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The History of Paintball

edited December 2005 in The Fishing Hole!
The evolution of paintball into the modern sport that it is today took place fairly quickly in comparison to most other sports. The history of the paintball gun begins in the early 1970s, when it was used as a tool for marking trees and livestock. In 1981, twelve friends played the first recreational paintball game using these industrial paintball guns on a field measuring over 100 acres.
One of the first names given to the sport that we now call paintball was "The National Survival Game." This name reflects the nature of paintball as it was first played - a small group of friends getting together in the woods to play total elimination games. Sometimes the friends broke into teams to play each other, but most games were "every man for himself."
Over the years, recreational paintball has become more sophisticated. Because more people were playing, using teams became the standards. Different playing varations began to form, the most popular being "capture the flag", but offensive/defensive scenarios also were popular. Also, as the number of people interested in paintball grew, so did the development of the commercial paintball industry.
The first outdoor commercial paintball field started in 1982. The first indoor paintball field followed in 1984.The fields allowed large groups of people to meet in one place to play, and the business owners were pushed to develop new and exciting ways to keep these paintballers entertained. This drove the development of new scenarios and styles of playing.

The biggest style of play change to come about because of commercial fields was the "bunker-style" game. Smaller fields let players start the action quicker, instead of having to stalk through the woods for 15 minutes before seeing anyone. Also, players purchased more paintballs when they were in a constant firefight, which made the commercial fields more money.

Today, commercial paintball fields are everywhere, but there are still a large number of people that prefer playing paintball out in the woods. While outlaw paintball is generally much cheaper, it is also more problematic than paying to play at a commercial field.

The first professional tournament was held in 1983. Even then, the prizes where worth $14,000. Today, major tournaments have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of prizes. One of the major forces in tournament games, the NPPL, was founded in 1992-93.

"Gunner sabot tank! Identify! UP! Fire! ON THE WAY!!" <<boom>>

"It's all about shot placement..."


  • wolf13wolf13 Member Posts: 7 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Nice writeup. To expand a little:

    Paintball guns (or markers as the PC folk want to call them) come in a vast variety, ranging from 10 rd 12 gram pumps (called stock class) to electronically controlled, compressed air powered beasts capable of 30+ cycles per second and can feed as fast as a hopper can keep paint flowing, with complex electronic eyes to prevent misfeeds. Here's a little overview of what you might see at a field as far as what players are carrying for guns.

    Stock class, these are parallel fed pumps that are commonly limited to 10 rounds and must by tilted to reliable feed after each shot. Typically, they are powered by a 12 gram CO2 cartridge that can get typically 20 shots. Although these are not common, they are the earliest paintball guns and are seeing a serious revival in popularity. These can range from Wal-Mart specials up to $1500+ custom pieces from the likes of airsmiths like Glenn Palmer and Brad Q Nestle. Normally, if you see a player with one of these, do not think he is a noob. Chances are, he is one of the most skilled players on the field, often with a decade or more of experience.

    Pumps as a class generally mean a gun similar to a stock class with a bulk hopper and a variety of air sources ranging from 12 grams to compressed air systems. These can range from Wal-Mart specials to customs like stock class. These allow a lot more versatility and are not as restrictive as stock class. Up until the likes of the 68 special, PMI-3, Promaster, and typhoon came onto the market in the late 80's, Pump was the standard. Stock classers were often modified to be direct feeds once the fad caught on. Although pump was on the verge of being relegated to a small minority by technology, it has seen a resurgence in the past few years. Pump players can range from noobs to hardened old timers, in general, do not underestimate a pump player.

    Entry level mechanical semi auto markers are exactly that, these are the budget priced, entry level guns available at Wal-Mart and any paintball shop. These are meant for the inexperienced player on a budget and range in quality from poor to excellent. If your looking for a first gun, this is the class you will probably be looking at. Names like Tippmann, Kingman and PMI are all good starting options. They will be powered by bulk CO2 (7oz-20oz cylinders) or compressed air systems.

    High level mechanical semi's are a rarer bread now, having mostly been replaced by electronic guns. Autocockers, AutoMags and a number of older guns fall into this category. The prices of these have dropped significantly and now overlap the low end market for cost, especially used. The upper end of these are often left over custom pieces from the 90's.

    Entry level Electro's are the new, hot market. These typically range from $150's up to the $400's and offer many features including firing modes and in same cases electronic eyes to prevent chopping. Modes are a selling tool, and are usually restricted at fields to semi auto only. With a fast, force feed hopper, these can attain 20 ball per second firing rates in true semi auto. Smartparts, kingmann, Tippmann and ICD are all common names here.
    High-end electros are now the top of the line in most peoples books. These are the hot items for wannabe tourney players and the serious player (most old timers simply laugh at this). These are the fad guns, a new one can be almost $2000, and a year old one can be ? that used, they are in the same category as cars and computers for depreciation. These will be powered by compressed air and the most advanced force fed hoppers. Firing modes abound and the only limit on rate of fire is how fast you can feed it and can afford to feed it. Dye, AKA and WDP are common names here, and WGP autocockers can now be had with E-frames that place them in this category and are common.

    I have talked a little about airsources, so here's a few things to consider.

    12gram CO2, somewhat common for the airgun sector, but not popular for paintball outside stock class. Not a good choice for a beginner.

    Bulk CO2, can come in refillable tanks form 3.5 oz- to 24oz, though 20oz is the standard. These are refillable at virtually any paintball store or field. These are the standard for new players, but compressed air is making major inroads here.

    Compressed air (also N2) is the high end standard, but the past few years have seen major price drops making it at last accessible to the entry level. Compressed air is easier to use, cleaner and safer from a playing standpoint. Bottle sizes are commonly 45, 68 and 88 in 3000 and 4500psi sizes. Price can range from under $100 to $500 depending on size and regulator. Fills are available at nearly all fields and paintball shops, and SCUBA fill stations are available for at home use.
  • PhidippidesPhidippides Member Posts: 7 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I haven't played paintball in a number of years, but I belonged to a hard core group of paintballers during the mid-1990s. Back then (~1993) the guns were becoming more efficient as the CO2 tanks were becoming larger as the small C02 cartridges were being phased out. However, I can still remember my first game, having to use a Rapide pistol (part of the university club stash), going up against bigger guns. Needless to say, I eventually bought my own gun.
  • silver6silver6 Member Posts: 613 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    same here Phidippides. my first experience was with a talon pump in the woods. 50% of them had the same. but some other guns were a tippman carbine 68, a tornado, a panther from ICD I believe, a raptor, a vm-68, some spyder classics, and a tippman prolite which I later bought off him when I saw how I was outgunned.

    It was the early to mid nineties and one hundred balls at the local field ran us five bucks and air was hard to come by but there also. No one ever heard of electros guns or hoppers then and wiping was unheard of at least with my field I'd like to think. Cause I had never thought of cheating and I hadnt fathom one would I played with.

    Noone ever wore anything but camo and never wore anything but a paintball mask. (I say that cause recently I have seen people who want to wear nonpaintball headgear which may be just as safe but unappropiate and unapproved for paintball use)

    If god meant for us to talk more than we listened he'd have given us one ear and two mouths- Vince Lombardi
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