Does paintball hurt?

Getting shot at by the enemy while trying to negotiate all manner of obstacles and terrain sounds more like a drill from an army training manual than it does something to do with your friends at the weekend, yet every year, hundreds of thousands of people take to paintballing arenas across the country to do just that.

Whether it’s a kid’s party or a hen party, there’s always one question that crops up more than any other – “does paintball hurt?”

So, is paintball painful? Well, it depends on a number of factors, and while we’re not just talking about pain thresholds, that’s as good a place as any to start…

How much does paintball hurt?

Each and every one of us has a different pain threshold and a different reaction to pain. While some can seemingly go up against a heavyweight boxer, others will flinch at the slightest pin-prick on their finger.

It’s impossible to say just how much it hurts when you get hit by a paintball, and there’s no actual paintball pain scale.

No matter what your tolerance level, though, getting hit by a paintball pellet travelling at around 200mph is going to sting, at least a little.

Person firing paintball gun.

It also depends on where you get hit. Getting hit in the back, for instance, can be more painful as there is little muscle and fat to protect the spine, and getting hit on any exposed flesh will always hurt more.

The pain will range from ‘similar to being snapped by an elastic band’ to ‘getting stung by a bee’, and the worst you’ll get is a small bruise or welt, nothing too dramatic so long as you stick to the rules.

While the whole idea of paintballing is to avoid getting shot, it’s safe to assume you’ll be taking a hit at some point (unless you’ve some Special Ops training) so you’ll need to minimise the impact, and that means layering up.

How to reduce pain when playing paintball
It’s a good idea to bring several thin layers. Remember, you can always remove a layer if you get too warm. The padding will help to minimise the pain by absorbing some of the pressure from the paintballs. With this in mind, you might want to wear tracksuit bottoms or baggy jeans for that extra layer of padding. Long sleeve tops and a good pair of socks will also help and you may also want to wear gloves – the more exposed flesh you can cover up, the better.

All of our players are equipped with overalls, helmets and goggles, ensuring that most of the body is covered. We limit the speed at which the guns fire paintballs, too, as they are capable of going much faster (and hurting more)! We’ve also put a few rules in place to help minimise the pain and maximise the fun. Players aren’t allowed to shoot each other at close range; the victim acknowledges they would have been shot by raising their hand and play continues.

Paintball splat on helmet.

What hurts more paintball or airsoft?

Airsoft is a game similar to paintball and was developed in Japan in the early 1980s, around the same time the paintball craze kicked off in the US, and while there are slight differences between the types of ammunition used, the main one is that airsoft pellets don’t leave a paint mark when you get hit.

Most airsoft guns fire small plastic pellets, or BBs, and tend to travel faster than paintballs, delivering a nasty sting when shot. As the surface area of the paintball is bigger, it does tend to result in a harder impact, however, the paintball is travelling slower, therefore, exerting less pressure.

It’s a close contest and it’s heavily debated online, but the general consensus is they’re quite similar.

Does it hurt more for children?
Paintball is a great activity for all age groups, offering high-adrenaline fun, in a safe and controlled setting, and it’s as much for the kids as it is for the adults.

There’s a minimum age limit of 12-years-old, (or year seven in school) – this is the industry standard backed up by the UK Paintball Sports Federation. Younger players will always be matched with similar age groups and carry less powerful rifles, this adaptation allows children to enjoy the game just as much as the big kids.

If you’ve got anyone that’s in year six or below, or you’d prefer the thrill of the game without any pain, then a game of outdoor laser tag would be more suitable as this is essentially the same game but without the projectiles.

Group of children at Mayhem Paintball.

There is an element of risk in almost every activity, and the threat of getting shot is one of the things that makes paintball such a thrilling past time! It’s a safe pursuit with plenty of rules, regulations, and protective clothing thrown in to keep injuries down to a minimum – even if you do get hit, it’ll cause no lasting damage.

While it’s not completely pain-free, once the game begins and the adrenaline is pumping, you’ll most likely not even notice you’ve been hit, and if you do you’ll just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again next time! No pain, no gain, right?

If you have some more questions then check out our helpful FAQs page. Alternatively, if you’re ready for some paintballing action, take a look at our cool scenarios including our Call of Duty map and the famous Urban scenario.