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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

5 Coolest Paintball Courses in the World

Originally developed for recreation, paintball has evolved into a formal sports competition, which involves tournaments and teams comprised of professional players.

Military forces and law enforcement use paintball as part of their training. Participants can play indoor or outdoor fields of varying sizes. Some of the games include elimination, capture the flag, defending/attacking a particular area, or capturing objects hidden in the playing area.

One of the best things about paintball is that you can be of any age or level to play. All you need is a team, gear, and a field.

Playing on an interesting terrain makes paintball even more fun. Some of the most interesting paintball courses are in forests, dusty terrains, and artificial war areas. Challenging obstacles and an interesting atmosphere are some of the components that make a paintball course interesting.

We wanted to find out which terrains were the most interesting, so we scoured the globe for the coolest paintball courses.

Skirmish

When you enter Skirmish’s website home page, you get sucked into the world of paintball. The home page provides a bird’s eye view and a first-person point of view of the course.

Located in Albrightsville, USA, Skirmish is home to more than 50 paintball maps in the world. The entire course spans over 750 acres of the Pocono Mountain real estate. (1)

image via Skirmish

Paintballers who want a variety of courses will find Skirmish to be a delight, as it offers dense woods, open fields, swamps, bridges, creeks, two castles, cargo containers, airplanes, and inflatable bunkers. Talk about a variety.

Players don’t have to have paintball experience, and the staff offer tips and answer questions. Skirmish provides paintball equipment.

They provide numerous packages, depending on your needs and organize events that allow specials for students and benefits for other groups.

The company is based around the world in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, and America. Skirmish USA hosts one of the most popular scenario games called the Invasion of Normandy. 

The event attracts almost 4,000 attendees every July. (2)

Gotchaspielfeld Nord

Situated in Poland, Gotchaspielfeld Nord is Europe’s biggest paintball field. The facility, which opened in 2008 after a year of preparation, is located an hour and a half from Berlin and at the German border in Forst.

Aside from the usual amenities, the park offers a sleeping facility with 150 beds, a restaurant with a beer garden, an open-air cinema, and a disco.

image via Scenario-Paintball

Those who are more interested in the paintball aspect of the park have the option of choosing from 20 fields spread over 81 acres. One of the most popular scenarios at Gotchaspielfeld Nord is the Big Game. More than 1,000 players from German and the rest of Europe gather to compete in the legendary event. 

The other park’s offerings include a tour of the Secret Bunker Forest and a tank ride on one of the three original armored vehicles. (6)

Some of the themed fields that the park offers are the Black Hawk Down, Rocket SILO, Green Zone, Slim City and House of Paint.

One of the benefits of making a full-day booking is free lunch at the park’s restaurant, Kantina.

Hollywood Sports Paintball & Airsoft Park

It seems that everything in Hollywood is about glitz and glamor. That seems to be the case even for their paintball courses.

One of the most interesting paintball courses is the Hollywood Sports course, based in Bellflower, USA.

Only Hollywood’s arts and culture can transport you to a battlefield, and the infamous park doesn’t fail to do that. This place has it all.

The venue is a million-dollar outdoor facility and spread over 28 acres. Situated to Los Angeles County in the city of Bellflower, Hollywood Sports Paintball offers various themed courses to create a memorable experience. (3

image via  Hollywood Sports

Some of the courses available are the giant tactical stadium, forbidden city, lunar wars, mad max, apocalypse, escape LA, combat center, and raccoon city. The park also offers a BMX course, volley court and two-story buildings. If that wasn’t enough, the park also has a MOUT training course, movie sets from Saving Private Ryan and Godzilla. (2)

The park also has a banquet center for bachelor or bachelorette parties, film showings, weddings, and family gatherings. 

Many people regard the park as the most themed paintball park in the world.

Hot Shots Paintball Adventure Park

If you’re in Melbourne, Australia and want to experience one of the best paintball courses in the world, then the Hot Shots is the place to be.

It was voted as the fourth best paintball course in the world and Australia’s number 1 Most Awesome Paintball Skirmish Adventure Park. The only downside of the park is that it allows players of 16 years or older to play paintball. The park offers a mini-course for players ten years or older, as well as laser games.

Players will never run out of entertainment at Hot Shots since it offers 11 fields that combine a natural bush setting with fascinating themes such as Wild West town, Egyptian Village, Battleforce Pacific and more. (4)

To make the park more entertaining, the organizers also have special effects, explosions, and sound effects. The park spans over 50 acres and has free BBQ facilities and also offers conference venues for corporate events, bachelor parties, and social gatherings.

The park compares its offerings to Hollywood style designed explosions and special effects. Other courses provided include the Mission Impossible, The Gauntlet, and Assasin.

Asylum Paintball

This place is one of the most exciting paintball courses not only in the world but also in New Zealand. Situated in Auckland, Asylum Paintball offers a unique experience.

Instead of designing an artificial course, the owners decided to convert a former Kingseat psychiatric hospital, which was in operation from 1932-1999, into a paintball course. The designers didn’t disappoint. (2)

image via  Asylum Paintball

Besides offering packages for just about all ages, Asylum Paintball also offers night games, as well as indoor and outdoor courses. Some of the indoor venues are splat arena, doom arena, and the outdoor arenas are the wrecking yard, tire mania, drums of war and urban assault.

What makes it is that the venue used to be an asylum, so the organizers used the venue’s history to theme the park. 

The park also offers BBQ facilities, catering and party rooms, as well as lockers.

One of the most popular events that the park hosts it a realistic experience is the Asylum Night Terror. The event is a 10-hour Airsoft scavenger-battle through the haunted, former Mental Asylum. (5)

Last Stand

Paintball is a sport that people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy. One of the perks of paintball is that it allows you to bond with your friends or colleagues while getting a workout and learning military strategies.

The aspect that makes paintball really fun is the course. Playing on themed courses and having various options available is what makes the game more exciting. Our listings reveal that regardless of where you are in the world, you can experience state-of-the-art courses.

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