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When Was Paintball Invented? Celebrating the Origin of This Fun Hobby

Paintball is an intense and competitive sport that offers a wide variety of playing fields. It consists of fast-paced strategies and tactics that can temporarily turn your closest friends into your focused enemy. But when was paintball invented?

It has become a popular game played on outdoor and indoor fields around the world. The sport reflects the unbelievable adrenaline rush that accompanies the hunt of each game.

So how did it all come to be?


When Was Paintball Invented?


The concept of the paintball marker was invented back during the mid-60s by a man named Charles Nelson. However, the sport of paintball is still relatively young, with the first paintball game played in May of 1981.

So now you know: When was paintball invented? But what happened between those years that transformed paintball into the popular game we love today?

To answer this, we have to dive deeper into some exciting paintball history.

History of the marker

When asking when was paintball invented, we must take a look back to the mid-60s.

During this time, Charles Nelson of the Nelson Paint Company was asked to create a device to assist foresters.

What he invented was the paintball marker.

The notion was to shoot a projectile of paint from the marker to mark trees or livestock. The device would save foresters and ranchers time by giving them the ability to mark from a distance.

Nelson approached the Crosman company to produce a marker gun that would shoot the paintballs. So the company developed the Crosman 707. However, after a few years of poor sales, Crosman halted production as a financial loss.

If only they knew how mistaken they were.

The Nel-Spot 007

Years later, Nelson decided that he might have more success if he sold his paintball marker as a toy. With BB guns so popular, he contacted an airsoft company, known as Daisy, to construct the first paintball marker.

In 1972, the Daisy Manufacturing Company patented and manufactured the "Splotchmarker," which Nelson marketed as the famous Nel-Spot 007. This marker became a milestone in paintball history for use in the first ever game of the sport.

The Nel-Spot 007 was a bolt action or pump action marker in the shape of a pistol. Its robust design, reliability, and simplicity still place it in the gear bags of many players today.


The First Game of Paintball


Paintball

image source: pixabay.com

The first paintball game occurred on June 7, 1981, in the New Hampshire woods. However, the game didn't happen overnight. In fact, the discussion took place for the first time in 1977, between two friends, over drinks.

Years later, after seeing the Nel-Spot 007 in a catalog, the two friends set out to settle an ongoing argument — could a novice survive in combat against a trained hunter?

When looking into history to see when was paintball invented, you'll see it was nothing but a simple concept.

Testing their theory, Hayes Noel and Charles Gaines invited 12 friends to compete in a game of capture the flag. There were 4 flag stations, each with 12 flags matching each of the 12 people playing. The rules were simple: The first to capture all the flags without getting shot wins.

Half of the players comprised experienced avid hunters and the other half consisted of untrained city men.

Game-day took place on June 27, 1981. They armed 12 players with the Nel-Spot 007 paintball markers and set out into an 80-acre cross-country playing field.

Incidentally, the winner, Ritchie White, didn’t fire a single shot. Instead, he used strategic stealth tactics to collect all the flags, outsmarting his friends to win.

As the first 12 players stalked each other for eliminations and flags, they were not aware of the impact this simple experiment would have on extreme sports in the years to come.

Rise of the paintball industry

Shortly after the first game, one of the participants, Bob Jones, decided to write an article about the experience for Sports Illustrated Magazine. This instantly made the game of paintball famous and brought the sport to a whole new generation of players.

His article resulted in the unexpected flow of letters from people with requests asking how they could play the game.

The sudden popularity in the game proved to be a great business opportunity for the principal creators. Gurnsey, Gaines, and Noel started selling starter kits for what they called the National Survival Game (NSG).

The kit included a Nel-Spot marker, along with some paintballs and safety goggles. They also added an official rulebook for the game and a bonus compass as used by the first players.


Paintball as a Worldwide Sport


Paintball

image source: pixabay.com

Bob Gurnsey opened the world's first commercial paintball field in New Hampshire in March 1982. And as we learn more about when was paintball invented, this was only the beginning.

Gurnsey began licensing out the NSG franchise to others who wanted to start their own fields. The sport transitioned from NSG to the name of paintball and began to make its way overseas in 1994.

With all these new burgeoning industries, paintball was standardized and more streamlined for consumer play.

Speedball and the rise of the semi-automatic marker

While learning when was paintball invented, it's also good to know how it advanced over the years.

In 1988, a new variation to the game called "arena ball" made its debut at a paintball field in California. Also known as speedball, it was a revolutionary addition to the world of paintball and an instant success.

This type of game was extremely fast-paced and usually lasted only three to four minutes at a time. The game required higher speed, and because of this, the 1990s soon saw a rise in demand for semi-automatic markers.

It was Tippman Pneumatics to release the first fully-automatic paintball gun: the Tippman SMG-60. Tippman remains among the most respected and well-distributed companies in the world today.

Accurate and fast to operate, these semi-automatic markers could generate very high rates of fire. However, semi-automatic electronic markers were heavy to carry. They were also considerably more expensive, making them not readily available to most players at the time.

Originally part of Kingman, Spyder Paintball made a name for itself by introducing a more affordable semi-automatic to the public. Known as the Kingman Spyder marker, an aluminum body made it much lighter than other semi-auto markers on the market.

Famous for their reliability, simple design, and ease of maintenance, these mechanical markers had high performance at a low cost. By doing this, Spyder significantly evened the playing field for those players on a tight budget.

Over time, the markers became more affordable and available on the market. Other brands started to manufacture them, and today there are several great speedball markers from which to choose.


The Paintball Patent Wars


Paintball

image source: pixabay.com

As the passion for paintball began the spread, it started to gain a more positive and safe reputation. More companies began to appear and take the opportunity in the sport, offering cheaper markers or specialized parts and gear.

While looking into the question of when was paintball invented, another milestone hit with the entry of electro-pneumatically operated markers.

Unlike pump markers, a circuit board controls power to electronic or electro-pneumatic markers with a 9-volt battery. The consistency is more accurate with a faster firing ratio due to the electric components.

In 2003, a company known as Smart Parts got a patent for paintball markers using an electro-pneumatic valve. Unfortunately, this also initiated a series of lawsuits regarding markers built during the pending patent period.

It also created a massive backlash against Smart Parts by many players of the game.

The event sent a shockwave through the industry, and several smaller manufacturers immediately ceased production of electronic markers.

Most high-end companies were less affected

However, for those companies that continued to make the electronic markers, the competition would only rise. Some of the remaining top-quality companies included Luxe Paintball, Planet Express, DYE, and many others.

Founded in 1994, DYE is one of the oldest companies in the sport. It manufactures a wide range of paintball equipment, as well as the popular Dye Rize line of markers. The goal of the company was to deliver reliable and dependable paintball guns and gear to all players.

A small England-originated company known as Planet Express became popular after creating what they called the Eblade board. This was a complete chip kit with the ability to convert any typical auto-cocker marker into an electronic one.

Today the company is now a leading manufacturer in electronic paintball markers such as the CS2 and the Etha 2.

DLX Technologies, also known as Luxe Paintball, amazed the world with its exclusive Luxe ICE, one of the best high-end paintball markers on the market. DLX designed its marker to be as customizable as possible and continuously updates to meet the demands of the players.


The Game of Paintball Today


Paintball

image source: pixabay.com

So now that we've answered your question of "When was paintball invented," let's go over the facts one last time before you head out into the field!

The very first game of paintball occurred in 1981.

When the game was first played, it was merely 12 friends trying to test who had the best survival skills only to become a world-known official sport in a matter of 2 years later.

Paintball has grown over the years, from outdoor and indoor fields to elaborate obstacles including custom scenarios and tactical gameplay. It has evolved into a highly competitive sport that comes in many different forms, ranging from small groups of friends to professional tournaments.

The game is now getting the attention it deserves and is a favorite recreational past-time for many people.

Did you enjoy learning about the history of this exciting, adrenaline-driven sport? Please let us know what you think in the comments below!


Featured Image via Pixabay

What To Wear To Paintball To Keep It Safe And Fun And Still Look Good

So you want to play paintball? Of course, you do!

What better way is there than to spend the afternoon firing high-speed capsules of stinging paint at your friends?

We can’t think of anything else!

The game of paintball is an intense and exciting experience.

Paintball mask on player with yellow paint on eye protection

Image via padefiance

It has the ability to turn your best friends into your sworn enemies while giving you the opportunity to show off your glory and courage in the face of unspeakable odds.

It will challenge you and force you to make “life or death” tactics and decisions on the spot all while getting down and dirty in the fresh air.

So it should come as no surprise that it can all feel extremely overwhelming for a first time player to the game.

Not to mention that the idea you are about to walk out into a field of gunners ready to shoot you is intimidating, to say the least.

But don’t let it get the better of you!

A paintball gun hit is not as bad as it looks.

Take our word for it. Don’t let the fear of the unknown prevent you from trying out this fun and exciting sport.

The Game Of Paintball

Paintball focuses on three main things:

  1. Safety
  2. Fair play
  3. Fun

Although the sport of paintball appears to be a dangerous, extreme sport, it's a safe and fun activity that you share with family and friends.

The game is open to all ages ranging from 10 years to 60 years and older.

two teens playing paintball

Image via bedrck

Paintball does not promote any form of warfare or acts of violence such as killing.

In reality, the sport is basically just a simple game of hide and seek with a little bit of tag thrown into the mix.

It is also often compared to a first-person shooter video game, but instead of sitting at home in a computer chair, you are actively on a real field playing with real people.

So you actually get to experience what it is like to run and dodge, hide and stealth your way through the battlefield.

And there are some extremely cool battlegrounds!

To sum it up:

Paintball is a sport that involves nothing but having fun.

It is a team sport with a simple goal that the players must reach in order to win the game.

A typical game of paintball splits a large group of players into individual or two separate opposing teams.

Next, the players take a particular position out on a field full of artificial barriers, bunkers, and other obstacles to hide or take cover behind.

The game will begin once the referee calls it out.

Once the game starts, players are to make their way around the barriers individually or as a team on the battlefield.

They have to locate and eliminate opponents from play by shooting them with round, gelatin capsules that have dye inside, known as paintballs.

You are "eliminated" and out of the game when a paintball hits you.

The Health Benefits Of Playing Paintball

Paintballer reflected in another players goggles

Image via -Andretti-

Needless to say, paintball is more than just an entertaining game where adults can be children all over again.

There are also many health benefits when it comes to playing as well.

Paintball is an intense sport and demands a lot of physical activity.

This exercise can aid in weight loss and has even been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression.

Some people even prefer to play a few sessions of paintball instead of working out at the gym.

But that's not all:

Apart from the physical exercise the game can provide, paintball also offers mental health benefits by relieving the stress of the player and promoting strong social interactions and leadership skills.

A game of paintball often brings out the best in many players and boosts their self-confidence.

Before You Start The Game

paintball team in the woods wearing protective gear and blaze orange vests

Image via Balukcic

It is always important to research the field where you are planning to play because specific locations may have slightly different requirements that they expect of their players.

Finding a local paintball field is easy:

All you have to do is search online using Google. Most fields have websites that list their rules and regulations along with their contact information.

Specific rules might apply per paintball field, but typically every field will stick to the same dress code.

What To Wear To Paintball

paintballer in proper gear including padded vest, shoulder and arm pads, head and face protection

Image via gjbmiller

As stated, your attire may change depending on the field where you decide to play.

Some fields are strict with their dress code and won’t allow any bare skin to show. Others won’t even require the men to wear shirts.

But:

It is never a good idea to go shirtless into an active paintball field for obvious reasons.

Most first time players of the game will feel more secure while wearing jeans and a thick sweatshirt.

Thicker clothing will help to absorb the impact of the paintballs, but there are many options of clothing that you might want to consider wearing.

Tops and sweatshirts

When you choose what to wear for your upper body, it is always best to go with long-sleeves to ensure that you expose as little skin as necessary.

It is usually not advisable to wear a short-sleeved t-shirt even on the hottest of game days.

With that in mind:

Baggy sweatshirts with hoodies are also an excellent choice for paintball.

In some cases, the player might want to wear more layers for extra protection.

This statement also applies to women who should always wear a supportive sports bra or some other means of protecting the upper areas of their body.

Pants

The game of paintball is a dirty one, so make sure you wear something that can withstand getting exposed to the various elements.

That said:

Paintball bruises on thigh instagram post

Never wear shorts to a game of paintball.

Loose sweatpants, jumpsuits, jeans, cargo pants or paintball-specific pants are your best options. These types of bottoms will be able to handle the roughness of the game.

Make sure that the pants you choose are comfortable because you will be wearing them for a while. Your goal is to give your lower body as much cover as possible without restricting any movement.

It is important that your pants are thick and sturdy enough to handle activities such as crawling, kneeling, and sliding on the ground.

Gloves

Having a good sturdy pair of gloves is also a good and cheap investment and will help protect your hands while playing paintball.

Your hands are one of the most common places to get shot because you must continuously expose them while handling and pointing your gun at your targets.

Some of the ideal choices of gloves you can use are typical golfers and gardening gloves. You may also use leather bikers gloves and paintball-specific gloves

Avoid using gloves that are too thick or are made out of latex because they can impair the sensitivity of your trigger finger.

Other things to consider

Whatever you decide to wear, make sure your footwear covers your entire foot.

Old sneakers or combat boots are ideal.

You should also avoid wearing any loose jewelry such as necklaces or earrings to prevent getting snagged or pulled out.

Choose comfortable and basic clothing that you won’t mind getting dirty.

Although most paintballs will not stain, it can still happen. So it is best to wear something that you wouldn’t mind having a permanent paint mark on.

It is also highly recommended to bring a change of clothes just in case your clothes get too dirty to wear home.

What Other Equipment Do You Need?

Fortunately, public paintball fields do not require you to purchase or bring your own equipment.

Everything that you need to play the game will be provided to you by the field in the form of a rental package.

All personal supplies are optional, and it is up to you on what you want to do. However, if you are playing the game for the first time, buying your own equipment is not recommended.

You will do much better using the rental gear offered to you by the field.

Using the rental equipment will give you time to get a feel for the game before you decide that you want to invest money into getting your own supplies.

A typical field rental package should include the following items:

  • Face mask
  • Hopper (paintball container that attaches to the gun)
  • CO2 or compressed-air tank to power the gun
  • Paintball gun or marker

Paintball fields will also have paintball pellets that you must purchase to load up your gun for play.

Know your different types of guns

There are many different makes of paintball guns or markers.

Each type has their pros and cons depending on the player but they are all broken down into three basic types.

Pump paintball markers

This gun is simple but reliable and the most basic.

It is also the only type with a pump trigger. You have to pull the pump backward and forward to set the next paintball after you make a shot.

Players who choose to play pump must learn how to use tactics over speed since they have to make every shot count.

Mechanical paintball markers

Easy to maintain, mechanical paintball guns are the most common marker used in recreational play.

They are typically semi-automatic, which means that they fire one shot per trigger pull.

Electronic paintball markers

Popular and fast to operate, a circuit board controls the electronic paintball gun. And they are powered by a 9-volt battery instead of a long and heavy trigger.

Pulling the trigger of this type of marker is as simple as clicking a button on a computer mouse, resulting in very high rates of fire.

Safety Rules On The Field

As a whole, playing paintball is a relatively safe sport, but as it goes with all sports, accidents can happen. So it is crucial for all players to know the rules and use common sense.

You can avoid most paintball accidents when you follow the rules.

Wear your headgear

The number one required rule of playing paintball is that all players must wear their specifically designed protective headgear, such as goggles or face masks for the sport of paintball when out on the field of play.

This rule also applies to a player who has been shot and eliminated from the current game.

Remember:

Players may not remove their headgear while an active game is in play under any circumstances.

There are no exceptions to the rule, and if you are caught violating it, you will likely be asked to sit out the next game.

In the case where a player continues to disobey this important rule, they might even get ejected from the day’s play without getting a refund.

You may only remove your headgear once you are in a safe zone away from the paintball field and the barrel covers and plugs are back onto all the loaded guns or markers.

The cause of the most severe paintball accidents is because of someone removing their mask, which makes this rule the most essential to follow.

woman paintballer with headgear raised on top of her head after playing

Image via ​Torben1234​​​

Use barrel plugs

All paintball guns or markers come with a barrel blocking device and should be blocked with a barrel plug or sock when not in use during a live game.

Players may never remove their barrel cover unless at the target area or when told to do so by a referee.

Safeties are allowed along with the plugs, but they often fail if not used properly and are not as safe as the barrel blocking devices.

The barrel blocking device should remain inserted whenever protective gear is not being worn, before and after the paintball game, and in any location away from the specified paintball field of play.

For very good reason, actually.

Do not blind fire

Players must always have a target in their sight while shooting.

Many players want to stick out their guns and fire wildly into the field hoping to get a lucky shot without the risk of getting hit.

This action is known as blind fire.

You must always avoid firing in a direction without looking.

Players are never to fire a paintball gun or marker unless they are firing at a player target.

Blind firing can lead to the accidental shooting of bystanders, referees, or other players who are leaving the field.

Never play when impaired

Drugs and alcohol are not permitted.

If you are under the influence of alcohol or any type of drug, including prescription medications that can impair your judgment or make you drowsy, they will not let you play paintball.

It is never safe to play a game of paintball if you are not entirely coherent.

Additionally:

If caught under the influence, the referee will immediately remove you from the premises without a refund.

300
FPS

Always shoot less than 300 FPS (feet per second)

Players must ensure that the velocity of their guns or markers is under 300 FPS.

Checking this isn’t a major concern unless you bring your own equipment since in most cases you will be renting from the field.

If you are unsure, call for a referee to look over your gun before starting a match.

Keep in mind:

They may randomly check players throughout the day to ensure full compliance of this rule.

The surrender rule

It is customary to offer a player the chance to surrender before taking a shot at close range.

Most paintball fields use the standard rule against shooting an enemy player that is within 20 feet or less from you and has no idea that you are there.

You should call out for the enemy player to surrender, but if they refuse or don’t respond fast enough, you can still shoot them.

And one more thing to remember:

You may not aim for the head or shoot a player multiple times when in close range.

If the player chooses to surrender they may call back out to you that they are, “out,” they have been “hit,” or they could just say that they surrender to you in order to convey a positive response.

If you are caught in a hopeless situation and are asked to surrender but refuse to respond or attempt to bluff your way out of it, you will most likely end up getting hit.

Just keep in mind that close range paintball hits feel much worse than shots taken from a long distance away.

Don't say that we didn't warn you!

But Do Paintballs Really Hurt?

Now, let us be serious for a moment.

One thing you must know is that no matter your experience in the game, you're going to get shot.

Whether you are a paintballing expert or just a beginner at the sport, when you play paintball, you will get hit.

And yes, it will hurt.

Although it is not going to hurt as bad as one would think. You will come to a new understanding of the game when a paintball hits you.

You will reach that moment of clarity when you realize that the anticipation of the hit is far worse than the actual pain itself.

Your mood can also play a significant role in how strong the impact of a paintball will feel.

If you are actively out there in the field running around with your adrenaline pumping the hit will seem less intense compared to someone nervously hiding behind a bunker.

So how does it feel to get hit by a paintball?

Although getting hit for the first time will undoubtedly be a shock, it won’t hurt much more than getting stung by the snap of a rubber band.

On the other hand:

If you disregard the rules and refuse to wear the proper clothing and protective gear, it’s going to hurt far worse.

You do not want to experience getting shot by a paintball on your bare skin.

But you don’t need to worry about that, right?

Of course, you don’t!

What are the risks of playing paintball?

The most common injuries you will see while playing paintball usually are the result of simple mistakes people make.

Players may hurt themselves by falling or running into the obstacles on the field. They may even accidentally twist their ankle or slam into another player.

Anything can happen, and minor injuries are just a part of playing the game.

Fortunately, severe injuries are extremely rare in paintball, but they do happen.

And the majority of these come from players removing their masks or other safety gear, which leaves their body open to exposure.

But:

As long as players follow the rules and play safe, they won't need to worry any more than say, crossing a busy street or going running, about getting severely injured when they play paintball.

Let The Game Begin!

Right before you are about to start, the referees will go over and explain the rules of the specific game mode you are about to play.

The game of paintball will begin once the objective is established and all teams are in position.

The different game types

Some fields also offer privacy games for specific events such as bachelor and birthday parties, team building, or corporate outings.

Elimination

paintball helmets on a table

Image via Pixabay

In the game of elimination, it is all about knocking out the enemy players so that you are the last one standing on the field.

This game mode also gets played in teams, where the goal is to eliminate all players of the opposing team in order to win.

Capture the flag

The goal of this team orientated game is to cross over into the opposite teams’ territory to seize control of their flag and bring it back to your base.

The first team who controls both flags or succeeds in eliminating all members of the enemy team wins.

Speedball

Speedball is a less specific form of gameplay and covers any game played on a uniquely designed speedball field.

Compared to a typical paintball field of play, a speedball field is much smaller and flatter.

It rewards players for their teamwork and aggressive tactical plays over the usual stealth and patience aspects.

Scenario game

This category of gameplay covers a wide variety of games.

Scenario games involve setting up a specific situation, with certain rules to complete different goals such as a team having to escort and protect a given player across the field.

The scenarios are often recreations of real world or video game situations.

Just have a look at this fun paintball level scenario of “Nuketown” from the popular game of Call of Duty.

After the game

group coming off of a wooded paintball field

Image via techguy1130

On average, a typical game of paintball can usually last around 15 to 20 minutes per session. But it isn’t uncommon for the more intense and competitive games to last much longer.

In fact:

Some games can even last up days!

But no matter how long a round takes, following each game, the referees expect all players to stop what they are doing and place their barrel cover on or the plug back over and onto their gun.

Plugging it back up prevents the paintball gun or marker from accidentally triggering when the game is not in session.

Although you are probably going to be sweaty and you may feel like getting out of all that hot gear, you can't remove any of your equipment, especially your headgear, until after you entirely leave the field.

The removal of your face mask while still on the field of play is the most dangerous and risky thing a player could ever do.

If you do happen to forget and remove your headgear while still in the field, even after the game has ended, a referee may tell you to sit out the next game.

Or they may keep you out even longer.

There will usually be a short period before the next round begins to give the players a chance to rest.

It is essential to keep yourself hydrated so make sure that you get some water between games, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Typically, players can continue playing as many games as they want until they run out of paintballs or until the field decides it's time to close down for the day.

So What Are You Waiting For? Get Out There And See It For Yourself!

Paintball player hiding by a wooden fence with yellow paint on helmet

Playing paintball is one of the most exciting and heart-pounding experiences that you will ever get to have.

It is all about the thrill of the game, the rush of adrenaline in the field of glory. The possibility of getting shot and eliminated from play at any given moment, and the courage you show.

Paintball is the true immersion, a survival game brought to life.

Whether you are young or old, trying to take it to the next level or just starting out in the sport, paintball is an entertaining experience for nearly anyone to enjoy.

Although every person on the field will have their own moments, their own goals, and their own wins and losses, in the end, a game of paintball is all about fun and laughter.

At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is for everyone to have a fun, safe, and exciting experience.

What is your favorite piece of paintball gear? Let us know down in the comments! 

Featured image CC0, via Pixhere