Bob McGuire (PTI & APL) Paintball industry Blog, for Paintball Fields and Manufacturers. Problems and Opportunities, ASTM updates, LOW IMPACT PAINTBALL.


Presented by Bob McGuire at the Tampa ASTM Paintball Subcommittee meeting 11/19/15.

I believe we need to address several changes to the existing paintball standard:

  • I believe we need to accommodate first strike rounds into our standards so they can safely be used in special games.
  • I believe that the present paintball standard needs to be changed to limit the acceptable impact for low impact games and for traditional paintball games. I was glad to see the recent testing by Lou Arthur, David Williams, and David Cady, although their rigorous testing was misdirected and did not actually measure paintball impact. They did a fair job of measuring average forces delivered during the impact event, but did not measure the maximum pressure generated at the “hot spots” along the impact surface.
  • Unfortunately, the only impact test in the existing paintball standard is to shoot a plywood sheet at a range of 80 feet and see if the paintballs break. This is not much of an impact performance test. At least one insurance company would like to include a measure of paintball impact, as well as considerations for biodegradability and potential shards resulting from projectile impacts. I suggest we consider these variables as we craft a new or revised standard.
  • We need to update any existing paintball related standards which refer to kinetic energy as a measure of impact. Standards which reference kinetic energy as a measure of impact should be revised to use KED. Kinetic energy density (joules per square meter) is a better measure of impact than Kinetic Energy.
  • I propose a new standard for “shaped projectiles used in the sport of paintball”.  Use the KED value for FS as a reference value, so FS product is guaranteed safe passage, as it has a safe history.
  • We also need to discuss adequate warnings, netting and other safety barrier requirements (such as open space setbacks) and other details such as changes to player pre-game safety briefings. There are lots of opportunities, and I am ready to help push for safe standards which will facilitate the use of FS at insured commercial playing fields.

It appears that some scientists and FSR advocates are pushing to pass a paintball standard revision which would include special shaped projectiles in the ASTM standard definition of a paintball.  I believe that before we discuss and compare paintball impacts, we need to understand the term “impact”, so we know what we should be measuring in our testing.  Modern research has clearly indicated that kinetic energy is not a proper indicator of paintball impact pain or trauma. New technology is available for improved impact measurements.

Several capable advocates for shaped projectiles have indicated an interest to learn more about modern impact theories, but after they started to understand the simple logic, they apparently fell back to a prepared talking point:  “We’ve conducted all of the ASTM standards testing already, and don’t see how the FS performs any differently than a normal paintball.”



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