History of Paintball

team of paintball players with palm tree background

image credit: CSULB Paintball

Paintball is such a popular sport that it has captivated droves of people. Many current paintball enthusiasts aren’t entirely aware of the history of paintball. Did you know that the beginnings of paintball can be traced back to over 50 years ago? Read on to learn a bit more about the history of paintball.

The First Paintball Gun

The very first paintball gun was invented all the way back in the 1960s. This paint gun was created by the Nelson Paint Company, and it was never intended to be used as part of a game or anything like that. The paint gun in question was designed to be a marker that could be used by either loggers or cattlemen. You could easily use this convenient paint gun to mark certain trees or to mark cattle.

Originally, paintballs made use of a type of oil-based paint. This was just meant to be a practical tool that could help out certain professionals to make their lives easier. It wasn’t developed into a game or sport until three friends came across this paintball gun in an agricultural catalog years later. These three friends found the paintball gun to be a potential solution to a question that they had been asking themselves for years.

The Three Friends That Created Paintball

As alluded to above, three friends created paintball after coming across the Nelson Paint Company paintball gun in an agricultural catalog. The three people in question were Bob Gurnsey, Hayes Noel, and Charles Gaines. These three men came from different backgrounds, but they were good friends who like to spend time together and discuss things. Eventually, their discussion led them to the topic of whether someone who had street smarts would survive a battle in the woods against someone from the country.

The paintball gun seemed like a perfect way to settle this little argument. On June 7th, 1981, the first game of paintball took place. Bob Gurnsey is the one who wrote the rules for that game, and they wound up utilizing flags. This game had four stations with flags that were positioned throughout a 125-acre woodland area. The objective of this game was for each player to make it to the four stations to retrieve a specific flag color that had been designated to them.

When someone got shot with a paintball, they would be eliminated from the competition. Many players had different strategies to try to win the game, and some even chose to attempt to try to run as fast as they could to get the flags. The player who ultimately won the game used stealth to get all four flags without being seen. This means that the winner of the first ever paintball game never even wound up firing the paintball gun.

The Paintball Industry Is Born

Eventually, Bob Gurnsey saw the opportunity to market this as a survival game that people would be interested in. He would sell packages to people that contained his rule book, a paintball gun, some goggles, and paintballs. Over the years, this idea became even bigger and turned into the sport that you know today. From humble and interesting beginnings, paintball has truly come a long way.