While having your own equipment can be nice, there are a few valid reasons to hesitate on making the purchase. Rental paintball packages can offer exceptional value, especially when they include discount paintballs and other options. Most people (myself included) get their first look at paintball with the help of a rental marker, but some may even continue to use rentals long after they start to get into the hobby. In this article, we’ll go over both my personal experiences with rental markers and the ways I see others using them.
Your First Day of Paintball
I’m going to make a bold statement and say that you should always rent gear on your first day playing paintball. If you’re entirely new to the sport and don’t know what to expect, a rental package can give you everything you’ll need at a small fraction of the cost of buying up some entry-level gear. Plus, with rentals, you don’t have to worry about cleaning your guns or handling malfunctions. Those tasks get taken care of by the rental company, saving you time before and after the match on setup and maintenance. Once you’ve spent at least an afternoon out on the field with some rental gear, then you can start to look for potential purchase options.
What to Rent?
Depending on the location, some companies may allow you to rent out just the marker, while others only offer complete rental package deals. My advice is not to buy or bring any specialty gear if you plan on renting your gun – the rental company can provide everything you need to get out and play safe. Usually, this includes a marker, gas tank (with free refills), hopper, mask, and sometimes an optional protective vest. If they offer you a vest, I think you should avoid using it – those vests tend to feel clunky and only help to make you afraid of paintballs that really don’t hurt much at all. Most rental packages cost a bit more than pure equipment rentals but include extras such as field admission prices and a few hundred paintballs.
I rented paintball markers for my first few visits to the nearest facility to my house. It’s an outdoor arena-style area that likes to rent out Tippmann 98 paintball markers at very affordable rates. While the gear I got was completely functional and enabled me to have a blast throughout the entire day, I did sometimes find myself wishing that I’d brought my own marker. The mask would always be stiff and smelled of fabric freshener, the gun was usually beat-up and paint-splattered, and the first hopper I received didn’t feed correctly, leaving me clueless during my very first round. However, the marker performed flawlessly and allowed me to get a good understanding of the feel and flow of outdoor paintball matches.
My fourth time out, I borrowed a friend’s marker for the day. If you know someone with a paintball gun or two, I’d strongly recommend trying one of theirs before committing to a purchase. He had a Tippmann Gryphon, an entry-level marker that has very similar accuracy and feel to my eventual first paintball purchase, a Tippmann Cronus starter package. After buying that first marker, I only ever rented out specialty guns not in my collection (like a machine gun or sniper rifle).
Some players prefer to keep using rentals long after their first time out on the field. And, honestly, sometimes I feel like those guys know something that the rest of us don’t. The most important consideration if you’re thinking about renting each time you visit a paintball field is the price – does it seem easier to pay a $10 (estimated) rental fee each day you visit, or would you rather pay for a starter package upfront? Unless you’re visiting your local arena three or four times per month, it might not be worth it to spend your hard-earned cash on a marker of your own. Plus, if you rent, then you never have to worry about maintenance, cleaning, and repairs to your equipment.
The Downsides of Rentals
Unfortunately, rentals have some inherent problems that make them less than ideal for many players. Some paintball facilities charge exorbitant prices for their rentals, often more than 1/3 of the marker’s retail value for a single day of play. Here’s a good example of a field that charges fair prices for all of their equipment rentals. Even if you find a place that charges reasonable prices, rental markers tend to be well-used and less reliable than your own equipment would be. And, most importantly, you also become dependent on whether or not a facility offers rentals when deciding where to play. You can’t go to woodsball events (unless you know someone with a marker you can borrow) and you can’t bring the same setup to every location in your area. Buying gear eliminates all of these issues but also leaves you alone responsible for the quality and maintenance of your stuff.
You should always rent paintball gear for your first day out on the field. Past that, it’s up to you to decide between buying your own stuff or using rental gear, but keep in mind that it costs the same to purchase equipment after an extra $25 spent on rentals as it does before. Beginner paintball markers can deliver impressive performance despite their affordable price points, so don’t be afraid to invest. I did after a few days out on the field, and I’ve never looked back.