PAINTBALL IMPACT RESEARCH
Bob McGuire started comparative testing of paintball impacts over a decade ago, when it became apparent that kinetic energy was not a reliable predictor of how much a paintball impact would actually hurt. Over the years, McGuire worked with several experts who had studied projectile impact energies and terminal ballistics, in an effort to improve the understanding and measurement of factors which contribute to the pain and potential damage associated with projectile impacts. Early work focused on Kinetic energy density and impulse of force. However, because of the large number and extreme variability of factors which can generally influence the impact dynamics, it is difficult to quantify or even resolve the units of measure for projectile “impacts”… but certain important factors appear to correlate to the overall impact experience.
Some of McGuire’s initial findings and theories have been released on his Paintball-Blog website. However, this early work just scratched the surface of the energy enigma.
McGuire’s work has revealed difficulties experienced by experts in other industries who sought to correlate impact to kinetic energy, and their conclusions provided insight that appears to be useful in considering projectiles that can be propelled by a paintball marker. I believe that improvised or shaped projectiles should be carefully considered and regulated appropriately as we move forward, so we can understand their impact dynamics and incorporate their use into safe recreational games.
Moving forward, we are testing various paintballs to monitor frangibility and tenacity, in an effort to establish performance benchmarks and guidelines for ASTM standards. In the end, I hope to establish an easy method for paintball fields to offer safe “controlled impact” games for their customers. We do not wish to prohibit safe products from use in the paintball industry. However, there may be certain projectiles that have a satisfactory loss history, but which need to be properly understood and regulated so they do not suddenly (unexpectedly) appear in recreational games where they could be expected to increase the impact levels from some of the equipment in use.