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Is Paintball a Dangerous Sport?

How to Stay Safe and Enjoy the Game 

Paintball is a great sport with numerous health benefits for those who take the time to educate themselves on paintball safety. However, it can become dangerous for players who aren’t willing to follow the rules and understand the inherent risks of the game.

This article from is going to delve into exactly how you can keep yourself safe while still enjoying this high-contact sport. 

What are the Dangers of Paintball? 

Paintball poses a wide variety of health and safety risks for players who don’t abide by safety rules and regulations. Some of these risks are obvious and can be prevented with simple safety equipment, such as catching a high-speed paintball to the eye or nose. A quality pair of thermal goggles and a sturdy facemask can practically eliminate this danger.

However, there are some other less expected, yet equally common injuries that are preventable with a little bit of safety knowledge and mindful preparation before the game begins.

Below are some of the most on injuries seen on the paintball field:

Paintball mask and goggles
  • Eye and Ear Impact Injuries
  • Contusions – Welts and Bruises 
  • Cuts and Abrasions
  • Concussions
  • Genital Injuries
  • Sprained/Twisted Ankles and Wrists
  • Respiratory problems / Asthma
  • Temporary Loss of Vision
  • Falling Injuries
  • Internal Organ Injuries
  • Panic / Anxiety Attacks

As you can see, the severity of injuries ranges from “It’s just a scratch,” to “Am I going to be OK?”  Nobody wants to play a game that lands them in the hospital.

Is Paintball Really Dangerous? 

So…you might have buddies that hit the field without all the safety gear, and nobody has died yet. You might be wondering, “Is it really that dangerous?”
The answer to that question lies in your willingness to follow the rules and buy the proper safety equipment. You will probably meet people who don’t wear the proper gear. They might even brag about how they’ve never been hurt.  Use your common sense. Guess where the ballers are who caught a paintball to the eye?  Yeah…Cyclops is not playing paintball anymore most likely.  Don’t be that guy or girl.

All joking aside, paintball injuries are a real thing, and they should be taken very seriously. There have been many reports of eye injuries, including permanent blindness. It’s even possible to sustain deep organ injuries depending on where and how hard the unprotected player is struck. (Hint: A high-velocity paintball to the groin is going to ruin your fun…100% guaranteed.)

Almost all these injuries are avoidable. Even doctors agree that most of these injuries are a result of careless players and insufficient protective gear.
Luckily, there’s a simple way to enjoy this awesome sport without having to visit the emergency room. All you need is a bit of education, a small investment in paintball safety equipment, and an open line of communication about rules among your fellow players.

Even physicians in the US have confirmed that with the proper equipment and rules, paintball is one of the safest sports out there:

Paintball goggles splat

  • 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. 
  • In 2008 analysts at AHRQ release reports on trends among ED (Emergency Department) usage.
  • Only 614 people ended up in EDs due to paintball injuries.
  • Of those, only 12% (or approximately 74 people) were admitted to the hospital.
  • This means that for every 16,000 people who play paintball, only one will end up in the ED.
  • Fewer than one in every 135,000 ballers will be admitted to a hospital.

This means that the likelihood of being seriously injured while playing paintball is incredibly low. This is a result of proper safety equipment usage and mindful players. Don’t become the anomaly in the statistics when it’s so easy to play safely.

Let’s dive on in to see exactly what you’ll need to keep playing your favorite sport safely for years to come.

Why and How do these Injuries Occur? 

Most people have enough common sense to realize that eye and face protection are vital safety components for any paintballer. Soft tissue areas such as the ears, eyes, and genitals can suffer serious and incredibly painful damage if not protected properly.

Paintball gun barrel

However, not everyone realizes that any areas of exposed skin can be struck with enough force to cause bruises, welts, and even cuts. The first step in preventing this is to wear clothing that fully covers the skin over the entire body.
Even more serious than the paintballs themselves are the environmental hazards. As you’re playing, you’re often running, crawling, tripping, and falling as you try to evade your enemy. Your eyes are often on who you’re stalking or who is stalking you, and not-so-much on where you’re going. It’s common to find paintball enthusiasts who have suffered twisted ankles, sprained wrists, blown-out knees, and even concussions from running head-first into bunkers or other players.

There can also be an element of psychological injury in certain players. Paintball has an obvious element of mock-combat combined with the suspense found in hunting. You are trying to stealthily eliminate your competition while simultaneously being stalked by them as well. For some players, this can cause a sensation of anxiety and panic. Extremely aggressive players can cause terror in new players that ends up in a nerve-racking experience.

Take it easy on the new guys so they can enjoy the sport!  Also, if you feel anxiety and stress to an overwhelming degree…consider taking a breather until it subsides.

Does it hurt to be hit by a paintball? 

The answer to this really depends on who you’re talking to, but the best answer is simply YES. Obviously taking a shot to the mask or shoes is probably not going to hurt at all, while any areas where you only have a thin layer of clothing will hurt significantly more. The good news is that the pain isn’t much worse that a hard thump, and it usually fades away within a few minutes. 

Can Paintball be Deadly? 

Although it is incredibly rare, the answer to this is YES. Just like every sport, there is an inherent risk in anything that requires a lot of physical activity. That risk goes up significantly when projectiles and physical speed are involved.
There have been rare cases where a paintball gun malfunctioned and fired at a much higher velocity than it is supposed to.  If a paintball fired at an incredibly high velocity hits a player in their unprotected head, windpipe, or heart, there is a real chance that it could lead to death. Fortunately, this is incredibly rare, to the point of being almost unheard of.  It’s also nearly 100% preventable if you’re using the proper protective gear and being mindful of the rules of the game.

The more likely “death by paintball” scenario doesn’t involve the paintball gun or paintballs at all.  People with preexisting medical conditions such as heart problems, asthma and respiratory issues, smokers, and overweight individuals are at much higher risk of having accidents due to overexertion and heat exhaustion.

Be aware of your physical limitations. Build up your stamina and endurance over time. Know when it’s time to tap out and take a break. I promise that your teammates would prefer that you survive the battle! is Keeping you Safe with an EASY PAINTBALL SAFETY CHECKLIST.


You’re Ready to Play!

Paintball can be one of the most exciting and safe ways to spend time with your friends while getting exercise and enjoying the outdoors. If you simply follow the checklist above, along with the rules of the game where you’re playing, then you’re guaranteed to have a killer time!

Most injuries are accidents that occur due to lack of safety equipment, improper gear, and careless players.  Be always aware of your surroundings. Be mindful of other players and understand your limitations.

Please feel free to download and print the Safety Checklist HERE!

Most importantly, know when it’s time to take a break and when it’s time to surrender. Keep the game safe so you and your friends live to play another day!

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