Is Paintball Safe?
The paintball community takes safety very seriously. Even the most basic rules of paintball are often portrayed poorly on television, commercials and on YouTube videos. From not using Barrel Covers, to not wearing a proper Paintball Mask, there's a community outcry when paintball safety is neglected. That brings up the question: Just how safe is paintball?
If played correctly, very safe. Let's go over some safety features of the standard paintball marker:
MANUAL SAFETY: Your average Mechanical Paintball Markers have a push button safety that has to be disengaged before you can pull the trigger. Electronic Paintball Markers have to have a battery and be turned on, additionally most have an "Eye System" and won't operate if there's no paintball loaded.
AIR SYSTEM: A paintball marker will not function without an air tank hooked up and often needs an additional safety lever or knob activated to start the airflow to the marker.
BARREL COVER: Even with all the other safety features, accidents still happen. Keeping a Barrel Cover on your marker when not playing prevents paintballs from accidentally leaving the barrel if the trigger is pulled. Keeping a barrel cover on your marker when not playing is strictly enforced at all fields.
All of these fail-safes would have to be neglected for an accident to happen, but that’s just the safety features of your paintball marker. Before you ever step onto the paintball field, you will be given a safety briefing by a referee on paintball etiquette, rules of play, and how to use any equipment you've rented. Paintball referees are there to make sure everyone is using the chronograph, using their mask or barrel cover, and playing fair at all times. Their biggest concern is your safety. Every marker has its velocity tested before it's ever allowed in play. Every player and spectator entering the field is given an ASTM approved paintball mask that protects eyes, face, and ears from injury. Keeping your mask on is the most enforced rule when playing paintball. Areas of play are further confined with netting to protect spectators, homes, and vehicles from stray paintballs. What do you wear besides a paintball mask? A huge variety of optional safety equipment may be purchased by players or even rented from fields. Players can choose from extra head protection like Hats/Beanies, Headwraps or Head Covers. Additionally, fields and stores rent and sell Neck Protectors, Chest Protectors, Elbow pads, Gloves, Slide Shorts and Knee Pads. Remember, there is no physical contact allowed in paintball, so safety equipment is mostly player preference to protect you from the environment, or to encourage a “Bounce.” On most games and fields, if a paintball hits you and doesn’t break, you’re not eliminated. Even with all the safety features and protective equipment, can injuries in paintball still happen? Statistically speaking, paintball is one of the safest sports in the world. More injuries are reported from bowling, running, tennis, surfing even touch football. Most injuries in paintball are minor and include small scrapes, bruises or sprang ankles. In tournaments, it's not uncommon to have upwards of 12 referees on one field.
Can my child play paintball? Is paintball safe for my little brother/sister? Paintball is a very inclusive game where the minimum age to play is usually ten years old (with a parent or guardian present) If you think it's still too much for your child or sibling, ask your local field about low-impact alternatives like Bazooka Ball, Nerf and .50cal paintball. We're a very inclusive community with local fields and stores often reaching out to get younger players involved, or even assisting people with disabilities. Charity events are very popular all across the country. Fields and communities have come together and hosted events for disabled veterans, autism, and breast cancer awareness just to name a few. Check with your local field and store to find out what contributions and charity events they support in your local area.
Now you know how safe paintball is, what's it like to play paintball for the first time? Rec Ball or "recreational paintball" is where you'll find the weekend warriors, people just like you that may be here for birthday parties, family activities and corporate team building exercises, many that have never played before. It's ok if you don't know anyone, and don’t have any paintball gear. Most players that come out to your local field use rental markers, and referees will put you on assigned teams and play organized games like elimination, zombies, and capture the flag. This can be a stepping stone for getting into the sport, playing on a team, or playing tournaments and scenarios. Always be safe, listen to the ref and have fun. There are many different ways to play paintball. Local paintball stores will have great information about what kind of fields, teams, and local events are in your area.We as players have to preserve the protocols that make paintball one of the safest adrenaline seeking sports on earth. As ambassadors, we preserve the rules of the game and stay trustworthy in the eyes of our community. We respect the refs, play fair and honest, and we grow the sport.