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Is There An Age Limit For Paintball?
Why choose paintball for children?
Families are looking for experiences they can all take part in, and parents are looking for activities children can do that get them outside and away from consoles, but after you’ve exhausted the free ones like hikes (not loved by all children) and the really expensive ones like theme parks (not loved by all adults or their wallets), what can you do next?
Paintball has all the elements of a great children’s activity: it’s active, it’s outside and it encourages working as a team. Yet paintball probably doesn’t spring to mind for most parents because of historic safety concerns creating doubts. However, times have changed and paintball fields are welcoming the next generation of paintballers safely and professionally.
Are children any good at paintball?
These young guns give the adults a run for their money because they’ve grown up playing video games and have some pretty awesome reaction times and skills. Watch your backs, parents!
Can children legally play paintball?
Around the world, there are different laws or guidelines related to the age at which children can play.
Some parts of Australia have recently lowered the legal age for paintball to 12, and this allows children to compete against adults, but it doesn’t apply across all of Australia.
Argentina forbids play by those under 16. In Germany, the minimum age rises to 18, and the sale of paintball guns there is strictly regulated and licensed.
The UK has no legal minimum age, but paintball fields must have appropriate insurance that covers all players. Many paintball operators in the UK are part of one of their two voluntary associations and follow their codes of conduct, which recommend only children over the age of 10 take part.
Here in the U.S., regulations vary from state to state. The key point to remember is that while children might be allowed to play on private land, in virtually all states, using a paintball gun in a public place is likely to result in criminal charges or the risk of armed officers being called. If you want your child to experience the fun and excitement of paintball, seek out an organized event with proper supervision by trained experts and full insurance.
Will my child get hurt?
Once you’ve established that it is legal for your child to play paintball where you live and you have found a venue with trained staff and adequate insurance, you are probably excited but a little bit nervous for your child's first game. After all, you’ve heard paintballs can hurt. Paintballs do hurt if they hit exposed skin, and even with appropriate gear, your child will still feel it. Nevertheless, they’re going to be running across fields and diving through woods like they would if they were out exploring with friends, so it makes sense to protect them from any bumps and scrapes where you can.
What will my child need?
If your child is attending an organized event for very young children (usually 10 and under), it is likely to be Low-Impact Paintball. This is when the size of the paintballs - and sometimes the velocity at which they are fired - is reduced. For any organized event, all safety equipment should be provided, but to help with the impact, dress your child in a couple of breathable layers that can go under the coverall provided to soften the blows. Be sure to think about the weather for the day as you don’t want them to overheat. Also, make sure they are wearing strong supportive footwear.
If you want to make it more exciting for your child, consider getting them a paintball harness to hold additional pods (paintball holders) so they can look and feel the part. These start at really low prices, like this Maddog Deluxe Padded Paintball harness.
Older children are likely to be using full-sized paintballs, so if you or they are concerned about the impact of those, perhaps some extra padding to go with the coverall and mask provided may help. Ideally, you'll want to look at a chest protector with added neck protection and perhaps something for their hands, too. Sets like this one from Maddog provide plenty of extra padding, come in small sizes and won’t break the bank.
Remind your child to listen to the staff and safety marshals on the day and follow all safety instructions at all times so that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable game.