The Complete History of Paintball Sport

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Nelson Paint Company created the first paintball gun in the 1960s, and the sport has been around ever since.

The earliest paintballs used oil.

The paintball gun was not for shooting human beings, but loggers and cattle ranchers were the planned users.

Loggers and cattle ranchers used paintball markers to identify trees while riding on horses. 

History of Paintball

History Of Paintball – When, Where, and How

When Did Paintball Begin?

Before there were paintballers and the game itself started, the inventors needed a bullet tester. 

One volunteer tester, Shelby Gaines, said that the bullet did not hurt much.

He gathered eight more participants to play near Charles Gaines’ house. 

A doctor, an amateur boxer, a logger, professional hunters, and a venture investor were among the volunteers that made up the group.

They settled on a capture-the-flag version as their game of choice.

The players competed with four flag stations and 48 flags spread throughout an 80-acre cross-country ski zone. 

There were four referees in charge of the game, and they all used whistles to assist the players in finding the flags.

Finally, Ritchie White, the logger, won the first-ever paintball game by grabbing the last flag and getting the win. 

The players did not fire a single paintball. Bob Jones, a Sports Illustrated journalist, publicized the match, resulting in widespread attention across the country and later worldwide.

Related Reading: Does Paintball Hurt – Get To Know Here Now!

When Was and Who Founded Paintball?

National Survival Game Firm was the name of Bob Gurnsey’s first paintball company.

Paintball grounds and equipment distribution were lucrative ventures for Gurnsey after striking a partnership with the Nelson Paint Company.

Competing paintball firms arose, and paintball technology advanced swiftly.

The Nel-Spot’s 12g air cartridges transitioned to tanks that could hold significantly more air, and a front pump made loading easier. 

During the 1980s, paintballs were oil-based, but they are from vegetable oil and gelatin today.

Playing paintball continues to address the original question posed by Noel and Gaines about whether woodland survival is a basic human instinct or something that many have forgotten. 

The sport is the only opportunity most people get to demonstrate their abilities to sneak through the woods, hunt a target, or elude a rival if they don’t have martial or hunting expertise.

When Was the First Paintball Game?

when was the first paintball game

The very first official paintball game happened in 1981.

Hayes Noel, Charles Gaines, and Bob Gurnsey argued who would be good at survival: people from the city or the country. 

They found Nelson’s marker listed in the brochure to resolve their issue, inspiring their plan for a survival game.

On June 7, 1981, in New Hampshire, USA, Bob Gurnsey and nine other players played the first paintball match.

The three are the game’s founders, and all were close pals who liked catching up over a few beers and chatting about anything and everything.

Survival in the wild was one of the subjects they’d been discussing. 

City people are street smarts, but the friends argued about their ability to survive in the wilderness.

There was no end to this argument, which lasted several years.

Bob Jones authored a Sports Illustrated piece about paintball shortly after the first match in the October 1981 publication. 

Bob Gurnsey introduced the “Survival Game” bundle and sold it for $150.

It has a paintball marker: goggles, a rulebook, and paintballs.

Paintball was, however, not referred to as paintball at the time.

The National Survival Game was the original name of the event.

When Was the First Commercial Paintball Field Opened?

Bob Gurnsey opened the first commercial paintball field in March 1982.

To be the exclusive supplier of their goods, his firm, National Survival Game, signed an agreement with Nelson Paint.

Several National Survival Game fields opened in the United States once the company got its franchise license and opened to the general public.

At some point in the next year, participants Jeff Perlmutter and Dave Freeman recognized the potential of the National Survival Game and began negotiations. 

Because the company, Perlmutter, and Freeman did not come to terms, they started their company, Pursuit Marketing Incorporated.

With the help of Benjamin Sheridan, they were able to design a paintball marker of their own.

When Was the First Paintball Gun Made?

Charles Nelson from Nelson Paint Company made the first paintball gun during the 60s as a way to mark or label trees to cut.

Cattle herders also used it to identify their herds. Many people still use the term “paintball marker,” notably Paintballing Ltd.

Charles invented the paintball by injecting paint inside a gelatin horse pill.

The Crosman 707, the first paintball marker produced by Charles and the Crosman Company, was not a profitable venture, and Crosman discontinued production.

However, it did not stop Nelson from striking a deal with daisy, the Red Ryder BB Gun manufacturer.

In 1972, Daisy invented the Daisy Splotchmaker, which later evolved into the Nel-Spot 007, the first-ever paintball marker.

The major weakness of the Nel-Spot 007s was its need to be reloaded after every shot and its air cartridge only lasting for a maximum of twelve paintballs. 

Instead of risk reloading in front of a rival, gamers would often throw paintballs to protect themselves.

Some players still favor the ‘pump paintball’ style of play because of its emphasis on strategy and precision.

Related Reading: What To Wear Paintballing – Click Here To Learn More.


The history of paintball molded it to be a multimillion industry in the present day that offers a wide range of paintball equipment.

Some are masks, markers, playing zones, and various game forms like capture the flag. 

Whether you are playing for a team-building or tournament, with players ranging from six to 100, you may participate in any paintball game and become part of its long and storied past.