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Paintball Expo 2002
by Tom Sparkman

Paintball vendor shows have traditionally been held in conjunction with large tournament circuits, such as the recent LA Open held at SC Village or at ‘Big’ or Scenario games, like the ‘World Record Game’ held at Skirmish in Pennsylvania.  Now, for the first time there is an Expo just for paintball - Paintball Expo 2002 at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds (Fairplex).  With a population of over 20 million people (many of them paintball players) Southern California is a perfect venue for a large paintball show.  It is home to many large, well-known paintball fields, including Tombstone, Close Encounters, and SC Village.

A list of the vendors present is literally a “who’s who” of the paintball industry.  Palmer’s Pursuit, Tippmann, and Smart Parts just to name a few.  

Tippmann showcased their Model 98 RT (“Reactive Trigger”) and the new A-5.  They were allowing people to try out an M98RT without paint.  The M98RT was permanently plugged and had a standard 20oz CO2 tank attached.  It was my first chance to try out Tippmann’s version of a Reactive Trigger and I wasn’t disappointed.  With the trigger held in the ‘sweat spot’, it would seem to just vibrate back and forth giving a rate of fire higher that I can achieve with a standard semi auto, even with an electronic trigger.  The new A-5 seems smaller and lighter that previous Tippmann offerings.  The big innovation is the patented Cyclone Feed system.  The Cyclone feed looks similar to the Tippmann F/A feeder, but it is driven by the action of the paintgun instead of a windup clockwork action on the F/A.  The loader body is removable, which makes it cheap and easy to replace.

AKA was there with the Excalibur low-pressure closed bolt electronic marker and the similar looking open bolt Viking.  
NW Paintball Products has been making paintball accessories for 18 years.  The neatest gadget is a quick-disconnect for drop-forwards.  It allows you to use the same tank on several markers.  

Something that needs improvement in paintball are grenades.  Pioneer Labs believes that their Meteor Shower paint grenades are a big improvement over the grenades currently available.  They are filled to 40psi and feel hard as a rock.  I asked Damian of scenario Team AlphaWolf if he had tried them and his opinion is that they are the best available.  (He just happened to be working at a nearby booth).

There were several local fields with booths and most were selling discount tickets.  Paintball USA/Close Encounters was touting their ‘Newbie friendly’ field with 3-shot, 10 foot, and reincarnation rules.  The California Paintball Park booth was busy and it had nothing to do with the young, female, staffer.  

Palmer’s Pursuit Shop was there with their beautiful pumps and autococking semi-autos.  All custom made, the fit and finish are second to none.  They make one of the most unique paintguns, a double-barreled pump and double-barreled semi-auto.  The pump version is on my Christmas wish list (Linda are you listening?). 

Ricochet Development’s showcased their newest Ricochet loader.  It has had the feed neck upgraded with flutes and two o-rings for a stronger and tighter fit.  If you have one of the original style of feed neck, don’t worry.  Their customer service is excellent.  When an owner of and older Ricochet loader stopped by the booth and mentioned that his feed neck had broken, they offered to swap it out free, on the spot.

Tombstone paintball was there, not only to promote the field but also to showcase the markers they are developing, the PGI Mayhem and the Firestorm Electronic Autococker conversion.  The Mayhem has a turn-able breach giving it the ability to be switched from left, center, and right feed easily.  The Firestorm Electronic Autococker conversion was very impressive.  Leon Styles, the owner, said he developed it because he has never been able to shoot an Autococker effectively (me too!).  When I shot it at the target range, it was very fast and accurate.  Tombstone the field also had something to crow about.  They just signed a deal with WGP to supply and maintain Autocockers for rent at the field for $10.   

The biggest draw of the show was the free shooting range.  There were AKA Vikings and Excaliburs, Smart Parts Impulses, PGI Electro Cockers, and more.  There was always a line of players waiting for their turn.  Kudos goes to J.R. Quinata, the range Safety Marshall for keeping it safe and fun.  

The one thing that surprised me was the absence of a couple of big paintball manufacturers.  I’m not sure if they didn’t feel they needed to show up at a venue that was geared for recreational players or were just too busy to make the trip.  It’s their loss, because I know in my case I was influenced, and for the most part impressed, by the vendors present.  

I talked to the promoters Revy Samia and Denise Hoy.  They wanted to have a trade show for non-tournament players - and succeeded in my opinion.  They are experienced trade show promoters and realized that recreational paintball shows are a niche to be filled.  The turnout was around 2000 people for both days and Revy said he was very happy with that.  When I asked if they plan on doing it again they said “definitely”.    

I’ll be there.
Tom Sparkman

Paintball Expo -

Tippmann Pneumatics Inc -


NW Paintball - 

Pioneer Labs -

Paintball USA - 

California Paintball Park -

Palmer’s Pursuit Shop -

Ricochet Development -

Tombstone/PGI -

Worr Game Products -


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