When was Paintball Invented? Complete History

Everyone has heard of paintball; it may have even been part of your childhood. The game has become very popular worldwide, especially in the US. Paintball is played competitively at all levels, from professional tournaments to local clubs, and it’s a great way to get outdoors with friends while enjoying a friendly battle.

But do you know who invented paintball? Who thought of playing paintball in the first place?  Let’s find out.

Who Invented Paintball?

It’s a question we’ve all thought of at some point while playing paintball. It all started with two friends in 1981 who wanted a way to recreate the thrill of combat without actually having to use real weapons.

With that in mind, they started brainstorming and came up with the idea of paintball guns. Charles Gaines and Bob Gurnsey created their version of paintball, which quickly spread throughout the United States.

How Did Paintball Become Popular?

The first paintball game was held in a small area of New Hampshire on June 27, 1981. Twelve players showed up and were each provided with a 12-gram CO2-powered paintball gun, goggles to protect their eyes, and bags containing paintballs. The game went off without a hitch, and the first official paintball game was in the books.

The game of paintball quickly gained popularity throughout the US and Canada, and by 1984, there were 75 commercial courses across North America. Paintball was no longer an underground hobby; it had become a widely popular sport, with leagues popping up all over.

First Paintball Gun:

The first paintball gun was the Nel-Spot 007, invented by the Nelson Paint Company. It used a 12-gram CO2 cartridge to fire.68-caliber paintballs at up to 300 feet per second. The gun was designed specifically for the sport of paintball and was made out of durable materials such as brass and stainless steel, making it reliable and long-lasting.

The gun had several design features that made it well-suited for the sport, such as;

  • An Adjustable Power Bolt.
  • An External Selector Switch to Choose Between a Single Shot.
  • Semi-automatic Firing mode, a built-in feed port to load paintballs into the barrel.

The Nel-Spot 007 quickly became a popular choice among players due to its accuracy and ease of use. Many tournament teams used them in their competitions, including some of the earliest professional leagues.

Even today, many competitive players still prefer using the Nel-Spot 007 because it is more accurate than modern guns and has a nostalgic charm that many appreciate.

The First Modern Paintball Gun:

In 1988, the first modern paintball gun, known as the Model 98 Custom, revolutionized the sport of paintball with its accuracy and reliability, which were invented by James C. Halbridge and John A. Scarbrough of Tippmann Pneumatics.

The Model 98 Custom used a patented air-assist system to fire paintballs at up to 300 feet per second. It also featured a removable hopper, allowing players to quickly reload their guns without having to stop and open the breach. This feature made it much easier for teams to play in fast-paced tournaments.

The Model 98 Custom was an instant hit and is still widely used by professional tournament players today. Its success paved the way for other paintball guns and accessories, such as paintball hoppers and air tanks, to be developed in the years that followed.

Paintball Sport In 2000:

Paintball had become a mainstream sport, but there was no organization to promote and regulate it. Without an association to ensure fair play and safety standards, paintball could not reach its full potential as a competitive sport. Players were at risk of injury or unfair practices due to the lack of regulation in the industry.

In 2000, PAPA (Professional Amateur Paintball Association) was formed with the mission of promoting and regulating paintball worldwide. PAPA works with local governments and organizations around the world to create safe playing environments for players while also setting rules for tournaments that ensure fairness in competition. With their help, paintball has grown into one of the most popular extreme sports in existence today!

Paintball guns had also become much more advanced, with electronic trigger systems and more powerful air tanks. The sport had grown to include a variety of different styles of play, ranging from speedball to scenario paintball.


Paintball has come a long way since its invention in 1981, and it continues to evolve. As the game has become more popular, new types of markers and paintballs have been introduced to enhance the experience. Paintball is now safer, more accessible, and even more enjoyable than ever before!

So if you’re looking for an exciting game that can be enjoyed by anyone, pick up a paintball marker and join the millions of people who are already hooked on this incredible sport. After all, it’s one of the best ways to enjoy some friendly competition with friends and family!

Paintball is here to stay, so why not go out and give it a shot? It’s sure to be a blast!

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