No Money November: Memberships, Coupons, Gift Certificates, and Loyalty Programs
Paintball is by no means a "budget" sport, but there are ways to cut costs here and there. In this post I'll go over some, and show you how to save money in the long term at local fields.
The first and most obvious suggestion is that if you play at one field on a regular basis, you should strongly consider becoming a member at that field. If the regular price for a case of 2000 paintballs is $130 for example, and the walk-on fee is $10, a full day of paint-slinging will cost you a hefty $140. However, if a membership at that same field costs $150, and allows members free walk-on and paintballs at $65 a case, after your second visit your membership has paid for itself - and you'd still have a whole season to play. A field membership is the ultimate cost-effective loyalty reward program.
Here's a tip: At most fields, a membership is good for the next 365 days, no matter what time of year you buy it at. A lot of fields, feeling the crunch of winter coming, sell memberships at half price or lower in the later months of the year. So if you can, and you know you'll be playing regularly at the same field next season as well, try and buy/renew your membership near the end of the paintball season.
Club Days and Big Games
Another way to save money is to regularly check the web sites of your local fields, and keep an eye out for upcoming special events. Most fields will hold "Club Days", where the entry fee is reduced (or free), and a case of paintballs will be available to non-members for the member price. At other events like Big Games, a case of paintballs often sells at the same price for members and non-members alike.
Coupons and Vouchers
Although I wouldn't recommend playing at the field above, as it's poorly lit, gets fine sand in all your gear, and has plenty of hazards that can cause an injury, the coupon is an example of rebates you can find on a field's web site. A lot of fields' web sites will also have a spot where you can sign up for their newsletter. While a lot of people avoid these out of fear of spam, the truth is that special promotions and offers are often sent out in these letters. So go ahead and sign up!
Some fields will have loyalty programs in place for occasional players who don't want a full membership. Above is an example of one of them: Action500 in Montreal, Quebec has a program where after 9 visits, your 10th one is free. As the facility also offers a Karting track which also qualifies under the program, if you and 5 of your friends go Karting one weekend, you're 6 stickers towards a free Paintball admission already!
A lot of Paintball fields only operate on weekends, and take advantage of that extra Friday or Monday holiday on a long weekend to get more players in, and hence make more revenue. You'll often find reduced prices on paintballs, free admission, or memberships being sold at a reduced price as a draw to get people to come out and play. As an example, the above coupon from Action500 is a Boxing Day special where if 2 players come out and play, the 3rd one plays for free. While everyone is out doing some post-Christmas shopping, Action500 is trying to get people to come in and try out the Paintball gear they got for Christmas!
Speaking of Christmas, a way to reduce your Paintball costs is to ask for gift certificates/cards from your favorite Paintball pro shop or field when someone wants to know what to buy you. It's best to mention loud and clear that you want gift cards, because most well-meaning loved ones trying to surprise you with something Paintball-related risk going to Wal-Mart and picking you up a Spyder and a box of Brass Eagle paintballs.
I invite our readers to leave their money-saving suggestions in the Comments section below!