Navarone is usually regarded as the first heavily sponsored paintball team.
This began with their arrangement to wear JT’s GSX goggles and harness systems, and they appeared in early APG and Frontline ads for both. Eventually Navarone shot Line SI’s Bushmasters and wore Tim Schloss’ Tiger Stripe apparel on the field and in print.
They also were close to a sponsorship deal with Budweiser (more on that in Richard Yabuki’s article on Navarone) but it never went through.
Navarone saw their biggest accomplishments in the days of 12 gram only competitions, but their decline began as more and more tournaments moved towards accepting constant air.
In a 1989 promotional packet for Navarone, Armageddon squad leader Mark Bower, wrote:
“We are completely against automatic paintball guns of any type, as it is the team’s belief that paintball is first and foremost a feat of skill, daring, and strategy – not machine guns and hand grenades.”
But with the takeover of the semi automatics in 1990-1992, Navarone was reduced from a powerhouse to just another competitor. They still reached the finals often, but didn’t pull off as many consistent top tier finishes as they had in the years before, in all pump and 12 gram comp matches.
Around this time, David “Buddy” Farkas, former player on KMA, owner of Fontana Paintball, and one of the testers for WGP products, joined Navarone. As Bud Orr wrote, “[Farkas] was my tester on the field. I could trust [him] with anything, he is a good friend.”
And as most Line SI sponsored teams moved to shooting Mags or Cockers, Navarone had to follow suit. Through Buddy’s connection to WGP, Navarone received sponsorship and comp’ed Team Autocockers. Randy Kamiya, of Navarone and Action Pursuit Games writes, “Buddy was the reason why we got the cockers from Bud among other things.”
Although Navarone might not have won as consistently in 1991, their run of team Autocockers (and later Minicockers) is still one of the holy grails of Autococker collecting and possibly one of the sleekest semi automatic team guns of the time. Today, more of a trophy than a playing piece, the bodies of the Navarone Autocockers are a super high gloss anodizing with an almost stainless look.
“Navarone” is engraved on the sides of these Autocockers, and the brass shield pin that was worn on their hats and shirts doubled as a brass inlayed finishing touch. The paintguns featured serial numbers unique to each run (Autococker or Minicocker) and not sequential to the overall WGP serials. The Autococker bodies numbered 1-30? and the later Minicockers were probably produced with similar numbers?
I’ve seen about 6-8 of the original Navarone Autocockers surface over the last 10 years. Most in somewhat decent shape but showing minor wear. One body, marked “Navarone 18”, stood out though, not because of its remarkable shape but because it was soooo horribly beat!
I first saw this body back in 2007, when Navarone #17 was posted on Customcockers and mcb by an owner looking to restore it. It was later sold on either customcockers or Mcarterbrown and I didn’t expect to see it surface again.
Find the previous owners questions at:
In 2011, this same Navarone Autococker body resurfaced when Phuong “PK5” Nguyen found it at Velocity Paintball in San Diego assembled into a complete marker.
In November of 2013, Joe “Anaml” Ottinger purchased this well worn body from Velocity Paintball and set out to restore it to its former glory of the early 90s.
Somehow, Joe and I started messaging back and forth around the end of 2013, and I suggested a few period correct parts for his restoration and sent him photos of a few other Navarone Autocockers I’d seen.
As Joe got started on what would be a year long restoration, he sent over a photos of his progress, including a couple shots after polishing.
The body began to look better, although I wasn’t totally sure where Joe would take it from there.
In June of 2014, Joe emailed again, asking for better detailed shots of the sides of Rick Rector’s Navarone Autococker. I took my time responding (Sorry that I forgot Joe!), but eventually sent him a couple photos in August.
In September, Joe ordered a few more small pieces, including cocking rods and pump arms and began sending updated photos of his build.
Joe’s build took a body that most would have considered a historical scrap paper weight and turned it into a fantastic reincarnation, or do I dare say, “Resurrection” of a trophy Team Autococker and I love how it turned out!
Find Joe’s complete build thread on Custom Cockers at http://customcockers.com/forum/showthread.php?54713-Anaml-s-Navarone-17-Restoration
In the post linked above, Joe writes:
“The idea of this restoration was to recreate a gun as close to the day it was handed to the original team player in both equipment accuracy and condition.”
And to be true to his goal, Joe went to the trouble of actually finding all the parts needed to restore this gun, even the 1st generation brass WGP LPR. He even rebuilt that low pressure regulator.
Tim Firpo and I went through the trouble to do this on Rick Rector’s #18 Navarone autococker and experienced one casualty, but it looks like Joe had better luck.
Joe also went with a set of stock Sheridan spring internals and a high pressure/co2 valve. Autocockers from 91-93 could be run (not necessarily efficiently, but they shot) from a vertical tank on the asa with these internals.
Joe had all the parts polished and reanodized to match the original finish and blacked some of the steel parts himself.
And probably the neatest thing Joe did for this build was to make a set of stickers, similar to what Navarone had on their co2 tanks, and gun cases.
Overall a very classy restoration with one of the most beautiful end results I’ve seen. Now I just wish we could find one of the Navarone players who still had the list showing which players owned which serial numbers!
Thanks to Joe “Anaml” Ottinger for letting me use his photos and Phuong Nguyen for his photos. And make sure to checkout Joe’s build thread on Custom Cockers! Here’s the link again: