What safety equipment should I look into?
So you’ve got your marker setup and a case of paint and your headed to the local field! Upon arriving you see most of the other players wearing gear and apparel specific for paintball, and after checking your own outfit consisting of jeans and a hoodie, it dawns on you that you may be a little less prepared then you had imagined! If your reading this, welcome to the world of paintball, a game/sport that anyone can play and have fun doing with the bare minimum of a marker setup, a mask, and a few friends! But this is a physical game that involves not only shooting paint projectiles at each other, but also running and diving around on a multitude of different surfaces to avoid being hit. So lets run through a few of the basic safety equipment that will keep you playing longer and scuff/bruise free!
Paintball is, surprisingly to most newbies, one of the safest games in the world! Less then .02% of all players each year sustain any kind of serious injuries. However, due to the nature of the game you will get a few bumps, bruises and slide burns while running and diving around if your not properly prepared. So lets talk about the safety equipment that you’d be smart to grab for your gear load-out, as you become more of a frequent player.
The number one primary piece of safety equipment and mandatory item in paintball (aside from the marker setup) is the paintball mask. Otherwise known as goggles, this is the item that you can’t leave at home and get away with because they cover your most vulnerable body part. Beyond fields not allowing you to play without goggles, it’s not a smart idea to risk doing it in your own woods either just for safety reasons. A paintball is pretty harmless, doing little more then creating a welt on most areas of your body, even up close. However just about anything traveling at 300 fps can do serious damage to your soft eye tissue. The mask also covers your ears and mouth to keep paint out of less the comfortable and sensitive areas.
The next item you’ll need to have on your marker at all times when at a paintball field is the barrel cover! Barrel covers , plugs or condoms come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and soft or hard materials. But the similarity is that they are all designed to do one thing, stop a ball from coming out your barrel. Anytime you are eliminated, leaving the field, or hanging out in the staging area, you must have your barrel cover on your marker to assure safety for those around you. Yes, there is no better replacement then safe practice, like making sure your marker is turned off, keeping your finger off the trigger, and setting the marker down where it is not aimed at people. However, this added precaution guarantees that if your marker is bumped and mis-fires, it simply shoots the ball into the cover and does no harm to anyone or anything else. Make sure to take it off before the game starts though!
My next most highly suggested safety item for anyone planning on beginning to play more frequently are paintball pants ! You can get away with playing paintball without these, but they sure do make the game a heck of a lot more comfortable, and in turn help you to make physical movements without second guessing or worrying about sticking on the ground surface or ruining a pair of jeans! High end paintball pants are built with several safety features in mind including a durable, slick material that’s meant for sliding on grass and turf, and will allow you to dive and make spots easier. They also include tough, supported, armor like padded knee areas for extra cushion, since one if not both knees are often down when hunkering behind bunkers or objects. They are normally a flexible, breathable material around the thighs to give you mobility, and not pinch you like jeans may when doing certain actions. And finally, paintball pants are designed with built in padded zipper areas for that extra protection that male players will be thankful to have! So if you don’t want to worry about tender areas being hit, sore knees, torn holes in your pants from sliding or stretching them the wrong way, I highly recommend investing in a pair!
And finally because the diving around part of the game can be quite rough on your joints and extremities, it’s a good idea to look into arm pads and knee pads .
Many companies have special pads designed specifically for paintball! Similar to volley ball pads, they are built to cover and cushion your arms and knees, but custom designed with more padding for landing your body on, and more flexibility around the joints to allow for easy movement and comfortable bending to get in those tight spots with no pinch or discomfort. Kneepads are a fantastic piece of safety gear for the frequent player because the knee is the most commonly contacted area of the body in the game. Players run and slide on their knees to get behind bunkers, and this can become quite tasking and cause soreness on even the softest surfaces after a day. Harder more unforgiving surfaces can cause brush burns and small scrapes without padding. And enough playing on one or both knees behind your bunkers can make the part where the skin is thinnest feel raw. Elbow pads are great for the same reason. Similar to skateboarding, they are the next most contacted area behind your knees in paintball. The padding will allow some cushion to land on when superman diving into spots, and it will also provide a layer of armor to slide over surface areas without scrapping up your arm! And they will keep your elbow joints comfortable while lying in prone or propping up your arms against your cover.
It's easy to have fun playing paintball! But it's important to think about safety first, so that you can continue doing it over and over. Have fun longer, push yourself harder and come home less sore with the right safety equipment!