How much damage can one small pellet do? How much damage can paint do? Quite a lot it would seem, as a recent study in the United States has found. Experts at Baltimore University have recently reported that eye injuries in paintball account for 10% of all sporting eye injuries, often leaving particularly serious results.
Paintballs travel at around 160 – 190mph. Although their range is short, they can pose quite a threat to vulnerable parts of the body. Specific rules against removing protective face masks and shooting at somebody’s face within a certain distance are there for a reason.
Protective face masks are also worn at airsoft games in which small plastic pellets can also be seen flying at speeds of 300mph. Again they have a short range compared to real bullets and carry less weight but again vs. vulnerable body parts can be particularly dangerous.
The most common risk of paintballs and airsoft pellets are connecting with the eyes (and to a lesser extent the ears). Normally hitting naked skin would be unlikely to cause any serious damage other than leave a rather large welt and bruise. This doesn’t apply to ears and eyes however due to the sensitivity of the areas.
Where do standards slip?
The recent study also suggested that paintball and airsoft guns are responsible for 1 in 10 sports related eye injuries. The problem itself is generally not considered to be the pellets or the guns themselves but the protective equipment used.
In the vast majority of paintball and airsoft centres across the country, equipment provided should be more than adequate protection such as a full face mask with visor. Even in more “professional” settings of organised teams that use half head helmets, the usual design is of a full visor to protect the eyes and offer some protection for the ears to prevent pellets or paintballs from striking the more sensitive areas.
The problem lies commonly with game organisers and those putting on the events. An article back in 1999 by the BBC, pointed out the growing problem as paintball began to become a very popular leisure activity. The article suggested that some less reputable organiser’s safety standards “may or may not be up to scratch”. This alludes to either using outdated, damaged, unsafe equipment or not checking that players have adequate eye protection if they have brought their own (sometimes allowing sunglasses as protection which are far from safe).
Even professionally organised games carry risks
Does your child have an airsoft gun? Watch out for eye injuries.
Airsoft guns have risen in popularity in the last few years. As with any gun, airsoft guns potentially could cause injuries, especially eye injuries. In the last two years, eye injuries caused by airsoft guns have risen 500 percent, hurting over 3,000 children in 2012 alone.
Airsoft guns are not as innocent as they sound. Designed to resemble real machine guns, rifles, or handguns, airsoft guns fire actual pellets via gas, spring, or electrical systems. Unlike Nerf guns, these pellets are capable of inflicting harm.
– See more at: http://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2015/06/airsoft-guns-can-put-an-eye-out.html#sthash.LAgydhbl.dpuf