We understand one of the obstacles to airsoft is the cost, especially for people who don’t already have their own equipment. We have kept this in mind since the airsoft community in northern Maine is so very tiny. While we would love to be able to just give everything away for free, that’s not something we can afford.
The income from our field fees goes towards things like flags, arm bands, capital for our cool PVC field patches (and BBs, which is a HUGE expense; despite having a dealer account, we make less than $1 profit per kilogram bag), miscellaneous props (ammo cans, etc.). As the community up here grows and we have more players coming out on game days, field fees will also go towards raw materials like plywood, 2x4s, and paint to build bigger and better structures. The “luxuries”, like diesel for the tractor (also, replacing the radiator last year), and the after-game cookout all comes out of our personal account. We are that invested in making SAASMaine work and growing the northern Maine airsoft community.
Having said that, we feel that $15 is not too much money to charge for our field fee. Granted, if you’re paying for a family of four, that adds up quickly but that’s also four people who are running around the woods together and having fun together, which really is priceless.
Adding a rental fee on top of the field fee adds up even faster. Our goal from the start was to provide rental guns that are, at a bare minimum, competitive against players’ personal guns. An out-of-the-box gun is NOT going to be near as competitive as one that’s been tuned and upgraded, and while there’s a lot of “you need to pay to win” attitudes out there, SAASMaine is NOT one of those places. We understand that new players are just as important as the regulars, which is why we’ve been making the effort to support everyone who comes out. Our core group of house gamers also shares this philosophy and have been amazing with new players.
Our original rentals are retired M4s from High Ground Airsoft in Texas. We bought them in bulk for a somewhat reasonable price, with the understanding they’d need some work. Turns out, they needed a LOT of work, and out of the dozen guns we bought, we were able to make four working units. The base gun is an S&T Sportsline M4 that “boasts” an inline MOSFET and microswitch trigger. We found out, in a hurry, that the added “fancy” electronics in these units was nothing more than a fail point. Because of the proprietary nature of the gearbox, we couldn’t just replace the trigger system with an analog “trigger trolley”, so we invested in brand new gearboxes for the rentals.
Not even including tech time, we’re now in over $200 cost per rental. Base unit, upgraded motor, upgraded spring, upgraded bucking and nub, and the new gearboxes. There is still a high failure rate on the rentals, because that’s the nature of the beast. However, they have taken priority to fix/maintain over our personal guns.
The second half of our season will bring brand new KWA EVE units. They are lightweight polymer construction, but have the same internals as our personal KWAs. . We’ll have two EVE-4 and two EVE-9 units available for rental, representing a nearly $1,000 investment. Rental fees haven’t even covered the costs of our original rental fleet, let alone the capital for the new additions, so this has all come out of pocket for us.
Our rental fee is $25 and includes EVERYTHING someone needs to play, except a wristwatch. Our rentals include:
A competitive M4-style AEG ($200 to $260)
Fully charged battery ($25 to $30)
High-capacity magazine ($20)
At least 1,000 BBs ($5)
Face mask ($25)
Tactical Vest ($30)
Dead rag ($1)
That’s $300 in equipment and BBs that we’re sending out into the woods with complete strangers, and without fail, if the rental stops working, we get the player one that does work, even if it’s one of our personal guns. If a player runs out of BBs, we give them some more.
While we were concerned that we might be overcharging, we did a little more research on what other fields in Maine and New England charge. Below are the results:
Field fee: $10 – $15
Red Rag: $5.00
Field Fee: $10
Gun, battery, mag, >500 BBs: $20
Field fee: $30
Rifle, Mask & 300 BBs: $15 ($5 for a mag refill)
Field fee: $30+
“Rental package”: $25
Field fee: $25 – $30
Gun, mask, “starting ammunition”: $15
As you can see, we are definitely on the “more affordable” end of the spectrum. Ballahack Airsoft in Virginia (the “largest airsoft facility on the east coast”) charges $35 for field fee, and $35 or $55 for rental fee. While yes, they have an amazing field and structures and an old MiG jet, they also bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year just on field fees. If we brought in just a fraction of that, we’d have the craziest field in New England.
In the meanwhile, we’ll keep poking along and doing what we can to continue to provide fun games and better structures, because airsoft.