Paintball is a fairly new sport when it comes to competitive sports that have been staples in the athletic world. Most of us have heard of Paintball but many of us may not be familiar with it entirely. It involves as much athleticism as any sport but it may be argued that the fun factor in this sport is far above average for several reasons. In order to understand the unique aspects of this high adrenaline sport, we have to begin by looking into its origins, history, components, and strategies. Keep in mind that Paintball hasn’t always been conceived of as a legitimate sport in the same way it is today. Knowing how Paintball began and gained a worldwide following will help us better understand the dynamics behind it.
Origins of Paintball
Without knowing very much at all about how the sport is played we are able to deduce that it involves two very important things: paint and guns. The ‘guns’ used in paintball began as ‘markers’, as they are still known to some Paintballers today. These were first patented by a man named Charles Nelson during the 1960’s (1) and were originally intended for use by the US Forestry Service as an efficient and convenient means of marking trees with paint. During that time, workers were equipped with squirt guns filled with dye or paint, but certain obstacles arose for these forestry workers when trees were located at distances or in certain hard to reach areas. The task of marking the trees was often difficult if not impossible with the use of the standard squirt guns being used at the time. Enter the new marker guns courtesy of Mr. Nelson. Who would have imagined at that time the markers would be at the center of a sport known and loved around the world. Although the first markers patented by Charles Nelson and made by the Crossman Company are not as popular as they were with the Forestry Service, this was the start of something big. Initially, the Crossman Company made and sold these markers, but later decided they weren’t popular or profitable enough to continue producing and marketing them.
Sticking to his guns (pun intended), Charles Nelson sought out another manufacturer to continue producing paintball pistols and not long after in 1971, with the help of the airgun manufacturers at Daisy, the world was gifted with the one and only Daisy Splotchmaker. This became the standard paint gun and eventually became known as the Nel-spot 007. If having a new and improved marker wasn’t enough at this point, other companies got in on the action and began supplying paintballs specifically designed for the Nel-spot complete with high quality, highly visible dyes in them. It wasn’t overnight that paintball guns, or paintball markers as they are commonly known, became what they are today in the context of recreation and sport, but it wasn’t that far off.
As the story goes, in 1977 two friends, Hayes Noel and Charles Gaines were in conversation when they conceived the idea of a game involving paint guns wherein friends would stalk each other on different missions and in various scenarios and terrains. Another acquaintance of theirs, Bob Guernsey, who was at the time a ski shop owner followed suit and drafted the rules for this new game. In the summer of 1981 in Henniker, New Hampshire, the three friends began planning for their first game. That same year in June, other players who had been invited came to meet the three masterminds and the first game of paintball began. This first game is said to have been based on ‘capture the flag’ and took place in an expansive wooded area. The outcomes and objectives of these original thinkers were achieved in full on that day, and Paintball continued growing in popularity since then.
Gear and Equipment
As with all sports, there are tools and equipment which are necessary and vital to the sport of Paintball. Being fully equipped to achieve the objectives of the sport means having a firm understanding of the gear required to play. Being that safety is paramount in any sport, and even more so in sports like Paintball where the players are actually the targets of projectiles, it is appropriate to cover safety-related gear first and foremost. Masks and/or goggles are probably most important as far as this goes. The eyes and face should always be shielded from an impact. There is a wide range of masks and goggles to choose from when it comes to paintball. Some of the head and face gear specific to the sport are combinations of goggles and masks, which serve various purposes for players who may need to have an adequate range of vision, easy breathing, and overall facial protection simultaneously. Athletic supporters fall into the category of safety equipment as these also serve to guard sensitive areas of the body vulnerable to impact. In order for Paintballers to play uninterrupted by injuries or impact to hands and fingers, gloves are also of great importance. Seeing as how Paintball is generally played outdoors and the turf or terrain can vary during games, some players wear knee and elbow pads to help reduce the risk of injury to those areas. It’s not at all uncommon for players to fall or stumble during games in areas that may be rocky of otherwise rugged. Paintball jerseys and pants usually have built-in padding which serves to lessen the impact of paintballs from marker guns.
Rules, Objectives, and Strategies
The rules of paintball are fairly simple. Although there are variations in the way the game is played, some basic rules are generally recognized internationally. One of the basic components of paintball that doubles a rule and an objective is that players are eliminated upon impact of a paintball that explodes and leaves a visible mark on clothing upon contact. Strategies vary based on game objectives.