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Who invented the paintball gun?

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February 12, 2011 3:19AM

Answer who invented the painball gun

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 its four people and arguments can be made for each of them.

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 who invented paintball list.

Mid 1960s

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. Nelson Paint then approached Crossman to design a pistol to shoot the paintballs, after 1-4 years of production with poor sales. Crossman no longer found it financially sound to produce the marker. Nelson then moved to Daisy, the air gun 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 by creating the Daisy 'Splotchmarker' which became known as the now famous 'Nel-Spot 007' The paintballs were also mass produced. Under contract by Nelson, RP Scherer produced the encapsulate oil based paintballs for the makers.

Late 1960s

Crossman is approached to produce 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 who designed it and there were 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 Blued steel and was only manufactured for 1-4 years. Crossman declined to continue producing the marker, finding it not financially feasible to do so.

1972

Daisy Manufacturing Company 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 Comptometer Corporation. Daisy Manufacturing Company, the air gun manufacturer, was owned by Victor Comptometer whose 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 business.

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." For James Hale, there is just the framed patent of his paint gun in his tool shop. He said he never got involved in the paintball industry after leaving Daisy.

May, 1976-77

It was either in the spring of 1976 or 1977, Hayes Noel (a Wall street stockbroker) and Charles Gaines (a writer - "Stay Hungry" and "Pumping 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 words does the success of a person in business or writing or manufacturing or any other business translate into being able to survive in the woods better than someone who specifically hunted or was a soldier? A friend, George 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.

May, 1981

Paintball 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. The invitations for the first game drew 9 people, plus Bob, Charles, and Hayes. The 9 each paid $175 each to cover equipment costs, and incidentals such as food and adult beverages.

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. In alphabetical 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 Atwill.

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

Following the competition, one of the writer-participants, Bob Jones, wrote the first Sports Illustrated piece about the game (june 81?); later the other two writers had articles published in Time, and Sports Afield. All three reflected on the unbelievable adrenaline rush that accompanied the hunt. Each article was met by an overwhelming number of letters from readers requesting instructions on how they, too, could play. Bob Gurnsey with the help of Gaines and Hayes responded by selling a starter kit that included a Nel-Spot pistol, paintballs, a compass, goggles and a rule book. They called their creation the National Survival Game "NSG".

October 1981

The second game of paintball, according to Bob Gurnsey and NSG this game took place in Alabama, and must have been the first game opened to the general public. Gurnsey says "the sport instantly tripled in size"

March 1982

The Worlds first commercial paintball field was opened by Bob Gurnsey in New Hampshire, Bob Gurnsey invented and marketed paintball as the game we play today under the brand name of National Survival Game (NSG), or "The Survival Game". The National Survival Game entered into a contract with Nelson Paint Company to be the sole distributor of their paintball equipment. Thereafter, they licensed to franchisees in other states the right to sell their guns, paint, and goggles. As a result of their monopoly on equipment, they turned a profit in only six months.

April 1982

Caleb Strong opens the first outdoor playing field in Rochester New York (with PMI supplied equipment? can't be the first outdoor, gurnsey's new hapshire field was a month earlier - still checking if this was the first PMI field, as I suspect).

CORRECTION:

Although Caleb Strong is generally acknowledged as the first commercial paintball field owner, Bob Gurnsey disputes that claim. "Carl McCown was the first. Caleb was one of the original four, but not the first," Bob stated in an interview in Action Pursuit Magazine in 1992.

Also in April 1982: the first franchise NSG field (not run by Gurnsey himself) opens in Oklahoma.

Also in April 1982

PMI (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.

1983

The first NSG National Championship was held in Grantham New Hampshire at a up-country farm and restaurant called Gray Ledges. Despite the title it was actually an International Championship. Two of the eight teams of twelve people were from Canada. A NSG field in Ontario Canada, and the other from Vancouver Canada. These eight teams had survived the regional championships, and had progressed to this point. A capture the flag game on a 30 acre patch of forest that became the field of victory for "The Unknown Rebels" A team from NSG London Ontario. The Prize $3000 to the winning team, and $1000 to the runners up "12-Man Jury" the Miami team. People Magazine (Oct 24, 1983) hailed the Canadians as the first world champions.

Also in 1983

Sheridan introduces the PG (A side tube non pump version of the PGP).

People started adding pump handles to their Nelspot pumps to make recocking easier. Extending magazine tubes, and doing the first modifications to their guns.

June, 1983

Lionel Atwill, one of the original 12 players, writes "The Official Survival Game Manual" - the first paintball publication.

1983/1984

Lou "Gramps" Grubb introduced constant air also known as CA, or "California Style Constant Air" to the game. (Instead of little disposable 12 gram cartridges, CA refillable tanks had a valve with a big knob and various fittings that came from the plumbing aisle of a hardware store.) Lou "Gramps" Grubb and Mike "Grizzly" Grubb were long time airsmiths and store owners in southern California.

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.

An old school PVC stick feeder can be made easily with some CPVC pipe and a 90 degree elbow. The feed end can also be made with a 35mm film canister with it's lid cut to make a one way ball gate for your 10 round tubes, it's all cheap and easy with a trip to home depot! If you have a 1" inch feed like a Trracer you just need to dremel the 90 degree PVC joint, to make it fit.

1984

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.

Also in 1984

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. Sheridan introduces the PGP adding the pump handle to their PG's.

1985

The first outdoor playing field is opened in England. Fields started to change, getting smaller, the field owners were eager to change from the 100 acre games lasting 2 hours and low paint volumes, to faster games on smaller fields.

MID 1980s

Silencers start to appear, home made silencers from PVC tube really worked. Eventually companies started to build and sell silencers as well, but the home made worked just as well. The paintball sniper is truly born!

1986

Dennis Tippmann, Sr. founds Tippmann Pneumatics. Originally a manufacturer of collectible, half-scale replica machine guns, family-owned Tippmann entered the paintball industry in 1986 when gun law changes forced them to re-evaluate their business. Their first paintball product introduced the first full auto paintball maker you could buy (The SMG-60 came out back in 1986 but was originally full-auto only. Not select fire. The select-fire started at the 2nd generation of SMG with the Internal line. As the external line was the first style.) - 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.

LATE 80's

Tippmann 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.

1987

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 and released. 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

Was the introduction of barrel plugs.

Also in 1987

Bud Orr starts making the sniper paintball gun. The design will be familiar to autococker fans, as this is the original design that Bud Orr started making in his garage. Later the front pump was replaced with a four way valve, to auto cock the marker.

1988

IPPA (International Paintball Players Association) is founded as a non-profit association dedicated to the education, growth and safety of the sport of paintball. Russ Maynard, founding editor of APG, led the way toward establishing the speed limit of 300 fps. At the International Paintball Players Association (IPPA) in 1988, 300 fps was standardized as the maximum speed limit. It is the worldwide limit on how fast a paintball leaves the marker, and is now in the ASTM standards for paintball.

Also in 1988

Speedball makes its debut at Sat Cong Village, a paintball field in Southern California. Also called "arena ball", this revolutionary new variation of the game 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.

November 1989

20 year old, Gino Postorivo started National Paintball Supply as a small retail operation out of the pizzeria's back room. It began with $1,000 from his own pocket. Unlike many paintball supply companies, Johnny Postorivo (NPS' chief operating officer and Gino's cousin) said NPS is not hung up on exclusive deals with the brands it carries. "Everybody has proprietary items. Me, I'll buy anything someone will sell to me," Johnny Postorivo said, adding that he views it as an advantage because all brands can be found in the showroom.

1990

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.

1991

Tom Kaye (the 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

Mid 1991

Bud Orr introduces the Autococker, first as an add on kit for his successful pump gun the sniper and sniper II, but soon following with complete markers in early 1992. (Bud makes claims that this was '89 in interviews, but this is chalked up to a memory slip.) The Autococker became commonly available as a complete gun in 1992.

1992

Arthur Chang forms Kingman International Corp. with the vision "to offer a superior product at an affordable price. That philosophy has pushed Kingman to consistently raise the standards in paintball product design and innovation." Their first marker is released two years later in 1994 the 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

1994: Kingman International introduces the spyder series of markers.

MID 1990s

The ATF makes a decision about paintball silencers, they are now illegal, and they have decided that they are able to silence real firearms, so are illegal to posses

1996

the Shocker, manufactured by PneuVentures Inc., and distributed exclusively by Smart Parts (patent Oct 19, 1999) is the first electroneumatic paintball marker, PneuVentures and Smart Parts soon parted with PneuVentures in 1997 producing the Shocker, and PneuVentures producing the very advanced Cyber 9000 the first marker with built in LCD screen, also featuring built in chronograph!

1998: First Agitated paintball hopper patented

Also in 1998: Tippmann introduces the model 98 paintball marker.

1999

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.

2003

Tippmann Introduces the FLATLINE barrel, back spin on the paintball produces a flatter trajectory and able to shoot 80ft-100ft further!

2005

The Tippmann C-3™ with PEP (Propane Enhanced Performance) technology is the world's first propane powered paintball marker. With more than 50,000 shots per 16-ounce tank! That's probably less than a tank per season for most players. Is the bigger news that it uses combustion to fire the ball, or that it's a pump? A semi auto with PEP is apparently on the way.

Nov 2006

Tippman Sports and Special Ops Paintball team up to produce the Tippmann X7 milsim style marker. Designed together, and launched with an array of customizable parts from Special Ops. The X7 is being launched in conjunction with more than 30 different integrated mods - making it easy to give the marker thousands of different milsim looks.

http://www.ody.ca/~cwells/history.htm

SHORT AND SWEET ANSWER

The first paintball gun used to play the sport was originally intended for marking cattle.