The Origins and Growth of Paintball

Paintball pic

Paintball
Image: paintball.about.com

A university student with a broad range of interests, including ancient history and literature, Mason Bird is pursuing a career in cyber security. Mason Bird previously worked at a summer camp, where he was responsible for overseeing recreational activities such as paintball, which happens to be one of his favorite sports.

Paintball was first played in 1981 by a group of friends looking to create an outdoor survivalist game to determine who had the best survival skills. Needing a weapon that could tag an opponent without harm, the players settled on paint spray guns which were used to mark animals for the purpose of breeding. The first game was played in roughly 100 acres of woodland and Bob Jones, a writer for Sports Illustrated who took part in the game, published an article about the experience which sparked national interest.

Originally called the Natural Survival Game, Paintball’s early growth was aided by the Nelson Paint Company, which became the exclusive distributor of both guns and equipment. A 2006 American Sports Data Inc. study concluded that more than 10 million Americans played paintball annually, while other sources put the 2006 number closer to 12 million.

While those stats have fallen in the last decade, sources note that the number of players has stabilized at about 3.5 million annually. There remain several professional leagues for paintball, including the National X-Ball League, which features tournaments throughout the United States.

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