It was a pivotal moment for a whole generation of teenagers growing up in the 1990s. Where were you when Byker Grove’s PJ was blinded during an unsupervised paintball session?
Thankfully PJ (or Ant McPartlin, if you prefer) recovered his sight to become one half of Britain’s best loved light entertainment duos, but the lessons learnt from that dark day in 1992 are still relevant for anyone about to take part in paintballing for the first time.
Paintball is an incredibly fun and surprisingly safe pursuit. According to statistics you’re actually 19 times more likely to suffer an injury playing football than playing paintball, but injuries still do happen so here are six safety tips to make sure you don’t end up like PJ…
Keep those goggles on
The majority of paintball injuries involve competitors getting hit in the eye and although it seems obvious keeping your goggles on at all times is an absolute must. It’s always best to use the equipment provided by the paintballing staff rather than bring your own goggles: some centres report paintballers turning up with ski goggles, swimming goggles or even laboratory goggles. Most importantly never remove your goggles in the field even if they get steamed up and you’re tempted to wipe them.
Cover up your skin
There’s no point pretending that getting hit by a paintball doesn’t hurt. But steps can be taken to reduce the pain and huge bruises that will follow. One of these is to cover up your exposed skin as much as possible. Even if it is hot, wear a long sleeved jumper and trousers rather than shorts. Seasoned paintballers often wear a bandana or neck scarf to ensure nothing is exposed.
Speaking from experience, one of the most painful places to get hit, while paintballing, is on the hands. Your centre should provide gloves but these might not fit or be uncomfortable so think about bringing your own.
Pick the right footwear
Don’t turn up for a paintballing session in just trainers. Most experienced paintballers suggest wearing a pair of sturdy boots with a good grip. You will more than likely be playing outside in woods, fields or on a specially designed course and so it will be probably be muddy, wet and slippery. You are far more likely to be injured falling over or tripping because of unsuitable footwear than by the paintballs themselves.
Pay attention to the rules of the game
Rules will always differ depending on what game you are playing but in the main it’s important to remember that when you are eliminated from the game, call out as loud as possible, raise your hand and walk off the field of engagement. Remember do not remove your goggles until well inside the safe zone.
If in doubt take out insurance
Paintballing insurance not only protects against the theft loss or damage of your equipment but offers comprehensive public liability cover. This means if you accidentally shoot someone or injure them whilst paintballing, you are covered from having to pay out any costly medical or legal bills.