The fact that ... is now the 4th most popular Extreme Sport is not solely do to the fact that it is one of the most fun sports around it is also because of the fact it is also safe to play. How
The fact that Paintball is now the 4th most popular Extreme Sport is not solely do to the fact that it is one of the most fun sports around it is also because of the fact it is also safe to play. How can a sport where people go around shooting each other with paintballs going 280 fps (feet per second) be safe you ask?, well in this section I will explain how that is possible.
The first and foremost reason that Paintball is safe is because there are rules and regulations in place to insure that the players are safe during game-play. These rules are set by the Paintball Insurance Companies that insure the Recreational Fields. I will list a couple of the many companies that insure fields and the rules that most of these companies enforce. Two of the most popular companies that provide insurance to fields are listed below along with their website links;
American Paintball League
National Paintball Association
I will now explain in detail the most important of these rules and regulations used at all insured fields;
The 1st and most important rule is that all players must wear Paintball approved Goggles/Masks at all times during game-play and if they are on the play field at all whether in play or not. The goal of these systems is to protect the face and eyes of the players from injury. The approved systems do a wonderful job of protecting the player as I can attest to having been hit square a few times. I know that the fields are very strict about this rule cause if they are not they will lose their insurance or be fined. I will add a few more recommended suggestions in regards to Goggles/Masks that are not a rule or regulation but are important none the less. Each and every time before you play for the day inspect your goggles to make sure they are in tip top shape and pay special attention to the lenses for cracks. If you see any cracks in the lenses DO NOT use those goggles they WILL NOT be safe until you get NEW lenses installed. If you have ever taken a direct hit in the lenses it is recommended that you Do Not Use those goggles until New lenses are installed due to the fact that they may have been weakened and not give proper protection.
The 2nd most important rule is that all players must affix their Barrel plug or Sock on when not on the field or when they have been eliminated and are walking off the field. A barrel plug/sock is a piece of equipment that can come in many styles and types that all have the goal of preventing a paintball from being shot from the marker. The use of a barrel plug/sock is important because they prevent accidental injury due to close range shots while not on the field. Below are some images of the different barrel plugs available (the industry seems to be leaning towards the Barrel Socks because they provide better protection than Plugs);
Velocity of Paintballs
The rule of safety is really just as important as Barrel Plugs but has a little more variety in actual implementation. Velocity of the paintball is the speed the paintball is traveling in "feet per second" (FPS). There is not one set velocity throughout the Paintball world but there is a range that all fields fall in as far as enforcement. The velocity range is about 275 fps to 290 fps depending on field. Each player must get their marker checked for velocity by a referee who tags the marker if is is at or below the fields speed rule. Each player is also subject to random test while in game-play at the discretion of the referees. I would recommend all players to check their velocity at least every other game they play because the last thing you want to do is get removed from the game or the field do to shooting faster than the fields legal limit. Getting your velocity checked is a quick and painless procedure so in my opinion there should be no reason to ever shoot what is called hot!
Referee Administered Games
Games at the insured fields are usually if not always refereed by a minimum of 2 referees. These referees are trained to watch for safety related issues and if they see any they have the authority to due whatever they feel is appropriate to repress the issue, anything from removing the offending player(s) or stopping the game-play.
Dead Zone (Staging Area)
All fields have an area that is apart from the play fields for the purpose of preparing yourself to play. This area is usually called the "Dead Zone", Safe Zone" or "Staging Area" it is where all players meet before playing to be divided into teams, hear the rules and regulation for the field, return to when eliminated and to get equipment ready for play. In this area it is against the rules to fire your marker at all regardless of whether it is loaded, because in this area players do not have to have their goggles on.
Equipment Fail safes
Above I listed the safety rules & regulations at the field level which in themselves prevent a lot of injuries while playing Paintball. There are other safety measure in place also that a lot of people are unaware of because it does not directly effect them as far as person actions. These safety measures are at the equipment level and are implemented by the manufacturers of the equipment. Below I will explain some of them in detail;
Air Tank Expiration Dates - All tanks High Pressure Air, CO2 and NO2 have a date listed on them that after the date you have to get the tank tested and approved for safety before it can be filled again.
Air Pressure Release Valve - All Air tanks also have a valve up on the fill valve that has what they call a burst disk which is a thin piece of metal that will burst if the pressure in the tank gets above acceptable limits allowing the tank to release the air preventing the tank from bursting.
Safety Switches on Markers - All markers are equipped with a safety on the trigger frame which when in the safe position prevents the trigger from being pulled.
Powerfeed turn off - Some markers have a powerfeed which is a type of feed for the paintballs to enter the marker. These powerfeeds have a plastic plug on the bottom that you can turn 180 degrees which will prevent balls from entering the marker thus if the marker is shot no paintball will be projected.