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Paintballs hurt when they hit you, especially if they hit bare skin. There's no getting away from the fact that regular paintballs travel at 285 feet per second - that’s 194 miles per hour! - and they might be shot as close as 15 feet away from you.
Some beginners may choose Low Impact Paintball (LIP), which lessens the impact of the paintball up to 68% by reducing the size of the paintballs by over a quarter and the velocity of the paintballs by up to half. However, the word "impact" is still in the name because you are still going to feel it.
You shouldn’t be rolling on the floor screaming from the first shot, but if you don’t dress for the game or you ignore the safety instructions, it will hurt a lot more than it needs to. Follow our advice for dressing appropriately and, most importantly, be sure to follow the instructions that were given to you by the staff and marshals on the day to keep yourself and the other players safe.
If you actively get involved in the game and don’t just hunker in the first bunker you get to, you will be sprinting across rugged terrain and crashing through woods so pumped-up on adrenaline you’ll barely notice the knocks, scratches and scrapes you’ll get along the way. That same adrenaline will help distract you from the impact of a paintball if you get hit, but when you get undressed, you might notice some bruising where a ball has hit. You might feel a bit stiff the next day, too. You can treat the bruises the same way you would any bruise and deal with your aches the same way you would if you’d over-exerted yourself at the gym,
On average, paintball has just one injury per 5,000 players per year, compared to 11 injuries per 5,000 soccer players per year. Just like everything in life, there's some risk, but many popular sports considered to be perfectly safe have higher injury rates than paintball.
Your chance of being seriously injured playing paintball is 1 in 135,000. The majority of injuries are sustained from trips and slips, not the paintballs themselves, so wear sensible footwear. The best way to protect yourself from harm is to listen to the safety advice and follow it to the letter. We know we keep saying it, but that’s because it’s so important.
Wear your mask! This is the most important instruction you will be given at a paintball match and the one you absolutely must not forget. If you don’t have your own mask, the paintball venue will provide one. If you want your own personal mask, go for one with dual-pane goggles to help prevent fogging and some good foam around the contact points for comfort. The KLR Thermal Paintball mask from HK Army fits the bill nicely.
Depending on the weather forecast for the day, you might not want to wear thick pants and a sweatshirt, but even if your "normal" clothes are light, you should invest in a lightweight and breathable coverall. This is not to protect your clothes as paintball paint usually washes right out; it's to protect your skin. Most venues will provide a coverall as standard or on request, but if you want your own, opt for a rip-stop one that will also cover your neck because it’s easy to forget that bit where your helmet ends and your clothes start. The Maddog tactical paintball coverall comes with a padded neck cover as standard.
There are no special prizes in paintball for playing with the least protection, so if you want to layer up to feel more comfortable, go ahead. Before you try to wear every item of clothing you own, think about the weather conditions that day and also how easily you can move in those layers. Consider a lightweight piece of body armor for your chest and back - your biggest target areas - instead. They can be really affordable, like this Zephyr tactical padded chest protector.
Don’t go into the game worrying about whether the paintball will hurt. Just keep moving to dodge as many balls as you can and enjoy yourself, whatever you wear!
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