Does Airsoft Hurt?

As airsoft newcomers know, success depends on dodging enemy BBs whilst laying down fire of your own. That fact may spike your adrenaline a tad, but it also raises some important questions. What does it feel like to be shot with a BB during a game? You’ll feel a sting when you play a similar sport like paintball, but does airsoft hurt just a much?

In short, getting hit with a BB in airsoft can hurt, but not as much as you think. Most players compare getting hit with a BB to getting pinched.  Keep in mind that the more protective gear you wear, the less pain you’ll feel.

There are many different factors that come into play during a match. Furthermore, each player has a different pain tolerance. We’ll expand on some airsoft basics and provide insight into those curiosities below.

Feet Per Second (FPS) and BBs

Even as a beginner, you’re likely aware that different guns shoot faster or slower than others. The speed at which a BB leaves a gun is measured in feet per second. Most airsoft guns shoot anywhere from 200 to 400 FPS – the average hovering somewhere in the middle. Guns on the high end of this spectrum have more “power.” Many players prefer powerful guns since opponents are more likely to call their hits, regardless of attire. For most, an average impact on bare skin may minorly sting, akin to being lightly snapped with a rubber band. When shot by increasingly-powerful guns, that sensation will naturally sharpen.

BBs also play an important role in how it feels to get hit. Like guns shoot at different speeds, ammo is available in different weights. These are measured in grams. Most BBs weigh anywhere from 0.12 to 0.40 grams, though heavier BBs are sold. As you might expect, heavier BBs hit harder since they have more mass. If two guns fire at 300 FPS despite BB weight, that heavier ammo will sting more. This is much tamer than it would be it paintball, where a single round weighs 3.0 grams – 15 times heavier than your standard 0.20-gram airsoft round.

The Science of Impact and Joules

That brings us to a final consideration: joules. Many airsoft fields have either an FPS or joule limit for safety purposes. With limits on power and engagement distance, airsoft games carry less risk. What is a joule? In airsoft terms, a joule is a measure of kinetic energy based on FPS and BB weight. That energy directly determines how a shot feels when it hits a player. If you’ll allow us briefly to get nerdy on you:

Joules (energy) = (0.5 x BB weight in kg) x (Meters per second)2

That might look confusing, and it does require some math skills to calculate. Since BBs are measured in grams, you’ll need to convert that to kilograms (kg). We typically measure speed in terms of FPS, so that number should be converted into meters per second. From here, you can figure out the joule output of any gun.

Most players won’t have to go through these mental gymnastics, especially during casual matches. However, the main takeaways are that different fields have different requirements, and the joule measurement of each shot determines how it’ll feel. FPS and BB weight only tell part of the story. Because BBs are solid and prone to ricocheting, energy transfer is dampened in many instances.

Impact Location Matters

Beyond power, where you get hit will probably make the biggest difference in perception. For example, your arms are preferable targets to your fingers since your arms have much more padding. That being said, most players typically leave their arms exposed the most. Next come the hands and neck. These areas of the body are generally more sensitive. Besides, we strongly believe most players would rather be shot in the leg than places like the face. Larger areas are also less injury prone.

Find the Right Clothing

In our beginners’ guide, we previously outlined the essential apparel you should purchase before your first fight. Many clothing choices come down to common sense. Try to limit exposure of sensitive areas like the hands and face. Hits will be the most painful here, since skin and muscle are less plentiful. Invest in quality eye protection and grab yourself some good gloves.

Overall, the goal behind your wardrobe should be the minimize impact while preserving feedback. Any ethical player will want to call their shots – it’s the right thing to do. It’s possible to play pain-free in something as basic as a tee shirt. This will protect your core while letting you recognize hits. While nobody wants to get shot, the possibility helps makes airsoft exciting.

Playing conditions will also influence pain. It’s better to bulk up in colder environments, as shots will typically hurt more than they would on a warmer day. That being said, this pain is avoidable.

The Bottom Line

Airsoft is a game built upon guns and projectiles, so it’s only natural that some pain will be involved. However, taking some basic precautions will help reduce any discomfort associated with airsoft. Playing matches is extremely exciting, and you’ll soon find a little experience will quickly put those worries on ice.