Christian “Relief” Van Horn emailed me a few photos the other day including the shot above of a Phantom he purchased from Foxhunters in Castro Valley. But what I enjoyed most from Chris’ photos were the below shot of his original receipt he hung onto after all these years!
It’s pretty rare to come across a receipt from a store that used custom stationary and with everything laid out so clearly Chris’ find is very cool. Just take a look at the options on the receipt, the manufacturer, model and serial aren’t too uncommon, but the caliber and action are pretty neat to have printed on there! Too bad that section wasn’t actually filled out with Chris’ serial of 15543.
Foxhunters was a well known shop during the late 80s and early 90s from their ads in the back of APG, but these days they’re largely unrecognized. Based out of Castro Valley, about 30 minutes south east from San Francisco, Foxhunters actually produced some of the most outrageous customized paintguns of the late 80s and early 90s.
Owned by David Bly and Jerry (or Gerry?) Helwig, Foxhunters’ motto was, Purveyors of Safe Fun and they were in Action Pursuit Games for their support of of the IPPA (International Paintball Players Association).
George Scott, who went on to run Tornado Alley Paintball in El Dorado, Kansas and the Midwest Paintball Series, started his paintball career at Foxhunters.
Scott writes, “Jerry was the only one to really do any innovative machine work like [the Half Block cocker at Foxhunters]. He was a certified gunsmith too and did a lot of real guns.”
Some of Helwig’s more recognized customizations include the Double gun, a SMG 60 mounted over a Bushmaster pump, the Double Pump, a KP rifle converted to a pistol with a pump changer changer integrated in the lower tube (one pump for the bolt another for the 12 gram changer) and one of the first half block Autocockers in 1992. But Helwig’s most utilized innovation was likely the in grip switch which he showed to Glenn Palmer sometime in mid 1990.
Glenn Palmer writes, “I don’t remember the date that Jerry showed me his rig but I think it was soon after the Bay City Open in June of ’90. I gave Jerry a complete Typhoon a few months later at an event [(Great Western Series)] in San Diego, as payment for the ideas he shared. Jerry was floored by what I had worked out.”
Foxhunters’ Autococker modifications didn’t shop at body work though, they were also some of the first to modify the trigger and switch.
Tony Meno, General Manager at Pacific Paintball (Kapp) (90-94/95) wrote me:
“Our trigger work was inspired by Foxhunters work. Here’s how:
Richard Mansfield (Chris’ half brother and co-owner of the store) was playing at Carpet Bobs’ and noticed that a guys ‘cocker had the slot for the 3-way actuating arm drilled out to be a hole. Richard asked the guy (almost certainly Jerry Helwig) why it had that. The guy replied that he owned Foxhunters, and he had been trying something that “didn’t work”. Richard pressed him for more details and the guy described how to turn down a 3-way shaft to get the super-light trigger return, and from there the light triggers. We scooped up that info and tried it on Tuesday when I was back at work.
I’m not sure how long Foxhunters remained open, I would image until the mid 90s. George Scott wrote:
“Lance ( who’s last name I can’t remember), Daryl and I did all the gun work after Jerry left. About 6 months after that Lance left and it was just Darly and me. Dave Bly, who was Jerry’s partner from the beginning i think, bought Jerry out but he never worked in the store and showed up about twice a month. When Dave closed he sold most everything to Vu from Desert Fox in San Jose.”
Vu Hoang, who later went on to play with Aftershock and work at Bad Boys Toys, likely left Desert Fox Paintball in the mid 90s.
Mark Gong, who was local to Desert Fox and played on Constant Pursuit, Tour De Force, Bo Peep and his Flock of Sheep and Personal Vendetta told me, Desert Fox likely closed in 94 or 95. Meaning Foxhunters must have closed before 94/95.
Thanks to Christian Van Horn for the photos, and George Scott for the information on Foxhunters.
Updated on May 24th, 2014, added Glenn Palmer’s quote on Jerry Helwig, Tony Meno’s quote on Helwig and Mark Gong’s info on Desert Fox.