If you play paintball, you’ve no doubt got some painful stories about taking one in the neck, knuckles, or another sensitive area.
Surprisingly, a national study has found that paintball is less dangerous than running or even bowling. However, you are much more likely to sustain a serious injury while playing paintball if you are not equipped with the proper paintball gear.
Experienced paintballers are undoubtedly very familiar with the safety protocols, and the written and “unwritten” ethical rules of the game. However, when it comes to paintball for beginners, there are several things that need to be reviewed.
Since paintball can be such an intimidating sport for newcomers, many times they feel uncomfortable about asking their fellow players what is or is not safe. Fear not though, newbie – this article has you covered.
Let’s briefly take a look at the basics of paintball and then take a deep dive into some safety tips for playing paintball.
Quick Overview of Paintball
It’s safe to say that most people are at least passingly familiar with the sport of paintball, but many beginners may have questions.
Paintball is an extreme version of tag mixed with battle strategy and “Capture The Flag.” There are many different games and styles, but one thing is a constant – silicone encapsulated paint projectiles serve as markers.
Whether they are fired from a gun, a “paint grenade,” or any other marker, paintballs are used by players to eliminate or “mark” opposing players.
For the sole purpose of this piece, we’ll look at good ol’ traditional paintball – paint pellets fired from an air gun at opponents in an effort to eliminate them from the competition. Because of the fact that high-speed projectiles are involved when playing paintball, it stands to reason that some safety protocols need to be in place.
With that in mind, let’s examine some tips on staying safe while playing the exciting sport of paintball.
7 Tips to Stay Safe When You Play Paintball
There are way more than seven, but we’ll just hit the basics for now. If you’re a rookie headed out to play paintball, read on.
Protect Your Eyes at All Times
Protecting your eyes is of the utmost importance while playing paintball. You only get one set of eyes in your lifetime and taking a silicone paintball to the cornea at 50 miles per hour is a quick way to lose half of that set for good.
Wearing goggles is a good first step. Wearing ANSI-approved goggles is preferred. Do not make the mistake of thinking that your aviator sunglasses are going to protect your eyes.
Wear a Protective Vest
Avid paintballers will disagree with this bit of advice, but what’s it going to hurt? Especially if you’re a rookie, wearing a vest like this product is not only going to protect your torso, it’s going to make you less jittery about taking that first hit.
Paintball for beginners is all about paintball gear. Not because it looks fancy (though those vests are pretty sweet), but because it helps players feel more confident and prepared against more experienced players.
Wear Proper Footwear
At the risk of sounding like a nagging parent, wearing appropriate footwear is vital when playing paintball. Closed-toe shoes with decent tread on the soles and ankle protection are the way to go.
Fun fact – most paintball injuries don’t come from being marked by a paintball. They come from blunt force trauma injuries related to inadequate footwear and equipment.
Hold Pre and Post-Match Briefings and Debriefings
Holding pre and post-match briefings and debriefings is a great way to make sure that everyone is on the same page and stays that way. A good idea is to elect a Game Manager for each day or each match that leads the meetings.
Pre-match meetings involve going over rules, boundaries, and safety protocols. Post-match debriefs involve fine-tuning the rules, reviewing any safety protocols that might have been violated, and just general camaraderie and discussion.
Check Your Marker’s Fire Rate
Releasing paintballs from your marker at too high of a speed with too much pressure behind it can be fatal. It’s that serious. If you want to inflict pain on a buddy, go smack them in the head – don’t gas up the pressure in your marker.
This can be reviewed in the pre-match briefing – each player checks the person to their left’s equipment for safety.
Establish Visible “Masks Up” Boundaries
Once players are eliminated from a round or a game, they need to be able to retreat to a comfortable place to hydrate, grab a snack, reload, and prepare for the next game. The safest way to identify the area in which they can accomplish this is by physically roping and/or flagging off a safe area.
All players must be required to keep their masks or goggles on until they reach that safe area. Failure to do so should result in future disqualification.
Similarly, players should be aware that disengaging their CO2 tanks upon entering the safe area is proper etiquette to prevent accidental misfires.
Decide on an “I’m Out” Signal
Experienced paintballers have been there before; you get marked and then throw your hands up to head to the safe area. You still get lit up by other players. This is not only uncool, it’s dangerous.
Your group should agree on a universal signal to indicate when each player is out of play. A yellow handkerchief, white flag, or something obvious. Hand signals can get misinterpreted.
This not only adds an extra layer of safety for the marked player, but it also represents an obvious, no-excuses signal that leaves no room for misinterpretation that the player is out of the game.
More Sports and Wellness Advice Lives Here
Paintball requires each player to be in relatively good cardiovascular shape, and if you’re not then you will be after playing a few times. Running for your proverbial life burns a lot of calories.
If you enjoyed this article, check out some of our other sports and wellness guides. You are sure to find something more to feed your creative mind! Post Images: