Paintball is one of those activities which is played by a whole host of different people, both professionally and recreationally. Most of us play it once in a blue moon, some people play it every weekend, and some people haven’t even stepped foot in a paintball game zone at all.
While paintball borrows aspects from other team sports, it really is a unique sport which is like no other. As the game continues to grow in popularity, equipment is evolving, rules are being set, and there are even leagues being formed. But where and how did it all begin?
Paint & Markers
Back in the 1960s, Charles Nelson of the Nelson Paint Company, Michigan, patented a number of paint-projectile devices which were to be used by foresters to mark certain trees from a long distance. Nelson ended up producing an oil and gelatin-based paint pellet which could be fed into a gun (or marker) so that both foresters and farmers alike could benefit from this invention.
The first ever markers which were compatible with Nelson’s paintballs were produced by the Crosman company – the Crosman 707. However, the gun didn’t sell all too well and Crosman stopped production of the marker after a few years. Production changed hands to air rifle manufacturer Daisy, who then created the aptly named Daisy Splotchmarker (Nel-spot 007) in 1972.
The First Game
The Daisy Nel-spot 007 was, in fact, used in the first ever paintball game which was 27th June, 1981. The game was a pre-planned activity created by two friends: Hayes Noel (a stockbroker) and Charles Gaines (a writer). Over a few drinks one evening, they discussed whether they would be able to survive in the woods ahead of someone who was already familiar with a woodland environment, such as a hunter, a soldier, or an outdoorsman.
Another friend of theirs, Bob Gurnsey, saw some markers advertised in the local newspaper and they began writing up some rules of what would be the first ever game of paintball. They decided that the entrance fee for the game would be $175, which included equipment, food and beverages throughout the day.
A total of 9 people accepted invitations to take part in the first ever game – half of which were avid hunters and the other half consisted of other ‘city boys’ such as a venture capitalists and surgeons. Armed with a Nel-spot 007 each, they embarked to their game zone, an 80-acre site which was close to Charles Gaines’ house.
The 12 men kicked things off with Capture The Flag – a game which is still played today – and, after many heated exchanges, the ‘city boys’ ended up coming out on top, beating the outdoorsy hunters who were on the opposing team. The first ever paintball game had been won!
Since then, many things have changed – for the better! First of all, it’s certainly not as expensive as it used to be! Secondly, water-based paint now replaces old oil-based pellets and many markers are power-restricted to ensure the safety of players. What’s more, front pumps and gas tanks were added to paintball markers across the board, making them more user-friendly. While the game may have progressed, Noel and Gaines’ original query is still answered today by the players who load up their hoppers, put on their safety masks and step into the paintball game zone week after week.
Paintball really is a game for players of all ages and abilities. At the top, there are many professional teams who compete at both national and international level. But for most of us, there are thousands of players who take part in recreational paintball just for fun, whether it’s for a birthday celebration, a corporate event, a hen or stag do or even if it’s just to do something different!
Now, it’s time for you to make your own history by embarking on your own Paintball adventure. With over 120 paintball sites across the UK, you’ll be sure to find a location which is convenient for you.