Does Paintball Hurt? A Complete Guide

Maybe you, your kids, or your friends are about to go paintballing for the first time, and you are wondering, how bad does it hurt to get hit by a paintball? 

The short answer is not very bad, but it also depends. The distance the paintball has to travel along with the area you are hit changes a lot. Certain areas of your body are more sensitive than others, and without any protective clothing or equipment, they can really hurt when hit straight on.  

Read on below, where we will break down everything you need to know about getting hit by paintballs and how much they hurt.

How Much Does Paintball Hurt?

That is not to say that being hit by a paintball never hurts, but other than the initial sting, you can also expect some possible bruising or welts.

Ages from 9 and older play paintball every week and weekend. If it were that bad getting hit, fewer and fewer people would probably keep returning to play.

When playing paintball, it’s actually extremely common for players to not even know they have been hit by other players. This is one main reason why there are refs around to assess the gameplay fairly.

Other hits often have slight initial pain when hit, but there is little to no lasting pain. This is equally as common as the hits that are not even felt.

The paintball impacts that really hurt are the ones that hit your body in the most sensitive areas, which we describe more about below.

Worst Place For Paintball To Hit Body

It is no secret that paintballs pack a punch when they hit certain body areas. Some areas are much more painful when struck, even if it is a graze or a full-on hit.

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1904 Photography photo of a paintball striking the hand

Masks are required when playing paintball to protect the face, so thankfully, we will never have to wonder if the face is the worst place to be hit by paintballs.

Two things rival each other when it comes to the worst place to be hit: the neck and the fingers.

The neck is such a sensitive area on its own, with little muscle and fat to offer protection. The fingers are similar in the sense there is little padding between the paintball and your pain receptors.

Luckily, most shirts and pants offer protection, but the private areas are never fun to have hit by oncoming paintballs. If it isn’t your day, you will be sure to remember the time you were hit there, although there will not be any lasting pain, thankfully.

How To Reduce How Much Paintballs Hurt

There are ways that you can go about protecting yourself from the pain. A great way to protect yourself is with equipment and clothing. This doesn’t have to be with specifically designed paintball gear, either. Any gloves or baggy clothes work great to reduce how much paintballs hurt. 

Old Clothes

Often, newer players or players that don’t feel like spending money on gear bring older baggy clothes they don’t mind ruining by sliding and running around in the dirt.

By wearing baggy clothes, there is not only the padding the fabric provides but also some distance for the paintball to slow down before it reaches the skin. 

If you are wondering what clothes will do the job of reducing the pain of oncoming paintballs, a loose-fitting sweatshirt and baggy jeans do great. Some paintball parks also issue coveralls, which are a lot like overalls but cover your arms and legs.

Paintball Clothes

The main difference between these paintball pants and jerseys you see some players running around in vs. wearing older clothes to play in is easy to see once you have played paintball a few times.

These companies like HK Army or Dye have taken years of experience on the field and crafted gear that meets and then exceeds the needs of paintball players. The equipment is generally custom designed to pad sensitive or often hit areas, all while maintaining comfort and breathability.

Jerseys are designed to protect the neck, collar bone, chest, and forearms. Some even have built-in hand protectors, which are clutch, as the top of the hand is one of the most painful areas to hit on the body.

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Photo Credit to Ryan Greenspan


It just takes one time getting hit in the fingers or top of the hand to make you completely rethink all the life choices that led you to this one painful moment.

All jokes aside, though, gloves are a serious game changer when it comes to letting you enjoy the game of paintball more without worrying about the pain.

One added bonus here too of wearing gloves is that we always associate the pain of paintball with getting hit, but there are a lot of other factors out there that could ruin your day out having fun on the field. 

Whether it is splintering from wooden barries or thorns while out playing woodsball, gloves can be a game changer for protecting yourself.

Does Paintball Hurt More Than Airsoft?

A question always asked is what hurts more, being hit by airsoft pellets or paintballs? A great answer for this that always gets an eye roll is; that it depends.

In order to answer this long debated question, based on all of the factors, including the type of protective equipment worn and injuries associated with each, we would say being hit by paintballs hurt more than airsoft.

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Both airsoft and paintball are designed to make a safe playing environment for the players while maintaining an exciting, fast-paced, and realistic experience. By doing so, there are feet per second (FPS) speed requirements.

Now, every field is different when it comes to what they do and do not allow, but a general rule of thumb is airsoft pellets should not exceed 500 FPS, while paintball balls need to stay under 300 FPS.

Although airsoft pellets can be faster, the amount of pain being hit by one of these also depends on the mass of the object and the place you are being hit.

To describe what each feels like to be hit in the body, paintball feels like a wack or hard slap, while airsoft is like a sting, similar to being hit by a rubber band.

Does Low Impact Paintball Hurt?

The amount of low impact paintball pain still depends on the factors mentioned earlier in the article. The entire point of low-impact paintball is to reduce the amount of pain when being struck by the paintball.

Low impact paintball hurts less by using .50 caliber paintballs (vs. standard .68 caliber). This means the paintballs are:

  • Lighter
  • Smaller
  • Hit less hard

Kids all around play low impact paintball without any injuries. The game stays fun, exciting, and safe when used with the proper protective equipment.

Does Paintball Hurt For Younger Children?

All fields will generally have age cut-offs for children, but this is not because of the pain. There are certain safeties players must abide by, so it is important that kids are responsible enough to listen and follow the rules safely.

Low impact paintball is specifically designed not to be as dangerous or cause as much pain as standard paintball.

The paintballs are much smaller and shot out of less powerful paintball guns, causing the impacts not to hurt and sometimes not even be noticed at all. Looking at the best paintball guns for this can be found in more of our other posts on the site.

If you are still unsure, PB Nation Paintball has a great video interview that answers the many common questions parents have when deciding if paintball is safe for their children.

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