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About the author:  Bill Tison is a well known scenario game tanker, often seen driving the Team Hellfire tank which is featured in the backdrop of's tank forum.  

What do you think?  Add your comments in WARPIG's REC TALK Forum


Paintball Tanks On Junkyard Wars
By Bill Tison
Photos Copyright and courtesy of Discovery Communications, Inc.

Junkyard Wars Paintball Tanks Episode to premiere 9:00 pm, Wed, Sep 18, 7:00 pm Sun, Sep 22

Itís time to bring everyone in on a little secret.  Last February 2002, T J Alcott was approached by the producer of Junkyard Wars, RDF to discuss a challenge using paintball tanks and cannons, built from scratch out of junk found in their junkyard. If you haven't seen it yet, Junkyard Wars is a competition show on The Learning Channel.  Teams of three competitors are each joined up with an expert in a specific field and challenged to build something in a single day with only what they can find in the show's junkyard.  After construction, the two teams compete with their devices.  Past challenges have included drag racers, walking machines, hovercraft and siege machines.

TJ volunteered my name (THANK YOU TJ!!) and a few days later, I received a call inquiring if I was interested in being an expert on one of the Junkyard Wars teams.  

Excuse me?! Let be check my calendar. hmmmm. Might be able to squeeze in a few days to build a tank and cannon and play paintball. Just kidding!! Just kidding!!! I couldn't sit still for days contemplating the possibilities of being part of a television show about my love, my other wife, paintball tanks and cannons!

I was asked if there was anyone else that might be interested, because they needed two experts and a judge who were familiar with the subject. I suggested Paul Hoard of War Wagon, Gerald Henderson (Demo Goblin) and Marty Tippmann of Tippmann Ordinance. Later, they thought a girl would be interesting, so I suggested Dawn Mills of WARPIG.  After several weeks, RDF settled on Paul Hoard and me to be the experts, Joe Tippmann and Beatrice Youngs (Smarts Parts) to be the two judges. (Sorry TJ).

On the weekend of April 13, 14, we flew into LA and were checked into a motel.  Monday, Paul and I visited the famous Junkyard and were fitted for our Junkyard jumpsuits. That evening, we met more people of the production crew and were introduced to the contestants.  It was a very big deal that we not let on what our specialty was or what the contest was to be about. Paul and I were encouraged to mislead our teams as much as we wanted.  I went out to dinner with my team, the Brooklyn Benders and had a great time answering their questions, but telling them nothing about the challenge.

Tuesday morning at 6:00 am, we were all piled into a van and trucked out to the junkyard where we suited up and fell into the routine of filming a TV show.  Listen to the instructions, make the moves, show the surprise and have lots of fun!  By the time we got through practicing the opening moves, the teams were convinced that we were building jet skis and would be racing them! You cannot imagine the looks of amazement when, with the cameras rolling, they were introduced to the paintball and told they would be building a tank and a cannon and on contest day, would be playing paintball!

All day, 10 hours, we scrounged, bargained for and built our two tanks and cannons. This is not an easy task when the junkyard is full of old cars, left over builds from former shows and a few, very well hidden but crucial parts for a paintball cannon. 

Paul's team, Bronx Bravest built a tank from a van. My team, the Brooklyn Benders, built ours out of an EZ GO golf cart. For those of you that don't know, this is what Paul and I have been playing paintball in for the past several years.   This was the concept of the whole challenge, big versus small.  Which tank would have the advantage?

Wednesday was safety day. Paul and I visited the junkyard to meet with the engineers while the teams took the day off to sightsee in LA. Paul and I ended up spending the whole day just puttering. It is so neat just to be there!

Thursday was contest day. The whole morning was spent with Joe Tippmann and Beatrice Youngs shooting their segment of the show which was dedicated to paintball, it's history and what it is today. Then the teams were called onto the contest field, a vacant industrial yard, strewn with railroad ties, junk cars and strategically placed vantage points for cameras. The challenge consisted of shooting first a 12", then a 6" and finally a 3" round target bolted to the back of each tank using a cannon mounted on our tank. The van had an impressive turret mounted cannon on top and two side cannons near the rear. The golf cart had a large cannon sticking out the front and a small cannon on top that could shoot in 360 degrees.

I won't say who came in first or second because that would give away the dramatic ending to the show.

Paintball has enjoyed some good and bad press over the years, thanks to TV and its producers. RDF, Paul, Joe, Beatrice and I made it clear that this was to be a GOOD show for paintball, focusing on the fun, competition and safety of the sport. The people you see on the set will all be wearing approved safety masks and showing safe ways to handle paintball markers. I can tell you, the entire shoot was done with safety in mind and there were no injuries. The actual tank battle got quite exciting with a van racing through this pile of railroad ties and junk cars, but at no time was anyone in danger nor did anyone get hurt.

Paul and I hope that you will watch and enjoy the show in September, that you will tell your friends and that you will use this as a way to promote paintball in a positive manner.  The Paintball Tanks episode of Junkyard Wars is scheduled to air 9:00 pm, Wed, Sept 18, 7:00 pm Sun, Sept 22 on The Learning Channel.  You can double check air times for your cable or satellite provider at


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