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Written by Greg Muller 8/5/2014

30 Years Ago – Today-

While stationed about the USS Gallant, a shipmate asked me to go along with him to the Yosemite area for a bachelor party to play paintball. I asked him what was so special about playing ping pong at Yosemite? He said No – Paintball. We made the drive from the Bay Area and played 6 on 6 with PGP’s, 007’s and Uvex goggles in the foothills just west the National Park in a town called Mariposa, CA. It was probably the most fun I had in 1984.

I was hooked. – but being stationed aboard a ship, we couldn’t take paint or gear with us, so we rented every chance we could from parks all over CA such as Borderlands, Mt Diablo, SC Village, American Canyon PB Jungle, Mare Island, PB Adventures, R & R , APG, Fields Of Fire, Maximum, PB Hill, Tombstone, TAG, PB USA and many more. After my stint with the Navy, I went to the Marine Corps in Fresno, CA and happened, by chance, to meet a fiery machinist named Nicky Wilson. Come to find out, she helped machine Earon Carters first guns along with a lot of parts, barrels, and accessories that are still in use, or derivatives thereof, today. She sold me a couple of guns. That’s a whole ‘nother story!

After getting out of the military, I moved to the San Joaquin Valley in CA. and worked part time in a surplus/police supply store in Stockton, CA. The store had a few paintball items and when I eventually became Manager, paintball was 60% of gross sales. Early on, paint was very expensive and I would split buying pallets with guys named Chuck Hendsch, Craig Stott, Vu Huang and a few other store/field owners in the area. Great friends like Machinegun Mike Baird (of the original Ironmen), along with Clayton and handful of Strike Force, Constant Pursuit , Tour De Force and other “Pro” guys lived locally and hung out at the store; Kids like Dave Bains, Rich Telford, Micah McGlocklin and Neil Eberle would come in to the shop as well. Wonder what happened to those guys? Later on as more companies emerged, it was good to see Bullseye, RPS, Cal-Mag, Nelson, Team Colors, Proball, Great Balls To Fire, ZAP, Diablo and Powerball all sitting on the shelf.

Being from the West coast gave me/us the opportunity to play for and against the best teams in the world. Playing 15-man in the woods with several teams for a short time was great, but there was nothing like our store team; Eat ‘Em Alive. Cory, Brian H, Tony, Brian A, Will, Mad-dog, Santos, Chad , Rob, Tino, Dan, Matt, John, Randy, John 2, Billy Ho, Kikkoman, Shawn, Big Dan, Little Danny (RIP), Dan D, Andrew, Mike C, Mike O, Jared, Scotty P, Jeff, Troy – We were a team. We hung out, played poker, gelled and had so many wins on the field, but more importantly, had fun playing together as great friends for over 10 years. These teammates have gone on to become successful lawyers, police officers, deputies, teachers, carpenters, photographers, stockbrokers, gov’t contractors, accountants, chefs, business managers. Some still play, others haven’t picked up a paintball gun in over a decade, or longer.

My sales rep at National Paintball Supply in South Carolina was former military, one conversation led to another and I found out they were looking for a buyer. Owners Rick Fairbanks and Doug Brown flew me out to SC, flew me back to CA and then moved us out to SC when they hired me! I was there for a few years, helped design a few pieces of gear, a few guns and a bolt or 2. There’s still some original SLA models for some very well -known gear floating around in my basement somewhere. I can’t thank them enough for mentoring me all those years. After that, I moved on to the National Paintball Supply franchise owned by Gino Postorivo as a regional manager/buyer in FL and SC. I survived the transition from NPS in to KEE Action Sports and worked there about 5 more years in Operations.

With the downsizing of KEE, promises were kept, I was compensated, let go and worked out of the industry during my 1 year of non-compete. 367 days later, I was hired, once again, by Gino at his new company, Valken Sports. Gino was very busy during his non-compete after leaving KEE, as well. Things happened, (or didn’t happen) and he was back in the paintball biz and I was once again handling Operations and Logistics for Gino and Joe. 4+ years later, I’ve done 140+ events and shows for Valken and hopefully made a difference.

Throughout my 3 decades in paintball, I’ve seen so many changes, growth and progress; too many fights, so many ups and downs, so much bitterness, hatred and corporate warring and somehow it’s all overshadowed by the scores of amazing people, happiness, fun, camaraderie, memories and experiences. Would I trade it for anything? Probably Just kidding! The scores upon scores of new friends, the awesome equipment and technology…wow – it’s been a ride!

There are quite a few people that have made an impact on my life and I thank you all for making the past 30 years in this sport and industry as good, bad and indifferent, as it’s been. It’s been a learning experience and I sincerely appreciate all of my friends, family, teammates, opponents and colleagues for the past 30 years of helping me get to do what I love to do.
Much Respect and here’s to 20 more.

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