Does it Hurt When You Get Hit by a Paintball?

Do Paintballs Hurt?

After nearly 20 years of playing paintball, the most common question new players have asked me is “do paintballs hurt?”

Yes, getting hit by a paintball directly on bare skin up close can sting quite a bit. But there are many ways that both the player and the field can minimize or even prevent any pain.

Even if you do get hit up close it isn’t as bad as you may think, so don’t let the idea of paintballs hurting prevent you from playing paintball for the first time.

The thing that surprises new players the most is the initial shock of getting hit for the first time. It’s that quick sting that came out of nowhere that catches you off guard and surprises you. Most every person I have seen get hit for the first time has told me that it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be and are eager to hit the field again.

That fear of the unknown is what creates that hesitancy to step on the field for the first time. Once you know what to expect, it makes it easier to keep jumping back on to the field for another round!

How to Prevent Paintballs From Hurting

There are several ways to help reduce the sting of defeat when playing paintball. Chances are, you already have everything you need and don’t have to buy any special gear.

Wear Thick Clothes or Dress in Layers

The easiest and cheapest thing new players can do to insulate themselves from the pain of a paintball is to wear thick, long sleeve clothes and wear a few layers if it isn’t too hot.

One of the things that I see quite often is wearing an old hoodie. This gives you extra head and neck protection from paintballs as well as the rest of your torso and arms. In addition to a hoodie, lots of players opt to wear sweat pants or thick jeans as well to help protect their lower halves.

Paintballs do wash out of clothes, but it’s the dirt and grime from the field that usually stains your clothes. Pick clothes you don’t mind getting stained and discolored.

If you don’t want to get your clothes dirty and don’t have any clothes for paintball, a popular choice is going to a local second hand shop or garage sale to pick up cheap clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Plus if you could also find some nice camouflage or a silly shirt to wear for the day to make it even more fun!

When picking clothes to wear, make sure you aren’t wearing tight and restrictive clothing as they will limit how much you can move. Plus, wearing baggy clothes help reduce the paintballs velocity before it hits your skin, adding another layer of cushion from the paintballs.

Wear Padding, Gloves, and a Hat

You can further protect yourself by wearing paintball padding, gloves, and a hat. Most fields will have some paintball vests available to players that wish to use them. Just ask the staff and see if they have any available.

Wearing a hat or beanie offers two benefits; extra padding for your noggin and the extra bulk of the hat will help the paintball masks fit more securely. Wearing your hat backwards also has the added benefit of protecting the back of your neck from paintballs as well!

I personally use gloves every time that I play paintball and highly recommend that others use them too. The gloves will not only help protect your hands from paintballs but also the environment around you as well. You don’t have to use paintball gloves, lots of people use shop gloves too as they provide full finger coverage and are quite durable.

If you want to see an overview of what gloves you can use for paintball, I made a rundown what you can use in the link below:

What Paintball Gloves Should You Buy?

If You are Hit, Let the Other Players Know

If you end up getting eliminated, the best thing to do is to wave your hand in the air and yell some variation of “I’m hit!” Doing so does 3 things for you; it lets the other team know to stop shooting at you, you communicate to your team that you have been eliminated, and it signals to the ref that you are out and can help assist you off the field if you need it.

If you get tagged out, do not lift or remove your mask on the field for any reason. Remember, you may be eliminated but are still in the middle of a live game with paintballs flying through the air.

Once you have called yourself out, keep your hand up and quickly move to the closest exit to get out of the action. The best way to do this is to run directly to the closest out of bounds spot on the tape line or net and then make your way to the exit. This will help reduce the chance of someone accidentally shooting you again as you are immediately removing yourself from the action. If you are afraid to move, feel free to call over a ref to help you off the field.

There is no guarantee that you won’t get hit by another paintball, but the quicker you get off the field the less likely it will happen.

Follow the Fields Safety Rules

The paintball field you will be attending will have their own set of rules to help make your experience more enjoyable. Each field will have some slight variations to the rules but here are some of the more common ones I have seen that makes the game safer and less painful for everyone on the field.

Masks Must Be Worn On the Field, Barrels Covers On When Off the Field

This is the status quo safety rule for every field and should be followed at all times. If you are on the paintball field, you must have your mask on at all times. When you are off field, your barrel cover must be on at all times. If you need to fix your mask when on the field, jump off the field really quick and fix it.

Following these rules will prevent injury to yourself and accidentally shooting someone off the field.

Hits on Either the Body or Gear Count

Most fields will simply state that any hits greater than the size of a quarter on either your body or your gear count as an elimination. Doing this reduces hesitation for both the player who got tagged out and the player who eliminated them. That way, both players know the outcome and reduces the chance of the eliminated player getting shot again.

Plus if you get shot on your hopper or marker, you wont feel the paintball hitting you.

10 Foot Rule

This rule is designed to prevent players from getting too close and shooting point blank. Some fields will vary on what the actual distance is, but the most common distance I have seen is 10 feet.

In paintball the 10 foot rule states that if two players are less than 10 feet from each other they are not allowed to shoot at each other. This helps prevent the chance that someone may come and shoot you point blank. Instead, we opt for a verbal elimination or bunker tap!

Verbal Eliminations and Bunker Taps

If you are within 10 feet of another player or just have them lined up with zero chance of escape, most players like myself will opt to use a verbal elimination.

The way that a verbal elimination works is instead of shooting, you communicate to the other player that they are eliminated by saying “bang bang” or “take the hit.” This way the other player knows that you could have shot them and they are free to remove themselves from the field without getting shot. Ideally, you want to be aiming at them while doing this to show that you indeed won that engagement when they turn to look at you.

Some fields have a rule that if a player runs up to a bunker or small building, all they have to do is pound their fist on the structure and all the other players on the other side are eliminated. This is extremely useful for the younger players as they don’t have to face each other at point blank range. Instead, they can quickly move up the field and eliminate each other with no pain at all.

No Blindfiring

Blindfiring is the act of shooting without looking at where your pointing your paintball gun. This is dangerous because you don’t know if you are shooting at the ref, an eliminated player, someone up close, or someone whose mask may have fallen off.

Without knowing what you are shooting at or how your marker is angled, you could also send paintballs over the protective netting into spectators or peoples cars.

Don’t be afraid to stick your head out when you are playing paintball, the mask you are wearing will be more than enough to protect your face and prevent any pain if you end up getting hit in the goggles.


Florida based paintball player with 20 years of experience playing everything from recball to 24 hour scenario events.

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