JT_2009_Logo_pngThe ProPaintball rumor mill has been busy this past weekend with news surrounding the closure of paintball magnate JT Sports. While the vast majority of JT teams were dropped earlier in the season (most notably Sacramento XSV), sources indicate that these sponsorship changes were the mark of larger changes to come.

On Saturday, View from the Deadbox (Great site, definitely worth a bookmark) broke the news that WalMart was rumored to have discontinued carrying the entire line of JT USA products which reportedly contributed to 50% of JT USA’s total sales. ProCaps and Tippmann Sports are supposedly left to fill the gap for entry level paint and markers–offering lower per-unit pricing to the bargain retailer.

VTFD remarks that a source within JT has revealed that January will be the final month for JT Sports, marking the end of a turbulent last few years in the paintball marketplace. Supplying many keystone products to the paintball community, February will surely be a sad month for paintball veterans everywhere.

JT USA LegendsWhile sad to report, this marks a major shift in paintball. For many of us, our first and last masks were made by JT–the Spectra platform has won more championships than every other goggle combined. In the early 90’s, JT founders John and Rita Gregory transitioned JT USA from a top of the line motocross and BMX gear and goggle maker into a premier paintball gear manufacturer. JT was one of the first brands to “demilitarize” tournament paintball, pioneering  with bright colors; replacing sponsored team’s BDUs with professional looking jerseys and pants in in a variety of colors and styles.

JT USA was fundamentally instrumental in bringing paintball out of the woods and gaining widespread recognition as a legitimate sport. JT also gave birth to another industry titan, Dave Youngblood (who married John Gregory’s daughter, Rhonda), who has done wonders for the image of tournament paintball.

A sad day indeed, but it appears that JT is done forever. Legendary then, legendary forever.