due to slips and falls and other injuries like strained muscle, bone fracture. Not because of paintball guns or anything else, basically injuries a child could get playing football, basketball or any other sports.
Risk assessment of the area – basic Code of Practice states that the area must be free from potential hazards, as far as is reasonable practicable. Hazards have to be clearly marked and pointed out to players in a safety talk before they begin. Issues that may need some thought may include:
No. While someone could come up with some crazy way to use paintball guns as a deadly weapon (maybe as a bludgeon), a paintball gun cannot kill a person when used as it is intended (or even as it wasn’t intended).
Though there have been a few instances reported in which men have died (either during or shortly after a game) from heart attacks after being shot in the chest. Anyone who has played paintball knows that getting hit when you are not expecting it can surprise you.
Paintball guns simply do not shoot fast enough and the projectile is not heavy enough to cause any permanent damage.
The biggest risk is for eye injury when people play without a mask or remove their mask while on the field.
Paintball is very safe as long as you follow the rules and use common sense. As a whole, paintball is very safe, and when played properly does not lead to major injuries. In fact, based on severe sport-related injuries that lead to emergency room visits, paintball is safer than bowling.
Following these simple rules will keep your kids safe on the paintball field!
When a game is being played, wearing paintball or airsoft masks at all times is the most common an important safety measure anyone can take. Keep masks on until barrel plugs have been placed back on all loaded guns. Most severe paintball injuries occur because someone removed their mask at an inappropriate time.
Close-range shots are considerably more painful than shots from a distance and it is customary to offer a surrender to any opposing player within twenty feet. Many fields require players to accept surrender if another player has come within twenty feet and has a shot on them.
Keeping paintball velocities under 300 (and generally under 280) feet per second (FPS). Gun speeds can be timed with a paintball chronograph (available to use at most pro shops) and should be carefully monitored. A paintball that travels at 280 FPS can cause small bruises, while a paintball that travels faster can cause significantly more damage including severe welts and broken skin.
Whenever masks are not being worn, all guns should be blocked with a barrel plug or barrel sock. Safeties are good and should be used, but they often fail or are not properly used, and a physical protection from wayward paintballs is a must.
And finally, by using common sense, most problems can be easily avoided.
To overshoot (also called bonus balling or lighting up) is to repeatedly shoot a player after they are eliminated. Generally, it’s considered a few extra shots after a successful break. This practice is frowned upon by nearly all players. There is no set rule as to what constitutes overshooting. It varies in recreational play, with each field having its own individual set of rules. However, in tournament play, it is generally up to the head referee’s discretion.
To “blind fire” is to discharge a marker around a corner or over an object with your head still behind that object or corner, making you unable to see where you shoot. Blind firing is discouraged on many fields, for potential safety implications. As the shooter cannot see where their shots are landing, they could accidentally fire at somebody point blank, hit a referee, hit a person that had removed their mask (also a major safety violation), or otherwise cause damage or injury through indiscriminately firing paint at an unseen target.
“Ramping”, the term used to describe the firing of a paintball when the trigger is pulled, and another when the trigger is released, causing high rates of fire. Although many games, and fields allow ramping, there are still specific rules to this that must be adhered to.
All of these three terms go against the general safety protocol and discouraged by us though many tournaments and arenas don’t intend to follow them at all. So our advice here is to knowing about these terms before going to an arena and if the arena follows them or not.
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Many parents may be worried about playing due to the risk of injury. With paintballs being fired at you at 200 mph and difficult terrain to manoeuvre, paintball doesn’t seem like the safest activity. However, paintball is, in fact, one of the lowest risk sports there is and is very safe as long as you follow the safety rules.
Paintball is not only a fun and exciting sports, but it’s extremely safe for people of all ages, with a few basic pieces of protective gears, rules and regulations. As paintball is safe for kids, you can bring the whole family along.
Any activity that involves running around, especially on uneven and sometimes slippery surfaces, is going to come with the risk of injury, and there is also an inherent danger in firing relatively high-velocity projectiles at other players, which can be easily avoided with some knowledge and pre-caution. Insurance statistics also have shown that paintball is safer than golf, jogging, tennis, swimming and many other sports.
The paintball industry prides itself about its commitment and obligations towards the safety of its players — from young to old and from big to little — and it holds up this commitment at every level possible of this very popular sport. With rained referees and staffs as standard as other professional games this game has a different status all over the world. And for the specialists, chemists, engineers and technicians who design, manufacture, and distribute the supplies used in the modern game of paintball, making sure paintball is safe for kids is always their prime concern. Everything single equipment, form protective gears to guns, they are tested and held to the most exhaustive standards before it’s approved for retail distribution. Like the sport itself, paintball equipment is not a safety concern at all.
Not only is paintball safe for kids, but it’s one of the few activities that’s most suitable for kids. Kids all over the world are uninhibited, endlessly creative, and full of energy, they have lots of things in common.
It is clear that paintball is one of the least dangerous and risky sports, so there is no need to be worried about playing and having fun. As long as it’s played at a regulated center, wear the correct equipment and follow the safety rules, you and your kids can enjoy paintball safely and without fear of injury.
There are bunch of specialized gears available in every size and color imaginable to ensure your kids safety out in a paintball match while keeping you tension-free.
Nowadays, paintball really is for everyone — girls, boys, men, women, school or college kids, scouting groups, friends, neighbors, church groups, recreational youth organizations, fire and police companies, office buddies, and more. The possibilities are endless. And because paintball is so safe for kids, it’s safe for everyone else, as well.
So, if you’ve never taken your kids to the battlefield before and you’re wondering: “Is paintball safe?” – The answer is yes, just stick to the rules, have fun, and you and your kids won’t go far wrong.
Hi, I am Margaret J. Garcia. Involved in paintball industry for around 10 years now. Loved to share my experience, expert opinion here in Paintball Magazine.