View Full Version : OT: Was anyone here into paintball in it's early days?

Doc Nickel
10-17-2007, 03:21 AM
I realize this is a strange question, but I seem to recall someone on this board mentioning they were involved with paintball in one way or another, back in it's early days. I can't recall exactly who, and haven't spotted the post I vaguely recall, with a quick search.

I've sent two PM's out to the ones I sorta-kinda think were the ones, I'd appreciate it if those would get back to me.

Anyone else? I'm actually specifically looking for a fellow- whom I've taked to before, but it's been a long time- who was at one time a member of a team called the All-Americans.

Thanks for your time. (And yes, it's machining related. :D )


10-17-2007, 03:25 AM
No matter where I look, I haven't been able to get away from paintball today. Oh well, maybe I'll get some work done tomorrow. Good luck finding the person.

Forrest Addy
10-17-2007, 04:01 AM
Back when I was a kid we used lead paintballs. If you got hit you got scalped with a knife. Break a leg? Shove the bone back in and keep running. they catch you they'd stake you to an anthill with barbed wire. That will leave permanent MARKS on you. Kids nowadays. 50 MPH paintballs. Poof! Buncha weenies.

Doc Nickel
10-17-2007, 04:32 AM
Actually Forrest, they go 200+ MPH. :D

(300 fps is the regulation.)

We may not have the constitution of you old timers, but we've got a higher survival rate. :D


Greg Parent
10-17-2007, 07:45 AM
A friend of mine started organising games back when paintball first started in my area. I played my first game back in 1980. My friend had (IIRC) Nelspot 007 9mm pistols that fired oil based paintballs. We were told the markers were from the forestry industry and were used to mark trees.

The marker only held 10 balls that were in a tube parallel to the barrel. The markers ran off 12 gram CO2 cartridges and you got about 25 good shots before you had to switch to a fresh CO2. I remember that within 20 feet it hurt like hell.

Good times....

Norman Atkinson
10-17-2007, 08:02 AM
Dear me- was anyone else into 1000 lb HE bombs and incendiaries?
Well, let's talk about something which is a step up from pop guns with corks in the end and a piece of string.

What next?

G.A. Ewen
10-17-2007, 08:11 AM
I realize this is a strange question, but I seem to recall someone on this board mentioning they were involved with paintball ....

Anyone else?

Thanks for your time. (And yes, it's machining related. :D )


Lets see,,,, machine related,,,, perhaps you have something like this in mind :D


Doc Nickel
10-17-2007, 08:15 AM
Sorry Avie, but there was a fairly important reason for this request, and I may have found who I was looking for. You may let this thread sink at it's leisure.

And Greg? You were ahead of your time- the first recorded game is commonly recognized to have taken place in June of 1981 in New Hampshire. If you have some kind of documentation that you played in '80 (not impossible, the guns date back to the early 70s) we'd love to hear it, because you'd be the first first. :)

Oh, and they're .68 caliber, not 9mm. But other than that, you're spot-on. Nelson Paint Company Nel-Spot 007s, firing balls of oil-based paint. Games usually ended up with a solvent party in the garage. :D


G.A. Ewen
10-17-2007, 08:26 AM
Dear me- was anyone else into 1000 lb HE bombs and incendiaries?
Well, let's talk about something which is a step up from pop guns with corks in the end and a piece of string.

What next?

I am a bit surprized at this comment. What would make working on paintball guns any different than anything else as far as the machining goes?

Norman Atkinson
10-17-2007, 08:45 AM
I wasn't the only one to regard the whole thing as a bit 'prissy'
It is a game and it was a game. I merely brought the serious aspects of things back into focus. Of course, there are serious bits of research to conduct- and pethaps if the reason had been explained it would not have evoked such comment.

I was replying with the thoughts of those families who lost loved ones or had loved ones returned injured from the present conflict or those conflicts which have preceded it. Sadly, they do exist. They get a rotten appreciation and one in which they cannot have the luxuries which others now enjoy.

Sorry, but these are good folks in two hemispheres and on many sides of ponds.

I, too, was wearing my other very real hat.



10-17-2007, 09:27 AM
Doc, I was playing pretty regularly when I was teaching at Mississippi State in '90 - '92, but I doubt that was anywhere near early enough.

I still have my Tippmann from those first games :)

I just checked the Tippmann site, and they mention paintball becoming popular in 1986:

Originally a manufacturer of collectible, half-scale replica machine guns, family-owned Tippmann entered the paintball industry in 1986 when gun law changes forced them to re-evaluate their business.

At the time, the Tippmann's were afraid that paintball was just a passing fad that would have about as much staying power as the hula hoop. But it seemed like a natural transition for the company anyway. After all, they knew how to make guns, and paintball markers shared the same basic principles as the machine guns they were manufacturing.

Thinking the sport would never last, they entered the paintball industry with a goal: to make high-performance, durable products that people could afford. Because of their experience in the gun industry, the Tippmanns' products were light years ahead of the competition. They built the very first semi-automatic and full-automatic paintball markers, and the sport never slowed down. Tippmann went from having eight employees in 1986 to 120 today, with offices in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

10-17-2007, 01:24 PM
"We were told the markers were from the forestry industry and were used to mark trees."
Nah, trees don't move that fast.
They were used here for marking scrub cattle from a helicopter :D

Greg Parent
10-17-2007, 01:53 PM
Hello Doc,
Checked my diary and we played late August 1980 in a small section of forest on my friends parents cottage land. This was not a commercial venture but just a friend who had access to the equipment and a bunch of suckers who said they would play. He had six markers (five worked well, one not so well)and a couple of cases of balls that he got from a relative who did silvaculture work for a local college forestry program. I dont remember the balls being .68 caliber but smaller ie 9mm. They were bright orange, came in plastic cigar tubes in ten counts, were oil based and hurt like hell...that last part I remember clearly.

His relative said that foresters played a similar game all the time so it appears paintball was around before us. We did not play capture the flag or any modern version of the games that exist today, we just ran around taking shots at everyone. It was summer of 1982 before commercial ventures started in my area. We had two companies to choose from and played at the field who offered the best price point. Its been a few years since the last time I played . I wonder if my friend still has the old markers? Would probably make a few people look twice if we showed up packing the old technology.


Norman Atkinson
10-17-2007, 02:00 PM
We used to call them Nickel Raids and dropped leaflets from unarmed DC-47's in broad moonlight in the Burmese jungle for every damned Jap night fighter to find and attack.

Meeting the survivors in 10 days.
Can imagine what they will make of all this.
'When you go home, tell them of us and say-
for their tomorrow, we gave out today' The Imphal Dedication.
The other party piece was feeding a whole Army from the air.

Hmmmmm- and not a paintball in sight.

10-17-2007, 02:07 PM
Hi Norm,

My Father served three tours in Vietnam (Officer, so the 1-tour rotation didn't apply), wounded twice, decorated three times.
He also thought it was odd that adults would want to play paintball, so I can see where you're coming from (as a WWII veteran).

On the other hand, paintball is a blast :)



Norman Atkinson
10-17-2007, 02:19 PM
Robert- my thanks to you and your father and those like him.
As I stand to the Battle Standard as it is trooped- for the 92nd Year, I will think of him with the rest of the unsung heroes.

Tomorrow, it is two of the Korean lot- the Durhams and an oldie who was a carrier guy in more than one war. I lost count of them- and the numbers of whiskys he gets - from me!

Reckon that I am just one lucky guy. If you are thin, the chances of survival are higher.

cheers from

Norm- the skinny guy

10-17-2007, 07:49 PM
No $hit ,as I read this there was a yellow pages ad on the TV with a Paint baller painting his living room.

Any way PB is very good exercise.Though a little too much for you old guys so I can understand why you wouldn't like it. ;)

Norman Atkinson
10-18-2007, 01:26 AM
Removed- pissed off.

Doc Nickel
10-18-2007, 03:52 AM
Paintballs???? Can't they get a life?

-Okay sir, I was willing to let it drop the first time, but that's enough.

Some people expend a great deal of time and effort simply to make small decorative model engines to sit on the shelf and look pretty. Others like to run around and play a high-tech version of "tag". Why is one of those any more or less of a "life" than the other?

You're presuming that since the sport uses "guns" and some of the players wear camoflage, that it's "playing war", and therefore some sort of obscure insult to those like you that actually served.

And that's simply not the case.

The game is a sport, nothing more. It got it's start in 1981 using small pistols designed to shoot balls of oil-based paint which were used for marking cattle or trees.

It has nothing to do with war, either for or against. It's a sport, period. Not as mainstream as football or baseball, but with far more participants than curling or even skydiving, and with a lower injury rate than bowling or badminton.

Please show me just how this fellow is making any reference at all to anything military, let alone "insulting" you or anyone else that is serving or has ever served.


That's an airgun. It has more in common with a pneumatic staplegun than a Garand or M-16. He's not yelling "you dirty Nazi!" or "watch out for those commie bastards!", he's yelling "my mirror!" (meaning there's an opponent behind his opposite bunker) or "G-1!" (meaning the opposing team is now down one player.)

Yes, there's a large subset of the sport into what's known ans "mil sim", or military simulation. We have realistic lookalike markers, exotic camoflage, and even "pistols".

But again, how are these people in any way "insulting" those that served and even died in the service? Because we're "playing war"? Hardly- I know a large number of active-duty players.

This fellow is a mechanic for C-130s, who was on leave from his Middle East tour at the time:


At that same game, two other guys had to leave a little early- they were Marines, and due back on base.

This fellow, now retired, was a C-130 loadmaster, with something like 3,800 hours of flight time, almost half of that combat, over Kuwait (occasionally in an AC-130 gunship in those days) Iraq, Afghanistan, Kzakhistan, and Iraq again;


The young girl on the left is his daughter Emily, pointing to where she hit dad in the goggles.

When he was still on active duty, and between conflicts, he ran games in the local Air Force Base (Elmendorf, Alaska) specifically for active-duty personell. Everyone in this photo, with the exception of me (the photographer) and two of my friends who were there helping with organization, was active-duty at the time:


Now I understand your obvious distaste with what you feel are just "kids playing war". I don't agree with it, but I can understand it.

But please understand that it's a sport, connected with actual war about as much as modern football is connected with battles in a Roman Collosseum.

You don't have to play, and I'm not asking for your blessings, but I am asking that you understand we're not "insulting" anyone who is serving, has served, or even who died in the service.


Norman Atkinson
10-18-2007, 04:33 AM
You have your sport and you made the reference to 'kids playing at war'.
I didn't. I did, however, make reference to 'kids at war' and I deleted it.
I thought of the many thousands of kids at war who had to face the real end of a gun. I tought of the little girls of perhaps 10 or 11 who in their pretty blue and white gingham dresses tackling firebombs. No fancy uniforms, these were the young ladies who would take their place in the world affairs. they were the schoolchildren torn away and evacuated from what was thought to be away from German bombs. There was no running away from reality.

What you forget is that there is a subtle difference between those of today who put on a uniform whether for real or for play. there is a difference between those who pick up a rifle for paint or otherwise.
We, and I still wear my badge, had no choice in the matter. other than to go to prison.

There was no choice in hearing your comrades screaming in their last moments of death. There was no choice in facing a turret of machine guns or the 8 bombs of 1000 lbs each splattering into what had been a place where sheep could safely graze or you did what little boys do at 10 the day before- kick or throw a ball.

Don't get me wrong, there was a time when I actually volunteered.
I wasn't playing with somebody with a paintball but a battery of 25 pounders.
I had one end of a stretcher. It was only almost 6 years since I did my last mountain rescue.
I hope that it was actually my last.
I now have work to do. Indeed, even an old man can still help. For whatever reason which prompts people to go to war and be injured there is the unglamorous part of picking up the pieces when the reporters have gone home. That Doc, is still my job.

A bit to illustrate. I am great friends with an old boy. We sort of grew up together, he came out of the bombed out slums of London and I out of the places where men died in the filth of depressed and dying industry. He was injured was my old mate and I took on his case. It took 49 years to get him a miserable pension but it has taken longer than that to pay him back for keeping me in one piece those many years back.

For some of us, life is not quite the glamourous game! I paint a stark but very real picture.

Doc Nickel
10-18-2007, 05:38 AM
For some of us, life is not quite the glamourous game! I paint a stark but very real picture.

-Yessir, but what of it?

You're trying to equate a sport with war, death and destruction. Do you similarly decry the Olympic Biathalon, since it is, at it's heart, based off tests of skills for a soldier and his rifle?

I'm sorry you had to endure what you did. My grandmother told us many times, how my grandfather ('43 to '45- I inherited his Machinery's handbook from before he went off to war) was substantially changed after he came back.

He refused- utterly refused- to speak of what he did or saw over there. A few of his letters home hinted at places, and may well be references to at least one infamous battle, but that's it. He never spoke of it to his wife, his children, or his grandchildren.

He brought back an officers' Luger, complete with holster and spare magazine. We have no idea where it came from. Did he find it laying in the battlefield? Did he simply win it in a late night poker game in some nameless rear area? Did he personally bayonet an SS and strip the trophy from his still-bleeding corpse?

We have no idea.

I pity him, in retrospect, carrying whatever memories he had, in private and inescapable.

But he also told me, when we'd ask, that it's in the past. It's done, it's over. There's no use dwelling on it, because you can't change the past, and you can't let it color the present or future.

He never said to forget it, but he did say not to let it affect what you're going to do tomorrow.

The dead are dead, and I respect them and their sacrifice. But am I to stop enjoying an utterly unrelated sport simply because some of the participants occasionally wear camoflage clothes and use a device that has parts sort of labelled a barrel and a trigger?

Again, I understand your trepidation. And again, I'm sorry you saw what you saw, and endured what you did. But what I do and enjoy today has absolutely no connection or relation to anything you saw, did or experienced, apart from a few very superficial cosmetics.

I have not forgotten my grandfather, but neither do I let what happened to him, control and direct what I do today. There comes a time, sir, when you should let go- not forget- but to stop letting what happened years or even decades ago, color and control what you do today.


Norman Atkinson
10-18-2007, 05:57 AM
Today is the 18th October and a sort of anniversary. It was the date given by the British Government of when I lost my hearing in 1949.

It has yet to be resolved but I have no trepidation. I, too, went out and killed a man- a Communist whose claim to destruction was no more than 'where did he learn to speak English better than me. He, too, had lived in the war but radios of the English language were banned in the Nazi way of things'

As I said, I paint a stark picture. No trepidation, no remorse. Just that bit deaf and definitely intolerant.

Don't ask me to join- even a Christmas Club!

10-18-2007, 06:08 AM
We might add the Military and law enforcement also use paintballs to train against the criminals and commie hordes. :)

Doc Nickel
10-18-2007, 06:20 AM
Just that bit deaf and definitely intolerant.

-That last part I can believe, anyway.

Sorry about your hearing sir, and I'm sorry as well you feel the need to project that frustration and obvious anger upon others.


10-18-2007, 10:28 PM
We might add the Military and law enforcement also use paintballs to train against the criminals and commie hordes. :)

i'll second that. in fact, i recently picked up an ATS AT-85 Tactical marker (similar to an M-16, in fact actually uses several M-16 components), and my brother (who is active duty U.S. Army), was asking me about them because the base he works at is thinking of getting some of the mil-sim markers for training. i actually bought mine to practice with so the neighbors don't get upset at me for target shooting with the AR-15 while they're sleeping in saturday mornings. :)

andy b.