According to recent polls, paintball is the fastest-growing sport in Europe. That being said, paintball is still not recognised as a mainstream sport, and as a result, people are still unsure as to what paintball actually is, how it is played, and whether paintball for kids is safe.
What is paintball?
Paintball is a sport where players try to eliminate opponents by shooting each other with balls of coloured dye. The balls of dye (paintballs) are shot through a device called a paintball marker (paintball gun). When the paintballs hit, they release the dye. When they hit a player, the paint marks that the player is eliminated.
The game is often played as an organized competitive sport, involving leagues, tournaments, and professional teams. The field is dotted with natural or artificial obstacles and terrain, which players use to hide behind. The objective of the game varies according to the type of game being played. Players can capture a flag held by the opposing team, defend, or capture a particular point on the field, or simply eliminate all other players on the field until they are the only player or team remaining.
Is it safe for kids?
If you have a child under 13, you’ve probably listened to them begging to play paintball, but is it safe? The short answer is yes.
There are now numerous parks that allow kids from 8 years of age. It may seem a dauntingly young age to allow your kids to play paintball, but it is not as dangerous as you may have been led to believe, with only 0.2 injuries per 1000 players per year, compared to 2.2 injuries per thousand football players per year. Your chances of getting a serious injury while playing paintball are approximately one in 135,000.
Junior paintball has been adapted with new rules and equipment to further improve the safety and accessibility of paintball for younger children. The basic rules are as follows:
Only shoot at players within the game
Make sure to tell your kids that they can only fire at individuals who are playing in their game, and who are fully equipped in the right gear. Explain to them that without a mask or armour, they could hurt someone.
Must be fully suited up before playing
A lot of kids get carried away once they’re accustomed to the sting the paintball has – to the point that they sometimes forget, or even refuse to wear their gear!
This is a major no-no. Paintball is safe with the correct gear, but if a paintball hits a sensitive area of the body, like the eyes, without any gear, then it can cause severe damage.
No shooting at animals
This one needs no explanation.
Ensure your paintball gun has a barrel/cover
When your paintball gun is loaded, and you are not actively playing, then your child needs to have the barrel cover on. This ensures that if they were to accidentally pull the trigger, the cover will catch the paintball and prevent injuries.
Have a signal or words to mean time out
This is important. Make sure your kids have a way to call a time-out. Some kids wave a handkerchief to signal a break.
Never look down the barrel of a paintball gun
Even when your kids think that the gun is empty, it is better to practice to aim and pull the trigger to ensure there are no paintballs left in the gun.
Absolutely no physical contact
In the heat of battle, kids can get a bit carried away sometimes, and maybe even start a fight! Make sure to emphasise that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in paintball, and will be punished.
Ensure paintball guns are set to the recommended speed
Normally dependent on the guns supplied by the venue.
If your kids plan on using spring-powered paintball guns like the Splatmaster, then disregard this rule, as those guys don’t fire strong enough speeds to need this.
If your kids play with compressed air/liquid CO2 paintball guns, then please ensure the paintball guns are set to shoot at the recommended speed of 270-280 feet per second.
Anything higher will result in bruising.
Use proper-fitting safety gear
Ill-fitting safety gear can create a false sense of security and work to increase the risk of injury. Especially when it comes to face protection. For example, oversized heads and face gear can slide during play and leave vulnerable areas of the face exposed. The same applies to ear and body protection also.
Minimum shooting distance restrictions
Even in adult paintball matches, minimum shooting distances are encouraged. Anyone who’s been on the receiving end of a paintball at close range knows the stinging sensation.
To minimize the risk of injury and needless pain to a child, limit the shooting distance to at least 20 ft (6.1m).
Long-distance shooting limits injuries and discomfort. Children can improve their aim, practice patience, and understand paintball dynamics without risking short-distance paintball hits.
Use low-impact paintballs
One of the most effective ways to lessen injury risks when playing junior paintball is using low-impact paintballs. These paintball markers are specially designed to fire at lower velocities than adult paintballs, usually exiting the gun at no more than 150fps. Using these half-speed balls will reduce the pain and bruising that comes with being struck.
Separate kids by age groups
Separating kids by their age group is another way to prevent injury. While mixed gameplay between children and adults will typically result in a safer match, combining older and younger children can increase injury rates. Older kids may get carried away and not lower their intensity when playing with younger opponents.
The presence of adults in a game can help to ensure that everyone follows the safety rules. This type of self-restraining all but goes out the window when adults aren’t present.
Top 10 benefits of junior paintball
1 – Limits screen time
A recent study has shown that spending too much time using digital devices may be damaging children’s eyes. The evidence suggests that kids who spend at least seven hours a week using video games and computers triple the risk of nearsightedness and myopia. This can be avoided by limiting the amount of time your children spend in front of a screen.
If you want to succeed at this, it’s vital to provide your kids with an alternative that’s engaging and exciting enough to rival video games or computers. Every aspect of junior paintball will satisfy this – from adrenaline-fueled action to exploring expertly designed battlefields.
2 – Fresh Air
In addition to limiting screen time, another thing to consider in this digital age is that countless children are spending less and less time outside. Although many would be quick to attribute this to the rise of modern technology, there are also other aspects such as fewer green spaces, as well as more parents being concerned for their children’s safety when outside of the family home.
Paintball for kids is the perfect option as an alternative to indoor activities, and to educate kids on the benefits of spending more time outside.
3 – great source of weight loss
When you are on the junior paintball field, whether indoors or outdoors, you have to be on the move all the time. This acute exercise will improve rest cycles and carry digestion. Diving through barricades and running to catch the flag is sure to test your physical abilities. The full-body exercise helps to tone muscles and lose body fat.
4 – Improves dexterity and hand-eye coordination
Junior Paintball is a game that requires precision. Fast reflexes are vital to landing the winning shot, and being able to fire at an enemy before they catch you. While playing paintball, your kids will be able to put to use their lightning-fast reflexes from practising all the time on Call Of Duty and Fortnite.
5 – stabilizes sleep cycles
Sport is always a guarantee of good health. Junior Paintball is a game that requires speed and skill in movement. All the muscles in your body will be used, especially the legs, chest, and neck. It is particularly ideal for maintaining good cardiovascular activity. As a result of the expended energy used, your body will find it much easier to fall asleep.
6 – prevention of many diseases
The benefit of physical activity has been proven to aid in the prevention of many diseases. Paintball for kids improves the cardiovascular system, preserves bone capital by promoting the fixation of calcium on bones, allows your body to burn calories, and evacuate toxins through perspiration – all of which help to boost your immune system and fight off disease.
7 – build strength
Junior Paintball will require you to move rapidly while playing. There are certain muscles which will hypertrophy quicker than others as a result of paintball, such as your legs (from running and crouching), your arms (from shooting), and your core (from adjusting your body).
8 – teaches cooperation
Junior paintballing is a strategic game, where team spirit is essential. It makes it possible to work on cooperation through surprising situations in which teammates must work with each other and develop action strategies in order to overcome the opposing party.
9 – effective thoughts and good decision making
The unpredictable situations encountered in paintball for kids, give rise to quick and effective thoughts and decision-making. With practice, players learn how to surpass themselves on various levels in order to deal with situations that may have proved difficult for them previously.
Paintball is a popular activity to eliminate stress caused by anger and frustration. Being able to channel and control such emotions is a valuable skill set for a child, as it will serve them in all facets of their later life.
10 – Junior paintball is great for special occasions
If you’re looking for an activity or day out to treat your children on special occasions such as birthdays, then paintball for kids is a brilliant choice, as it’s unique, and far from your average day out. As your kids get older, it can be tricky to find activities that they deem suitable for their age, or ‘cool’ enough. Paintball is an ideal choice that gives them the opportunity to rally some of their friends, explore expertly designed battlefields, and get the first-hand experience of authentic combat scenarios (especially those kids who like to play shooter and action video games)
Paintball is the fastest growing sport in Europe and with good reason. As highlighted above, there is now no reason as to why your kids should miss out on the hype of junior paintball and making their own paintball teams for 12-year-olds in the junior leagues. Given that there are low-impact paintballs, specialty reduced gun speeds, minimum shooting distance, and age-specific teams, paintball for kids is now safer than ever for your children to try.Why not take full advantage of the many health benefits that are associated with junior paintballing, such as: fresh air, limiting screen time, losing weight, strengthening muscles, preventing disease, better sleep, improved dexterity, cooperation skills and better decision making. Junior paintball is great for special occasions, if this sounds like a memory that you would like to create for you and your kids, then there are a variety of places within the West Midlands that you can try out, such as The Paintball Park.