One thing that separates paintball from your average weekend pursuit is that players expect quality. I cant think of any other sport, hobby or pastime that relies so much on good quality gear for even the basics but, unfortunately, has so many low-quality operators happily taking people’s money week after week. I’m not sure why I haven’t posted about this before, but here’s the low-down on the difference between cheap paintball and good value paintball (I know which one I’d rather go play this weekend).
The good thing about paintball is that it doesn’t have to be all glitz and glamour, it can be basic and still be great value, but too many sites are either too cheap and scrimp on the essentials, or too expensive and fleece players for everything they’re got.
We’ve all accidentally rocked up to what we thought was a great value paintball venue, called something like “Bob’s Paintball” (only a mobile phone number on the sign) and been greeted by Bob from his shed. Or worse still, his car. The very least you should expect from a paintball venue is commitment to its business and customers – this should mean a permanent spot, all facilities covered, parking, food and dedicated phone numbers and website etc.
Like above, you certainly want to avoid the scenario of some guy just handing you your gear and pointing to the woods just behind his shack and then checking his watch. For a starters, the very least you should get is full safety training. If a company has missed this out, then don’t even consider getting into a game zone, as the chances are they’ve missed out all the safety measures. There should be a site manager, trained safety marshal to brief you on the rules, procedures and game play, and a dedicated first aid marshal too. Obviously simple, good customer service counts for a lot too, especially as everyone that visit’s a paintball site is there to have a good time. No one wants some grumpy part-time jobsworth ruining their day or skipping important parts of the safety brief: you want enthusiasm, passion and a team that are raring to go!
When it comes down to it, this is probably what most paintball players take note of when it comes to choosing a new place to play. This is both good and bad. Good because bad gear can really ruin a day’s playing (and at worst be dangerous) but bad because the points raised above are often easily overlooked if nice looking markers appear. What I’m saying is that good gear is great, but it’s not the be-all-and-end–all of playing paintball. The safety drill should cover exactly how everything works, even for seasoned players who probably know most of it already. This will include a demonstration of how to load, unlock, fire and secure the marker, as well as how best to put on safety gear.
Do not play anywhere that expects you to bring your own safety gear. Not only is this a massive sign that the venue can’t be trusted, but it could also lead to the horrible situation of someone bringing skiing goggles, thinking they’d make great paintball goggles: very bad idea. Everything needs to be provided, in perfect working condition and ready to be used.
We’ve all seen those deals that say things like “£10 for a day’s paintball” only to phone them up and realise that the tenner doesn’t include paintballs!! Total scam. Always phone a paintball venue beforehand to find out exactly what you’re paying for, as low cost unfortunately usually means poor value in this industry. Paintballs and gear aren’t cheap, so anything that seems too good to be true usually is.
So there you have it, some people will no doubt be happy playing a morning’s paintball for £15 and no safety precautions, but I would most players would do the smart thing and pay double the price to ensure that they’re safe, but also satisfied.