Paintball For All is user-supported. If you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission, which contributes to our running costs. Read more

Does paintball hurt

Does Paintball Hurt?

How Much Does Paintball Hurt?

The most common question asked by paintball beginners is “does paintball hurt?” There are many factors to consider, but the short answer is, yes it can in some cases. The pain can vary, from a slight sting, to something like an insect bite. It’s impossible to say exactly how much paintball hurts, as pain levels vary from person to person. However, the worst injury you’re likely to get is a bruise or welt[1], nothing worse, as long as you take sensible precautions and follow the rules.

What Does Being Hit By A Paintball Feel Like?

If you’re far enough away from the shooter, the paintball might be going slow enough that it won’t even break. On the flip side, if you go to open play on a speedball course, your rivals will be shooting in the 270-280 fps range, and you’ll likely be facing more than ten balls per second.

When playing tournament paintball, there is no rule preventing firing from close range, and more severe pain or injuries are possible. Bleeding welts are not unheard of, and mild concussions can result from being shot multiple times in the head at short range.

Both of these situations are more likely to result in painful impacts. However, in most recreational situations, this is unlikely. If you are playing woodsball or in a private group, you don’t need to worry.

Does Paintball Hurt More Than A Tattoo?

Getting hit by a paintball can hurt – it can undoubtedly sting a little, especially at close range. You’ll have a decent bruise in the best-case scenario, but paintball hits often result in painful welts that stick around for weeks. With tattoos, your adrenaline eventually kicks in and dulls the pain more and more until its more just discomfort. And it’s a continuous feeling, unlike paintball, where you could get hit anytime, anywhere, making you more anxious.

Which Hurts More – Paintball Or Airsoft?

Paintballs are much larger than airsoft pellets[2], usually measuring about .68” in diameter and weighing about 3 grams. Because of this larger size and heftier weight, paintball guns generally fire at about 280-300 fps -significantly slower than the airsoft pellet’s velocity.

A paintball has more than 10x the energy of airsoft ball-bearings. Airsoft guns generally shoot around 400 fps. A paintball has more surface area than a 6mm BB. All of this means paintballs are going to hurt a lot more.

Manufacturers have been pushing 0.50″ paintballs as an alternative – the smaller paintball does hurt a lot less than the 0.68″ standard paintball, as their lower mass means they carry much less energy. However, they are not nearly as popular.

Full face protection is still recommended for both airsoft and paintball, regardless of gun power.

What Factors Make Paintball Hurt?

Paintball Quality

The quality of the paintball can be a significant factor in how much the shot hurts. Lower quality paintballs contain a less-dense paint but often have a harder gelatin shell. Manufacturers design high-quality paintballs not to break in the gun, but to break easily when you get hit. So, lower quality paintballs will often hurt worse on impact than higher quality ones. Make sure you get the best paintballs your budget can justify.

Paintball Type

First Strike Paintball Rounds look more like small missiles than the typical round paintballs. They’re more aerodynamic, so they fly farther, which means for a given distance, they are traveling faster than a traditional paintball round. Their casings are relatively solid too, so the combination of higher average speed and solid casing makes these rounds hurt more than traditional pellets – so much so that many venues have banned them.


If it’s particularly cold, you may find the direct hits more painful than normal. This is mainly due to the paint material inside the paintball becoming more solid (viscous) at lower temperatures.


Simple physics dictates the harder the paintball is shot at you, the more it will hurt. Most fields limit the velocity of a paintball marker, to keep everyone safe – usually in the 280-300 fps range.


As the paintball flies through the air, it loses energy. Therefore, the further away your opponent is when they fire, the less it will hurt when you get hit. Most paintball fields ban shooting at close range (usually within 10 feet, but it varies) – too close, and getting hit by a paintball could cause a considerable amount of pain.

Impact Point

Which body part takes the hit will significantly affect how much it hurts. Generally, areas with more muscle and fat (built-in padding) will hurt less than the opposite – so a shot to the neck or back will hurt more than one that gets you in the front of your torso. Equally, taking a hit to a….sensitive area…will not be a walk in the park!

Also, a hit on your bare skin will hurt more than a covered area of your body. That’s why more experienced paintballers generally wear long sleeve tops.

Multiple Hits

While it may not hurt much the first time you’re hit, if you’re continually getting hit in the same place, the pain will add up.

How To Reduce Pain When Playing Paintball


Another way to decrease the pain of a paintball hit is to stay far away from your opponent – though the nature of the game means this is not always practical. The farther the paintball has to travel to hit you, the less velocity it will have when you’re hit. If you are overly close to your opponent, you can expect getting hit to hurt a little more.

Ideally, the rules of your game will have the option to surrender if a player is being hit multiple times at close range.

Protective Gear

How badly getting shot hurts also depends on how much protection you wear

Some players also wear protective vests, though you may find this unnecessary. Some fields require players to wear vests no matter what their preference.

You should always wear your safety gear on the field, at the very least a good-quality paintball mask. You might also want to get some type of neck protection and consider a helmet protecting your full head.

If you like diving and crawling under and behind obstacles during the game, knee, and shin protection (paintball pads) will reduce your pain levels.

Professional paintballers often also wear lightweight armor similar to motocross armor.

If you are fully suited up in basic paintball protective gear, the amount of hurt and pain will be minimal.

Protective Clothing

If a paintball strikes your exposed skin, you’ll feel it, and it will hurt. Often it hurts more if the paintball bounces without bursting.

One thing you can do is make a barrier between you and the paintball. The best approach is adding an extra layer of protective clothing. Throwing on an extra shirt or wearing thicker trousers will help quite a bit.

You should wear gloves to protect your hands – as there’s not much fat or muscle on your hands (for most people at least), they’re among the most painful places to take a hit. You can buy armored gloves or just bring your own regular pair.

Paintball players are also advised to wear extra padding around vulnerable areas such as wrists, arms, and thighs.


The most common cause of severe bruising is guns that are chrono’d too fast. It’s essential to ensure your paintball gun is calibrated to fire in a safe range, which is typically 280-300 feet per second (fps). This varies from one field to another – be sure to check the rules where you’re playing.


One suggestion you may not have heard is to take a painkiller containing Ibuprofen before heading out to play – this type of med reduces the pain associated with inflammation, which should help with bruises.

Does Paintball Hurt Children?

Paintball is a fun hobby for all ages, offering excitement and challenge, in a safe and controlled setting. It’s just as much for kids as for adults.

Younger players will be matched with similar age groups and carry less powerful markers; this allows them to enjoy the game just as much as adults.

Make sure your child is old enough to be allowed to play, both in your jurisdiction and the range. Some fields may enforce a minimum age, regardless of state laws.

No matter what, always ensure the child understands and follows the rules of the game.

How Dangerous Is Paintball?

There is an element of risk in most activities, and the threat of being shot adds to the excitement of paintball. It’s generally a safe hobby, and the safety rules, regulations, and protective gear keep injuries to a minimum. If you and your fellow players follow the precautions, when you do get hit, it should cause no lasting damage.

No one will be shot to death with a paintball gun, barring some extremely unusual circumstances (involving deliberate bypassing of a number of precautions). The necessary safety precautions such as wearing a mask, minimum age, and chronoing the gun to the recommended speed range will prevent a lethal or near-lethal event. Having said that, over the years there have been some deaths from heart attacks after being shot in the chest.

Surprisingly, the bigger danger in paintball isn’t being shot – it’s actually related to the air supply. Compressed air and CO2 are hazardous, and have caused several deaths.

The classic causes are one of these three:

  • Filling a tank with the wrong type of gas (e.g. filling a CO2 tank with compressed air)
  • Filling a tank to pressure over its design capacity
  • Damage to tanks from impact (e.g. snapping the regulator off the tank). This can cause a CO2 tank to become a missile, and death or serious injury can be the outcome.

Modern CO2 tanks are designed to lessen these risks, but even so, you shouldn’t remove the valve or regulator unless you know what you’re doing. If in doubt, ask!

Children might not pay close attention to safety after an exciting day in the field. Adults who understand the procedure should disassemble & maintain paintball weapons after the game.


You may find the anticipation of getting shot is worse than the first time you are hit. After the first time, you know what it feels like getting hit by a paintball, and the fear of the unknown is gone. You suddenly realize there’s not really much pain, so you can enjoy the game and inflict the pain rather than receive it.

Further Reading

[1] has more information on the treatment of paintball welts & bruises.

[2] Wikipedia has more details on Airsoft pellets