How Much Does It Cost To Play Paintball?

Plus The Secret of How To Pay Less For Paintballs!

How Much Does It Cost To Play Paintball?

One of the first questions anyone who considers playing paintball for the first time will ask is “How much does paintball cost?” A first time or beginner paintballer should expect to pay an average of $60.00 on the day. It’s closer to $80.00 if you want the peace-of-mind you won’t run out of paint.

How do we arrive at these numbers to establish the cost of a day of paintball? One answer is years of playing paintball. You learn from playing, and you learn by witnessing others spending their money, week-after-week at the local paintball park.

Let’s break it down.

There are two primary categories to break down the average cost of paintball. One is for players who need everything. They arrive at their local paintball field with no more than their clothes and excitement. The other category is the player who has their own gear.  In short, Rentals and Owners. We will cover both but focus on rental paintball players.

Paintball Expenses

Here are the standard paintball items required to play.

These four things are unavoidable at your local paintball park. You can, of course, save on owning your own gear and that’s usually about a $15 to $20 savings. We will get to that.

Paintball tickets

Field Entry

This one way the field earns a buck. You can't fault them for that. It's often discounted if you rent gear. Otherwise players with equipment also pay this fee.

paintballs

Paintballs

This the money maker for the field owner. Larger fields have more overhead. You have more room for fun, and the paint price escalates with the field size.

Rental Packages Include Mask & Gun

While the paintball marker and mask are individually itemized below, they are always packaged together in your rental fee. In fact, 99 percent of the time your rental deal includes some paint! Often your loader is full when you start. Most loaders hold approximately 200 paintballs. Don’t waste your paint playing in the shooting range. Paintballs are a controlled commodity, you are hostage to the field owners prices. Don’t waste your paint. You’ve been warned.

Paintball Mask

Paintball Mask

Paintball goggles use specially approved lenses. Always use approved paintball goggles made for paintball. Included in rental deals, some players bring their own.

Paintball Gun

The paintball park does you a huge favor here. They combine three items into one. The gun (aka marker), the loader (aka hopper), and propellent (aka tank) & free refills.

Standard Paintball Rental Package

While the paintball marker and mask are individually itemized above, they are always packaged together in your rental fee. In fact, 99 percent of the time your rental deal includes a full loader of paint. That is generally about 200 paintballs.

Will A Rental Package Cover All My Costs At Paintball?

In some cases, a rental package is all you will need to spend at your day of paintball. 

In truth, you will need paint through the day. Some players can finish a day of paintball on the roughly 200 paintballs they are issued at the beginning of the day. It’s rare, but it happens. 

There are various reasons a player can use one loader of paint to enjoy a so-called full day of paintball.

The explanation is that some people will have a style of play where they rely more on moving about and shooting selectively. We call these players ‘one ballers’.  In other cases, some people are initially afraid of the game. Those first-time paintball players often hang back. Players who play a back position or don’t come in contact with opponent players will shoot less paint.

There are also players who only play one or two games and call it a day.

The Realistic Cost Of Paintball To An Active Paintballer

Most players expect to shoot a lot of paintballs. Doesn’t it seem right that you should be able to play and not have to question if you will have enough ammo or paint?

The real cost of playing paintball is paint. This is the secret cost of paintball every player learns after they get the bug to play more paintball.

You Won't Save Money On Paintball by Owning Your Own Gear

Paintball fields charge an average of $15 to $20 entry. That charge should always include free compressed air refills. Fields fold in that charge with rental packages. When a single player rental package is $35 to $40, you are paying for rental gear and field fees.

When the paintball park throws in a loader full of paint (about 200 paintballs), the field is taking a loss on the rental fees because their rental gear is amortized [gradually write off the initial cost of (an asset) over a period], the paint, on the other hand, is a perishable commodity they pay for out-of-pocket for each player.

Owning Your Own Paintball Gear Costs More

This is the trap of paintball. You falsely believe if you buy your own gear you’ll save on rental costs. You soon learn that having your own gear is playing paintball with the most joy. That’s another article, but never lose sight of the truth. Paintball cost money because paint is the one required perishable you must always pay for. It’s like gas in your car.  You can buy a cheap or expensive car but gas is always required.

How Owning Paintball Gear Costs More to Play Paintball

This will be fun. Because it’s so damn true and yet some would want to argue it can’t be true. Oh, it is.

Paintball Gear

Of course, players buy a gear bag, paintball gloves, elbow pads, pod packs, pods, tools, and the list goes on.  But what is our FRUGAL grand total above? The cost is $590.00

You could argue, No way, I can go cheaper! You can. And you will. Then you’ll realize you wanted something better and spend a second time on an item you perhaps couldn’t afford the first time. Now you’ve spent more than the $590.00 we had in our low-estimate.

How Long Does It Take To Save on Rental Over Our Ownership Cost?

Using our modest $590.00 ownership investment as a baseline, it takes 13 visits to paintball to turn the corner on your investment and begin saving as an owner.  It seems like a reasonable amount until you get halfway through those visits and want a new marker or begin buying the extras mentioned prior.

Does this mean you shouldn’t own your own gear? Not at all. Just don’t use the excuse that buying your own gear will save you money on paintball. Many established players own between 2 to 10 paintball guns. That’s just guns.

Owning a paintball rig will increase your fun factor. They shoot better too.

You Can't Save Money On Paintballs or Can You?

Paintballers are smart. We like to cut costs. Paintballs are a commodity. Logically the natural order in capitalism should drive down the costs of paintballs.

In theory, you should be able to go to your local Wal-mart or paintball shop and pick from an assortment of brands all competing for your business.  With competition comes quality and competitive pricing. You can even store what paint you don’t use at home and return to any field you want with your paint.

Oh but those sly paintball field owners have figured it out. They have all established an unspoken league of business practice. It’s called “Field Paint Only”.

Field Paint Only

What does Field Paint Only mean? It means that for so-called ‘insurance purposes’ players cannot bring any outside paint from even the same manufacturer and brand to a local field of your choice. In short, you must pay for paint at your local paintball field at whatever price they dictate.

In defense of local paintball fields, this is actually something we should all understand and accept. Paintball is an extremely hard business to make a living from. The fields only operate on weekends. Imagine only being able to earn income roughly 104 days out of a 365 day year. With rain and other downtimes, it gets tougher. Paintballs are the true money maker for paintball fields. Most focus on YOU the beginner too. The field rental packages are critical to profits.

How To Save Money On Paintballs At Your Local Field

Is there any way you can drive down your costs of paintballs? The answer is yes. Here is how you save money on paintballs whether you are a beginner or established paintball player. The secret is simple. Get multiple players to buy paint by the case.

You want to buy your paintballs at the lowest individual paintball price.  For example:

How Paintballs Are Sold

Case of Paint (2000 paintballs)

This a full case of paint. It comes in 4 individually sealed 500 round bags.

1000 Paintballs

1/2 Case of Paint (1000 paintballs)

This a half case of paint. You get 2 individually sealed 500 round bags.

Single bag of paintballs, 500 rounds

A Bag of Paint (500 paintballs)

A single bag of paint. 500 rounds.

Establish the cost per case (you can often choose between quality grades), half case and 500 round bags before you go. Cases of 2000 will have the lowest cost. Let’s use $60 as the average cost of a case of paint.

Here is the problem. The sweet spot for the best amount of paintballs to get through a day of paintball as a new player is roughly 1200 paintballs. Your loader of 200 you start the day with, plus 1000 more rounds are generally enough paint. Why spend $40 additional dollars when you spend $30? How?

A Hot Tip To Save Money On Paintballs

If for instance paintballs cost $60 for a case of 2000 rounds and the paintball park charges $40 for 1000 rounds, get one other person who has the same intentions of buying 1000  paintballs and you can both save $10 each. You each combine your $30 and buy the $60.00 case of paint. You both saved $10 per person.

The same goes if you only need 500 paintballs. Why spend $25 when you can get three other people to pay $15 each and all save $10 per person. You just need everyone to bring cash or have one person pay for a case and the others can Venmo, PayPal or reimburse the buyer however you agree.

In Conclusion

The real cost of paintball at your local paintball park is an average cost of $60.00 to $80.00 per day. You can save money on paintball. Renting has advantages but ownership will provide you more enjoyment. Your best bet in savings is to pool your resources when buying paint.

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Managing Editor / DangerMan's Lair - DangerMan Media Author: DangerMan's Paintball Bible. Writer. YouTube personality. Professional marketing management expert in social media, production, and analytics. Past experience as VP of Marketing for Internet-based businesses. Father of two boys. Weekends are often spent outdoors as a paid promotional celebrity paintball player. Free time is spent many weeknights on the streets of New York City, literally — inline skating. Don't worry. There is safety in numbers skating with hundreds of others on the streets of Philadelphia and Manhattan.