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Can a Paintball Gun Kill You?

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It’s important to know the dangers of a hobby before you consider it. Since a paintball gun looks a lot like a gun, and it fires a projectile, can a paintball gun kill you?

No, a paintball gun cannot kill you when it is used properly. It cannot produce enough pressure to send a paintball at a speed high enough to kill anyone. If you don't wear protective goggles and it hits you in the eye you could potentially lose your sight.

If you have more questions about the dangers of paintball, check out the complete beginner’s guide to help put your mind at ease!

Why Won’t It Kill Me?

If you’re worried about death from a paintball game, you’re probably concerned because the paintball markers look and act a lot like guns. While your concerns are valid, you don’t need to worry, the two are much different than they seem. 

Let’s first take a look at the speed of the projectile. This is, after all, the lethal factor. A paintball’s speed is around 190 miles per hour. A bullet has speeds of around 1700 miles per hour.

What this means is a paintball is going to leave a welt on exposed skin, but a bullet will penetrate the skin and do a lot of harm to your internal organs and blood supply. 

hit by paintballs

Now think about the purpose of a paintball gun compared to a gun. With adult permission, a child can play with a paintball gun. They are used to mark other players in a battle of elimination.

Guns on the other hand are mainly purchased with the intended use of self-defence. They are made to do a lot of harm and even kill. 

And the safety features of each? In paintball, you must wear a mask to protect your eyes, ears, and mouth. It is recommended that you wear multiple layers to prevent welts on the rest of your body, most often your arms, chest, and legs.

There are also rules that you can’t use a paintball gun that fires over 300 feet per second (around 200 miles per hour). 

The safety restrictions on a gun? You can turn the safety on and off to avoid accidentally shooting someone. 

And finally, the projectiles. The entire purpose of a paintball is to explode upon impact. It is designed to break and release the interior paint when it makes contact with your opponent. Bullets on the other hand are tapered at the front end and are designed to pierce the skin and cause lethal internal damage. 

Have There Been Any Paintball Related Deaths?

While the proper use of a paintball gun will not result in death, there have been a few paintball-related deaths. 

Player’s Health Conditions

Players with pre-existing heart conditions or breathing conditions are warned not to play paintball. It is a very active sport, and if you have a heart condition, or difficulty breathing, the stress or effort you put forth could cause you to have a heart attack, a stroke, or an asthma attack: All of which could kill you. 

Using the Paintball Gun Improperly

There are two important safety rules in paintball. One limits how fast your paintball gun can shoot when you’re at a paintball range. You are limited to 300 feet per second so that you can avoid injuring other players (more so than the welt you can expect). The other says you can’t shoot an opponent if you are less than 10 feet away from them. 

If an irresponsible player were to modify their paintball gun to shoot faster, shoot at a very close range, and shoot repeatedly, I guess this could result in death, but it is highly unlikely. 

paintball gun

Exploding Compressed Air Tanks

There have been a few reported cases of deaths reported to paintball. When players packed up for the day, CO2 tanks were firing off of the paintball gun like a rocket. In one case it killed a child instantly, and in another accident, it sent a woman to the hospital where she died a couple of days after being admitted. 

This was happening because the CO2 tank was being screwed off of the valve that belongs on the bottle. When the valve is removed, the built-up pressure in the CO2 tank releases with extreme force, causing the tank to launch like a rocket. 

Since 2003, the makers of the tanks have added a safety feature so this doesn’t happen. Now, if you being to unscrew the valve from the tank, it will start to leak before you can completely remove the valve. This releases the pressure while still being held to the gun so the tank doesn’t become a projectile. 

Can It Kill Animals?

Technically a paintball gun could kill a small animal like a bird, squirrel, rabbit, or rat, but it is much harder to hit such a small target.  If you are trying to fix a rodent problem, there are much better and easier ways to get rid of the pests without firing a paintball at them. 

Even if you manage to hit your incredibly small target, you’re not likely to kill them, and you might just injure the animal, causing them to suffer. It really isn’t worth your time trying to hit a small, fast-moving animal when you can use traps, or pest control to solve your problem instead. 

Final Thoughts

Unless you have preexisting health conditions, and you are playing an unregulated game of paintball with mobsters, you have a better chance of winning the lottery than you do dying because of a paintball gun. 

The feet per second limit, mandatory masks, and rules about not shooting someone at close range are all precautions to keep you from unnecessary injury, but those injuries still are not as extreme as death. Paintball guns and paintballs just aren’t made to be lethal. 

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