The History of Paintball

Paintball is a relatively new sport going back only to the 1980’s. In 1974 James Hale of the Daisy Manufacturing Company invented a gun that had balls of paint inserted in it. This gun, the Nelspot 007, was used for marking trees and livestock in a field for forestry and farming companies. He never imagined it would turn into what it has today.

Bob Gumsey, a retailer of sporting goods; Hayes Noel, a stockbroker; and Charles Gaines, a writer realized that the paint balls only stung a little when they hit you and started a game of “capture the flag” using a pump pistol, the Nelspot 007, in a New Hampshire field and woods in 1981. Twelve people participated and Richie White captured all the flags without firing one shot. Gaines had just returned from a safari in Africa and wanted some sort of sport he could play in the United States that would simulate the stalking and hunting thrill he experienced there.

Things progressed from there. Caleb Strong a developer from New York developed his own outdoor paintball field in Rochester, NY. He and Charles Gains started PMI and are still in business catering to paintball players. In 1982 Charles Gaines got the brilliant idea to market paintball as a survival game and Sports Illustrated wrote an article covering the sport. This gave a great boost to the sport and in 1983 the NSG National Championship took place with an award of $14,000 cash. Caleb Strong opened the first indoor playing field in Buffalo, NY in 1984 and the game of paintball took off not only in the US but in Canada, Australia and England and was called an extreme sport drawing more and more enthusiasts.

Robert G. Shepherd developed the first gun made for paintball use in 1985. It was called the Splatmaster. Around this time George Skogg created a paintball pellet that was more accurate when shot and the paint was brighter and easier to see. The paint from the pellets washed off easily with soap and water instead of being hard to get off as earlier paint pellets were. Mr. Skogg worked for the Nelson Paint Company and his paint pellets are now marketed as Nelson Paintballs.

Paintball Guns have evolved from that rudimentary pump pistol to rather complicated ones. Now there are electro-pneumatic paintball guns that have become a standard for players in recreational games or in tournaments.

The IPPA (International Paintball Players Association) was founded as a non profit in 1998 and devoted itself to the growth of the game. But it also wanted to make sure that people were educated in the game and that safety standards were put in place. The NPPL (National Professional Paintball League) came into being in 1992 and the first NPPL Pro-Am Tournament series started in Reno, New York, Boston and a few other US and Canadian cities.

The first televised paintball tournament went across the air waves on ESPN from Washington DC in 1993 in the NPPL “DC Cup”. This gave the sport mass exposure and by 1996 paintball had become the 3rd most popular extreme sport in the world and was being played in over 60 countries.

Today you would be hard pressed to not find a paintball field in even the smallest communities. It has taken off from a talk about an African Safari to an extreme sport watched and played by millions of people all over the world.

Author Bio: Layne regularly writes for, they carry such paintball equipment as Paintball Guns and the Invert Mini, as well as many other items from a variety of manufacturers.

Category: Sports
Keywords: Paintball Guns, Invert Mini

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