Those Tiny BBs Can’t Hurt… Does Airsoft Hurt? Airsoft vs Paintball Pain [400 FPS Will Get Ya]
Are you trying to choose between airsoft and paintball? Are you on one side of the shooting sport hobby looking at the other? Are you maybe a little nervous about your first game? One of the things you’re probably trying to figure discern for yourself is how much pain is a factor in airsoft and paintball. You are definitely not in the minority. Physical pain is something people try to avoid, but if you ask me, it’s all part of the fun! I’m going to attempt to answer your questions about pain in airsoft and how it compares to paintball.
First Things First
Before we dive into this issue, there’s something you need to keep in mind. Pain is relative. What is a 3 for me on the 1 to 10 pain scale may be a 6 to you. And, again, that’s fine! Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for feeling a specific hit. The sort of player that giggles at your misfortune are the sort of player that ruins the sport for all of us. Don’t associate with them. On that same token, don’t shame anyone for the pain they’re feeling. It’s no fun. Treat other players how you’d like to be treated.
Not all hits are taken equally. The hit you take to your backside is going to be minuscule compared to the pain you’ll feel on a shot to the knuckles and fingers. Basically, hits to meatier parts of the body like your bottom, your thighs and upper arms are going to be less painful. Hits to the stomach and the insides of your limbs will hurt because these are usually softer places.
Shots to the fingers and knuckles…those are the worst! I once sat out of the last game of the day because a BB hit my little finger and numbed my whole hand. The nail was black for weeks!
Which Hurts More: Airsoft or Paintball?
There are a number of factors to consider when trying to find whether paintball or airsoft hurts more. In paintball, the projectiles are rather large and travel slower. The industry standard maximum muzzle velocity for a ball is 300 feet per second. You are required to wear the full face mask in paintball. That means that any shots aimed at your face will be stopped by your hard plastic mask. You may swallow some paint if you’re not wearing some sort of head scarf, but you are protected.
Airsoft’s BBs are smaller and can travel faster than 300 FPS in a game. For some fields, if you are over the age of 18, you are not required to have full face protection. You can take shots to the delicate skin of the face. There are certain situations where we know for sure one shooting sport hurts more than the other. In paintball, there usually isn’t a minimum engagement distance, which sometimes leads to what is called “bunkering.” A player who catches another player off guard can unload an excessive amount of pellets to guarantee the hit. Don’t do this. It is unpopular and will probably get you in trouble at your local field. The surprised player is showered with paint and will have many lots of bruises.
This sometimes happens in airsoft, but most fields have a minimum engagement distance for safety reasons. You may be caught with your back to an enemy, but the enemy will usually offer a mercy kill and let you surrender. There’s a lot of complicated math that you can do to try to calculate which hurts more. User ASF Citizen at the AirsoftForum attempted in his post, found here. Basically, the user hypothesized that Joules, a measure of energy, transferred to the body equals more pain. The user’s conclusion was(!)…that there is a minuscule difference in the Joules of an airsoft BB and a paintball pellet. ASF Citizen thinks that it is most likely a placebo effect.
How do I Make it Hurt Less?
Keep in mind that there are some things you can do to mitigate the pain from hits in airsoft and paintball. You can take an appropriate dose of a painkiller. Make sure you stick to that dose, though, Never go overboard with medication. Try wearing multiple layers of clothing with a loose-fitting top layer. The added fabric between you and the projectile will stop some of the pain. The loose top layer will help absorb some of the force before it hits you. An old sports jersey works well. A heavy hooded sweatshirt is also a good top layer. That will most likely prevent pain from shots to your torso and arms. It still leaves your legs vulnerable, though. Again, loose-fitting pants will help with leg hits.
Guys out there? Get an athletic strap and a cup. It’s never happened to me, but I’ve seen it happen. I imagine it’s rather unpleasant to take a hit to the groin. Void the problem entirely with a cup. Please. Airsofters and paintballers alike use gear like plate carriers or padded vests to lessen the impact of a projectile. Airsofters specifically try to customize their outfit to fit a theme. There are many options at many different price ranges available if that interest you.
Protect your hands with a strong pair of gloves. You can find some with hard shells that protect the knuckles. Shots to fingernails? There’s not much you can do there. Just hope it doesn’t happen. Spoiler alert: it will. And it will hurt.
Final Thoughts – The Best Way to Stop The Pain
Laugh it off! When you get back to the staging area after a game, go ahead and tell your group about that horrible shot you just took to your fingers. It will most likely start a fun conversation where everyone gets to gripe about their worst hits. The pain may not be funny now, but when you come back the following month, I guarantee that you’ll be able to laugh at it and yourself.