Paintball Markers Vs. Paintball Guns

By: Michael Russell


Paintballing is a relatively new sport that has come into popularity since its creation almost 20 years ago. The core of the idea behind paintball was to recreate the thrill of hunting wild game in Africa without the expenses included in making such a trip. Inspired by Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game and eager to recreate the adrenaline rush of the hunt, three friends--Hayes Noel, Bob Gurnsey, and Charles Gaines--eventually worked out the most important qualities that a hunter could possess, but what they lacked was the necessary tool to make such a game possible. 

It wasn't until a friend of theirs showed them a paintball gun manufactured by the Nelson Paint Company that they found that tool. The paintballs and guns produced by Nelson Paint Company were originally designed for agricultural purposes--tree marking, etc. However, this did not stop these men from developing a game designed along the lines of capture the flag based around them. The very first paintball game took place June 2, 1981, with a dozen players competing against one another. An article was published that same month in Sports Illustrated on that game. The first games were crude compared to today's standards, with extremely limited ammunition per gun. Players would even resort to throwing paintballs at one another.

Interest in paintball climbed steadily, and Bob Gurnsey eventually founded National Survival Game and contracted with Nelson Paint Company to be the sole distributor of their guns and paintballs. This initial monopoly allowed Gurnsey to turn a profit in six months. Competitor manufacturers of paintballs quickly appeared in the early 1980s, spurring development in paintball technology. Nelson Paint Company would later split into two companies: Nelson Paint Company, which focused on traditional paint products, and Nelson Technologies, Inc. (better known as Nelson Paintballs), which still produces paintballs today. 

Competitive tournaments have been going on nearly since the sport's inception. The first major paintball tournament was held in 1983, with the Canadian-based team The Unknown Rebels from London, Ontario, winning. Originally played in the woods, tournaments shifted over to the speedball format in the late 1990s. Speedball is similar to the idea of indoor soccer, with an even, enclosed field with a set terrain that afforded neither team an unfair advantage over the other. Tournaments since then have largely been in this format. The world's largest, the World Cup, takes place each October at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Florida. 

Paintballs themselves have evolved over time as well. When the game first began in the early 1980s, paintballs were oil-based. Turpentine parties were not common after a game to get the paint off. Today's paintballs are a gelatin shell filled with vegetable oil and food coloring. A number of variations have been developed for paintballs, including glow in the dark, scented, and cold weather ones. Some teams in tournament play will put their paintballs in a freezer to cool them and make the paint more brittle to shatter easier on impact and reduce the odds of a ricochet.

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Tina Powers is a retailer of www.unlimitedpaintballs.com">paintballs and other paintball supplies at Unlimited Paintballs. If you're interested in improving your game, check out her web site at www.UnlimitedPaintballs.com.

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