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Is Paintball Safe?

Is Paintball Safe?

is paintball safe

You are going to be surprised at how safe paintball is compared to other sports.

In the United States there are 0.2 injuries per 100,000 exposures for paintball a year.

That compares to:

  • 3.8 injuries per 100,000 exposures for Tackle Football and Downhill Skiing a year
  • 3.7 injuries per 100,000 exposures for Ice Hockey a year
  • 2.8 injuries per 100,000 exposures for Soccer a year
  • 2.8 injuries per 100,000 exposures for Baseball a year

I have put links at the bottom of this page for you to do your own research and number crunching.

In fact, paintball has one of the lowest injury rates of any sport in the United States.

Okay, so we do get welts and bruises from the paintballs. But just keep that in perspective. My son plays soccer, baseball and trains in kick-boxing. The bruises he receives from any of those sports is no more or no less than he receives from paintball.

And you should see my daughter’s feet, knees and legs after dancing…

Also, do remember, if your child is playing paintball on an organized field with a referee there are set rules about over shooting, meaning shooting a player more than a few times. I have seen players removed and banned from fields for over shooting. Over shooting is something that is not accepted.

Why is Paintball Safe?

First, our markers (aka guns) are checked for the rate of speed of a paintball leaving the barrel. We use Feet Per Second (FPS) to measure this speed. Depending on where you live, your country’s or state’s laws, this can range from as low as 170 FPS to 300 FPS. The lower FPS is more to do with a jurisdiction’s definition of a firearm and is not directly proportional to injury or safety. The higher FPS of 300 is the standard in most jurisdictions and fields as it is the highest, safest speed.

Some fields also have a surrender rule that if an opposing player is within 20 feet and you have a shot on them the opposing player must accept a surrender. Some fields that don’t have a surrender rule will lower the maximum FPS.

Second, we always wear a mask when on the field. Paintball masks are designed to withstand the force created by the mass of a paintball travelling at 300 FPS.  Any other type of mask is not allowed. This rule is so strictly enforced I have seen players sent off the field for taking their mask off for a split second.

Third, the end of our marker’s barrel is always covered by a certified safety device, a barrel sock, when it is off the field. This ensures that if the device is misfired off field it will not cause an eye injury.

If you are a parent and you want to know more about paintball, I suggest reading this article: From a Paintball Parent for a Parent.

Links for your own research:


Gordon More

A graduate of the Outdoor Recreation Management Program at Capilano University, North Vancouver, Canada. He is an outdoor recreation fanatic who operates a kayaking company, managed a ski resort and lives for paintball, skiing and kayaking. He started playing paintball in 2000, but he really didn't get into the sport until his son was 12.

  • Joshua Taylor
    December 13, 2013

    I don’t think it’s necessarily true that 300fps is the “safest” speed, but that sounds more like a mis-phrased statement rather than a misunderstanding. Probably meant the highest, safe speed so the highest fps at which it would still be considered safe.

    I’ve made this argument to friends and family dozens of times (especially to my mother who worries every time I get on a field) it’s just going to take time and statistic repetition to establish the new, positive image of paintball and the low level of risk associated with it.

    Another item that should be mentioned is that the majority of injuries suffered while paintballing come from a couple of ‘interesting’ sources:

    1. People who are using markers and equipment off a regulated field and who create their own rules. I would not call this paintball, nor would I call them paintballers. They are individuals fooling around with something they bought at a store.
    2. Injuries ON regulated fields (from my experience) tend to be injuries that would be possible simply by getting out of bed in the morning. Most common injury I’ve witnessed? Twisted, sprained or bruised ankles from playing scenario ball in wooded or ‘urbanized’ areas on fields.

    I can’t assign any legitimate, broad-spectrum statistics to these injuries but I CAN say that in 2013 there were only 4 injuries at paintball fields while I was present. Three of the injuries were ankle-related from people not moving with caution, and one was a very random leg cut that happened when a guy slid through a doorway an indoor field.

    Paintball’s a great sport and I hope to be able to keep playing for years and years 🙂

    • Montana95
      February 4, 2014

      I disagree greatly with your opinions in #1.

      • Joshua Taylor
        December 18, 2014

        So you don’t feel that improper use of paintball equipment off of insured fields is a leading cause of ‘paintball’ injuries?

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