Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Paintball Guns

Paintball guns are a relatively recent invention: only since late 1979 has the technology been around to shoot gelatin balls of paint at each other.
The first game was a test to settle an argument between two men.  They had fought for years about whether or not "survival skills" transferred from one environment to another.  One thought that the survival "instinct" would transfer - for example: a ruthless stockbroker would be just as equipped to survive in the jungle as a professional hunter.  The other insisted that such skill sets were unique and did not transfer.
The first paintball game was played with NelSpot markers, designed for marking trees for lumberjacks to cut down.  The two friends invited ten other people from completely different professions: doctors, stockbrokers, hunters, athletes, etc.  The twelve "combatants" played on an 80-acre field.  The goal was to get a flag from twelve different stations scattered around the field without being marked by another player.
The winner was a hunter.  He never fired a shot, and no one saw him for the entire game.  He was a ghost.  The one who would have taken second place was a doctor who deliberately hunted the other players for the thrill of eliminating them.  He took out 8 people on his own.
The argument never was settled, but the game took off overnight.  Now in the US alone each year more than 9 million people play paintball.  There are over 5000 competing teams in the US, and over 100 universities have paintball teams (Including Purdue University).
The markers have changed much since the inception of the sport, as have the rules.  The modern paintball gun is chronographed to shoot a paintball at only 300 feet per second (fps), as opposed to the original guns, where "the sky's the limit".  The modern guns run off both Carbon DiOxide (CO2) or compressed air (also called High Pressure Air [HPA]).  The designs have changed, and the technology has changed the tactics that players use.  But this blog will be mainly concerned with the designs and functionality of the markers themselves, not how they are used.
So, without further ado: Paintball guns!

All research from The Complete Guide to Paintball (2004) and Paintball Strategy and Tactics (1989), along with supporting material and pictures from various online sources.

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