In paintball there are 2 types of referees, tournament referees and walk-on play referees. Tournament referees are very strict, must have playing experience, memorize a thorough rulebook, and must make split second decisions. Those are not the refs that you will run into on your average day of paintball. Instead most refs will focus on safety, fun, helping players, being energetic, and overall making sure you have the best time possible! Referees are often wildly overlooked by the average paintball player but in reality, they can truly make or break your paintball experience. If you have a referee with poor energy, bad time management, or anything less than a stellar attitude, it will really bring down your overall day.
The biggest issue we saw in referees, and sought to change, was the idea that referees are only out on the field for safety. We realized that too often these refs are out on the field acting like crossing guards and not engaging with players. The referees at AG are all very focused on safety, but they are also out customer service representatives. They will get to know you through your day and gauge your comfort and experience on the field. Are you the rambo type player or the slow to ease into it player? Each of these styles really needs to be handled differently and our referees are great at making sure all players are comfortable on the field, regardless of their experience.
Another truly important tool our referees use is time management. AG Paintball offers over 10 fields and often we will have 6-8 groups at the park at any given time, this means there is a constant flow of groups coming and going out onto the playing fields. We have 1 head ref who’s main job is to manage this flow. We hate seeing groups sitting down and waiting to be able to play again and with 10+ fields and a full staff we aim to make sure this never happens! If you don't have referees who can manage the flow of many groups on many fields, then you will spend more of your day waiting to play than actually playing. We have, on several occasions had more groups playing in a day than we have fields to play on and still never have people out of play!
The last major aspect we will focus on is professionalism. Too often, we saw referees who were not actual employees but were players on a field team that worked as refs in exchange for discounts. This usually, but not always, results in a less than stellar experience. All of our referees are trained on safety, professionalism, and customer service. They are our full time staff and take their job very seriously. Additionally, we aim to have 1 referees per every 10 players. The larger your group, the more referees you have. Our sizeable staff allows us to always deliver an excellent player to referee ratio. Without them, your experience just could not be the same. Our staff knows when to help new players, how to manage time and player ability and they do it all in a professional manner.
So while you are booking your paintball party, the referees may be the last thing on your mind. However, you may want to ask your potential field how many referees they have on staff, how many fields they have, what the average time between games is, and any other questions you can think of. If you find a field that cuts corners on their reffing staff to try and stay cheap, don’t forget that there will be a direct impact on your day of play. Before you leave this article, if you do have a great day and an awesome experience, please let your referee know. They work very hard in some tough conditions to give you the best experience possible. Even something as small as a genuine “thank you” can really make there day. See you on the field!