Yes, a paintball can hurt sometimes, but the severity of the pain depends on the circumstances. Following standard safety recommendations can reduce the amount of pain you feel.
It's hard not to notice when you've been hit by a paintball. It's very common for players to feel a slight sting, similar to a firm flick on the arm. The pain is minor and typically fades quickly.
While most hits are insignificant, a paintball can cause bruises and welts. The severity depends on the speed of the ball, the distance the ball travels, and where it hits your body.
To keep things fun and safe, be sure to follow a few common safety practices.
How badly a paintball hurts also depends on how much padding or protection you wear. If you are dressed in jeans and a t-shirt alone, expect small bruises that will fade in a few days. Wearing a sweatshirt or other thick clothing will usually prevent bruising.
Some people wear protective vests as well, though many experienced players find this unnecessary. If it makes you feel more comfortable, go ahead and wear one. Some fields require players to put on vests no matter what. This is simply a safety precaution you'll have to accept if you want to play there.
If a paintball breaks on bare skin, you will most certainly feel it and it does hurt. It can be even worse if the paintball bounces off and doesn't break. However, this can be avoided if you wear the right clothes.
Wear gloves to protect your hands since they are the body part closest to your opponent and very vulnerable to an impact. A baseball cap worn backward can be used to cover your neck. Also, long-sleeve shirts and pants will help protect your arms and legs.
It's standard in paintball that you will wear a mask, so your head and face are already protected. Plus, a shot to the goggles rarely causes any pain.
The most common cause of severe bruising comes from guns that are shooting hot, meaning the paintball is traveling too fast. It's important to make sure that your gun is calibrated to fire in a safe range, which is typically 280 frames per second (fps). This can change from one field to another, so be sure to check on their rules.
A severe bruise can also be the result of getting hit from a close distance. The general rule is to never shoot a player that is closer than 20 feet away from you. The reason is simple: the longer the paintball is in the air, the more time it has to slow down. Getting hit by a close-range shot will cause quite a bit of pain, which is not fun. You shouldn't do that to other players, either.
Overall, wearing multiple layers and following the basic safety rules of paintball should keep you safe and minimize your risk of getting bruised. Simply gear up and head out to the field. With these simple precautions, you should have a fun and relatively pain-free time.