paintball player avoiding paintball

No Pain, No Gain: Does Paintball Hurt?

As of 2021, there are almost 1,700 paintball fields in the US. Paintball has been around since the 1960s, but it's rapidly gaining popularity among people of all ages and fitness levels. It's a fun way to bring your video games to life, after all!

But with this comes real-life consequences, such as possible pain from being hit by a paintball. If you're considering taking up paint balling as a hobby, you might be worried about this.

So does paintball hurt? The truth is, yes it can.

But how bad does paintball hurt? And what can you do to lessen the sting?

Keep reading to find out!

Factors That Can Affect How Much It Hurts

Just like with any type of injury, the pain from getting hit by a paintball won't be uniform for every ball, person, and situation. So there's no singular or right answer to the question: how much does paintball hurt?

But to help you understand more on what can make playing paintball hurt, here are some things to consider.

Bare Skin vs Clothes

Of course, you'd paintball with clothes on. But there are still going to be places where you have exposed skin. Any of those places will hurt more when you get hit with a paintball because there's nothing covering your skin and protecting it.

Also, if you're wearing thicker clothes, this will further pad your delicate skin from being damaged. You can even wear protective gear for maximum protection (more on this later).


Another question you should ask is this: at what range does a paintball hurt? The simple answer is that the further away you are from your opponent, the less it'll hurt.

For example, if someone were to shoot you point-blank, that would hurt the most. In fact, it can even bruise your body, so we don't recommend trying this!

Otherwise, if you're being shot at from across the paintball field, it'll probably just feel like a small sting.

Quality of Paintballs

This might come as a surprise to some, but the quality of your paintballs will affect how much it hurts when they hit you.

In general, lower-quality paintballs are less dense. However, they have a harder shell, which means they'll be harder to break. As a result, when they hit you, it can hurt worse than higher-quality paintballs do.

Your Personal Pain Tolerance

Each person has their own pain tolerance. So while an injury can feel excruciating to one person, it might barely hurt for another.

Your genetic makeup is mainly responsible for that. Other things that affect your pain tolerance include your age, sex, stress levels, mental health issues, and chronic illnesses.

If you have a low pain tolerance, the good news is you can raise it through regular exercise.


In one of the above sections, we briefly mentioned that paintballs can bruise your body. If you wear proper clothing and protective gear, you won't feel as much pain and may not bruise at all, or at least not as bad.

Of course, the degree of bruising will depend on your body and health condition. For example, if you have anemia, then you'll be more prone to bruising than other people are.

In any case, the bruising shouldn't be too major (unless you've been shot point-blank). You should heal quickly after a few days.

Paintball Gun Calibration

With any paintball gun, you can calibrate it to shoot at different speeds. Make sure that you and your friends aren't firing "hot" (too fast).

The safe range for calibration is around 280 frames per second (fps). This is fast enough where it'll still sting, but it won't be nasty nor will it leave bruises.

Always double-check with the field you're playing at, since each one will have its rules for calibration.

Low Impact Paintball Options

If you want to ease into the game of paintball many parks are now offering low impact options like .50 caliber paintball or JT SplatMaster. Instead of using the traditional .68 caliber paintball they utilize a smaller paintball that has a significantly less impact. The markers themselves also shoot at a lower velocity (140 - 240 FPS) as opposed to 285 - 300 FPS that a standard paintball marker would shoot. This is an excellent way to get into the game of paintball with taking the fear of getting hurt out of the equation!

Paintball Protective Gear

As we've mentioned earlier, you can wear protective paintball clothing to shield your body during play. In addition to long-sleeved clothing that's thick, you can also get some paintball gear to further protect you.

With the proper pants and jersey, you'll be able to move easily, decrease visibility, keep cool, and lessen paintball stings. You should also get some good masks and goggles so you can protect your eyes too.

Does Paintball or Airsoft Hurt More?

Some people also like to shoot airsoft guns, so if that's you, you might be also wondering which one hurts more. But like with paintball, there are several factors that affect how much airsoft pellets hurt. For instance, the number of pellets shot, the distance, and what you're wearing will all factor in.

But typically, airsoft pellets are made out of plastic and can reach a velocity of 590 feet per second. So they will definitely sting when you get hit by them.

But even though airsoft pellets reach a speed of almost double paintballs, in general, paintballs will hurt more. This is because they're much larger, which means they carry more energy when they're hurtling towards someone!

Does Paintball Hurt? Yes, It Can

Although the answer to the question "does paintball hurt" is "yes", there are so many factors that affect how bad it hurts. As you can see, you can mitigate the pain by wearing protective gear, calibrating your gun, and putting more distance between yourself and the paintball.

So if you've been afraid to go paintballing because of pain, don't fear it anymore. You can have fun without getting nasty injuries if you do it right!

Ready to start paintballing? Then come play at our outdoor field location, or visit one near you. Open play is available Saturdays and Sundays and private parties can be booked 7 days a week. If you need paintball gear to get started, check out our online shop today!