Unlike many other modern sports, paintball is a game where the cost to play is only as expensive as the amount you are willing to invest. Whether it is reserving a location or buying equipment, you have a large degree of control over how much you spend. Most beginners start off with minimum investment, although more advanced players may spend entire paychecks on the latest equipment. But just how much is required in order to get started?

Reserving a Location

Paintball is generally played on a field or course which is designated for the sport. In some cases, players may find a secluded locations or host free games on their own property, although you cannot rely upon this. Paintball fields tend to be reserved at a per person rate, although package deals may be available.

Bringing Your own Equipment

The cost per person varies from one place to another. However, the general range is $10 to $25 per person. Even if you are providing your own equipment, many fields are “field paint only”, meaning you will have to purchase your paintballs on-site. These cost approximately $35 to $60 per 2,000 count box. Beginners tend to fire as many as 600 paintballs in one day so be sure to consider this when deciding how many boxes to purchase.

Package Deals

Many locations offer package deals which include equipment rentals. The equipment will most likely be outdated, albeit fully usable in the field. Again, the prices vary widely and include the following:

  • field fee
  • basic equipment (mask and gun)
  • air (usually one rate for the entire day)
  • cases of paintballs

Initial and Recurring Equipment Cost

In the event you wish to pursue paintball as a regular sport, you will want to have your own equipment. Equipment may be broken down into onetime investments and recurring costs. It is important to understand that paintball is a sport that costs money to play, although there is cheaper equipment available or starting out.

Purchasing Gear

There are two basic items you need in order to play. The first is a protective mask to protect your face during play. There are a variety of masks to choose from, some more comfortable than others. While other safety gear is optional, a mask is necessary before you are allowed to play. Paintball masks protect the entire face and may also provide throat protection.

The second item is a marker, or paintball gun. Paintball guns use cans of compressed air or CO2 as a propellant and come in numerous sizes and designs. Some of the cheapest options are pump rifles. Pump rifles are generally slower and less accurate, but make for a good starting option. Semi-automatic guns are the most common for beginners and are the most widely accepted. Other types; such as ramping, fully-automatic, and 3-round burst guns; are often restricted and are thus best avoided when you first start playing.

Some stores may offer a basic pump player’s pack. These packs include a simple plastic pump rifle, a cheap mask, hopper, and disposable 12 gram CO2 canisters. The canisters will need to be replaced each shot, and there is a tendency for paintballs to break in the barrels of these low-quality guns. However, with a $30-$50 price tag, a pump rifle is an affordable way to begin playing.

Recurring Fees

Unlike many other sports, paintball requires the use of expendable items as well as fees to use paintball fields. The cost for both air and paintballs should be factored in each time you play. These items may also be bought in bulk.

Paintballs generally come in cases of 2,000 and range from .50 caliber to .68 caliber round. Made from non-toxic, biodegradable materials, the quality is based upon several factors:

  • how spherical the shell is
  • thickness of the shell
  • thickness of the paint

In higher quality rounds, the shell is almost perfectly spherical, thin to guarantee burst on impact, and contains a thick, brightly-colored paint which may contain metallic flakes and corn starch to make it more difficult for a player to hide or remove signs of a hit.

Meanwhile, air canisters serve as your fuel and may be purchased in various sizes. These are traditionally carbon dioxide (CO2), although compressed air is becoming increasingly popular due to its higher stability and lesser environmental impact. Older pump-action guns require the use of disposable 12 gram CO2 canisters, which last one shot. The price for canisters varies, and most paintball fields offer refills at either a small cost per refill or a single all-day air fee.

How Much will the First Game of Paintball Cost?

Depending upon whether you are able to borrow your gear, rent it at the field, or choose to purchase your own, the cost for your first game may range anywhere from $20 to $140. In order to save money, call several fields for pricing and ask the following questions:

  • How much will a rental kit cost?
  • Does the location require “field-only” (i.e. purchased on-site) ammunition?
  • Do they offer all-day air, or is there a refill fee?
  • Do they offer any specials or first time players?

A Final Note

Paintball can become an expensive sport, but you do not need to spend a large amount of money on your first outing. If possible, ask a friend to loan you equipment for the first game if you are unsure whether you will enjoy the game. Rental equipment is usually lower quality and should only be used if you plan to play infrequently or are just starting out. Paintball technology is constantly improving, so if you are planning to purchase your own equipment, be sure to speak with more experienced players to get up-to-date recommendations on inexpensive starting equipment.