Rules for playing paintball vary widely. The most common form involves two opposing teams seeking to capture their opponent's flag and return it to their starting position, but other objectives may include eliminating all of the other team's players, eliminating a specific player, defending or attacking a particular point or area, or capturing objects of interest hidden in the playing area. Depending on the style of paintball played, a game can last from seconds to hours.
In 1976, Hayes Noel, a stock trader, Bob Gurnsey, and Charles Gaines were walking home and chatting about Gaines' recent trip to Africa and his experiences hunting buffalo. Eager to recreate the adrenaline rush that came with the thrill of the hunt, and inspired by Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game, the two friends came up with the idea to create a game where they could stalk and hunt each other.
In the ensuing months, the friends talked about what sorts of qualities and characteristics made for a good hunter and survivalist. They were stumped, however, on how to devise a test of those skills. It wasn't until a year and a half later that George Butler, a friend of theirs, showed them a paintball gun in an agricultural catalog. The gun was a Nelspot 007 marker manufactured by the Nelson Paint Company.
Twelve players competed against each other with Nelspot 007s pistols in the first paintball game on June 2, 1981. They were: Bob Jones, a novelist and staff writer for Sports Illustrated and an experienced hunter; Ronnie Simpkins, a farmer from Alabama and a master rhino hunter; Jerome Gary, a New York film producer; Carl Sandquist, a New Hampshire contracting estimator; Ritchie White, the New Hampshire forester; Ken Barrett, a New York venturer and hunter; Joe Drinon, a stock-broker and former Golden Gloves boxer from New Hampshire; Bob Carlson, a trauma surgeon and hunter from Alabama; Lionel Atwill, a writer for Sports Afield, a hunter and a Vietnam veteran; Charles Gaines; Bob Gurnsey and Hayes Noel. The game was capture the flag on an 80 acre wooded cross-country ski area.
Thereafter, the friends devised basic rules for the game fashioned along the lines of capture the flag, and invited friends and a writer from Sports Illustrated to play. They called their game "Survival," and an article about the game was published in the June 1981 issue of Sports Illustrated. As national interest in the game steadily built, Bob Gurnsey formed a company, National Survival Game, and entered a contract with Nelson Paint Company to be the sole distributor of their paintball equipment. Thereafter, they licensed to franchisees in other states the right to sell their guns, paint, and goggles. As a result of their monopoly on equipment, they turned a profit in only six months.
The first games of paintball were very different from modern paintball games; they often threw the paintballs at each other, and Nelspot pistols were the only gun available. They used 12-gram CO2 cartridges, held at most 10 rounds, and had to be tilted to roll the ball into the chamber and then recocked after each shot. Dedicated paintball masks had not yet been created, so players wore shop glasses that left the rest of their faces exposed. The first paintballs were oil-based and thus not water soluble; "turpentine parties" were common after a day of play. Games often lasted for hours as players stalked each other, and since each player had only a limited number of rounds, shooting was rare.
Between 1981 and 1983, rival manufacturers such as PMI began to create competing products, and it was during those years that the sport took off. Paintball technology gradually developed as manufacturers added a front-mounted pump in order to make recocking easier, then replaced the 12-gram cartridges with larger air tanks, commonly referred to as "constant air". These basic innovations were later followed by gravity feed hoppers and 45-degree elbows to facilitate loading from the hopper.
The Nelspot pistols began to lose popularity as semi-automatic markers began to dominate the growing sport. Nelspot pistols are now considered to be a collector's item.
Later, Nelson Paint Company of MI, Inc. spun off into two separate companies: Nelson Paint Company, which is still focused on paints; and Nelson Technologies, Inc., commonly referred to as Nelson Paintballs, which still produces paintballs today. Oil-based paintballs are still available through the Nelson Paint Company and are still used for tree marking and for veterinary purposes. Nelson's oil-based paintballs have been used to mark animals on every continent of the world, including Antarctica
Paintball marker propellants
At this current time[when?] paintball markers mostly use compressed air, as it has become cheaper to buy a simple 48ci 3000psi air tank. This is also the most consistent form of paintball propellant.[clarification needed].
Paintball guns can also operate on CO2 (carbon dioxide), which is typically packaged in the four sizes of 9 oz, 16 oz, 20 oz, and 24 oz. The larger 20 oz. tanks generally provide enough propellant for 800 to 1100 shots, depending on the efficiency of the marker. CO2 propellant is considered to be of a lower quality then compressed air, but is cheaper to manufacture. CO2 tanks sometimes malfunction (most commonly fire with inconsistent pressure) when the temperature is lower than 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit), while compressed air tanks have a much wider operating temperature range.
Compressed air tanks come in 3000 and 4500 psi variations and typically have a volume of between 45 ci and 88 ci. The 3000 psi tanks can provide enough air for 500 to 1300 shots depending on the gun, while 4500 psi tanks can give 1000 to 2000 shots. HPA utilizes a regulator to keep the pressure output constant, which results in compressed air tanks being more consistent and accurate overall, albeit pricier.
Regular paintballs are made of a gelatin shell filled with food coloring and vegetable oil. The gelatin shell is designed to break upon impact, although ricochets may occur. There are many types of paintballs, including glow in the dark paintballs for use at night, scented paintballs, and formulations for winter play.
When dropped on the floor, groundwater or condensation may swell the paintball, which could cause a jam in the barrel, or rupture and foul the internal workings of the marker. Dropped ammunition is known as 'loose paint', and should not be used in a paintball marker.
A reusable ball is a rubber substitute for a paintball, but is often used when describing Reballs and other brands of reusable paintball-sized spheres. Most reusable paintballs are the same size as normal paintballs, but weigh less and do not contain a paint filling. They do not break open to leave a paint mark on players, so the lack of filling makes them practical for indoor locations where accumulation of paint from broken paintballs would be a problem.
This fact also makes this form of paintball questionable, since no mark of paint is left, it allows players to cheat much more easily. A Reball is more expensive than a paintball, but since they can be cleaned and reused many times, they potentially have a lower cost per use. Some paintball parks have added dedicated reball fields, and some fields have actually gone exclusive with Reballs, eliminating the use of paintballs entirely.
The primary use of Reballs, as intended initially by the manufacturer, is as a practice aid for teams who wish to save money by using reusable ammunition. Other manufacturers have created similar products, such as the V-Ball, a Velcro (hence the name V-Ball) reusable paintball. Reballs are also used at a lower velocity because of their inability to break on whoever they hit. For example, a Regular paintball will normally be shot at approximately 300 ft/s (91 m/s), but a Reball is supposed to be used at around 250 ft/s (76 m/s). It is noteworthy that the composition of Reballs results in increased ricochets, depending on the surfaces that they hit.
The term 'reusable balls' does not refer to paintballs that have been picked up from the ground.
Main article: Paintball tank
Paintball tanks are a wide variety of vehicles sometimes used in woodsball events to eliminate large numbers of opponents by using protection and superior firepower. They can range from golf carts covered in plywood to real military tanks with real guns converted to fire paintballs.
Many paintball sponsors and businesses sometimes have their own paintball tanks which they take to events. Although local paintballs parks usually don't make use of vehicles (since the cost of the vehicle and its maintenance can be prohibitive), tournaments and other 'sponsored' events will often feature several.
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