Despite misconceptions that airsoft originated much later, it was actually first played in the late 1970s, stemming from the concept of realistic-looking guns that shot non-lethal projectiles for sporting and simulation purposes. There were guns of this style before airsoft, such as the Mattel "Shootin' Shell" guns of the late 1950s. The US military even tinkered with ideas of this type after World War II. The BB guns that existed before shot metal BBs that could do a lot of damage to a person and in rare cases, kill them. Mattel's guns were a novelty at best though.
Airsoft filled a void. It originated in Japan, where owning real guns was generally illegal. The first manufacturers were long-standing toy companies such as Masudaya, Fujimi, and Matsushiro. These companies decided it would be a good (and profitable) idea to market BB guns that could be safely shot at others in a similar manner to paintball guns, which were also becoming popular at that time. These guns were spring-powered, single-shot weapons and were often very crude in nature. Many used odd, proprietary ammunition, such as the 7mm "Long Range" ammo some Masudaya guns used, or the soft rubber ammo used in TradeMark's guns. Eventually, it was realized that a standard-size round BB would be cheaper and more efficient to produce. There were a variety of companies making guns during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The Daisy company had been known for over a century as the premiere producer of BB guns in the US. So in the early 80s, they decided to market airsoft in North America. Up until that time, airsoft was virtually unheard of outside of Japan. Daisy contracted the Maruzen company of Japan to manufacture a line of spring-powered guns to sell in the US. Most of these guns already existed in Japan and were essentially re-packaged for sale in North America. These guns used special BBs loaded into simulated shell casings.
All models were manufactured by Maruzen except the Model 15 H&K MP5K, which was made by Falcon Toy Corp.
These guns were as realistic in appearance as an airsoft or model gun had been up until this point, and many anti-gun and anti-violence organizations showed disfavor towards these items in America.
Airsoft guns: http://www.lonestarairsoft.com/forum...499airsoft.jpg
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The first paintballs were created by the Nelson Paint Company in the 1950s for forestry service use in marking trees from a distance, and were also used by cattlemen to mark cows. Two decades later, paintballs were used in a survival game between two friends in the woods of Henniker, New Hampshire, and paintball as a sport was born.
In 1976, Hayes Noel, a stock trader, Bob Gurnsey, and his friend Charles Gaines, a writer, were walking home and chatting about Gaines' recent trip to Africa and his experiences hunting buffalo. Eager to recreate the adrenaline rush that came with the thrill of the hunt, and inspired by Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game, the two friends came up with the idea to create a game where they could stalk and hunt each other.
In the ensuing months, the friends talked about what sorts of qualities and characteristics made for a good hunter and survivalist. They were stumped, however, on how to devise a test of those skills. It wasn't until a year and a half later that George Butler, a friend of theirs, showed them a paintball gun in an agricultural catalog. The gun was a Nelspot 007 marker manufactured by the Nelson Paint Company.
Twelve players competed against each other with Nelspot 007s pistols in the first paintball game on June 27, 1981. They were: Bob Jones, a novelist and staff writer for Sports Illustrated and an experienced hunter, Ronnie Simpkins, a farmer from Alabama and a master turkey hunter, Jerome Gary, a New York film producer, Carl Sandquist, a New Hampshire contracting estimator, Ritchie White, the New Hampshire forester, Ken Barrett, a New York venturer and hunter, Joe Drinon, a stock-broker and former Golden Gloves boxer from New Hampshire, Bob Carlson, a trauma surgeon and hunter from Alabama, and Lionel Atwill, a writer for Sports Afield, a hunter and a Vietnam vet, Charles Gaines, Bob Gurnsey, and Hayes Noel. The game was capture the flag on an 80 acre wooded cross-country ski area.
Thereafter, the friends devised basic rules for the game fashioned along the lines of capture the flag, and invited friends and a writer from Sports Illustrated to play. They called their game "Survival," and an article about the game was published in the June 1980 issue of Sports Illustrated. As national interest in the game steadily built, Bob Gurnsey formed a company, National Survival Game, and entered a contract with Nelson Paint Company to be the sole distributor of their paintball equipment. Thereafter, they licensed to franchisees in other states the right to sell their guns, paint, and goggles. As a result of their monopoly on equipment, they turned a profit in only six months.
The first games of paintball were very different from modern paintball games. Nelspot pistols were the only gun available. They used 12-gram CO2 cartridges, held at most 10 rounds, and had to be tilted to roll the ball into the chamber and then recocked after each shot. Dedicated paintball masks had not yet been created, so players wore shop glasses that left the rest of their faces exposed. The first paintballs were oil-based and thus not water soluble; "turpentine parties" were common after a day of play. Games often lasted for hours as players stalked each other, and since each player had only a limited number of rounds, shooting was rare.
Between 1981 and 1983, rival manufacturers such as PMI began to create competing products, and it was during those years that the sport took off. Paintball technology gradually developed as manufacturers added a front-mounted pump in order to make recocking easier, then replaced the 12-gram cartridges with larger air tanks, commonly referred to as "constant air". These basic innovations were later followed by gravity feed hoppers and 45-degree elbows to facilitate loading from the hopper.
The new age of paintball guns: http://rap4.com/paintball_news/image...rap5_rap17.jpg