Some say the topic of safety has been done to death. I say we don't talk enough about it. Safety should be your primary concern. It should even take precedence over having fun.
An important part of "selling" paintball to the general public is the fact that it is so safe. Safety statistics of this sport has swayed many an argument, zoning ruling and court battle. These same statistics have prevented governmental bodies from legislating against paintball in many communities, states and even entire countries. What makes safety statistics even more legitimate (in the eyes of the non-paintball public) is that they are not compiled by the paintball industry, but by a coalition of nationally recognized, professional and independent medical and insurance institutions. If we remain safe, we maintain our best defense of our sport. One accident lowers the safety record of this sport. We NEED to be safe, not for just the players in our immediate area, but for players around the world.
Goggle Safety and Maintenance
Use only approved goggles for paintball. So far there are only three companies making APPROVED paintball goggles SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED for paintball. In alphabetical order, JT, Scott and Vents. Paintball goggles are engineered to withstand multiple impacts of paintballs at close range (the worse case scenario, of course). Nothing else is designed or capable of doing this. Don't use shop goggles, welding masks, scuba masks, safety glasses, sun glasses, cling wrap, or anything else. Wear a full face mask with temple and ear protection.
Maintaining your goggles properly is as important as goggle safety itself, in fact it's part-and-parcel of goggle safety. No longer is it the simple "goggles on -- goggles off" lecture.
Keep your goggles separated from the rest of your gear. That is to say, don't pack them in with your loaders, tanks, paintmarker and other equipment. The goggles should have their own hard-sided, or semi- hard- sided, case. When you're going to the field, carry the goggle bag on your lap, don't toss it in the trunk or the back seat. Unless you're driving, of course. In that case, put them on the seat next to you, or on the lap of the person in that seat. (IF they complain, just tell them there's no such thing as a free ride.)
Even if the goggles are in a case, you should cover the lenses. I have a really cool bit of vinyl that electrostatically adheres to the lenses. (I think it's a Gogglid, but I'm not sure. The manufacturer of the goggles recommended one, so I got one.) Other players wrap and tie a bandanna around the goggles, to cover the lenses. This is done so the interior of the bag or case does not brush against the goggles and scratch the lenses.
Get a visor for your goggles. Not just to keep the sun out of your eyes, or to lesson UV exposure. The visor's best job is one that it was never designed for! If you have a visor on your goggles and you drop them, the visor prevents the lenses from hitting the ground. This helps prevent scratching on the lenses.
Follow all manufacturer's instructions on the care and cleaning of your lenses and goggles. DO NOT USE any cleaner or anti-fog chemicals that are not specifically recommended by the manufacturer of THE GOGGLES. Never mind what the manufacturer of the CLEANER or NO-FOG TREATMENT says. The GOGGLE MANUFACTURER will know for sure. If they say they aren't sure, don't use it.
The IPPA recommends you change your lenses every time you take a hit on them. This is a good idea; however, it's expensive. (I'm not about to tell you how to spend your money.) Neither am I saying you SHOULDN'T follow this advice. If you don't, you should AT LEAST check the lenses to see if they are still securely in the frame and that they have not been damaged. When you get back to camp, give them a good going over. If you even THINK the lenses may not be up to the job they're intended to do, replace them. How much are your eyes worth?
I heard a very good line once, during a field's orientation briefing. It stuck with me for a long time (since 1991). "If you remove your goggles in the playing area, you will have the chance to sit out the next game and ponder all the things you CAN'T do, with only one eye."
Bring extra water to rinse your goggles between games, should you have to clean a large "glob" of paint off of them. To prevent someone, or yourself, from drinking this water use a trick I learned. I get my water from the toilet bowl and label the container as such. I've NEVER been thirsty enough to drink that water, I don't care what water my dog likes. Seriously, extra water will come in handy for rinsing paint marks off the lenses and mask. It's better than trying to wipe it off with paper towels and spend the rest of the day looking through that "waxed paper" residue the paint leaves behind on your lenses. That, in itself, is unsafe.
Clean your goggles thoroughly AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME. Other stuff can wait, but paint will slowly "eat away" at the lenses. Pop the lenses out (as per manufacturer's instructions) and give the frames a good rinse, making sure there is no paint in the "channel" the lenses sit in. Some goggel frames can be tossed into the washing machine, check with the manufacturer. Remember to take the lenses out first.
Keep the goggle bag clean and dry. Shake it out and make sure there are no small rocks/dirt/sand/twigs, etc. This will keep foreign objects from scratching your lenses while they are in your case, during the inevitable jostling of transport.
The very LAST thing you should throw, when you're mad, is your goggles. Throw a loader, a knee pad, a tube, a team mate's paintmarker ANYTHING but your goggles. If you break your knee pad, you can still play, if you damage your lenses, it's game over.
Which brings us to our last point. Always carry an extra set of lenses. Some goggle bags have an area for them. If not, find a sturdy cardboard box to put them in. They're no good if they get broken or scratched.
So take care of your goggles and they will take care of you. Remember, you only get one set of eyes from the factory, and they're not under warranty.
Removing your Goggles
NEVER take your paintball goggles off in the playing area. There is no reason. Keep them on. If your lenses fog up, call yourself out. If you can't see, you shouldn't be playing.
There are areas designated as "plugs in -- no shooting" where you are allowed to remove your goggles. Refer to your local field rules.
Barrel Plug Safety
1. The plug MUST be difficult to insert and remove.
It has to be in tight to do its job. When a paintball is fired, the plug MUST stay in the barrel. The plug is working against air pressure (which builds up between the moving ball and the plug), expanding CO2 (behind the moving ball) and the inevitable impact of the ball itself. If the plug can be shot out of the barrel, it's not doing its job. A flying barrel plug can put out an eye as quick as a paintball can. The rule of thumb for barrel plug tightness is simple: If you don't "grunt" every time you insert or remove your barrel plug, it's not tight enough!
2. The plug MUST be clean and dry.
Dirt, paint, shell fragments, even water, on the "O"- rings or in the barrel of the marker will act like "lubricants". These "lubricants" will reduce friction between the rings and the inside of the barrel. Reduced friction equals flying plugs. Also, if your barrel interior is hard-chromed or teflon-coated, the plug has to be that much tighter. Anything that makes the paintball travel more smoothly will affect the performance of a barrel plug.
3. The marker MUST have a muzzle velocity set BELOW 300 feet per second (fps).
A hot marker will blow the plug out of a marker that much easier. Besides, what are you doing with a marker shooting over 300 fps, in the first place?
4. The hole in the plug MUST be clear and free of obstructions.
The hole is there for a reason. It is to allow the air, that's stacking up in front of the moving paintball, to escape. Without this hole, the plug would be shot out of the marker every time.
5. The "O"-rings MUST be in good condition.
The job of the "O"-rings is to hold the plug in the barrel. If they are torn or cut, they won't do their job. If they have flat surfaces (from prolonged use) they won't fit in the barrel as tight as they should, and they're not doing their job. If any are missing . . . well, they aren't there to do their job at all, are they?
6. The plug MUST be inserted as far as it will physically go.
Not as far as your whimpy friends can push them in, but as far as they are MEANT to go. Most plugs have an oversized end which is supposed to be in contact with the face of the muzzle, when properly installed.
Proper Installation Procedure
Before you insert your barrel plug, put your small (or pinky) finger in the barrel and to see if it is clean. If it's not clean, you should run a squeegee through it. If it is clean, jam that plug in. DON'T LOOK DOWN YOUR MARKER'S BARREL -- FOR ANY REASON!
Plug An Empty Chamber And De-Cock Your Marker
I always like to "plug and empty chamber". That means there is no ball in the barrel, ready to fire.
Pumps just fire the ball you have in the marker and don't cock it, afterwards. Apply the safety (if you have one). Put your plug in.
Tip the marker so that no balls are feeding. While keeping it tipped, fire a few shots (to ensure the barrel is empty). Still keeping it tipped, grab the cocking handle, pull the trigger and allow the bolt to move forward (slowly). Once the bolt is in it's forward position, apply the safety (if you have one). Put your plug in.
You want to accomplish the same thing as the above. It really depends on how your semi action works.
Markers With Powerfeeds
As an added precaution, you can turn the plug in your powerfeed to prevent balls from feeding into the marker.
If you follow the above procedures, you will notice that they eliminate the chances of the marker firing accidentally. Before we go on, an important note about blow-back semis. If they are dropped (barrel facing up) or are banged from a force from the rear, the bolt can come back far enough to load another ball and fire. Handle your marker accordingly.
Basically what you are trying to do is to negate the fact that the marker is cocked, loaded and ready to fire, when you put the barrel plug in.
You should change the `O'-rings on the plug every year, or when they start visibly flattening out. Rinse the plug in hot water, when you are cleaning your gear. Do not oil the plug.
Testing Your Plug
Go out to the range, remove the plug and chrono in at a safe velocity. Insert the plug and point your marker "down range". Fire off one shot. If your plug flies out or is even partially pushed out, it's not tight enough. Check the pressure relief hole, the "O"- rings, and how the plug fits in your barrel. If everything seems okay, you are going to need a plug that fits tighter. If the plug stays in -- clean your barrel; you just broke a paintball in it!
Just as a healthy reminder: NEVER fire your marker in camp, regardless of the type of safety device(s) you have on your marker.
Safety is the most important facet of this sport. Paintballers must strive to be safe and conscientious. No one wants anyone to get hurt. However, when used and handled properly, a paintball marker is less harmless than a rubber band.
Always Treat Your Paintmarker As If It Were Loaded And Ready To Fire
If you treat it that way, you'll always be careful. I worked at a field for a number of years and I can't remember how many times I was shot by players who had an "empty" paintmarker. The owner of this field had a sign in the garage, where we worked on the paintmarkers, that said: "ALL PAINTMARKERS ARE LOADED AND READY TO FIRE". When you are unsure, always automatically default to this rule.
Point Your Paintmarker Only At What You Intend To Shoot
For instance, don't point your paintmarker at someone while you're waiting for the game to start. By that time everyone has their goggles on and their barrel plugs out. No one wants to get shot from two feet away. A simple slip of the trigger finger and you've lost a friend.
Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until You Are Ready To Shoot
This means until the actual instance of shooting. I've seen players trip and accidentally shoot a teammate at point blank range. You're not allowed to shoot ANYONE at close range, not just the opposition. Close range shots are painful, that's why they're not allowed.
To most paintballers, nothing says "stupid" more than being shot accidentally by your team mate.
Be Certain What You Are Going To Shoot Before You Squeeze The Trigger
Paintballers take it for granted everyone else is wearing their goggles. Unfortunately we're dealing with the frailties of human nature. Some idiot is bound to take their goggles off to "see better".
Also there have been occasions when the occasional unwary hiker or jogger have strolled into a paintball area, despite the strips of yellow tape surrounding the playing area. I've even seen people on horseback.
Put A Barrel Plug Securely Into The Muzzle Of Your Paintmarker When You Are Outside Of A Designated Shooting Area;
If Your Paintmarker Has A Mechanical Safety, Put It On "Safe" (For those of you who don't know, a barrel plug is a barrel blocking device that keep an accidentally fired paintball from exiting the barrel. This is used in designated safe area outside of the playing areas where players are permitted to remove their safety goggles.
As an extra precaution you should also ensure that there is no paintball in the chamber ready to fire. I always try to "plug an empty chamber". When there's no paintball ready to fire, if the paintmarker's trigger is accidentally pulled it's one less thing to worry about. Read the safety section about barrel plugs.
When You Have Finished Shooting For The Day, Remove The Powe Source And All Paintballs From Your Paintmarker This way you won't be taking it out of the bag a week later and thinking, "Is it unloaded? Did I disconnect the tank?" When in doubt, always refer the first rule.
Carry Your Paintmarker In A Bag Or Case When You Are Away From The Field
Paintmarkers have been mistaken for real firearms. Those who do not know the difference will give you the benefit of the doubt and think you're carrying some sort of weapon. This usually gets the unwanted attention of the local constabulary--who have REAL guns.
Clean Or Work On Your Paintmarker Only After The Power Source Is Completely Removed From The Paintmarker
The power sources, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and high pressure air operate at very high pressures. Seemingly innocuous parts will turn into lethal projectiles when the power source is still attached as you're taking the paintmarker apart. In my earlier years of playing I learned a very important lesson. Luckily the only thing I have to show for my ignorance is a hole in the ceiling of my workshop. A big hole. To make it hit home further, the marker was powered by a half spent 12 gram. Imagine what a connected C/A tank would have done.
Allow Only A Qualified Airsmith To Repair Or Modify Your Paintmarker And Its Power Source
Again, you're working with high pressure gasses. A hole drilled into the wrong place could ruin more than your paintmarker.
Keep Paintmarkers Out Of The Reach Of Children
Kids shouldn't be playing with them. To be even more secure, store air, paintballs and paintmarkers in separate, locked containers.
This not only addresses some of the questions about chronographs and their proper use, but also to inform players how "less than ethical players" purposely circumvent safety rules. I realize that it may give people "ideas" on how to cheat, but if everyone knows about these nasty techniques, maybe more people will pick up on them.
A chronograph is a device which is designed to measure the velocity of a moving object. The first type of chronographs were the "sensor type". The chrono had two light-sensitive sensors which marked the passing of a projectile as a change in light levels. The computer chip in the chrony uses the simple Velocity- Equals-Distance-Divided-By-Time equation, to determine the speed of the paintball. The first chronographs probably wouldn't fit in an average size garage and tipped the scales at a couple of tons. They were designed to aid in the research and development of firearms and ammunition.
The second type of chrono is the "radar type". A radar chronograph uses "Doppler effect" radar which detects, and measures the speed of, a moving object. It's the same technology used for police "speed guns" and military target tracking systems.
The Importance Of Chronographing
Paintball goggles are stress tested to absorb an impact of around 320 fps. Velocities over 300 fps tend to break skin and cause severe bruising. Higher velocity paintballs have been known to cause concussions (when impacting on the temple). We don't want people to get hurt, so the limit was set at 300 fps.
You can't "guess" a paintball's velocity by the sound of the paintmarker. (Although more experienced payers have been known to approximate velocities for the sounds of paintmarkers familiar to them--this doesn't replace chronographing). You can't tell its velocity by the size of the splat it makes. The chronograph, when used properly, is the safest, most accurate way to determine a paintmarker's velocity.
NOTE: Paintmarkers which are at velocities of over 300 fps are said to be "hot" or "shooting hot".
The Proper Way To Chronograph
1. Sensor Type - The ideal position is as follows.
· The end of the barrel should be at least one foot away from the front of the chronograph and at least six inches above it.
· The barrel should be parallel to the plane of the sensors.
2. Radar Type - Rest the end of the barrel on the mount provided. There should be a clear space of at least twenty-five feet so the radar beam is not interrupted by bushes, walls, tress and other obstacles.
Always remember, the chronograph is NOT and impact sensor, so don't shoot it.
IF THE MAXIMUM LIMIT IS 300 FEET PER SECOND (FPS) IS IT OKAY TO SET MY PAINTMARKER TO 300 FPS?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! Due to ambient air temperature changes throughout the day, the effect of rapid firing on pressure and temperature of the CO2, along with a dozen other things, will effect the velocity by up to 15 fps. Set your paintmarker at 300 fps first thing in the morning and you'll be shooting at least 315 fps by noon, or sooner! Even stable systems like high pressure air and nitrogen have had velocity spikes.
The Most Common Mistakes That Result In Incorrect Readings
1. LIGHT. The sensor-type chronographs rely on ambient light. If it is too bright, or too dark, the chronograph will give erroneous readings, or none at all. Because it detects changes in ambient light, if the muzzle of the paintmarker is too close to the chrony, the expelled CO2 will also cause confusion in the reading.
2. SPACE. Radar chronographs don't suffer from any of these frailties. However, the radar chrono needs space in front of it so the beam can be projected from the chrono uninterrupted by obstacles such as trees, buildings and walls. They operate on any light (or in complete darkness) and because the beam is projected out away from the shooter, the ball naturally travels right into it. Don't worry about being irradiated. The beam is projected away from you. Besides, if you're standing in the beam, I'm sure the paintballs hitting you will give you a subtle hint to move.
3. DIRTY BARRELS. Paint and shell fragments in the barrel will slow the ball down to bring the velocity down as much as 10 feet per second (fps). Watch the balls as they travel; if they're corkscrewing and hooking, you know the person chronographing has a slimed barrel.
4. HOLD THE PUMP. With pump action paintmarkers, if you do not hold the pump forward when you fire, the bolt usually blows back. This results in lowering CO2 pressure in the barrel and lowering velocities as much as 10 fps.
5. AIR SOURCE SHUT OFF. If the tank is shut off, unscrewed (to close the pin valve) or low on gas, the pressure is lower. This results in VERY low chrono readings. Players can purposely cause this to happen. They charge the paintmarker and then turn off the power source. There is still CO2 in the valve of the paintmarker, allowing them at least one shot. To thwart this type of "mistake", it's best to take several shots over the chronograph. Ensure remote systems are turned on, you can still fire the paintmarker with a hose full of CO2. If a player seems to be satisfied (or even happy) with a velocity of 220 fps on their semi, you might want to keep an eye on them.
6. DIFFERENT BARRELS. Different barrel lengths and interior finishes will give different readings on the same paintmarker. Shorter barrels give lower readings than longer ones. Players could switch barrels after chronographing and change their velocities, this can happen intentionally or out of ignorance. Also if the interior, or bore, of the barrel is smaller than your paint, it will slow the velocity as well (because of increased friction between the barrel and the moving ball). Switching to a barrel which is of a larger bore (but similar outward appearance) will result in a drastic raising of velocity. Sometimes as much as 25 fps.
7. PAINT. Old paint, which has swollen slightly, will give slower velocities. (Again, because of increased friction.) Load fresh paint and velocities start to climb. Due to the fact that different brands (and even different lots of the same brand) vary in diameter, always chrono with the paint you're going to be using that day.
8. LIQUID OR GAS. Some paintmarkers run on liquid CO2; check to see if the paintmarker has a siphon bottle. Those other CO2 systems that rely on gas have to be checked too. Any paintmarker running on gas will have significantly higher velocities if they manage to pull liquid. When you chronograph, you want the worst-case scenario. Force the paintmarker to draw liquid (by tipping it so liquid from the tank will flow into the valve and then firing a few shots) and chronograph. A paintmarker chronoed a 260 fps on gas will go over 300 fps on liquid. Paintmarkers with regulators and expansion chambers usually won't go liquid, as long as you're not pounding the paint down- range like you're trying to put out a forest fire. (More on that later.) Don't make markers like the Automag take liquid, however, they could get damaged internally.
9. DISCONNECTED REMOTES. Disconnecting the hose from your remote set-up will cause a drop in pressure in your paintmarker, resulting in lower velocities. This is why in most tournaments you are not allowed to fire/disconnect after you have been eliminated or the game has ended.
10. FRESH FILLS. A freshly filled CO2 tank will yield very low velocities. I've seen velocities climb 100 fps as tanks warmed up! If the tank is frosty, tell them to go get a warmer one. (Usually the field will lend you a tank, if you don't have another one.)
What To Look For During A Game
Listen to the paintmarker as it fires. If you hear a pop, pop, pop, KAPOW! it's a good chance that last shot was hot (over 300 fps). Watch for players with incredibly unbelievable range. If your paintballs are dropping at their feet (and you're at 280 fps) and your opponent's are zipping straight past your head, chances are he's hot. If the paintball REALLY hurts when it hits you at longer ranges, ask the shooter to re-chrono.
Cheating" The Chronograph "
All of the above mentioned mistakes can be done intentionally. Also there are other deliberate methods.
A string of rapidly fired shots tends to cool the CO2 down. This results in lower velocities. Watch for players shooting lots of paint just before they chrony. Or especially if they seem to be shooting a lot of just air.
This is pretty much reserved for Autocockers, but other compatible operating systems can be similarly modified. Basically, there is a hole about halfway down the bolt that allows air to come up from the valve and then out the front of the bolt. Some players have TWO holes, one on either side, of different diameters. One hole will give low velocities, and the other will bring the paintmarker over 300 fps. You chrono safely with one hole, and turn the bolt (easy to do with a 'Cocker) and you've changed your velocity from 280 to 310 fps! This is not something that happens by mistake.
What We Did Before Chronographs Were Introduced To The Sport
Well, we just listened. Some fields had you shoot at a tree at a certain distance, if the splat was bigger than your hand, you paintmarker was shooting hot. Luckily we discovered chronographs a few years after the sport's inception.
When To Chronograph
Here is a quick reference list of when you should chronograph your marker. MANDATORY :
· First thing in the morning, before play.
· Just before lunch.
· After lunch.
· After adjusting, replacing or repairing internal components.
· After changing barrels.
· After changing your air source (putting on a new tank)
· When requested by field staff.
· When requested by another player.
· Any time you feel you should, just in case.
FOR EXTRA SAFETY
· After disconnecting, and subsequently reconnecting, your remote hose.
· When the weather changes (cloudy to sunny, warm to hot, rainy to clear -- I'm sure you get the point).
In the event that you suspect someone is shooting hot, politely point it out to them. Don't go accusing someone of cheating, even if you know they are. This will only make the situation worse. If calmer heads prevail, even the intentional cheater will comply and go and turn his paintmarker down. If you say, "You should hold the pump when you shoot, to get a good reading", instead of "Hey you cheating so-and-so, you're going to shoot my eyes out with that piece of junk," the person in question will be more amiable to changing their ways.
I have strong personal feelings about those who intentionally play with a hot marker. As far as I am concerned, that's assault with intent to maim.
Constant Air, 12 Gram And High Pressure Safety
Keep your tanks cool and out of the sun. Have your tanks filled BEFORE you leave the field. Not only will your tank be allowed to warm up/stabilize from filling, but you'll always have a full tank the next time you play.
Store the tank in a cool, dry place. I find styrofoam coolers are ideal, and they're cheap.
Wrap your bottles in towels, to keep them from getting scratched in your gear bag.
Properly de-gas your paintmarker before removing the tank. If you have a remote system, have a quick disconnect that has an automatic shut off, when it is disengaged under pressure. Remotes without this feature have a tendency to whip around wildly, causing burns (frostbite) and severe lacerations.
Make sure that when you are unscrewing your tank, the valve is unscrewing from the paintmarker, not the tank. The valve and burst disk are supposed to be torqued to a specific setting. Only qualified and competent airsmiths should be doing this.
CO2 tanks need to be chilled before being filled. This usually involves partially filling the tank and then bleeding off the CO2 to coll the metal of the bottle down. This is done as you are trying to get liquid CO2 into the bottle. A warm bottle causes the gas to expand out of the liquid state.
Over filling your bottle puts stress on your burst disk, even an ounce over will cause the burst disk to stretch slightly. What this does is allow the tank to be over filled without bursting the disk. This is dangerous. The burst disk is designed to rupture and safely vent gas. If the burst disk does not rupture, the tank will. Which would you prefer?
I recommend a remote system, or at least mounting the tank California style (under a shoulder stock). Back bottle arrangements are convenient, but they put the tank right next to your face. I'd rather get frostbite on my arm or back than my face, if a burst disk ruptures.
Nitrogen And Other "Alternative Gas" Systems
The best advice I can give you is to buy a set-up pre-assembled by a reputable dealer or manufacturer. Don't try cobbling one together yourself. More people are killed by the concussive explosion of compressed nitrogen and high pressure air than any other compressed gas. There's a reason why those tanks are wrapped in Kevlar.
Having been a scuba diver, I know how dangerous high pressure gasses can be. Some systems have operating pressures up to 4500 psi, and if something goes wrong, somebody is going to the hospital, or the morgue. Even a leak, at these pressures, can be dangerous. High pressure gasses are used to cut metal, so they can cut flesh and bone, too.
Do not fill your tanks too quickly. Where there is pressure, there is heat. If you fill the tank too quickly, it can re-anneal the tank, making the metal brittle and prone to rupture. I have seen paint peel off of scuba tanks from such quick fills, due to the heat generated during a rapid fill.
Regulators are there for a reason, and have been designed to do a job. DO NOT take them apart to modify springs, gaskets, o-rings and other parts.
DO NOT fill your high pressure system with CO2. Most CO2 fill stations use industrial grade CO2 or food grade CO2. The cleanest is medical grade, but don't trust it. CO2 has a lot of dirt and contaminants in it and these particles will stay in the high pressure system, if it is not cleaned and purged by a professional. These particles will be forced against the inside of any surface carrying the gas and eventually they will weaken interior surfaces. They will basically act like sandpaper inside your system.
DO NOT make "cocktails". I have heard of folks mixing nitrogen and HPA, or HPA and CO2. There has been experimentation with helium. DON'T DO IT. Don't mix, or use gases that the system was not intended to handle.
I would recommend against any mounting bracket that clamps around the tank itself. The tank expands when it is filled and a clamp around the tank will prevent this from happening. Think about what happens when you fill a balloon and then squeeze the center. Do you want your tank to be doing this?
Twelve Gram safety
I once watched a full, prematurely punctured twelve gram clear a stand of 25 foot tall trees, one hundred feet away. A half charged 12 gram will go though a goggle lens.
Point the paintmarker in a safe direction when changing twelve grams. Allow the twelve gram in the paintmarker to properly degas before removing it. We're talking about 900 psi, here. I know a goggle lens will stop a paintball, will it stop a rocketing 12 gram? Do you want to take that chance?
No matter what type of marker you use, there is going to be a source of high pressure gas attached to it someway. Respect the destructive power of your power source.
As a last reminder:
The ONLY device that can make paintball completely safe is YOU!
Beyond Goggles and Barrel Plugs
Everyone knows about goggles and barrel plugs. If you don't, stay off the field until you do. There are other protective items you should be thinking about, and using.
Protection For . . . Er . . . Um . . . Sensitive Areas
For both men and ladies. I can't talk about this in any more detail, because if you don't know what I'm talking about you're either too you or too innocent to understand. Either way, I'm not going further with this. (I missed a day's work because I wasn't wearing protection. Needless to say, I've learned my lesson. I'm just lucky I'm not singing soprano.)
The gloves should have a moderate amount of padding or hard armour. This protect the backs of your hands from painful impacts. It also helps to prevent you from getting splinters. While it may SEEM minor, protection for your hands in important. You have a lot of tendons, nerves and blood vessels and no natural padding to protect them.
Knee And Elbow Pads
Even if you're not a crawler, you should at least have knee and shin pads. I've had knee problems for over a decade, there's no worse pain. Your knees are very venerable to injury, so are your shins. Like the backs of your hands, there's little natural padding. As with your elbows.
Strong, reliable footwear is essential. They should have good ankle support and a deep tread. Leather is the best material for footwear. Maybe your feet will be stinky at the end of the day, but you'll still have two good ankles to walk in the front door on. Treads are important to prevent you from losing your footing and taking a nasty fall.
I've been shot in the throat at close range, and it didn't tickle. My windpipe became swollen and I had difficulty breathing. (I have the worse luck sometimes.) Since then I've been wearing a hockey throat guard and been none the worse for wear.
Your Brain Bucket
You should wear a hat or bandanna on your head. Not just to protect yourself from impact, but from the ravages of the sun. Being out in the sun, with an uncovered melon is the surest way to get sunstroke. If you continue to go out in the sun without a hat, you're going to end up like me. You don't want that to happen.
Fogged lenses are a quick way to getting hurt. If you can't see, you can trip over things you normally wouldn't trip over. Besides, if you can't see the "bad guys", how can you shoot them?
Not that I'd do it myself, but body piercing is very popular. I just have a personal aversion to having holes punched in my body and bits of metal inserted in them. (I'm fine with the holes I got issued to me at birth, thank you very much.) Get hit in one of these fashion accessories and it could do some serious damage. I saw a guy get his nipple ring shot clean off. Slap a self-adhesive bandage (the ones with the gauze padding in them) over the area and prevent some unnecessary pain. Tearing the bandage off, at the end of the day, will be less painful than getting that ring shot out.
Hoop or dangling ear rings can get caught in the brush and get torn off. Ouch!
Tuck it up under a bandanna. If it get caught in the brush, when you're running, you're going to know it.
So there you have it. There are things beyond goggles and barrel plugs you have to consider.
Play hard! Play fast! Play safe!
(used by permission)