Paintball is a exciting, chaotic game of survival. If you haven’t experienced the fun of paintball yourself, you probably know someone who has — the game has been around for a long time. Paintball parks are everywhere and people use the game to add spice to events like work retreats and birthday parties. But, have you ever wondered how the game was invented?
The Original Paintball
In forestry, foresters used paint to mark trees for timber. The U.S. Forestry Service asked the Nelson Paint Company to develop a more efficient way of marking trees. The company came up with the idea of using oil-based paint in a ball that explodes on impact, leaving a clear mark on the surface it hits. Nelson asked air rifle maker Crossman to develop the delivery mechanism, a CO2 powered pistol. Later, the small arms company Daisy helped Nelson develop what became known as the Nel-Spot Paint Pistol. While it was used initially by the government agency, Nelson sold their equipment in sporting goods catalogs.
The First Paintball Game
In the 1970s, films such as "Deliverance" made the men of the day think about what it would take to make it alone in the great outdoors without the benefit of society’s help. Three men, Charles Gaines, screenwriter of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Pumping Iron," a stockbroker named Hayes Noel and a sporting goods store retailer named Bob Gurnsey debated among themselves on the question. Would a street-wise former city kid or an experienced outdoorsman be better able to make it?
To answer this question, Gurnsey and his friends developed what they called "The Survival Game." It was a version of “capture the flag,” but with a twist. The goal was to try to capture four of twelve colored flags set up in a wooded area without being hit by a paintball from a paint gun that Gurnsey discovered in one of his sporting goods store catalogs. The three men invited nine other friends, all professional men, to play the game in the New Hampshire woods. Richie White, a forester, won the very first game, played on June 27, 1981, using a hunter’s stealth to sneak around quietly while the other men blasted away.
While White’s guile won that game, running around screaming and shooting each other with paintballs was probably more fun. It’s the excitement of playing soldier in the woods that has made paintball an enduring outdoor event. The recreational activity has evolved into a sport, with big prize tournaments going on all around the world.
Get In on the Action at SplatterPark
Still, paintball makes for a great time. It’s also great as an accent to various group events. Paintball is great for birthday party ideas, for team building exercises at conventions or a way to blow off steam after a tough business trip. Try paintball. It’s a great way to experience the Ohio outdoors, so give it a try sometime at SplatterPark.