Beginning in the early 1980s, an activity, created by adventurous people with a vision, would later become one of the most intriguing sports the world knows.
In the late 1970s, Hayes Noel, Bob Gurnsey, and Charles Gaines "had for years discussed survival in the woods." Would three good friends, each from a different walk of life and career path, be able to create something so riveting? They friends debated how to go about creating a survival game anyone would love, until one friend discovered the "Nel-spot pistol in a farming catalog." With the potential game equipment decided, Hayes Noel and Bob Gurnsey banded together and wrote out the first draft of rules and regulations for "The Survival Game," that later became the sport of Paintball.
A man by the name of Bob Jones drafted up and published an article describing the game "for an October 1981 issue of Sports Illustrated," Time Magazine and Sports Afield. Not long after the publications of the articles in all three different media sources, people began to write letters asking how the game is played. Noel, Gaines and Gurnsey saw the mass interest as a big business opportunity. The three friends created and began selling a starter kit that included a Nel-Spot pistol, some paintballs, a compass, goggles, and the rulebook for the National Survival Game, also referred to as NSG.
March, 1982, in New Hampshire, the first mainstream paintball field was created and open for business by Bob Gurnsey in hopes to expand the business. The name "National Survival Game" was branded and licensed in order to further grow the company. They decided to hold a contract with Nelson Paint to become "the sole distributor of their paintball products." The products would then be sold to the public. Later in the same year as this was happening, two new players saw the same type of business opportunity as the NSG brand, but could not come to an agreement. Thus began the first company competition in paintball.
Throughout the rest of the 1980s and into the modern day, the game spread across the United States. Paintball sizes first were .50, .62, and .68 caliber. The two remaining today are .50 and .68 paintballs.
From the 1990s into the 2000s, the race to create new and better gear began with companies such as JT and Smart Parts. Also, the creation of new paintball markers (paintball guns) was an up and coming market. As the years went on, the competition between brands and companies grew, some stayed around and some did not. With the growth of woodsball and speedball, the two different paintball avenues, players and business owners alike wanted and sometimes needed the next best thing, to look good, feel good and for success.
Now, in 2018, some of the most popular Paintball companies are HK Army, G.I. Sportz, Dye, JT, Valken, Empire, Tippman and so on. Tournaments are all over the world, in Asia, Mexico, Europe and of course the United States, where it all began. Each year, the sport grows. Each year the sport gets better and better. As a player myself, the game of Paintball never fails to amaze and bring literal joy. Sure, it may hurt from time to time and it can get very costly, but it is worth every second and every penny.