Intrigued about the game of paintball? Want to know more about it? Refer to this article to learn about the complete history of paintball.
The game of paintball has seen a massive rise in popularity throughout the years. In fact, the game is so popular now that different competitive events are taking place throughout the entire globe.
Additionally, the game’s popularity has made so far that 6 to 7 out of 10 people know what the game is at the moment.
That ratio is not small by any means. But do we know the history of the game that we all love and play very often? The answer would probably be a no for most people. But that changes today! We are here to offer you the complete history of paintball.
And after going through this article, you will know what ignited the fire to give birth to this fantastic game. So, all that is left for you to do is get relaxed and absorb all of the information we will provide!
A Complete History of Paintball
When Was the Paintball Gun First Invented?
As we all know, the game of paintball uses guns that shoot projectiles. They generally use compressed air to shoot the projectiles.
And this type of gun has been around for a long amount of time. The first appearance was in the 1940s. And they were first seen in the wild in Britain.
Before the Paint marker
Britain’s commercial freighter ships utilized canons that relied on steam power. This steam power offered the canons a great deal of power to neutralize enemy aircraft.
However, they did not always shoot that canon on aircraft. Instead, they shot down bottles and potatoes on the field for fun when the sailors were bored.
After a while, the sports industry got the idea of using these canons in the 1940s. This canon utilized the same principle and used steam power. However, their motive was not to shoot down enemy aircraft. Instead, they wanted to use this to shoot T-shirts to the fans on the very upper decks.
Introduction of Nel-Spot 007
We all know that the guns of paintball do not rely on steam power. Instead, they use compressed air. Even if they are relying on a different form of air, the principle is the same. And the idea to use CO2 with a paintball inside first surfaced in the year the 1960s.
The company that first released this type of gun to the market was the Nelson Paint Company.
Their main motive was to help the foresters and allow them to mark the trees with a bit of amount of effort. And their hope to assist these people was a big success. The Nel-Spot 007 was in the hands of most foresters.
This Nel-Spot 007 housed gelatin balls. And when they were shot, they would have a resounding splat and spread the colors around.
However, the foresters were not the only ones that were using this. The farmers caught up to the idea and decided to use them to mark already bred cattle.
Now, you might be wondering why would somebody decide to shoot their battles with a gun. Well, they were not actually called paintball guns back then.
Instead, people used to refer to them as paintball markers. And as these balls were filled with organic colors, they were the ideal thing to mar cattle.
How Did The Game Surface?
Well, it was not a game in the very beginning. And there is a fascinating history behind this as well. Hayes Noel and Charles Gaines were in a serious argument in the late 1970s.
And their argument went for a month without showing any sight to end. They needed to come up with something better to end the fight.
Back then, ending conflicts with duels was a big thing. And that is why these two gentlemen wanted to end the argument with a gun duel that would take place at 20 paces.
In this decision, Gaines would excel with his outdoor skills. And Noel thought the urban instincts he got would prove to be superior.
Nevertheless, after going back and forth for a long time, Gaines spotted something interesting after vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard in the area of Massachusetts.
He spotted the Nel-spot 007 while going back home. As you know by now, this marker was used by the foresters and the farmers to mark trees and cattle.
On that note, Gaines did not spot the gun from a forester. Instead, he spotted this masterpiece in an agricultural catalog.
The catalog was describing the capability of the tool. It stated that the instrument was powered using CO2 and housed oil-based paint-filled inside gelatin balls.
After spotting this fantastic tool, he thought it would be an interesting tool to use in a combat-like simulation.
He decided to give up on the idea to test his survivalist skills with real ammunition and decided to test the skills with the globs of paint that the tool houses.
So, after returning home, Gaines decided to participate in a combat simulation with the Nel-spot 007.
Hoping to settle the argument between Noel, he asked him to take part in a duel with the gun, which would result in a proper settlement without anyone dying. But, they were first worried if it would cause serious injuries or not.
Well, it was reported that Gaines had tried the gun on his wife, Shelby, who assured Gaines that the gun did not hurt that much.
And the duel stated the same thing. However, the contest did not resolve the argument that the two gentlemen had for a long time.
In the duel, Gaines won. However, that was according to Gaines. But he crept around the woods to snipe the other.
It is a situation where he would have an unfair advantage over the other man. For that reason, the conflict was still on in hopes of finding something that would make the duel fair.
The Idea of a Game of Paintball
Would you believe us if we told you that the game of paintball was an accidental creation? Well, even though it might sound unbelievable, it is the truth. And to know all about the creation of the game, you need to continue reading.
After failing to end the dispute with a duel, both the gentleman went ahead and brought a common friend who was a ski shop owner.
The name of the friend was Bob Guernsey. He was supposed to supervise the entire duel and ensure that no one gets an unfair advantage over the other.
However, Gurnsey decided to add some rules and turn the combat into a game to make things fun. The idea was to experiment with the idea of creating a fair game-like scenario to end the conflict.
It was purely by accident, and they did not know they would be creating a game that would be this popular.
Gurnsey’s rudimentary set of rules was basically to include nine other competitors in the game. That would make the total number of participants eleven. And the main goal of the game was to capture the flags that were placed on four stations and escape without getting shot.
Even though the idea was simple, the game did require some strategies. The competitors had to grab the flag from the station and head for an exit, which was premarked, without getting shot or having any paint on them.
On that note, they have decided to carry out the game in a 100 acres field in Henniker. It was a site not that far from Gaine’s home.
To maintain the central conceit of the ongoing argument, both the gentleman tried to invite a cross-section of personalities for the colossal event.
Team Members and Gears
The cross-section of personalities included foresters, veterans of Vietnam who were urban tacticians. Each of the competitors was equipped with the Nel-spot 007, paintballs, goggles, C02 cartridges, a map, and a compass.
The First Competition of Paintball
After the rules made by Gurnsey seemed all good to go, the first competition took place in the year 1981. On June 27, the game started and lasted for two hours. And in these two hours, all the men stalked around the area. They were trying their best to lurk behind the foliage.
Even though they were not on the same team, they tried their best to seize the flags without getting shot down painted with the paintballs.
According to Gaines, he grabbed two of the flags before ending up in a stand-off with Green Bret. The abandoned woodshed was where these two men met.
This trauma surgeon had tagged half the dozen of players himself. However, the crown went to Ritchie White’s forester, who did not fire a single shot.
He adopted a strategy to grab the flags without getting noticed covertly. And this strategy allowed him to stay low and not get shot.
But did the competition resolve the conflict that Gaines and Noel had all this time? Not really, but they were having too much fun to care about the fight.
After that, one of the participants reached out to Noel, Gaines, and Gurnsey. He wanted to know more about the rules, equipment, and other things related to the game.
All of this information would receive coverage in most of the sports sections of different printing media. And with the coverage in the news, the game would then be known to most people.
How Did the Game Become an Actual Sport
After the mass coverage regarding the game, most of the sports companies sensed a business idea. They devoted themselves to making this a recreational activity.
However, Gurnsey has devoted his time and effort to refining the rules even further. Others started to work on getting suitable kits for the game.
Through massive effort, Gaines was finally able to crack a deal with Nelson Paint. They then decided to license the ammo and the guns for non-agricultural purposes, which would make them highly accessible.
The First Events
Soon after the proposition, the licensing of the National Survival Game took place. This turned from a brand to a franchise, and they organized different paintball competitions. Also, they opened plenty of venues for playing paintball.
On the year 1982, the National Survival Game started to promote a World Championship.
Hearing about such a big event, all of the enthusiasts put their best effort into modifying the gun. With knowledge and trials, they have managed to include a pump-action loading mechanism in their gun. And many even had extended magazines and automatic firing modes.
Also, organizers other than National Survival Game started to pop up because of how popular the games were getting. And for making the game a bit generic, they all decided to give the game the name of paintball. Also, due to immense popularity, the paint then became water-based from oil-based.
The First Setback
Everything was not good for the game. After the explosion of popularity in the 1980s, most people were not on board with the game. The state of New Jersey had decided to consider the gun as a firearm as it could shoot projectiles at an extremely high velocity.
And in that state, to acquire a paintball marker, one would need to go through the extensive process of getting a firearm permit. Also, getting a permit was not the end of the hassles. If someone shot the gun at other humans, he would have a reasonable amount of legal problems.
Nevertheless, the issue got resolved in 1988, thanks to an enthusiast named Raymond Gong. He sued the attorney general and removed the marker from the Gun Control Act. And since then, it is legal to own one and play with one in open fields.
As you can see, the complete history of paintball is pretty interesting. What was supposed to be a settling thing for an argument, converted into a game! And a tool that was meant to mark cattle and trees converted into equipment for the game. Interesting, isn’t it?
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Hi, This is Leo Roman. I am a paintball enthusiast and love to improve my paintball game skills in the right way. I created this blog out of my passion for helping paintball game lovers improve their paintball games. I am not alone here. We have a bunch of paintball enthusiasts here. Learn more