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Calling all old fogeys - What was your paintball shop like in the early 90's

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    Calling all old fogeys - What was your paintball shop like in the early 90's

    I am talking about pre-electro marker. I am curious because I think the shop I dealt with was unique(on the east coast anyway), but I don't have anything to compare it against.

    I dealt with Alternative Sports in Glen Burnie MD, previously Paintball Proshop in Brooklyn Park MD. This was not a huge shop and had the standard Pro-Ams, SL-68s, VM-68s, Trracers, etc but they also always had a lot of the markers that are really coveted today. There were always several Carter markers on the wall such as buzzards and Carterized VMs, plenty of Palmers markers and often Grey Ghosts, KP rifles and a whole myriad of strange things. Many of these markers were definite one offs like an orange ghost with custom pump and grips previously owned by Colin himself.

    Of course they also had the standard mags and cockers but there was also a lot of custom anno and splash markers always hanging on the wall. Eventually the shop became a semi custom shop and had a small machine shop in the back.

    This is where I cut my teeth learning paintball and it all seemed normal back then, but I am just curious if other shops had this level of high end/custom markers or if this was a unique place?

    #2
    Combat USA that soon changed name to Vanguard Paintball was by "home field" [Columbia, SC]. Started playing there in 1988 (November). 52 Acres of hard wood forest with a few small clearings with a village, POW camp and Vietnam style Firebase. The store was an old single wide trailer with power and running water (toilet worked originally but became a liability later). Dennis Day the owner kept a good supply of paint usually 2 or 3 varieties and pretty fresh (for that time). Good variety of rental pumps that I used to help maintain. Basic parts for common Nelson/Sheridan based markers. We were real close to NPS in Greenville, SC so if you wanted something you just got Dennis to order it for you. There was a consignment wall behind the counter where if you had something to sell Dennis would handle the deal and keep a little bit for his hassle. Friendly all volunteer staff, only time we ever got directly paid was when we were judging for tournaments. The Vanguard Staff had a high representation of NAPRA (North American Paintball Referee Association) judges,
    "When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it." - Theodore Roosevelt

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      #3
      The place I bought my first gun (PMI Trracer) at was in Sanford, Mi. This was late 91/early 92. I have no recollection of a name for the place. It was an attached garage converted to a decent paintball store with glass counters and such. The guy was a player, he let me shoot his then cutting edge PMI-3/VM-68 (can’t remember). At this point most of the people I was playing with got their stuff from this guy, or somewhere in their travels in the Army, or if they were sad and pathetic, Ripide or Splatmaster from KMart. This shop was for sure hooked up with PMI because that was most of their supply. JT Whipper Snappers, 50 rnd Ammo Box, 7oz tank. I wanted 12g but he upsold me.

      There was a hardware store in my town...Knopix? They had Sheridan pistols for a short time in the late 80s and sold paint for $5 a tube.

      There were no fields at all in my area that I can recall. Hell Survivors was 3 hours away (55 mph back then, remember) but still famous. I think Lone Wolf was going back then still.

      At that point in history you’d be lucky to have any store or any field in most parts of the US. If you had a field/store/technician and a bunch of Grey Ghosts then for sure your place was way above average. They didn’t really make a whole ton of Grey Ghosts period, really.

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        #4
        It is funny to think how I was shaped by those days. There was still a very active pump scene and I can't say I remember a single phantom ever being on the field or in the shop. To this day, I still can't play with one. On the other hand, it was a heavy sniper, sheridan, bushmaster and sterling scene along with the carters and ghosts. As a result, I still shoot a sniper, acquired a buzzard over a decade ago once I could afford one, have a few sheridans and want to get a bushmaster. Also wish I never sold my ghost.

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          #5
          My "local shop" was mail-order. Living in Left Armpit, Alaska, meant that basically no one carried any paintball gear. The closest thing was the army surplus store. Even the magazines were few and far between.

          Between that and being perpetually broke, if I wanted a custom mod, I had to make it myself.

          Doc.
          Doc's Machine & Airsmith Services: Creating the Strange and Wonderful since 1998!
          The Whiteboard: Daily, occasionally paintball-related webcomic mayhem!
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            #6
            There was nothing local to me until Warped Sportz in Kearney, Nebraska a little past the mid 90's. I opened my own shop in my hometown in 1997 while I was a senior in high school.
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              #7
              Paintball Games Supplies, Rochester NY was the closest pro shop not attached to Field. The ad’s in APG were probably one of the first multi page store ad’s. This was Caleb Strong’s PMI foothold, I cant remember the actual storefront, but it was super small inside.

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                #8
                Most were either a single counter in a larger store or were gone in less than a year. Tammie's Hobbies in Beaverton, OR always had interesting guns on the wall - TASO, Phantoms, a Woodland Camo Illustrator that haunts me to this day...That would have been '91-92. There was a store on the East edge of Portland that was the first custom shop I can remember but can't recall the name. More of a tournament kind of mentality than most places. They worked on Autocockers and Mags back when neither were reliable, pre-HPA days, '93 I think? Lots of Palmer's parts, along with custom anodizing. By '94 both I and another buddy had gotten business licenses so we could buy wholesale and we were running outlaw games in the green-spaces around town. Don't know that I was frequenting any shops after that.

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                • Rusty Brass

                  Rusty Brass

                  commented
                  Editing a comment
                  That sounds right. Me and a buddy used to cut class and roll out there, bug the guys behind the counter, drool.
                  Since you seem to both be local and have a functioning memory - you wouldn't happen to remember the name of the field out in Newberg that shut down in '93 or '94? They did a 24 hour big game, rented a helicopter and everything, and the neighbors turned against them because they thought we were all paramilitary lunatics. I've been trying to remember that one for a while now...
                  Last edited by Rusty Brass; 09-02-2020, 01:46 PM.

                • forumreader
                  forumreader commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I started playing in 94 at Warpaint when their field was right outside Silverton. I didn't play anywhere else for a couple of years, and by then there wasn't anything going in Newberg that I was a aware of. I just played the regulars like Splat Action and Sarge's Hit and Run (as well as plenty of Warpaint).

                  I don't know if you knew Mike Oakes who was part of Thrillseekers. He ended up working for Stiffi selling barrels until they pretty much stopped making barrels. Then he ended up killing a guy and going to jail. There's a tv documentary about it! The things that come out of Gresham....

                • Rusty Brass

                  Rusty Brass

                  commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Lol. No. I don't remember much about the shop really. Definitely wasn't aware of a connection to that trial. Just went a-Googling, a bit of a sordid tale there.

                #9
                paintball depot in NJ.

                but i wasnt old enough to remember much about it. Had no idea what anything was really.

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                  #10
                  Mine was the back corner of a swimming pool supply store. Just a handful of guns & supplies. Very much a not-very-profitable addendum to a successful business owned by an enthusiast. Something special about those garage/back room days.

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                    #11
                    The other big names store I went was past Rochester I think in Holley, Aerostar East. They piggy backed off Aerostar West. But I don’t want to say it was actually A franchise of.
                    Anyway I had friends in the area and I roped him in to going along. Followed the directions to a small subdivision, it was just a raised ranch style house, with garage on the narrow end. We went in through the garage which was filled with shelves and product the rest of the what was probably bedrooms was also product. It really looked like it was setup just to mail order. I did buy something but I don’t remember what.

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                      #12
                      I bought my first stuff from the local army surplus, which had a small selection in 88.

                      Around 95 I had been out for a few years. I stumbled into Brad Nestle's shop off of I-10 one day. The $1400 autocockers and $1200 mags hanging on the wall made me wonder what happened? I stumbled out.
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                        #13
                        A gunshop in Norwich CT had a wall of PB gear and a catalog we could order from.

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                          #14
                          Dicks Sporting goods in Palmer, Mass. I believe X-Fire was open in Auburn, but I didn't have access until a couple years later when I had my license. Dicks had a couple pb guns and did co2 fills. 1 case of "Big Balls" paint 2500ct. was $80 and was enough for my whole summer.

                          Comment


                            #15
                            I have totally forgotten about the Dicks runs before a game of outlaw ball to get Co2 fills. Frequently we would get questionable fills and they would run out of Co2 before getting to all the tanks.

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