Most Influential People in Paintball
Paintball has seen an immense amount of people that have shaped and evolved the game, making it nearly impossible to recognize everyone for their innovative ideas. However, we’d like to take this opportunity to honor those who made a lasting impression on paintball through their contributions. We hope you enjoy learning about these incredible individuals!
Charles Gaines, Hayes Noel, Bob Gurnsey – The story of paintball’s inception has become widely known. In 1976, Gaines, Noel, and Gurnsey created the game we now know and love. Charles and Bob’s National Survival Game company made it accessible to the public in early 1980s with a variety of products – most notably their first marker designed just for paintball! Moreover, under Bob’s leadership NSG started hosting tournament series as far back as 1983. Allowing us to enjoy this captivating sport today!
Dave Freeman, Jeff Perlmutter – In 1983, Freeman and Perlmutter formed Pursuit Marketing Inc. (PMI) to challenge the lack of competition in the marketplace. PMI quickly rose to become an industry leader for over twenty years, producing much-loved brands such as Evil and products like RP Scherer Marbalizer paintballs – still a favorite today! KEE Action Sports emerged from a merger between PMI and their rival National Paintball Supply last year – solidifying their place among top competitors in this sector.
Ross Alexander and Jerry Dobbins – When the Line SI Bushmaster was designed, developed and manufactured by this dynamic duo in 1988, it quickly became popular amongst paintballers. Highly acclaimed as one of the best pump guns ever made, teams outfitted with a Bushmaster routinely took home trophies during late-eighties competitions.
Arthur Chang – When Kingman, now known as Spyder, unveiled their newest paintgun model – the Spyder – it caused leading manufacturers to reconsider their prices in order to remain competitive. This was a huge benefit for players everywhere! Of course, we have Arthur Chang to thank for this remarkable invention. His line of Spyders has sold thousands of affordable guns since its introduction and more recently he has ventured into other uncharted territory with his Kingman Training line introducing .43 caliber pistols.
Greg Hastings – Everyone is familiar with Greg Hastings, the mastermind behind paintball video games which have brought our sport to a whole new realm of recognition. His career in professional teams such as Ground Zero Gold and XSV has also significantly contributed to this industry. On top of that, back in the 90’s he created an innovative comfort pack for paintballers by stitching together a harness on his old belt – something we use today!
Bill and Dawn Mills – Bill and Dawn Mills revolutionized the world of paintball with their website, WARPIG – The World And Regional Paintball Information Guide. This resource became an extensively renowned source for all things related to paintball on the internet that couldn’t be found elsewhere. For years it remained unmatched in delivering quality information and interaction about paintball; through this achievement, Bill and Dawn swiftly gained immense appreciation from those within its community.
Ritchie White – In June of 1981, Ritchie White emerged victorious in the first multi-player game of paintball ever recorded. Taking on 11 opponents singlehandedly, he captured all flags and won the match that took place across the New Hampshire woods.
Aldo Perrone – In 1985, Also Perrone founded Brass Eagle, a game-changing company in the paintball industry. Through his successful leadership and influence throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Perrone eventually sold it to Daisy—a decision that would forever change history.
Dennis Tippmann – When Dennis Tippmann arrived on the paintball scene, he did so with a flourish. His initial gun, the groundbreaking full-auto SMG-60 was merely his starting point – next came what’s been regarded as his pioneering invention: the paint grenade! Not content to rest there, Tippman went on to develop constant air technology for more general use and semi-automatic guns into dependable machines that could be trusted match after match. Today is still seen as synonymous with reliability and ease of use in this industry; if you’re looking for quality without fuss, it has to be Tippmann all the way.
Dan Colby – As an avid player and gun tinkerer from Chicagolands, Dan Colby eventually launched Air America – one of the first to pioneer C02 technology and high pressure air regulators. With his expertise in paintball air-related products, he now plays a key role on Guerrilla Air’s team as they strive for continuous improvement and development.
Gino Postorivo – Gino is one of the most exemplary figures in paintball; he transitioned from selling a few paintballs at his father’s pizzeria to becoming a mainstay entity in this industry. After years with National Paintball Supply and creating renowned brands such as 32 Degrees and Empire, Gino set aside his career for some time but has since come back at the reins of Valken, an emerging company.
Claudia Welikson – In the 1990s, five-man paintball tournaments were hugely popular all across the United States. However, on the East Coast 15-man was still dominant – that is until Claudia Welikson’s Paintcheck team descended upon Skirmish for one weekend and revolutionized it forever! Not only did this influence paintball in America but Claudia was also responsible for founding Paintcheck Magazine seven years prior to her monumental achievement in 1991.
Joe West – Joe has been the proprietor of J&J Performance Barrels since the early ’90s and he is a true pioneer in this industry. His products have remained popular for nearly two decades, making him one of the game’s most influential ambassadors and innovators.
Debra Dion Krischke – With extensive knowledge of the tournament scene and culture, Debra Dion Krischke utilized her PR background as a former NSG person in the 80s to found Three Rivers Paintball. She also created an enormous annual event for more than 10 years – The International Amateur Open – by bringing together top players from all over the industry. Even now she remains its owner!
Lou “Gramps” Grubb and Mike “Grizzly” Grubb – Prior to the invention of the first constant air system by Gramps and Grizzly in 1986, all paintball players were dependent on 12-gram C02 cartridges. For two decades their shop was located near SC Village until recently closing down; during that time they also worked as tech experts for Brass Eagle, fixing guns such as thr Nightmare, Ninja and Poison.
Dave Bell – Dave Bell revolutionized paintball when he designed and developed the VL-2000 electronic hopper. Thanks to his creativity, teams and players could now customize their guns like never before. For years, regardless of the type of marker they used in tournaments or games, one thing was constant – either a VL-2000 or Revolution loader atop each gun!
Rick Fairbanks – Rick, the founder of National Paintball Supply, ushered in many new brands and labels to paintball (including ProBall), while also competing seriously from the 80s – 90s. He was even a significant contributor for events such as International Amateur Open. His partner Doug Brown at NPS should be noted here too; he has been instrumental in the success behind-the-scenes at National Paintballs SUpply over these years!
Bob Long – During the 1990s, Bob Long led The Ironmen to greatness; they won three consecutive NPPL titles, unveiled non-camo apparel and conquered Mayhem Masters in 1995. Additionally, Bob revolutionized paintball guns by creating the Intimidator – a product which is still used today as Protégé and Vice models. His other accomplishments include Marq Victory that was employed by Oakland BLAST at USPL/NPPL 2009 series resulting in an impressive World Cup victory of 2009!
Ged Green – Ged Green’s WDP was the first to take tournament paintball out of the forests for good when they introduced Hyperball in ’96. There was no turning back after that monumental move! Beyond this, his company also launched their signature Angel Paintball Gun – a revolutionary landmark event from which we all benefit today.
Joe Fortin – After Team Xtreme Captain admitted to deliberately losing a match in the NPPL, it represented an unprecedented confession that exposed this dilapidated practice for what it was. Consequently, stricter punishments were swiftly imposed upon anyone found guilty of throwing tournament games – and rightly so!
Laurent Hamet – As early as 1999, Laurent Hamet had made the world aware of Sup’Air Ball. However, it was in that same year when he was an integral part of launching the Millennium Series- Europe’s premier pro paintball series.
Ed Rieker: When Ed Rieker’s son Tony first launched PbNation in the late 2000s, he had no idea what was to come. As the site grew over a few years, it became clear that further support and expertise were needed – this is when Ed stepped up. With his background as former candidate for Mayor of Avondale Estates plus being an avid paintball player himself, having him on board proved invaluable. Thanks to his hard work and dedication, PbNation has become one of largest and most popular paintball sites on the web today; with Ed at its helm playing alongside other team members from time-to-time at various events across the globe.
Jim Lively and Sam Caldwell – During the heyday of professional paintball, one of the premier events was the Masters Tournament. This tournament attracted players and their teams, sponsors, vendors – essentially everyone that experienced Paintball during this time period. Additionally, after transitioning from 15-man to 10-man formats in tournaments, Jim Lively and Sam Caldwell worked together tirelessly to promote major tournaments using these new rulesets. The foundations of the National Professional Paintball League were established through events held by Jim Lively and Sam Caldwell. To this day, you can find Lively playing paintball; however, sadly, Caldwell passed away due to cancer.
Caleb Strong – Two years after opening an outdoor field in 1982, Caleb Strong made history by founding the world’s first indoor paintball field in Buffalo, New York. As if this wasn’t impressive enough, he was also a distinguished member of the PMI Piranhas tournament team during the 80s!
William Shatner – In 2001, the iconic “Captain Kirk,” William Shatner, happily accepted JJ Brookshire’s proposal to host a Star Trek themed paintball tournament. The event garnered substantial attention from beyond the traditional world of paintball, with one particular celebrity – “Mancow” joining in on the fun!
Richmond Italia – In 2002, X-Ball made its grand entrance into the world of paintball, and for Richmond Italia – its creator – this was just one of many contributions he has made to the game. Not only is he responsible for creating Matrix paintball gun which still exists today as DM and PM line manufactured by Dye, but also Procaps manufacturers Diablo and Draxxus Paintballs over a few years too. Recently having re-entered paintball himself again with his new company GI Milsim plus their own .50 caliber ball, we can see why Richmond’s work in the industry will never go unrecognized!
Chuck Hendsch – Chuck Hendsch has experienced the full breadth of paintball. From working at RP Scherer, taking on roles in some of the world’s best teams and serving as president for NPPL, to his two tenures with JT Paintball – Chuck certainly knows what he is doing. However, it was back in 2003 where he made an impact that would be remembered forever when he took off with his player base from PSP and brought attention back to NPPL via their Huntington Beach tournament!
Dave Youngblood – Dave Youngblood has been a pioneering figure in professional paintball for decades. He made an indelible mark with fans and opponents alike, as he was able to stand out from the competition by playing while wearing a business suit and using flashy markers that sparkled! After conquering ten-man tournaments with Ironmen, Dave went on to establish Dye – one of the most profitable businesses in all of paintball history. At Dye and Proto, Youngblood is boldly leading the team to success with his innovative barrels like the Boomstick and Ultralite. He has also made a name for himself by creating trend-setting clothing, goggles, paintball guns such as DM and NT series plus their incredible Rotor loader. As one of the major voices in PSP professional paintball league too, he continues to prove his leadership prowess each day!
Chris LaSoya – No matter how one may feel about Chris LaSoya, the truth remains that he consistently approaches paintball his own way—and it has paid off. For example, deciding to take his team out of the NXL in 2004 was a big risk but true to his style; and luckily for him, it worked!
Rob Staudinger – Two years of the Philly Americans’ dominance in the NXL was unexpectedly ended when Rob Staudinger’s Baltimore Trauma emerged victoriously and won their inaugural NXL Championship. Now a PSP partner and supplying compressed air services to numerous renowned occasions, Rob runs Paintball Central; an expansive paintball store and field chain with 3 superb fields situated across the Southeast as well as several pro-shops.
Carl McCown – In 1981, Carl McCown stumbled upon the National Survival Games (NSG) and soon after opened America’s first paintball field. His unique style of managing a course quickly caught on in the early 1980s, inspiring countless other fields to follow his lead.
Oliver Lang – We all thought Ollie was foolish when he left Dynasty, the leading tournament paintball team in the universe. Two years later, however, we had to eat our words as he signed up with Dye and lent his expertise to help propel Ironmen into their unparalleled success; multiple PSP wins and World Cup championships! Many consider him now to be the number one player in modern-day tournament paintball.
This is Part 1. List To Be Continued.