Thanks to the latest innovations in paintball gear, the sport has become safer than it was ever before. But this still raises the question, Can a paintball gun kill you?
The odds of getting a life-threatening paintball injury are low but they are not zero, there are several confirmed cases of direct/indirect paintball injury-related deaths.
So, can we conclude that paintball isn’t a safe sport? No, Every sport carries the risk of injury-related death. But the point is it barely happens.
You may be surprised to learn that paintball leads to 0.2 injuries for every 100,000 players. Even most of these injuries are not life-threatening and are the result of indirect causes. This is much less than injuries associated with other popular sports.
Football causes 3.8 injuries per 100,000 exposures
Ice Hockey causes 3.7 injuries per 100,000 exposures
Baseball injuries are 2.8 per 100,000 exposures
Paintball demands the players to follow a set of rules which are for their own safety. A player’s failure to follow the rules might lead to his or other players suffering.
How safe is paintball – Can a paintball gun kill you?
Paintball can be a dangerous game when it is not played with the right safety equipment and guidelines. Most paintball-related deaths are a result of players’ negligence or indirect causes.
There are many articles out there that claim that a paintball gun can kill you. The truth is, there are some safety precautions that have to be made by the players, but it is safe to say that there is nothing in paintball that can kill you directly.
Most injuries are caused by improper use of the gun or the equipment, or by players who are not wearing proper safety equipment (mask, chest protection, and neckband). This is a relatively safe sport and is the ideal activity to be played on friends’ hangouts or a corporate outing.
How Dangerous Are Paintball Guns?
Paintball guns aren’t designed to be lethal. An average paintball marker shoots paintball from about 270 – 300 FPS (300 FPS is the standard safety limit). With this speed, a paintball isn’t deadly and will hardly hurt if you are dressed up according to the safety guidelines.
Even in a worst-case scenario, where paintball strikes the bare skin, it might hurt badly and leave a welt. Most players, unfortunately, abuse their markers by raising the velocity beyond safety limits. That’s why paintball fields are required to check and chronograph your paintball marker before each match.
It can also be dangerous when paintball guns are not handled correctly. That’s why players are advised to cover their barrel with a barrel sock, the trick is to always take your gun as loaded and pointed at a safe target.
Has Paintball Killed Anyone?
Paintball isn’t just a game, it’s a sport. It’s also a way to release your stress. In fact, paintball is considered one of the safest sports in the world. But still, there are confirmed cases of paintball-related deaths that are reported in the past.
The first recorded paintball death was in the UK on October 15, 2001. A 39-year-old man died after participating in a paintball tournament. He was hit in the back of the neck and unfortunately didn’t survive. It was later said that the paintball might have resulted in a shock that caused the stroke.
In October 2007, a woman was killed in the United States during a birthday paintball game. The cause of death was not from an injury inflicted by a paintball, but from another player accidentally detaching the valve on their paintball gun which launched its CO2 cylinder into an area where other people were located. The woman was hit on the back of the head and sadly, didn’t survive the impact.
The worst part about this death is that like all paintball-related deaths, it was preventable. The manufacturers knew about this potential danger of the paintball tank since 1990 but didn’t do anything until Mr. Contois, the woman’s husband raised awareness and demanded the manufacturer re-evaluate the safety system of the tank’s valve.
What causes death from paintball guns?
If you have ever been hit by a paintball then you must know that it will hurt a little. But when a paintball hits a sensitive area of the body such as the head, the upper chest, the crouch, the neck, or the windpipe, it can cause injuries that might lead to one’s death. That’s why you should focus on protecting these parts as much as you can.
Apart from that, if you are having any kind of medical condition, you should consult your doctor before playing not just paintball but any other active sport that demands physical strength.
People who are having heart conditions and are on a verge of a seizure or attack should also avoid paintball.
What Injuries Can a Paintball Gun Cause?
There are many different ways to be injured while playing paintball. Some of these injuries can be minor, while others can be very serious. There are paintball injuries that can occur as a result of a player not wearing the proper safety gear, or not playing in an area that has been properly maintained and is safe.
A few of the common paintball injuries are welts, bruises, scrapes, and cuts. Although they usually heal on their own but not giving them proper care might lead to an infection. If the paintball injury is on a sensitive area, it is better to get it examined by a doctor.
Prevention of Serious paintball injuries
Safety is an important consideration when playing a sport. Paintball is no exception to this. Here are some of the safety tips that can help prevent paintball-related injuries.
1. Wearing a paintball mask all the time
Paintball is a game that requires the players to wear a paintball mask. The mask is used to shield the players from the paintballs and keep them safe from the paintballs that may hit them. The mask should be strictly worn whether a player is in a game or just training.
2. Dressing up properly for paintball
One of the most important things to remember is that you need to wear the proper paintball gear to ensure that you are protected. Always wear padded clothes because they will absorb some impact of the paintballs.
- For the head and face, use a beanie along with a good-quality paintball mask.
- Protect your neck and windpipe with a neck protector.
- Use a chest protector to save your upper body from direct hits.
- For crouch protection, use a cup supporter.
3. Chronograph your paintball guns
Paintball guns are safe to use as long as they are chronograph rated (meaning they can shoot safely up to a certain speed). You should always read the instruction manual that comes with the paintball gun. The international safety limit is 300 FPS, this is the fastest speed a paintball gun can shoot safely. If your gun is shooting faster than 300 FPS, you need to chronograph it.
4. Handling your paintball with safety
The most important thing to remember is to never, ever, under any circumstances, point a paintball gun at another person. Always consider your paintball gun as loaded and point it towards a safe target. Practice trigger discipline and keep your finger off the trigger when not firing. Also, cover your barrel with a barrel sock when you are outside the playing area.
5. Not aiming for head from close range
The impact of paintball will increase when the distance between the shooter and the target decreases. That’s why if you found your enemy within close range, never aim for the head.
Your goal should be sending your opponent off the field, not to a hospital.
Fortunately, many paintball fields are now encouraging players to aim for the body by not eliminating players on a headshot. Moreover, the paintball fields are also encouraging a surrender rule within close ranges (20 – 30 feet) which is a good thing.
6. Buying reliable and quality paintball gears
Make sure that the paintball guns you buy are reliable and come with a brand warranty. A lot of knockoff brands are selling cheap paintball guns. Unfortunately, these paintball guns won’t last very long and start malfunctioning after a while.
In contrast to a regular paintball marker, an unreliable and malfunctioning marker is far more dangerous.
Final Words – Wrapping it up
All the paintball-related injuries that lead to death are preventable. The safety rules and guidelines it comes are there for a reason, “to keep you safe”. When you do not follow safety guidelines, you are risking your life, as well as the lives of those with whom you are playing regardless of whether they follow them.
In the last decade, the world has seen an exponential increase in the use of paintball guns. More and more people get involved in paintball games every day. This isn’t surprising. People love challenges, and paintball gives them the opportunity to experience challenges, fun, and thrills that they never thought they would.
Paintball, however, can be a dangerous sport, if the safety guidelines are ignored or neglected. It is always advisable to practice it in a safe environment. Players must also be aware that they are not invincible, and safety must be ensured at all times.
Stay Safe and Happy Paintballing!