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Does Paintball Hurt? The Age Old Question for the First Time Paintball Player

Posted on March 16 2019

Have you ever thought about trying paintball?  Maybe you would like to, but the thought lingers in the back of your mind. Does it hurt to get shot by a paintball?  There is no simple answer to the question as each paintball player will give you a different answer.  However, there is some information out there to give you an idea what it may be like to get shot by a paintball gun your first time out at a paintball field.  

Does it Hurt?

The simple answer is yes, getting shot by a paintball does hurt.  There are different variables that change how bad it hurts which we will cover in this blog including protective clothing, distance, paintball shell brittleness, paintball velocity, and portion of the body that is shot.  However, we highly encourage people to give paintball a shot as the vast majority of people who try it do not see the pain as enough to keep them from continuing their first day or coming back for a second try at the game.  

Protective Clothing:

Protective clothing may be the most common thing that beginner paintball players think about to stop any pain from getting shot.  There are many different protective clothing options for paintball.  If it is one of your first times playing, we highly suggest using a neck protector, chest protector, paintball gloves, full coverage paintball masks, and multiple layers of clothing to protect bare skin and blunt the impact from a paintball.  Neck protectors wrap around your entire neck to help limit the amount of bare skin exposed for a sensitive area.  Chest protectors are also common and made by many different paintball brands including Valken, HK Army, and Tippmann.  These don't necessarily cover bare skin, but are there to help absorb the impact of a paintball.  Paintball gloves are extremely common to protect bare hands.  Some gloves even offer more protection with extra padding such as the Valken Alpha paintball gloves.  Getting shot in the hand is very common so wearing gloves is probably the most common protective piece of clothing.  Full coverage paintball masks, like the JT Flex 8 Full Coverage, offer head protection as they extend over the entire head instead of just over the eyebrow like most paintball masks.  Other common ways to protect the head is wearing hooded clothing or wearing a beanie.  Lastly, multiple layers of thick clothing such as Carhartt coats and thick jeans is a sure way to help with the majority of the pain.

Distance of getting shot:

Getting shot by a paintball can be from many different distances.  Most beginner paintball players will try playing the game first in the woods.  We recommend this style of play at first because it does allow for getting shot at longer distances.  Playing the game at a longer distance reduces the stress of getting shot as it does not hurt as bad. Speedball, the more high intensity style of paintball, is played on a closed course and can lead to much closer range shots.  Players are even apt to "bunker" out another player which means they shoot them as they run past them point blank for a higher percentage chance of eliminating the opposing player.  This notoriously hurts more due to a distance of 5-10 feet of range.

Paintball Shell Brittleness: 

Paintballs are a gelatin capsule filled with an oil or soap based fill.  These paintballs are 0.68 caliber and are made to "splat" on impact of a person or object.  These gelatin capsules have different levels of brittleness that allow the paintball to break.  As a general rule of thumb, paintballs actually hurt more when they do not break.  Cheap paintballs (Valken Infinity, GI Sportz 1 Star, Proshar Exact, etc.) are made with a robust gelatin shell that is made for the "field".  These "field" level paintballs are designed to withstand the higher operating pressures of rental paintball guns such as the Tippmann 98 which do not have a regulation system.  This means that in order for these paintballs not to break in the gun, the shell must be harder to ensure the paintball gun does not "chop" (break the paintball in the breach of the marker).  This can lead to the paintball not splattering (breaking) upon impact, in paintball words it "bounces".  This can lead to worse pain because the shell does not spread the impact/inertia of the traveling paintball across a larger surface area of the body. 

Paintball Velocity: 

Another factor that determines how much it hurts to get shot by a paintball is paintball velocity.  Almost all public paintball fields have a requirement for how fast a paintball can be fired.  The acceptable paintball velocity is never to exceed 300 FPS (feet per second) at any field.  Some fields even have a lower requirement around 270-280 FPS.  Sometimes, the velocity of a paintball gun can be hard to control and cause the paintball marker to fire "hot" or over velocity.  This can obviously cause worse pain when getting shot.  However, this does not happen often as most fields have referees which closely monitor paintball gun velocity. 

Portions of the body:

Different portions of the body can sometimes hurt worse than others.  In our experience, areas of bare skin are always prone to hurting more.  Areas like the neck and hands can be left exposed to beginner players while experienced paintball players do not mind leaving these areas open to getting shot.  Wearing appropriate protective gear such as paintball gloves and neck protectors allow beginner players to protect these sensitive areas to getting shot.  Other portions of the body that have been noted to hurting worse include the "love handles" (fatty areas above the hips) as well as the top of the head.  Wearing the right clothes including multiple layers and thicker clothes help protect you to having a better experience. Thick clothes such as Carhartt coats and denim jeans are often used for better protection.  Protective vests or chest protectors are made by many different paintball companies including Tippmann and HK Army and are used to protect the entire upper torso.  

Above all, approved paintball masks to protect your face and eyes are always required. All of which can be found in the Punishers Paintball Ohio Paintball Store and website. Even without the use of pads however, many players still build up a tolerance to the pain and bruising of paintballs. All paintball parks will also have a set of rules and regulations in place to protect the paintball player. This includes minimum distance requirements between players to shoot at each other, maximum balls per second that can be fired, and velocity at which the paintballs are fired. Visit your local fields web page to find their rules and regulations. 



Even with all of this protection, brittle paintballs, and a paintball gun well under velocity, it is still possible that you may end up with a bruise or a welt after play.  Don't be discouraged as the majority of these marks go away within a few days and make for a great story on Monday morning back at work.  Almost any notable welt comes from a close up shot. 

Low Impact Paintball:

For many new players, the fear of getting hit with a paintball is much worse than the actual feeling of getting hit! If this is a primary concern of yours, ask your local field if they have low-impact paintball packages. Low-impact paintball uses paintball guns that shoot 0.50 caliber paintballs (much smaller than 0.68 caliber) that offer the same amount of fun and excitement as standard paintball, just with less sting. Low-impact users will not mix with the standard paintball users. Find low-impact markers and paintballs at Punishers Paintball website. 



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