If you just want a quick answer, here it is: airsoft does hurt. But it shouldn’t be unbearable for the average person. And you can make it much better if you use the best airsoft gear.
For a longer answer, stick around.
We’ll talk about just how painful airsoft can get, what you can do to mitigate that pain, and make sure you stay safe while you’re enjoying the sport.
A Word Of Caution: Using Airsoft Guns Safely
Before we talk about the main question of this piece – does airsoft hurt – remember this:
Whenever you use an airsoft gun, protect your eyes.
Protective glasses are a must, even if you’re just doing some light target practice. Hurting your eyes is basically the only life-altering injury you can get from being shot with a BB, so it’d really be dumb to not put on a pair of durable glasses.
Safety is key, and I promise you a pair of glasses will NEVER diminish the experience of firing an airsoft gun or even skirmishing with your friends.
If anything, it actually makes it more realistic.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about pain.
My Experience Being Shot With Airsoft BBs
Before my first ever airsoft battle, I was also pretty scared about how much it’d hurt.
But trust me, you’ll get over it whenever that first BB hits you.
So now for the big question: Just how much does it hurt?
It depends on the power of the gun shooting at you, as well as the distance you’re being shot from.
So if you get hit by a regular 0.20 BB, from a mid-range distance, with an average airsoft gun, you can expect it to feel like a nasty pinch (pun intended).
Not quite as light as a friend poking you in good fun.
But definitely not as painful as any serious pain you’ve ever felt.
If you’re getting shot from point-blank range with a very strong HPA gun, it can be considerably more painful than that. And if it ever happens on exposed skin, it can leave a mark.
What Determines How Painful Airsoft Is
In most cases, if two players are respectful, and wearing protective gear, airsoft shots shouldn’t be more painful than a bee’s sting.
But that pain can differ quite a lot. Here are the most important factors that determine how painful a shot is:
FPS (Feets Per Second)
FPS is the standard measure of how powerful an airsoft gun is. It measures the feet per second traveled by airsoft BBs when fired, and it can also determine how painful a hit will be.
In the 100-200 FPS range, at a distance of 10-15 meters (about 50 feet), it will be less painful than a bee sting.
In the 200-300 FPS range, at the same distance, it can be pretty much as painful as a bee sting.
For 300-400 FPS, it can get really painful.
And 400-500 FPS, or above, can even pierce the skin.
These are all estimates, and different people might feel airsoft shots differently. Also, keep in mind that we’re assuming you wear protective clothing and gear when being hit with a BB from an airsoft gun.
Direct skin contact will make an airsoft BB hurt MUCH more. And it will leave a mark.
Distance From The Target
Another crucial factor that determines how painful an airsoft shot will be is how far away you are from the person shooting at you.
In the 30-50 meters range (100 feet or above) your average 0.20 BB, fired from an average 350-400 FPS gun will barely feel like a poke, especially if it hits you on protective clothing or armor.
15-30 meters (50-100 feet), you’ll start feeling the BB. If the gun is strong, it can hurt quite a lot.
Anything under 10 meters (30 feet) can be very painful, and potentially dangerous depending on where on your body you get hit.
And below 3 meters (about 10 feet) getting hit with a BB can be dangerous. That’s why a lot of airsoft fields have rules about close-quarter engagements.
BB projectile weight
Another big factor in how painful a hit will be is the weight of the BB. The regular 0.20, or 0.23 BBs won’t be too painful when shot from an average distance. But a heavier BB, like 0.30 or higher, can be very painful from as far away as 100 feet.
Where On Your Body You’re Hit
Hits in your eyes, neck, face and groin area can hurt much more, and even be very dangerous. Hits to your eyes can even lead to permanent blindness if you don’t wear protective glasses.
Anything outside those sensitive areas won’t be as painful, and there’s no risk of any serious injury. At least not something that can affect you long-term.
As long as you wear protective clothing.
With direct skin contact, things can get painful, no matter where on your body you get hit.
Your Protective Clothing and Gear
If you go into your first airsoft skirmish with nothing but a small vest, short sleeves, and some glasses, it might hurt a lot.
However, if you invest in some gear, you’ll really mitigate any pain you might feel.
Here’s what you should get:
- Some form of protective eyewear. Either a full mask or special airsoft glasses. Whatever you choose, just make sure your eyes are protected.
- A helmet. I once got hit in the head without a helmet (I was young and dumb, don’t ask). ⅕ stars, I DO NOT recommend it. Trust me, just get a helmet.
- A vest. This one’s not mandatory, a puffy jacket will work as well when you get started. But a vest protects you and offers a lot of functionality on top.
- Protective clothing. If you’re a beginner, especially, you should wear long sleeves all around. Consider some form of neck protection, as well, if you don’t have a vest that goes all the way up to your chin.
- Good shoes. Either a pair of boots or sturdy sneakers.
For more information on the gear, you should get, read our roundup about the best airsoft gear.
How To Make Sure Airsoft Doesn’t Hurt Too Much
Not to give the obvious advice here, but the best way to make sure airsoft doesn’t hurt is to not get hit.
So get your head in the game, do your best, and airsoft won’t be as painful as it can be.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially if this is your first game, is that airsoft can be an adrenaline-inducing game.
So if adrenaline is pumping through your veins, and you’re caught up in the moment, you won’t feel as much pain as you’d expect.
Here are other things to keep in mind to make sure airsoft doesn’t hurt too much:
- Respect the field’s rules. They’re made by people with more experience than us. If the field has strict rules for close quarter engagements, flagging people that don’t wear protective gear, or anything else, respect them to a teeth.
- Wear protective gear. Long sleeves and a sturdy pair of glasses are a must for beginners. Anything else won’t hurt either.
- Be mindful of your shots. If you can, aim for someone’s body, not their sensitive areas. They might return the favor.
- Don’t take off your helmet/glasses for any reason whatsoever.
Conclusion: Does Airsoft Hurt?
Yes, airsoft does hurt. I don’t want to beat around the bush. It’s not like getting tickled.
But it also shouldn’t cripple you.
Most airsoft shots you’re going to feel will be like a nasty pinch – or a bee’s sting.
And as long as you wear protective gear and clothing, it shouldn’t get more threatening than that.