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How Bad Does Paintball Hurt?




closeup of a paintball mask shot

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You’re excited to get out to the paintball field, you’ve purchased some gear and you’re ready. Now you’re on the field staring in shock as you hear the paintball fire towards you in slow motion.

While it barrels towards you, you’ll probably wonder how bad does paintball hurt?

A paintball fired in short-range on exposed skin will sting quite a bit and leave a fairly sizable welt. When you’re on the field playing, that’s not how it happens. You have your skin covered, and there are rules that you can’t shoot someone within a certain distance. During games, you can expect the pain to be about as bad as being snapped by a rubber band. 

Pain Threshold

It’s nearly impossible to tell you how bad something will hurt because each person has a different pain threshold. 

There’s no paintball pain scale, but being hit with a paintball being hurdled towards you at speeds around 200 miles per hour is going to hurt a little bit. 

If you’re interested in learning first hand what it feels like to be fired at, check out our complete beginner’s guide to starting paintball as a hobby!

Pain From Paintballs

The best way to tell you how much it hurts is to show you. Check out this video where two guys will show you how much it hurts to be hit by a paintball. 

In the video, they fire paintballs at three locations; the stomach, the back between the shoulders, and the head. Keep in mind they weren’t wearing proper layers to avoid the welts that resulted from their tests. 

woman playing paint ball got shot on the head

Both men showed less of a reaction to being hit in the stomach than between the shoulder blades, and the shot to the back of the head received the biggest reaction from both men. They ranked the pain at a 4 and 4.8 out of 10. 

When you’re actually out on the field playing paintball, wearing a few layers, and following the rules, you can expect the pain to range from “being snapped by an elastic band” to “getting stung by a wasp”. 

You’ll end up with a few bruises, and maybe even a couple of welts, but there won’t be many injuries from paintball if you and the other players stick to the rules. 

How to Reduce Pain

There’s good news though! There are ways to reduce the amount of pain you endure while paintballing. 

Wear Multiple Layers

Each layer that you add to your body means another layer between you and the paintball being shot at you. In warmer weather, it might not be easy to wear 3 layers to protect yourself, try padded clothing made specifically for paintball instead!

Protect the Delicate Areas

You know the sensitive areas I’m talking about; your eyes, your neck, your fingers – and yes, your genital area too. 

These areas are prone to worse injuries than areas like your stomach, arms and legs, and need to be protected. 

Follow The Rules

Many fields will have a rule that you cannot shoot another player within 15 feet from you. There are also rules against overshooting- where you continue to shoot an opponent after a paintball has left a mark. 

By keeping your distance from other players, and following these rules, you and everyone on the field can avoid unnecessary injury. 

Play the Mind Game

Our brains work in mysterious ways. To reduce the pain from paintball shots, try meditating before a game. Focus on what you want the outcome to be, concentrate on what to expect when you’re shot. Really get into it.

When you are expecting to be shot, the pain from a shot won’t be as bad as it would if you had been surprised. 

When you’re playing, concentrate on the game. Experience the thrill. This will get your adrenaline running and you won’t feel the pain as much. 

Go To The Gym

Soft tissue on the body bruises much more easily than muscle. By going to the gym and building muscle on your body, you create a layer that will protect you from lasting pain. 

Other Injuries

There are so many other injuries you can experience while playing paintball and most of them don’t have anything to do with the sport. 

Paintball is a high-intensity sport with a lot of movement, and with movement comes risks like:

  • Bruises
  • Concussions
  • Cuts
  • Sprains
  • Welts
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Scrapes

Eye Injuries

If at any point you wondered whether or not you need to wear your mask the answer is yes. From 1998 to 2000, eye injuries from paintballs quadrupled. Even now, 85% of all paintball injuries are eye injuries. 

Many of the eye injuries aren’t acquired on the field, they are from children who have picked up a paintball gun to try it out and have hit an eye accidentally. 

These injuries are serious though! They can lead to temporary, or even permanent vision loss. 

Ear Injuries

Ear injuries are also pretty common and severe. Ears aren’t protected by a paintball mask or a hat. Turning your head as a response to avoid a paintball coming at you could result in a concussion, burst eardrum, or permanent hearing loss. 


Although extremely rare, there have been a couple of deaths reported that are paintball-related. 

These deaths have been caused by malfunctioning equipment, and not due to any player’s negligence. 

When unscrewing the carbon dioxide tanks, if there is any pressure left while it is being detached, it becomes an airborne missile. It’s unfortunate, and no fault of the players, but rest assured this a very rare occurrence!

Final Thoughts

Being shot by a small paintball travelling over 200mph is going to hurt, at least a little bit. 

Thankfully there are ways to reduce this pain so you can spend more time enjoying your newfound interest and less time hiding timidly behind obstacles hoping to avoid being shot at. 

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