Before a deep dive into paintball history, we must have some basic idea about “what exactly paintball sport is?”
Paintball is an extreme action-packed sport in which a player eliminates his opponents by hitting a spherical capsule filled with a paint called “paintball”.
These paintballs mostly shoot with low impact guns powered with compressed air (nitrogen) or gas (CO2).
Currently, paintball is a very famous game there are thousands of fields available around the world, even we can see indoor paintball fields as well.
The most famous versions of paintballs are woodsball and speedball, woodsball is a little bit natural and a calm version of paintball, which can be played outdoors.
However, speedball is a more action-packed game that can be played both indoor and outdoor.
So without further wasting time let’s dive into the history of paintball.
Some paintball history sites
Paintball History (Origin)
Paintball is a relatively newer sport, its history begins from 1960s when a paintball gun is invented by nelson Paint
The company, their sole purpose is to utilize that gun to mark trees and kettles, they want to make some easiness for loggers and cattlemen, it was never indented to use that gun on peoples.
Nelson paint named that gun as a marker “that’s why paintball gun is called paintball marker till today”.
They were using oil paint-filled paintballs as fuel, the cattlemen and loggers mark their targets from very far by shooting a single paintball.
Let’s discuss the most interesting parts.
The debate of Hayes Noel and Charles Gain (1970s)
Later in 1997s Hayes noel (Wall Street stock trader) and Charles Gains (an outdoorsman and a writer) where two best friends, they love to spend time with each other.
One day a great debate was initiated on a unique sport, they were discussing that a city dweller could survive in woods or a city streets smarts hold against a country prison in the woods.
This debate continues for years, gain believes that an outdoorsman like him will cash their skills efficiently; however, Noel believes that a street person like him will be superior from a business point of view.
One day Gain decided to visit his hometown in New Hampshire on a vacation, and surprisingly he found a very interesting thing in an agricultural catalog, it was a paintball marker used to mark trees and horseback (Nelsopt-007).
New spot-007 was a paintball marker powered with gas (CO2), they use a gelatin spherical ball filled with oil paint to mark any object, Gain was very impressed with that technology and craft an idea to achieve his dreams.
Gain thought that this will be a good low-impact combat simulator to test the survival skills of a person, rather than using other unsafe simulators.
Finally, Gain and Noel decided to make a game on it, they check the impacts and safety of the marker and their friend Bob Gurnsey make a list of rules for the paintball game.
First Official Game of Paintball (1981).
Although the idea a survival game began in late 1997s
but the first official paintball game was held on 7th June 1981 in New Hampshire, there may some unofficial games between loggers and cattlemen’s but we don’t have exact data.
Why they take that much time:
Every sport should need some safety measures Gain Noal and his other friends do several practicals to clarify whether this is a safe game or not and finally they made a list of rules and prove that paintball is a safe game.Participants Names:
- Hayes noel (Wall Street stock trader)
- Charles Gains (an outdoorsman and a writer)
- Bob Gurnsey (rules Maker)
- Jerome Gray (filmmaker)
- Ritchie White (forester)
- Ronnie Simpkins (farmer)
- Bob Carlson (surgeon)
- Ken Barrett (investor)
- Joe Drinon (stockbroker)
- Carl Sandquist (contractor)
- Lionel Atwill (writers)
- Bob Jones (writers)
- The total area of the field was 125 acre with real forest felling.
- The field was 1 to 2 KM away from Gain’s home.
- 4 flag stations were built, each station has a different colored flag.
- The winner was one who collected all the flags from each station.
- 12 players participate in the game among them Gain, Bob and noel were also participants. (9 lucky guys played with Payoneers).
- Every player paid $175, which covers all equipment and food costs
- Each player had a Nel-spot pistol, paintballs, some basic eye-protecting equipment, and a map of the field.
- Each player was playing with different styles some of them were played an aggressive game while others played a strategical game.
- Ken barett was the first player of paintball eliminated by Jerome gray (history remind them when the origin of paintball (paintball history) is being discussed)
- The winner was forester Ritchie White; he uses smart stealth strategy and moves silently from one station to another station. (I think most of the players get inspiration from his technique).
The Birth Of Industry (1982)
Later in October 1981 Bob Gurnsey published an article and found this business very interesting and profitable, Bob start selling a package that includes paintball marker, paintballs, goggles, and a rule book on only $150.
finally, in March 1982, Bob starts first commercial paintball field in New Hampshire, Known as National Survival Game, Bob starts distributing the products of nelson, later Mr. Bob start licensing out the NSG franchise to other interested persons who want to open their own field.
After few months another two paintball players (Jeff Perlmutter and David Freeman) start their own company knows as Pursuit Marketing Incorporated (PMI), they made a contract with Benjamin Sheridan to built New power paintball marker for him.
Benjamin Sheridan made a brass body paintball pistol (PG pistol), later they also start making paintballs and distribute to retailers and paintball field.
NSG found a new competitor, paintball sport start growing day by day, lots of fields were opening in the US.
The first paintball championship (1983)
The first paintball championship was held in 1983, NSG arranged the first-ever tournament and fixed $3000 for a winning team as a reward.
Unknown rebels the team of Ontario Canada was the winner of the first-ever tournament, they become the first-ever recognize the winner of the paintball tournament and get $3000 as a reward.
Moreover, some paintball geeks start to modify their guns, many players start adding pump handles, barrel extensions, magazine extension, etc.
however, some players start complaining about those modifications because the FPS (feet per second) of the gun becomes harmful, though these are not ethical things to modify guns without having technical knowledge, this will help industries to make several changes in paintball guns like magazine extensions, Co2 Tanks, etc.
Furthermore, many companies start making water paintballs which was very easy to clean from clothes, oil paintballs were very difficult to clean from the clothes.
Birth of New paintball Markers (1984)
1984 was the year of developments of paintball sport, new paintball markers and paintballs were discovered.
- PMI modify their gun and add a pump handle in their gun and launch as a new model called Pursuit Gun Pump (PGP), this was the very first gun with a pump handle.
- NSG Also launch their latest splat master model which was purely designed for the sports, they didn’t modify existing guns (this was the first paintball sports Gun).
- Water paintballs ware also discovered in 1984 because oil paint was very difficult to remove from clothes (the fist water paintballs).
- Also, 1984 was the year in which NSG sport was renamed as paintball (wow NSG get More Generic name).
Grooming of Industry (1985 to 1986)
Paintball had become famous throughout the world more people show their attention towards paintball, the Media also focus to expend the awareness of paintball.
The new equipment started developing like.
- New paintball Harnesses were developed.
- Face shield and new types of paintball goggles were discovered (Check out our list of best paintball masks)
- New fields were building throughout the world.
- The first paintball magazine was published.
The golden age of paintball (1987 to 1988)
In 1987 to 1988 paintball industry grows very fast day by day, city dwellers shows their interest towards paintball why not paintball is a very joyful sport.
Dennis Tippmann Sr, had a business of making a half-scale machinegun, after some months his business is ceased because of strict firearms laws.
Dennis Tippmann Sr, shows his interest in the paintball marker and utilize his expertise and his family pneumatic industrial sewing machine for creating Tippmann Pneumatics, later he offers his first blowback-operated fully automatic Tippmann SMG-60 paintball gun, It was a .62 caliber paintball marker.
To make this model legal for tournaments Tippmann converts this model from fully automatic to semi-automatic, also they introduce the 68 caliber version of Tippmann SMG-60.
Do you know? First paintball CO2 tank with pin valve was introduced by Tippman, they engineered this tank from Soda Company, now days paintball co2 tank is a new standard.
Well, the industry starts growing exponentially, more investors attract to invest in new paintball equipment, college students shows a positive response towards this sport as well.
Some More Companies Established in the mid of (1987-1998)
- Worr game products (WGP) start building their own paintball maskers in their garage after some time they invent the first-ever WGP Sniper Pump paintball guns.
- After some struggle, they made the first paintball hopper which could hold 45 paintballs.
- This was the first paintball gun that can be modified according to the needs, players love to modify their parts like Removable barrels, caliber conversions, and air source.
- After few months JT USA the giant of motorcycle sport step into the paintball industry and make a paintball mask engineered from motocross goggles.
- JT paintball mask was very comforting extra protective with large peripheral vision, players were very impressed by that technology, and that was the revolution of the paintball industry.
- JT kick starts the paintball mask industry with extra safety features, even the government was very impressed with this technology after a certain time paintball masks become mandatory for every player, JT manufacturers earn about millions because they don’t have any competitors.
- JT manufacturer continues his journey to take benefits from safety products, also they start production of other safety products like protective plastic gloves, chest armor, paintball pants, and jerseys.
- The manufacturers were racing to invent new paintball gears for players, the first barrel stock was
- introduced in 1987 and right after 2 to 3 months it becomes standardized, all almost all players had barrel stock for safety reasons.
- Also, the first paintball grenade and paintball squeegee were discovered in 1987 by pro star labs, the squeegee is very useful to remove the extra pants and chips from gun and barrel stock.
- LAPCO (The Los Angeles Paintball Company), invented the first Bottom-line Air Source Adapter which allows players to put tanks on the shoulder without distracting the paintball goggles later this concept will change the design of paintball guns every company rushes to make guns with bottom air source.
- The first Phantom pump gun. Was released by CCI later this becomes one of the longest-running companions operated by a single owner.
- There was no permit to play paintball in the US state of New Jersey, paintball had been against the law of the US, after intense efforts of Raymond Gong and Jessica Sparks paintball become legalize in new jersey USA.
Check out our new article about how much paintball is dangerous.
Birth of speedball and gravity hopper (1989-1991)
Later in the year 1989 Sat Cong Village, the most popular and largest park of southern California start a new paintball field and named as “SpeedBall” arena, they put painted tires artificial bunker, artificial woods, and other hiding places.
Sat Cong gives a new style and shape to the paintball they made new stage new concepts of the game like they attach flag at the center, two flag game, etc,
Their sole purpose is to make paintball more action-packed.
Also, Smart part paintball barrel was discovered in 1989 adapter, later All American barrel was introduced, that were the most accurate and soundless technology.
Viewloader paintball hopper was the revolutionary discovery of 1989 because players had the liberty to load larger pods.
The first paintball world cup tournament and trade show was arranged by Jim lively in 1989 and soon it becomes the most anticipated paintball tournament in the world.
A young entrepreneur “Gino postorivo” starts a small shop of paintball after some time it starts supplying at the national level.
spread of paintball in Europe (1990-1991)
Later in 1990 Tippmann introduce the first .68 caliber paintball gun with gravity hopper.
after the popularity of this gun, Tippmann start its mass production.
Tom Kaye an air gun designer company introduces the .68 Auto-Mag famous for its durability, Appearance, and built-in function.
The large scale of importing paintball products throughout Europe begins.
Later in 1991 paintball become spread in whole Europe continent peoples shows their interest towards paintball the industry grooming day by day.
Tom Kaye again introduce an air compressed paintball tank(NO2 tank) modified from the fiberglass wrapped pressure vessel, the efficiency of that tank was amazing as compared to the Co2 tank, but due to some safety misconceptions this tank was not available commercially.
Moreover, Auto-coker kit was also released by Bud Orr to convert WPG sniper II to a self cocking semi-auto, As the concept rise WPG sniper II comes with semi-auto out of the box because of high competition industries took actions faster.
The Rise of Semi-auto machines and Broadcast of the paintball world cup on ESPN (1992 to 1995)
In 1992 The PMI introduces the PMI-III semi-auto paintball gun, though the gun was very heavy still It becomes the favorite gun of players due to mid-range price tag and durability.
Later, the Benjamin Sheridan release their own paintball marker named as the VM-68. Viewloader, further they released VL-2000.
furthermore, Arthur Chang enters into the industry with aim to create the most affordable guns for players they initiate a company, Names Kingman International; their goal is to distribute affordable markers throughout the nation, Their first markers are pumps under the model name Hammer.
The Semi-automatic paintball markers were expensive (check out our article about paintball expenses), heavy and clunky, players eagerly waiting for slim and inexpensive model finally Kingman International launch his first lightweight and affordable Spyder Paintball Gun.
Spyder semi-auto paintball gun was built from aluminum that was easy to handle within the mid-range price tag.
Those players who don’t have a budget to bought semi paintball gun they were suddenly able to get the same power semi paintball guns.
Later, the great Dave Youngblood Enterprises (DYE) start making hard parts and custom Autococker.
The dye divert his focus toward the quality and start making various products with amazing built quality even players wanted to use dye’s products in the tournaments.
Paintball starts getting popular on the internet many players made their forums and websites to spread the paintball game throughout the world, forums were very active for paintball discussion.
And finally, In 1995, the world cup of paintball is broadcast on ESPN, it is the first paintball world cup broadcast on the major TV channel, that was the great news for paintball die hard.
Unregulated paintball becomes part of ASTM (American Society for Testing &Materials) (1999-2000).
ASTM took steps to make paintball more stabilize by maximize safety and minimize the liability.
The first thing to be rated by ASTM was fire rate after that the velocity, paintball goggles, and other goods ware rated.
ASTM plays a big role to stabilize the safety of paintball still I am purchasing Anti-fog paintball mask(link) with ASTM approved tag.
Later A sports goods manufacturer (SGMA) officially recognized paintball as a true sport.
paintball become very affordable peoples were rushes to play paintball mostly university students.
Ban Barrel plugs and seen the worst case of cheating in the world cup (2001-2002)
In 2001 NPL issue a notice to ban the use of barrel plugs because of low visibility, later a barrel cover was invented which was pretty visible and extra-durable as compared to the barrel plugs, within 2 to 3 months It became standard,
Let’s come to the worst cheating case,
In 2002’s world cup, A team member who was not playing in the match hides out of the field boundaries and start eliminating the opposite players, this was the worst cheating case I have ever hared in my life.
Thanks to the referees who investigate properly and caught that cheater.
Government implement laws to licensing a paintball company (2000’s)
- The government started to implement several laws for paintball companies, many companies got fines, even they lost their license because of not following the rules of government,
- every part and product of paintball would had to pass through government safety and rules, paintball guns, masks, grenades, tanks etc, were manufacture according to the govt: standard.
- Though many manufacturers lost their businesses, still that was the great decision of govt:
- you can read some rules and enforcements from here
Lots of changes seen in the paintball industry (2010 to 2011)
- Later in the mid of 2010 kee action sports purchased the assets of all well-known manufacturers like, WPG, JT, Viewload and many more, they were the most dominated manufacturer, surprised paintball players with the latest paintball equipment.
- There was one competitor of kee manufacturers were available known as DLX technology, their guns were still popular therefore they were still in the ground,
- later, after some time the Gino postorive’s came back in the ground with a new manufacturer better known as Valken, they start distributing new paintball equipment to compete with kee manufacturer.
The rise of .50 caliber paintballs (2013to 2014)
That was the big surprise for the ordinary player because .50 calibers were the fewer impact paintballs many newbie’s starts encourage to play paintball with their friends and families.
Paintball getting famous new players want to enter in the paintball to explore the real-time military feels.
Many paintball fields offer rented equipment and discounts to encourage college students and families, even some paintball fields arrange camping areas bone fires, resorts, etc, to enhance the enjoyments of players.
Currently, there are thousands of paintball die-hard exist In the world, lots of new equipment available in the market including new electric guns full coverage comfortable glasses friendly paintball masks , safety vest, stylish clothes, gloves, etc.
Check out our article about paintball clothing
I think paintball will grow exponentially because every person wants to explore real-time military experience, the owners of paintball field start various versions of paintball like speedball and woodsball to get develop more attention of players.
(check out the comparison of speedball and woodsball)
Every newbie should get experience paintball to test his/her surviving skills but keep in mind you have to take proper safety measures before entering the field.