THE ONGOING HISTORY
How paintball started, and the timeline of paintball guns / markers and equipment.
Who invented Paintball? Well there are a couple of people that made it all happen, and there is a lot more detail as you
read down the page, but this is the question most people want to know... who invented paintball? Well it's four people, and arguments
can be made for each of them. creator of paintball
Charles Nelson: The idea of a gun that shot balls of paint was his idea. I think if Bob Gurnsey, Hayes Noel, and
Charles Gaines hadn't bought that Nelspot 007 and organized the very first game of paintball, someone else eventually would have done
something similar. There are stories of ranchers and forestry workers shooting them at each other, but none of the stories are verified.
Charles Gaines, Hayes Noel and Bob Gurnsey: These three guys saw guns that were used to mark trees and cattle and figured that
they would work to see who could survive a survival game. The game they played sure wasn't the game we play today but it was the first
organized recorded game with people shooting paintballs at each other.
Bob Gurnsey: He marketed paintball as a game of capture the flag with teams using the cattle marking pistols, this is the start of
what we play now a team game of bush ball playing capture the flag. Founding National Survival Games (NSG) he had the first paintball
guns created specifically for this new game.
Not on the list.... James Hale: He didn't have the idea for a gun to shoot paintballs, he didn't even design or build the first paintball gun.
James Hales is still an important and valuable part of paintball history, after all it's his design of paintball gun that Gurnsey, Noel and
Gaines used in the first game. But he wasn't first, so he's not on the the who invented paintball list.
The Nelson Paint Company was
founded in 1940 by
Charles and Evan Nelson.
Nelson had patented a
number of devices that foresters could use to mark timber.
One of those was
a squirt gun that sprayed paint.
But the paintball was invented because the
Nelson Paint Company was asked
by the US Forestry Service for a reliable way of marking trees from a
distance. The problem
was the tree was
sometimes across a stream or thick brush. The idea behind paintballs was
that they could shoot them out over the obstruction, and a ball from a gun
would shoot farther than a stream of paint. Or ranchers could also use the
balls to mark stray cattle.
Charles Nelson played around with the idea and invented a paint pellet that
could be shot out of a gun. It was
actually created by
squirting paint into
gelatin capsules normally used then for horse pills.
Paint then approached Crossman to design a pistol to shoot the paintballs,
after 3 years of production with poor sales. Crossman no longer found it
financially sound to produce the marker. Nelson then moved to Daisy, the airgun manufacturer to produce a paintball pistol. Obviously not owning the
design of the Crossman 707, Nelson was not able to simply pass the design to
another manufacturer, a new design needed to be created instead. Which is
exactly what Daisy did James Hale the Daisy designer created the
'Splotchmarker' which became known as the now famous 'Nel-Spot
paintballs were also mass produced. Under contract by Nelson,
RP Scherer produced the
encapsulate oil based paintballs for the makers.
Crossman produced the FIRST ever paintball marker
The Nelspot 707, for
the Nelson Paintball Company. Using an
existing design of a current pellet gun the Crossman 150, now
similar to the
Crossman 2240. Unfortunately we don't know
it and there
was no new
patents with the design. Crossman originally patent the stacked tube (which
has become on the most popular types of paintball gun) in 1921 (Patents only
last approximately 25 years). And the
firing mechanism was the same as the pellet gun it was derived from.
Click on link for more information on the Crossman / Nel-Spot 707.
The Gun is
and was only
for 3 years. Crossman
declined to continue producing the marker, finding it not financially
feasible to do so. The earliest ads I could find for the Nelspot 707
all the ads referring to
707 as a new
At top the Crossman / Nelspot 707 Paintball Gun,
A pair representing the FIRST EVER
beneath it is the Crossman 150 .22 Pellet gun
the identical grip, trigger and lower tube.
patented and manufactured the SECOND paintball marker the
Daisy 'Splotchmarker', which Nelson marketed as the
famous 'Nel-Spot 007'. This
marker is important because it is THE marker that was used for that first
ever game of paintball in June 1981. The 'invention' of the
"paintball gun" is
sometimes mistakenly credited to James Hale because of a patent (US
3,788,298) filed for "compressed gas gun with trigger operated hammer
release latching structure" in 1972 by James C Hale of the Victor
Daisy Manufacturing Company,
the airgun manufacturer, was owned by Victor Comptometer who's primary
business was making adding machines, and early calculators. Notice that the
patent is not for a compressed gas gun that fires paint pellets. The patent
was filed because the Daisy 'Splotchmarker' was designed from the ground up to
shoot a paintball, not modified from a previous air gun design. Because of
this fresh approach to design it featured a different valve, hammer, trigger
design than any existing pellet, bb, and the CROSSMAN 707, so was patented.
Hale said his bosses handed the job to
him. It wasn’t a particularly glamorous project, he recalled, or one that
Daisy thought would make much money. After all, how big could the market be
for marking fallen trees and roaming cows be? He
tried using an existing model of Daisy’s air pistol. It was made for tiny BB’s, so it wasn’t a surprise that the pistol didn’t shoot paintballs hard
enough to make them burst on impact. Hale decided to design a gun from
scratch. He tried different designs, but nothing worked. His heart wasn’t in
it. Daisy was a day job that he worked as he saved money to start his own
Hale graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville as a
mechanical engineer. He went to Colorado and worked for Beech Aircraft Corp.
designing hydrogen fuel tanks to be used in the Apollo space missions. In
1970, He and his wife decided to move back to Arkansas in search of the
quiet life. There wasn’t a smorgasbord of engineering jobs in the area, he
recalled. While Daisy was a fun place to work, he yearned to do something
more challenging. The key innovations Hale produced that Christmas Eve 1971 were
a simplified mechanism to load the chamber and cock the gun and a set of
hollow tubes that delivered compressed carbon dioxide directly to the
paintball when fired.
The patent for Hale’s paintball gun was registered June 19, 1972, with
Hale’s name listed as the inventor. But the Daisy company owned rights to
the device since Hale developed it on company time. (Pretty common,
employment contracts give financial rights to the company on all inventions
created on company time)
Hale said Nelson contacted him in the mid-1980s and told him people were
using the paintball gun for sport. Hale’s mind instantly returned to the
days when he tested the gun by shooting pellets at a wall in the Daisy
factory to see if they would explode.
"I can remember the smack of those things hitting the wall and pitying
the poor cows that might be hit with it," Hale said. "We never imagined that
people would ever shoot each other with it."
James Hale, there is just the framed patent of his paintgun in his tool
shop. He said he never got involved in the paintball industry after leaving
Stock Nelspot 007
Early 1975 Nelspot 007 - APG/Roy
E. Hardy of Oregon
note the brass bead ended cocking knob
It was either in the spring of
1976 or 1977, Hayes Noel (a Wallstreet stockbroker) and Charles Gaines (a
Iron") were drinking gin and talking,
when they thought it would be fun to start some type of stalking game, as a
challenge to their friends. They were wondering if being able to survive in
the woods is a product of environment or deeply buried instinct. In other
of a person
or any other
Butler saw a Nelspot in a farm catalogue. Bob Guernsey (a ski shop owner) and Hayes Noel wrote
up the rules for that first game.
Hayes Noel and Charles Gaines and Bob Gurnsey
begins in Henniker, New Hampshire. The principal creators, Bob Gurnsey,
Hayes Noel, and Charles Gaines, discuss the idea
of finally having their game.
The argument had went on for a few years. The Nel-Spot marker was located
and tested on a volunteer, Shelby, Charles son, who said it didn't hurt much.
Hayes. The 9
$175 each to
such as food
June 27, 1981
The first paintball players. The first game is played with 12 players competing against each other with Nel-Spot 007s pistols.
They arrived at
Charles house the day before: "Bob Jones, a novelist, staff writer for
Sports Illustrated and an experienced hunter;
Ronnie Simpkins, a farmer from
Alabama and a master turkey hunter; Jerome Gary, a New York film producer;
Carl Sandquist, a New Hampshire contracting estimator; Ritchie White, the
New Hampshire forester who had told Hayes he could cut his neck in the
woods; Ken Barrett, a New York venture
capitalist with lots of hunting experience; Joe Drinon, a stock-broker from
New Hampshire and a
former Golden Gloves boxer; Bob Carlson, a trauma
surgeon from Alabama and a hunter; and myself [Lionel Atwill], a writer for
Sports Afield, a hunter and a Vietnam vet, who had had the unpleasurable
experience of leading reconnaissance missions in Vietnam in 1968, a
decidedly poor year."
The prediction the night before the game? That the hunters would do well,
and that the city boys were worth less than a case of beer. Atwill had the
most respect due to his Special Forces experience.
order the players were: Linoel Atwill, Ken Barrett, Bob Carlson, Joe Drindon,
Charles Gaines, Jerome Gary, Bob Gurnsey, Bob Jones, Hayes Noel, Carl
Sandquist, Ronnie Simkins and Ritchie White. (Possibly Gaines' son, Shelby
played too, he was present.)
The game was capture the flag on an 80 acre cross-country ski area filled
with second growth woods. There were 4 flag stations, each with 12 flags of
the same colour, one for each person playing. At 10am the game started with
players equal distance apart around the field, and each flag station
had a REF with a whistle. the Refs blew their whistle every 15 minutes so
players with poorer map reading skills would be able to find the flags.
In summary, the
first player to die was Barrett. He
surrendered to Gary. Simpkins hand marked Gurnsey. Dr. Carlson shot five
people, one being Noel when Noel had three flags and was headed for a
fourth. Atwill "hurled a moldy onion" at Gaines, charged and tagged Gaines
in the leg--but the ball bounced off. The tables turned, and Gaines tagged
The winner? Ritchie White, the New Hampshire forester. "No one ever saw
Ritchie, and he never fired a shot. He crept through the woods from station
to station, gathering flags as easily as a schoolgirl gathers flowers."
Atwill wrote, "The play was less than spectacular compared to some Games
I've seen since, but there was a spirit to that first Game that will be hard
to capture again. The weekend bubbled with humor, honor, fun and obnoxiously
friendly, yet intense, competition. Those feelings, I believe, reflected the
dispositions of the founders of the Game." - from the book
"The Official Survival Game Manual" 1983
one of the
the game (October
pg 64-68); later
was met by
on how they,
play. Bob Gurnsey with
the help of
a rule book.
the second game of
and NSG this
Hampshire, Bob Gurnsey invented
and marketed paintball as the game we play today
of National Survival Game (NSG),
be the sole
As a result
a profit in
Caleb Strong opens the first outdoor playing field in
Rochester New York (with PMI supplied equipment? can't be the first outdoor,
field was a
this was the
field, as I
Also in April 1982
(not run by
Also in April 1982
(Pursuit Marketing Inc.),
was founded by Jeff Perlmutter and David Freeman. The founders
had tried paintball and thought is was a winning idea, after unsuccessfully
trying to deal with NSG, PMI felt they could do a better job on their own.
There was no brand recognition to NSG yet, so PMI created a competing
business, where PMI created partnerships with new field owners, who would
set up the first paintball parks and then be their suppliers of the
equipment they needed. PMI never dealt directly with the customer instead
they had dealers and stores to sell their product. For their first marker
they went to the Benjamin Sheridan Air Rifle Company, who had a reputation
for being the highest quality air gun manufacturer in the United States, and
had them manufacture, exclusively for
PMI, a paintball marker for commercial use that was very durable and
reliable. The PMI-1 was the result, very similar to the later marketed
Sheridan P68sc stock class marker.
Also in 1982
Paintball went international when one of the first group
of NSG paintball fields opened is in Canada - London Ontario by Steve Ingles
Click on the Pictures for more
information about London Ontario History
The first NSG National Championship was held in Grantham New Hampshire at a
title it was
Two of the
A NSG field
flag game on
a 30 acre
"The Unknown Rebels"
A team from NSG London Ontario. The Prize $3000 to the winning team, and
$1000 to the
42-47) hailed the
Canadians as the first world champions.
the PG (A
People started adding pump handles to their Nelspot pumps to make recocking
Extending magazine tubes, and doing the first
Nelspot 007 with after market pump handle
Lionel Atwill, one of the original 12 players, writes "The Official Survival Game Manual" - the first paintball publication.
as CA, or
tanks had a
valve with a
big knob and
aisle of a
Constant Air was almost immediately banned from tournament play.
The argument was that the game was to be driven by tactics rather than guns.
Gravity feeds came out end of 1983, with 45 degree angle elbows and a PVC
pipe for the balls.
can be made
pipe and a
feed end can
also be made
with a 35mm
lid cut to
make a one
easy with a
trip to home
If you have a 1" inch feed like a Trracer
PVC joint, to
make it fit.
Old School Paintball, note the oil can loader
and CA Crossman 3357
The sport is introduced to Australia under the name of Skirmish Games.
Also this year the NSG Splatmaster was the First
successful mass produced paintball specific marker produced solely for the sport
of paintball. Prior to the Splatmaster,
markers were adapted for use in paintball, or borrowed from other applications.
Manufactured and Marketed by "The Survival Game" also known as "National
Survival Games" or NSG. Another competitor of the Splatmaster was the
Mark-4 produced specifically for paintball and quite successful but not
marketed by NSG.
Barrel extenders became the next big thing, turning the compact handguns
into a rifle, cleaning kits and harnesses also came out.
Caleb Strong of Buffalo New York opened the first indoor paintball field.
1985 The first outdoor playing field is opened in
Fields started to change, getting smaller, the field owners were eager
from the 100
pump gun mid
invents the Pin Valve for CO2 tanks, they decide it is in the best interest
of the sport not to patent the idea, thereby promoting it's acceptance as
the standard. And because it is much safer than the home built alternatives
that were in use at the time.
product introduced the first full auto paintball
maker you could buy (The SMG-60 came out back in 1986 but was originally
- The Tippmann SMG-60 a .62 caliber fully automatic
featuring a side feed using a 'stripper clip' held in a magazine out the
side of the marker and used the newly introduced CA or constant air tanks
that had just been introduced this year. Other semis had been made from
converted pump guns, and other manufacturers had working models, but this
was the first to the market This marker was later converted to standard .68
caliber in the SMG-68
Marked the advent of "Action Pursuit Games",
a feature format magazine about paintball and laser tag. Also that year, the
first commercial video about paintball, entitled "The Winning Game", is filmed
January of this year Nelson paintball's George A Skogg was grated a patent for the
first washable paintballs (No more Oil based paint, that had to be washed
out with turpentine.)
Also in 1987
APG 1st Cover
1988 APG ad Splatmaster Rapide
Also in 1987
this is the
with a four
to auto cock
IPPA (International Paintball Players Association) is founded as a
non-profit association dedicated to the education, growth and safety of the sport of paintball.
APG, led the
limit of 300
fps. At the
It is the
limit on how
is now in the
Speedball makes its debut at Sat Cong Village, a paintball field in Southern
California. Also called "arena ball", this revolutionary new variation of the
is an instant hit and was soon being played at paintball fields all around
the globe. And Pro-Star Labs, Inc. introduces the "Bouncing Betty" paint
grenade. Straight shot Inc introduced the 'Straight Shot Squeegee"
MAY 2 1988
Top Gun Paintball Games' owner, Raymond Gong, founded
and legalized paintball in New Jersey on May 2, 1988. Prior to
winning his lawsuit, paintball play was considered illegal in New Jersey. The NJ State Police, considered paintball guns to be firearms. Even if a
player followed all the firearm rules for the purchase or ownership of the
paintball gun, it could be considered Assault and Battery if the "firearm"
was discharged at another player. Any would-be paintball player in New
Jersey ran the risk of being arrested. New Jersey was the last state to
legalize paintball. (Read the rest of the story by clicking on the
underlined text above.)
- 20 year
Supply as a
out of the
from his own
NPS is not
hung up on
sell to me,"
views it as
be found in
The first national tournament to allow 12 gram and constant air is held in Nashville. The tournament, called the Music City Open, is
also the first national tournament to allow carry-on paint and the first major
event to be sanctioned by the I.P.P.A.
APG ad June 1988
inventor of the Automag)
and the staff at Air Gun Designs developed the first nitrogen system for
paintball along with fiberglass tanks. It was not marketed, as the industry
felt high pressure nitrogen was simply too dangerous. Today however, it's
hard to find players in large tournaments still running CO2. Tom refused to
patent the regulated nitrogen system for the sake of the sport, since he
felt it was a superior power source over CO2.
Also in 1991
Paintball begins in France, Denmark and other countries in Europe
first as an
add on kit
pump gun the
this was '89
but this is
memory slip.) The
gun in 1992.
"to offer a
frame. Their first
designed marker is
in 1994, the
successful Kingman Spyder
April 15, 1992
Rec.sport.paintball passes its vote for creation on a vote of 195 to 43 and is announced as an official newsgroup.
Sheridan VM-68 / PMI - 3 introduced, one of the early very popular semi
automatic guns. A prototype had been used in 1990 at a tournament
Team Internet is formed as
players prepared for the World Record
game"at Jack Frost Mountain, PA.
NPPL (National Professional Paintball League) is founded in Chicago and the NPPL Pro-Am Series starts with events around the US.
Warpig (www.warpig.com) the first internet paintball site.
Also in 1994
Paintball makes its
cable TV debut on E.S.P.N. with the airing of the 1995
World Championship Games
held in Orlando, Florida. Later that year, in television newscasts all across
America, a videotape of four teenagers using paintball guns in a drive by
shooting is aired and paintball players in every corner of the world voice their
outrage over the incident. Also paintball fields are opened in Europe, Asia, and South America.
Also in 1995
they are now
Paintball playing fields, stores and tournaments can now be found in Canada, the United States, Australia, England, Scotland, Denmark, France, Holland, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Africa, Russia, New Zealand, Brazil, Venezuela, Israel, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.
Brass Eagle Large enough to split
the Shocker, manufactured by PneuVentures Inc., and distributed exclusively
19, 1999) is
the first electroneumatic
paintball marker, PneuVentures and Smart Parts soon parted with PneuVentures
First Agitated paintball hopper patented
Also in 1998
stores like WAL-MART, started carrying
Paintball. First it was low end Brass Eagle like the Blade, Tiger Shark,
Samurai. Standard equipment on these markers were 12gram adapters, and 40
round AMMO BOX loaders, behind the times with the magazines and the local
paintball stores to be sure but soon the higher end Brass Eagle was
available like the
RainMaker (an early inexpensive electro-pneumatic marker
Power) Prices were high
was low, but
it was a
knew to one
had at least
Also in 1998
Tippmann introduces the
Also in 1997
Angel V6 was
the 1997 Zap
they were a
over a year
WDP Angel V6
Concerns regarding paintball guns and rate-of-fire spark another major debate,
ultimately leading to a decision to limit the b.p.s. (balls-per-second) of any
gun manufactured from the year 2000 on.
Brass Eagle buys Viewloader from CM Support
year for the Sheridan PGP, the 2001 was a slick stock handgun used as a
backup gun, it is one of the few stock class markers to survive in the mainstream
paintball stores amongst the semi automatics. (Phantoms and others continue,
but few people buy 'stock' makers without specifically playing stock class)
Also this year due to the Sept 11th terrorist attacks, there is a real push
to change 'paintball GUN' to 'paintball MARKER' as the
politically correct fad spreads, the word 'guns' bring negative publicity
where marker is 'safe' and 'sport' There is a real push to be aware of
paintball's image as the sport becomes more popular.
Also this year Smart Parts introduces the ON/Off tank valve.
Also in 2001
known as BBD
due to two
bag was far
of metal the
the bags are
PGP 2000 aka 2k1
created as a
for the DraXxus
Brass Eagle announces that they are acquiring
JTUSA from owners John and Rita Gregory
not the only
It also owns
Aug 2002 Richmond Italia
the NXL (National X Ball League) It's a new format of speedball paintball,
designed for TV, Two 5-man teams go at
it in a center-flag format game. They get a point for hanging the flag, and
then go at it again, with a constantly running game clock the game ends when
the clock runs out. Instead of just pulling players for penalties, the
offenders would serve time in a penalty box, much like in hockey, so a team
could come back after a flag hang and start one or more players short
It recruits a lot of speedball players from NPPL and PSP leagues and demands
that they play exclusively for NXL events.
one of the greats of paintball knowledge, and a great Canadian player closes
his site. The last version of it is archived here.
from Smart Parts as they drastically reduce the size and air usage on their
top tournament marker. The 'Shocker', but
Smart Parts backlash
such as PMI,
Eclipse, Indian Creek Design,
DYE Precision, Inc.
others who build
markers with an "electro-pneumatic valve to operate a bolt assembly" to
which Smart Parts owns a patent. Patent agreements are signed as companies
loose lawsuits or agree to pay license fees.
The players see it as Big brother style control, and a grab for money by
Smart Parts. See
article for more examples of why people
feel this way. Interestingly two individuals currently associated with Smart
huge fees to
shut it down
Tippmann Introduces the FLATLINE barrel, back spin on the paintball produces
a flatter trajectory and able to shoot 80ft-100ft further! Lots of
controversy on this, does it break that far out? And snide comments about
the banana barrel shape. But it really works!
In the paintball magazines, there is a huge focus on speedball. Although
less than 2% of paintball players play speedball, it is the focus because
it's considered the more politically correct image of paintball. Bushball,
with the camo and army tactics is considered bad press in a post 9/11 world.
There is also a major shift from CO2 to HPA/N2 tanks, prices are
dropping, the speedball centered articles and advertising explains that
speedball b.p.s shooting speeds is too fast for CO2 to recharge, and Co2
users will suffer 'shoot-down' from the lack of pressure. Despite the fact
that few players are playing speedball or shooting that fast to make it
matter, the switch to HPA is increasing. It does have some benefits or
working better in cold weather, for people living in the North of North
America. But also rumours that HPA makes your marker more accurate also
circulate, (Because HPA operates at 3000+ psi and doesn't self regulate like
CO2 it requires a regulator that controls pressure. The regulator makes
better consistency not the gas, Co2 with a regulator is also just as consistent.)
Sports Inc. the well known ski and
snowboard company buys Brass Eagle. K2 now owns Brass Eagle, JT, and Viewloader.
Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball comes out for XBOX. It seems
the masses with this sleeper hit. Greg 'Red' Hastings
formerly the creator of REDz comfort packs, and current speedball player
with team XSV creates a fun fast pace game that is sure to be in every
paintball player's XBOX game collection.
K2 Sports Inc
bought out Worr Games Products (WGP). They are also the owners of other paintball
a member of
team to lead
can now take
to the next
and CEO. Mr.
While he was
In his most
CEO of Bell
part of the
at war, and
to be a
the major shift, back towards Bushball and MIL-SIM (military
simulation games), sites like Special Ops Paintball, and OPS Gear make it
cool to play in the woods again. Markers by RAP4 (Real action paintball),
Tippmann, Ariakon look like M16's and M4's and MP5's more than speedball
guns. The paintball magazines respond by featuring far more bushball
and scenario game articles than they have had in years. See below for the
new look of
New Look of Paintball
and taken over as
and owner of
less than a
that it uses
to fire the
that it's a
pump? A semi
on the way.
Also 2005 Greg Hastings is back with Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball Max'd looks like
game for the
XBOX, as the
out to the
having left REDz he
line of Camo
JT is coming
out with JT
line of gear
to fire the
turns out to
be a case of
in any other
with their new MR1 and MR2 "Military Style Markers", tactical black with
of their new
System milsim line
98 in this
PMI and NPS
Two of the
Inc, and NPS
PMI is such
of Bob Long,
team up to
The X7 is being
easy to give
K2 Inc. Has
Brass Eagle, Viewloader,
used in and
run by Jerry
game for the
of all HATER
is no more,
faded out by
loss of Bud
Orr at the
head of the
to an end.
been a few
with .40 or
with with 50
2.0, and now
line of gear
at their new
buy all new
that it has
assets of JT
KEE will be
line of JT
and CEO of
and that KEE
assets in a
goal.” In a
letter to be
to work with
its new IP
Document by Colin 'SunyJIm' Wells, 2005 some information adapted from Paul "Stryder" Kloehn's
history of paintball, "exerts from The Complete guide to paintball",
"The Official Survival Game Manual" and many many websites, that are all too
quickly disappearing. As well as patent info from
Airsoldier. SunyJim claims no rights on the pictures shown here, they
are a collection strictly for history purposes.