The Most Important Event in Paintball History

by Nathan Greenman

The word “History” has several definitions.  The one that best fits this discussion is: “A methodical record of important events that concerns a community”.  So the question is…what do YOU think is the most important event that concerns the paintball community?

A well informed scenario player may mention the first known scenario game organized by Wayne Dollack back in 1985. A well informed tournament player may bring up the first ever speedball game played at SC Village in 1989. A pro or veteran tournament player might reminisce about the formation of the NPPL in 1992. Some may even bring up the first ESPN airing of a paintball event in 1994. Some younger players may prefer to discuss the first X-ball game held by the NXL in 2003. I grant you that these are important events; however, they are not the most important events….not by a long shot.

If you talk to an industry insider you will likely hear about historical companies that were “first” in specific product introductions.  Companies like Gramps and Grizzly that introduced the first constant air tank in 1985, or JT and Scott that released goggles made specifically for paintball in 1987. You may even hear about how Bud Orr….wait for it….introduced the “45 round” Ammo box in 1988. That‘s not what you thought I was going to say about Bud was it?  Other key “first” companies that might get discussed could be the first nitrogen (compressed air) system introduced in 1991 by…wait for it….Tom Kaye….again….not what you thought I was going to say about Tom either was it?

There are hundreds if not thousands of important events in our history that could be mentioned and although they are surely important to large segments of the community there is no single event more important than the first ever organized paintball game played in 1981 by Charles Gaines, Bob Gurnsey and Hayes Noel. None of the other events that followed would have happened if this first game were not played. This first game was the “birth” of paintball and THE most important event for all in the community from recball beginner to scenario to tournament players and especially to industry insiders and manufacturers.

This “event” would NOT have been possible without a paintball gun and the gun used for the “birthgame” of paintball was the Daisy Splotchmarker invented by James C. Hale from Pea Ridge Arkansas.  The patent (#3,788,298) was filed on June 19, 1972 and granted on January 29, 1974. I mention this detail because most refer to this gun as the Nelspot which is the name/brand adopted by paintball enthusiasts and product distributors AFTER the first game, however, this gun was introduced to the forest and cattle industry by Daisy under the name Splotchmarker.

If you agree with me in that this was the single most important event in the history of paintball and you want a piece of this history I have a deal for you! I worked for Brass Eagle/Daisy for over a decade and somewhere along the way I acquired several dozen patent prints that were individually signed by James C Hale. These prints were going to be tossed in a dumpster and I wisely saved them from this awful fate.  If you want one for your office, paintball store or just to hang in your bedroom feel free to contact me at  I am only asking $100 each.


Nathan V Greenman bio:

I was drawn into the paintball world in 1992 when I played my first game at Paintball Atlanta. I quickly became addicted and started playing tournaments mostly MSPA all over the southeast with my team called “The Nobody’s”.  In an effort to gain sponsors I started writing articles for various magazines in exchange for team advertisement. I was completely obsessed by the sport (Just ask my first ex-wife) and quickly started playing national events like NPPL, APL and Amateur Open.  In 1997 I was offered a job at Brass Eagle and so I moved to Arkansas where I could feed my addiction 24/7….er…I mean…become a sales person for Brass Eagle. I was also the captain of the factory team the Brass Eagle All Stars. I also captained the VL All Stars, JT All Stars and (one of my favorite experiences of all time) the JT All Stars Europe team! When Brass Eagle acquired JT (they had a full sales team) I moved to marketing where I managed Field Op’s and team sponsorships. Eventually I progressed to Product and Brand Management. I was eventually “let go” from JT Sports in 2008 during one of many waves of layoffs as the company tried in vain to survive the downturn in the economy.

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