How To Start a Paintball Field

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What if you could start your own paintball field? Oh, how we love to dream while out on the field with paintballs flying by! It sounds like a great way to make money and a fun business to get into, but it does require a lot more work than you may think.

If you're thinking about building your own paintball field, take some time to really think about it. A successful field needs to be run like a business because it is a business. Yours can be a success if you plan it right.

The Dream of Owning a Paintball Field

Most regular paintball players have seen a healthy dose of different fields - from outlaw fields in the neighbor's backyard to professional woodsball fields and nice indoor arenas.

While each field has its pros and cons, many players think of something that can make a field better. Such thoughts inevitably lead to the thought, "Hey, maybe I should start my own field." When you lay down $50 for an entrance fee and 1000 paintballs, it feels like field owners must be making a killing. Maybe a paintball field is a path to riches and carefree paintball enjoyment?

The reality is that paintball fields are not a guaranteed success and running a field takes a lot of effort with no guarantee of a payday down the road. Countless fields have come and gone and those owners have learned that the "field owner's dream" is a lot more work and a lot riskier than they expected.

There are, though many fields that have been successful for years and provide their owners with constant, enjoyable employment. You just have to be smart about starting it.

What Goes Into Building a Field

Field ownership is possible, but you need to be smart and plan ahead. The big thing to keep in mind is that a paintball field is a business that happens to focus on paintball, not a paintball field that has a business on the side. If you don't like business don't even start.

A paintball field is just like any other business and it requires all of the same elements. You need to have a business plan that includes every single detail of your business. While developing the plan, you will learn a lot about the feasibility of your idea for a new field.

When it comes to a paintball field specifically, here are some factors to consider:

  • Will your field be indoor or outdoor? Do you have the land or building already? Will you need to buy or lease a space?
  • How much space do you need? How many fields will you run? Outdoor fields require acres of land and indoor fields will need an absolute minimum 20,000 square feet (i.e. an old warehouse). In theory, more fields bring in more money because you can have more games going at once, but what if you can't book them every we?
  • How far are people willing to travel to the field? Most paintball players are willing to drive an hour (maybe two) for a full day's play.
  • What zoning restrictions or permits do you need? Do you have an accountant and attorney? What special insurance is required to protect the business from injury claims? Where will people park?
  • How much will you spend on equipment? The guns, masks, and other basic gear are a significant expense on their own. Then, you must factor in turf for an indoor field as well as obstacles, bunkers, and the maintenance costs involved for both indoor and outdoor fields. Also, don't forget about netting and things needed for a staging area and equipment house.

The shock to many potential field owners is the price. Expect to put in at least $50,000 (at a bare minimum) to get your field up and going (that is not counting the land or building). The fields that really stand out can cost ten times that amount.

Get Advice From Other Field Owners

It really is best to consult people who have opened a field before. Travel around and visit successful fields of all types. Set up some time to talk to the owners (after playing, of course) and ask them about the logistics of running a field. There is a reality to operating a field as a business that you may not have considered before.

Another great resource is a forum where field owners share their practical knowledge. The best is at in the field owners section. Read through the threads and see what it takes. Be sure to read between the lines and realize who's advice is actually of any value (this is the internet, after all). 

Is a Running a Field Right For You?

Owning a paintball field can be a lot of fun and many people find it an enjoyable career. However, it is not as easy as you may have thought while you were critiquing the bunkers on that field today. There is a lot of thought that needs to go into it and it may be right for you or it may not. Just remember that it is a business and needs to be approached that way.