Here’s an FAQ we get asked all the time; “Is paintball expensive?”. Like the question “does paintball hurt?”, the answer is that it’s all relative. If you want to have a good time with mates and get a real kick out the adrenalin rush, then paintball isn’t expensive (or painful). But if your idea of a good time is heading down the amusements and feeding 2p’s into a puggy, then paintball’s probably quite steep by comparison!
To break it down though, there are two or three different areas of cost to look at and, like most hobbies or sports, your level of enthusiasm and participation generally determine how much you want to pay for it.
Meeting up with friends to play some exciting paintball
In the UK, this is by far the most common situation in which most people play paintball. They book a day at a local venue with their mates (or it could be a paintball stag party or a paintball team building event even) and, when they get there, the marshals on site prepare them fully for the games ahead. So what you’re paying for here isn’t just all of the paintballing equipment you need, from paintballs to gloves, masks, goggles, pyrotechnics, jump suits and, of course, the marker, but you’re also paying for safety.
Any paintball venue worth visiting will have its own hefty insurance cover, so if even the slightest thing goes wrong, you know you’ll be in safe hands. However you’re also paying for being looked after by trained safety marshals and first aiders, plus you’re paying for the venue, the awesome game zones, the facilities and, overall, the experience.
But what will this cost? Well different operators offer different prices. Be wary of any that just seem ‘too cheap’. If you had 5 different venues in mind, I would probably recommend scoring off the cheapest one and then considering what (if anything) makes the most expensive one any different from the rest. Often the details are in the small print, so don’t be tempted by seemingly low prices. It’s like RyanAir – low cost doesn’t always mean good value. For example, a venue might offer you a day’s paintballing for only £10, but when you get there you find out that price doesn’t include paintballs – which might cost another £15 – 20. Not only could this end up setting you back three times the advertised price, but it also starts the day off on a bad note – an experience to be avoided.
Most UK venues of repute usually charge anywhere from £20 – £70 for a full day’s paintball. The range in price usually comes from the addition or exclusion of extras like pyrotechnics, lunch, extra paintballs, a larger hopper, photos of your day etc. Whatever you do, don’t assume all paintball venues are equal.
Another way to look at the question though is to compare it to other fun ways you could spend your day. For example go-karting could easily cost you anything up to £50 for just an afternoon’s karting, or you could go canyoning up the north of Scotland for around £95. So there you have it, for a day’s ultimate paintball under the constant supervision of professionals, it’s really not at all expensive.
Getting seriously into it and buying your own gear
Now this is when you should expect the price to hike up a notch. Not only will you need to make the initial purchase of everything you need, but you need to remember that recurring costs, like paintballs, are often cheaper at paintball venues as they have the advantage of wholesale buying. I wrote a blog about how many paintballs do you need for a day, so add up the additional costs for every time you want to play.
You could probably get a beginners paintball package, with everything you need, for about £80 and then spend anything up to £200 on better quality versions of the same thing. To buy everything you need individually could set you back considerably more though, as markers in particular vary hugely in price and quality. Ultimately though, you would end up paying considerably for paintballs over the years, plus consider where you would play – as many venues don’t allow players to bring their own markers for safety reasons.