Is Paintball Safe?
One of the world’s most underrated sports in 2022 is paintball. Paintball established itself in the UK in 1985, and has since continued to grow in popularity. The latest known statistic suggests that there were over 3.14 million annual players in 2017, ranging from as little as 6 years old. It is likely these figures would be much higher if people weren’t so put off by the stigma that paintball is incredibly unsafe, especially paintball for kids.
One study from the Minnesota Paintball League found that paintball results in an average of 0.2 injuries per 1000 players, whereas football incurs 2.4 injuries, and tennis incurs 1.1 injuries, clearly disproving the level of danger associated with the sport.
Of the paintballing injuries that occur, the majority are caused by poor etiquette or unsatisfactory equipment. In line with this, we have created this blog to explore paintball safety clothing tips, to improve your sense of security in-game, prevent any potential injuries, and to further reduce the social stigma against paintball safety.
Paintball Safety Clothing Tips:
1) Paintball mask/goggles
Although paintball games are not typically considered a contact sport in the same way as football or rugby, it still qualifies, as the paintballs themselves impact the players at a high rate of speed. These paintballs can hit very hard and have the potential to leave welts or even break a player’s skin. This can be very damaging if the paintballs were to hit your face or eye area, making facial masks and goggles an essential part of paintballing safety.
2) Hats and hoodies
As good as goggles and masks are at protecting your eyes and face, they fail to protect the back of your head, which can also be vulnerable if your own team shoots you, or if you are running away. Hats are a common solution for this, as they provide a bit of cushioning against a paint pellet from behind.
One thing to consider though, is that although they provide protection, hats often trap the heat and sweat emitted from your head whilst you are running about the field. This can have detrimental effects on your goggles, causing them to steam up, and tempting you to take them off. Wearing a hoodie is a better alternative to this, as you can pull them up over your goggles easily and can simply pull down the hood if you get too hot.
3) Long trousers – blue jeans or cargo trousers (to cover legs)
When choosing appropriate lower body protection, most players opt for long trousers, no matter whether they are playing indoors or outdoors. Not only does this protect you from the direct impact of getting hit with a paintball, but much like above, a layer of clothing will also protect you from the environment.
If playing outside, you may be required to walk through brush, and could easily scratch up your legs, get insect bites, tics, or worse! Wear clothes that will protect you from what you may have to encounter on an outdoor field. Many paintball fields are covered also with AstroTurf, and if you are required to crawl behind a bunker, or slide and dive to avoid getting hit, then you are liable to get turf burn.
4) Long sleeve t-shirts with a sweatshirt or jersey
Different-sized paintballs hit with different amounts of energy. Most facilities in the UK employ a low-impact, .50 calibre facility, which has one-third the mass of a normal paintball. These do not have as much of a sting, and therefore do not require you to pad up as much as you do with a standard .60 calibre paintball. In either case, it is still a good idea to have full upper-body coverage, as a shot to bare skin does more damage and can lead to worse bruises from paintball and has a longer-lasting sting than if it was to hit your clothing.
If you are playing on an outdoor field, you need to be considerate of overheating, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. In this case, a sweatshirt would not be ideal in the summer. Should you wish, there are jerseys that you can purchase online that have a little padding, but also have breathable panels to let air through so you can benefit from both padding and airflow.
5) Running shoes, hiking boots, or cleats depending on the playing surface
Most paintball participants wear whatever kind of shoes they would for any other outdoor activity. Simple running shoes, tennis shoes, and trainers are all suitable. If the paintball venue is particularly rugged, then you may be better off equipped with some hiking boots, that provide more ankle support when walking on uneven surfaces.
Indoor fields normally have a more even surface, so your plain running shoes would work great. Some people choose to wear studded football boots, but if so, only plastic turf studs are allowed. Metal studs tear up both the Astroturf and carpet furnishings around the site. In any case, open-toe footwear is not allowed, so make sure you leave your sandals at home.
6) Gloves – fingerless for better trigger control
Of all parts of the body, your hands are one of the most likely areas to take a hit. Most of the time you will be hiding behind an object, or slowly poking your gun and face round a tight corner to try and locate and shoot your enemies. If you are under fire, then you will probably be hit in the mask, the gun, or the hand holding the gun.
This does not bode well considering hand shots can be some of the most painful to endure, as your hands are naturally less meaty, and therefore have less padding to protect against the pain. So, a shot to the knuckle is definitely something to avoid! For this reason, many players choose to wear gloves. Unlike winter gloves, you will want to wear a glove where you can still feel and squeeze the trigger. Many players participate using fingerless gloves. Much like weightlifter gloves, however, instead of having padding on the palm of the hand to aid in cushioning a weight bar, fingerless gloves have a rubber backing to protect the back of the hand up through to the first knuckle
7) Increased layers for more protection
Experts regularly advise first-time paintball players to strategically layer up as much as possible. The more soft materials you wear, the less paintballs are likely to break, as the materials will absorb the majority of the impact. If the paint does not break up on your attire, then your chance of going out from being shot automatically decreases, giving you more chance of winning.
You are likely to be crawling in the dirt, skidding on AstroTurf, or sneaking around bushes. In either case, you are likely to injure yourself if not covered correctly. Wearing more layers allows you to effectively achieve this. Paintball can get very hot while you are undergoing constant activity, therefore by wearing layers, you are able to add and remove clothing items according to the internal and external conditions of each game. Allowing you to have appropriate clothing for comfort, protection, and performance.
Paintball Safety at PPK
PPK wants to ensure that you have the best game of paintball possible, and therefore make safety one of its key priorities, in both in-game rules and the quality of equipment we provide. If you have any further questions about paintball safety or would like to know more about the practices PPK has in place, then please do not hesitate to get in touch! Our team would love to hear from you and would be more than happy to help out.