Title:
Reusable marker projectile
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In summary, a lower impact, reusable marker projectile for youth shooting sports as an acceptable alternative to the traditional sport of paintball. The projectile is fabricated from durable polymer material to conform to the circular bore of a barrel for discharge under the influence of a pneumatic or mechanical force. The projectile incorporates a marking agent retainer to carry a sufficient quantity of liquid or powder marking agent to leave a visual indication of impact location on a target. The projectile may alternatively be formed in a general cone-shape or a sphere-shape. The cone-shaped projectiles are capable of being nested without distortion and without wedging for the purpose of condensed storage.



Inventors:
Leal, Jose E. (Stow, MA, US)
Leal, Hans (Stow, MA, US)
Barletta, John F. (Southborough, MA, US)
Burnham, Rick (Gloucester, MA, US)
Best, William B. (Norfolk, MA, US)
Purciello, John F. (Quincy, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/126889
Publication Date:
11/16/2006
Filing Date:
05/11/2005
Assignee:
Jose E. Leal
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
102/502
International Classes:
F42B12/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HAYES, BRET C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOSEPH B. BOWMAN (Payson, AZ, US)
Claims:
Having thus described our invention, we claim:

1. A reusable marker projectile to be propelled through the circular bore of a marker gun barrel, said projectile comprising: a low velocity, aerodynamic projectile body fabricated of polymer material; a marking agent retainer connected to said projectile body; and a marking agent releasably carried by said retainer in sufficient quantity to leave visual indication on a target impacted by said projectile body, whereby, after being discharged from the marker gun, said projectile body may be recovered and said retainer associated therewith may be recharged with marking agent to permit reuse.

2. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 1, said projectile body configured for aerodynamically stable flight at a velocity under 150 feet per second (45 meters per second).

3. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 2, said projectile body configured for aerodynamically stable flight within the velocity range of 75 to 150 feet per second (22 to 45 meters per second).

4. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 1, said projectile body fabricated of polymer material selected from the group consisting of ethylene vinyl acetate, polyurethane and polyethylene.

5. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 1, said projectile body having a generally cone-shaped configuration comprising a nosepiece and a skirt portion integrally joined to said nosepiece to define a tail cavity in said projectile body, wherein said skirt includes an outer diameter substantially corresponding to the bore of the marker gun barrel.

6. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 5, said skirt portion having an outer diameter in the range of approximately 28 to 30 millimeters to frictionally engage the bore of the marker gun barrel.

7. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 5, said projectile body including reinforcing webs within said tail cavity to aid the rigidity of said skirt portion and to resist distortion.

8. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 5, wherein said projectile body may be nested with a like projectile body in a head-to-tail fashion with the nosepiece of one said projectile body positioned into the tail cavity of the other said projectile body for condensed storage of multiple projectile bodies.

9. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 8, said projectile body further including wedge prevention structure as an integral part of said projectile body in order to prevent one projectile body from becoming stuck to an adjacent projectile body during nested storage.

10. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 9, said wedge prevention structure comprising radial fins joined to said skirt portion and sized to engage the interior of said tail cavity to limit penetration of said nosepiece therein during nested storage.

11. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 9, said wedge prevention structure comprising a nosepiece engaging surface within the interior of said tail cavity to limit penetration of said nosepiece therein during nested storage.

12. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 9, said wedge prevention structure comprising a central axis projection within the interior of said tail cavity to limit penetration of said nosepiece therein during nested storage.

13. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 5, said marking agent retainer comprising an absorbent pad connected to said nosepiece and adapted to releasably carry said marking agent, to expel said marking agent when said projectile impacts a target, and thereafter to absorb a recharge quantity of said marking agent.

14. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 5, said marking agent retainer comprising a plurality of capillary grooves cut into the surface of said nosepiece and adapted to releasably carry said marking agent, to expel said marking agent when said projectile impacts a target, and thereafter to absorb a recharge quantity of said marking agent.

15. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 14, said capillary grooves cut into the surface of said nosepiece a depth of at least approximately 2 millimeters.

16. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 1, said projectile body having a generally sphere shaped configuration with a diameter substantially corresponding to the bore of the marker gun barrel.

17. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 16, said projectile body having an outer diameter in the range of approximately 23 to 25 millimeters to frictionally engage the bore of the marker gun barrel.

18. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 16, said marking agent retainer comprising a plurality of capillary grooves cut into the surface of said projectile body and adapted to releasably carry said marking agent, to expel said marking agent when said projectile impacts a target, and thereafter to absorb a recharge quantity of said marking agent.

19. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 18, said capillary grooves cut into the surface of said nosepiece a depth of at least approximately 2 millimeters.

20. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 1, said marking agent selected from the group consisting of liquids and fine powders.

21. The reusable marker projectile as in claim 1, said marking agent selected from the group consisting of water and water soluble inks, dyes, pigments and paints.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is related in part to copending nonprovisional application Serial No. ______, filed May 10, 2004.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

The inventions described and claimed in this application were not made under federally sponsored research and development.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a reusable marker projectile to be pneumatically or mechanically shot from a barrel. More specifically, this invention relates to a lightweight reusable marker which can be accurately propelled at low velocity to minimize impact force while achieving an effective indication of impact location on a target.

The sport of paintball is one of the fastest growing sports among teenagers and young adults. It is a combat type game in which players suitably attired in padded clothing and face shields shoot paint filled balls at each other through compressed air guns. On impact, the paintball typically breaks open to leave a splotch of water soluble, colored liquid. Suppliers of paintball equipment have substantially standardized the size of conventional paintballs to be approximately 0.688 to 0.690 inches or about 17.5 mm in diameter. The skin or capsule wall of a paintball is characteristically in the range of 0.2 to 0.4 mm in thickness so that the liquid volume contained within the paintball is a little more than 2.5 cubic centimeters. The weight of a typical paintball is slightly more than 3 grams. In short, it is a dense round ball and potentially dangerous.

The guns developed for shooting conventional paintballs include a barrel having a bore corresponding in size to the diameter of standard paintballs as previously mentioned. Such guns normally operate with compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) gas stored in a canister that is a part of the gun itself. The CO2 canister may be a rechargeable type or it may be disposable. In either case, the conventional paintball gun is designed to propel a paintball weighing more than 3 grams at a velocity of approximately 300 feet per second or slightly more than 90 meters per second. The momentum of the paintball, therefore, is sufficient on impact to cause bruising even under protective clothing. Although a strong desire to engage in this sport exists for pre-teenage youth, pain aversion among youngsters limits participation.

It is also well known that the sport of paintball and the associated use of paintball equipment pose serious safety concerns. Accordingly, the dangers associated with paintball have significantly limited participation by pre-teenage youth either through exercise of parental control or through age restrictions imposed by paintball field operators.

Another limiting factor associated with the sport of paintball is expense. During a staged combat on a paintball field, a player can shoot several hundred paintballs most of which break on contact with whatever they hit. Even those which remain unbroken cannot be reused due to distortion or dirt, either of which interfere with operation of the paintball gun if one attempts to reload a spent, but unbroken paintball.

Although it is impossible to eliminate all risks associated with any shooting recreation, nonetheless, a need exists in the sports industry to provide a reusable, low velocity marker projectile for youth sports designed to lessen the impact experienced by a hit while retaining the marking feature which has made the paintball sport so popular. The primary objective of this invention is to meet this need.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

More specifically, an object of the invention is to provide a low velocity marker projectile for youth shooting sports as an effective alternative to the sport of paintball.

Another object of the invention is to provide a marker projectile for youth shooting sports with a diminished impact as compared with traditional paintball. By combining a velocity of less than 150 feet per second (45 meters per second) with a greater impact surface area, impact from the marker projectile of this invention can be tolerated by youngsters wearing appropriate protective clothing.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a reusable marker projectile for youth shooting sports which, after shooting, may be recovered and recharged with a marking agent for repeated shots. This feature renders the marker projectile more economical for the youth market as compared with the expense associated with the traditional paintball sport.

A further object of the invention is to provide a reusable marker projectile of the character previously described which is aerodynamically shaped and durably fabricated.

A corollary object of the invention is to provide a reusable marker projectile of the character previously described which also resists shape distortion to provide reliable accuracy when once spent projectiles are reused.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a reusable marker projectile of the character previously described which is generally cone-shaped and can be nested in a head-to-tail fashion for condensed packaging or for storage in the magazine of a marker gun.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a nestable marker projectile of the character previously described with features to prevent one projectile from being wedged or stuck into another when several of the projectiles are nested in a head-to-tail fashion.

A further object of the invention is to provide a reusable marker projectile for youth shooting sports which is generally spherical in shape and which, after shooting, may be recovered and recharged with a marking agent for repeated shots.

In summary, a lower impact, reusable marker projectile for youth shooting sports as an acceptable alternative to the traditional sport of paintball. The projectile is fabricated from durable polymer material to conform to the circular bore of a barrel for discharge under the influence of a pneumatic or mechanical force. The projectile incorporates a marking agent retainer to carry a sufficient quantity of liquid or powder marking agent to leave a visual indication of impact location on a target. The projectile may alternatively be formed in a general cone-shape or a sphere-shape. The cone-shaped projectiles are capable of being nested without distortion and without wedging for the purpose of condensed storage.

Other and further objects of the invention, together with the features of novelty appurtenant thereto, will appear in the course of the detailed description of the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the following description of the drawings, in which like reference numerals are employed to indicate like parts in the various views:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a reusable marker projectile constructed in accordance with a first preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a front, end elevational view of the projectile of the first preferred embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the projectile of the first preferred embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a side sectional view through three nested projectiles of the first preferred embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a front, end elevational view of a projectile constructed in accordance with a second preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a side sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5 in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the projectile of the second preferred embodiment;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the projectile of the second preferred embodiment;

FIG. 9 is a side sectional view through three nested projectiles of the second preferred embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a front, end elevational view of a projectile constructed in accordance with a third preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 11 is a side sectional view taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 10 in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 12 is a rear, end elevational view of the projectile of the third preferred embodiment;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the projectile of the third preferred embodiment;

FIG. 14 is a side sectional view through three nested projectiles of the third preferred embodiment;

FIG. 15 is a front, end elevational view of a projectile constructed in accordance with a fourth preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 16 is a side sectional view taken along line 16-16 of FIG. 15 in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the projectile of the fourth preferred embodiment;

FIG. 18 is a side sectional view through three nested projectiles of the fourth preferred embodiment;

FIG. 19 is a front, end elevational view of a projectile constructed in accordance with a fifth preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 20 is a side sectional view taken along line 20-20 of FIG. 19 in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 21 is a rear, end elevational view of the projectile of the fifth preferred embodiment;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of the projectile of the fifth preferred embodiment;

FIG. 23 is a side sectional view through three nested projectiles of the fifth preferred embodiment;

FIG. 24 is a front, end elevational view of a projectile constructed in accordance with a sixth preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 25 is a side sectional view taken along line 25-25 of FIG. 24 in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 26 is a side elevational view of the projectile of the sixth preferred embodiment; and

FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the projectile of the sixth preferred embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring to the drawings in greater detail, attention is directed to the first preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in FIGS. 1 through 4. Illustrated is a cone-shaped marker projectile generally designated with the numeral 30. The projectile 30 includes a nosepiece 31 and a frusto-conical skirt 32 integrally joined to the trailing end of the nosepiece 31. The outermost diameter surface 33 of the skirt 32 at the trailing end thereof substantially corresponds to the bore of the appropriate marker gun barrel for propelling the projectile 30. The outermost diameter surface 33 therefore falls in the range of approximately 28 to 30 millimeters.

The skirt 32 also defines a tail cavity 34 in the trailing end of the projectile 30 which is larger in diameter than the size of the nosepiece 31. This feature controls weight and also provides a nesting function as will be later discussed.

Connected to the leading end of the nosepiece 31, and projected forwardly therefrom, is an integrally formed retainer cup 35 smaller in diameter than the size of the nosepiece 31. The cup 35 securely, but removably, holds an absorbent sponge or pad 36. The pad 36 projects out from the cup 35 in order to first come in contact with any target at which the projectile 30 is directed. The pad 36 is saturated with a suitable marking agent, a portion of which is released to provide a visual indication of the point of impact whenever the projectile 30 strikes a target. When the marking agent has been dissipated from the absorbent pad 36, the pad may be recharged with additional marking agent in order to continue reuse of the recovered projectile 30.

Marking agents suitable for use with this embodiment of the invention include a broad spectrum of liquids, such as water, inks, dyes, pigments and paints, as well as fine powders. Preferably, any ink, dye, pigment, paint or powder utilized will be water soluble in order to facilitate removal from clothing, face shields, equipment and other objects impacted by the projectile 30.

As previously noted, the tail cavity 34 of the projectile 30 is larger than the nosepiece 31 such that the nosepiece 31 of one projectile 30 may be inserted into the tail cavity 34 of a like projectile 30 as illustrated in FIG. 4 to provide nested stacking for condensed storage of multiple projectiles 30. This feature is important to minimize bulk for merchandising purposes, as well as loading in the magazine of a marker gun or in an ammo storage tube to be carried by a user.

When the projectiles 30 are nested in a head-to-tail orientation as illustrated, two mechanical concerns are important. First, it is important that one projectile not become wedged or stuck to an adjacent projectile. And second, it is important that the absorbent pad 36 not contact the interior of the tail cavity 34 of the projectile such that the marking agent could be dispensed from the pad 36. These concerns are addressed in the first embodiment of the invention by providing ridges 37 secured to skirt 32 in a radially spaced fashion around the projectile 30. The leading shoulder 38 of each such ridge 37 is rounded to present a smooth contact surface. As shown in FIG. 4 the shoulders 38 of the ridges 37 lie in a diameter which is less than the largest interior diameter of the tail cavity 34 but which is sufficiently large to limit penetration of one projectile 30 within another when the shoulders 38 contact the interior wall of the tail cavity 34. It should also be noted that when sized and configured in this manner, the absorbent pad 36 is blocked from contacting any interior surface of the tail cavity 34.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 4, the body of the projectile 30 includes the nosepiece 31, skirt 32, cup 35 and ridges 37 which are all preferably integrally formed. Materials suitable for fabrication of the projectile body for all embodiments of the invention include relatively lightweight plastics and moldable foams. Particularly desirable as the materials of construction are polymers such as ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyurethane (PU) or polyethylene (PE). These materials provide workable ranges for durability, density, flexibility and hardness in the fabricated projectile.

Projectiles 30 constructed in accordance with the foregoing principles have been found to be aerodynamically stable in flight at velocities within the range of 75 to 150 feet per second (22 to 45 meters per second) and to reliably meet the objectives previously set forth.

Attention is next directed to the second preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in FIGS. 5 through 9. Illustrated is a cone-shaped marker projectile generally designated with the numeral 40. The projectile 40 includes a nosepiece 41 and a frusto-conical skirt 42 integrally joined to the trailing end of the nosepiece 41. The outermost diameter surface 43 of the skirt 42 at the trailing end thereof substantially corresponds to the bore of the appropriate marker gun barrel for propelling the projectile 40. The outermost diameter surface 43 therefore falls in the range of approximately 28 to 30 millimeters.

The skirt 42 also defines a tail cavity 44 in the trailing end of the projectile 40 which is larger in diameter than the size of the nosepiece 41. This feature controls weight and also provides a nesting function as will be later discussed.

Recessed into the leading end of the nosepiece 41 is a retainer cup 45 smaller in diameter than the size of the nosepiece 41. The cup 45 securely, but removably, holds an absorbent sponge or pad 46. The pad 46 projects out from the cup 45 in order to first come in contact with any target at which the projectile 40 is directed. The pad 46 is saturated with a suitable marking agent, a portion of which is released to provide a visual indication of the point of impact whenever the projectile 40 strikes a target. When the marking agent has been dissipated from the absorbent pad 46, the pad may be recharged with additional marking agent in order to continue reuse of the recovered projectile 40.

Marking agents suitable for use with this embodiment and materials of construction of the projectile body are the same as previously disclosed with reference to the first embodiment.

As previously noted, the tail cavity 44 of the projectile 40 is larger than the nosepiece 41 such that the nosepiece 41 of one projectile 40 may be inserted into the tail cavity 44 of a like projectile 40 as illustrated in FIG. 9 to provide nested stacking for condensed storage of multiple projectiles 40.

When the projectiles 40 are nested in a head-to-tail orientation as illustrated, two mechanical concerns are important. First, it is important that one projectile not become wedged or stuck to an adjacent projectile. And second, it is important that the absorbent pad 46 not contact the interior of the tail cavity 44 of the projectile such that the marking agent could be dispensed from the pad 46. These concerns are addressed in the second embodiment of the invention by providing an abutment wall 47 within the tail cavity 44 which is engagable by the forward surface of the nosepiece 41 to limit penetration of one projectile 40 within another. It should also be noted that the nosepiece 41 and the leading portion of the skirt 42 are sized smaller than the inside tapered diameter of the tail cavity 44 so that no contact between these surfaces occurs when the projectiles 40 are nested.

Centrally recessed in the abutment wall 47 is an interior cup 48 to accommodate the pad 46 so that it does not contact any interior surfaces of the projectile body and thereby disperse the marking agent it carries.

As illustrated, the exterior surface of the skirt 42 and portions of the nosepiece 41 may be contoured by grooves 49 for aerodynamic effect and to limit material weight. In comparing this construction with the first embodiment, therefore, those skilled in the molding arts will understand that the material of construction for projectile 40 should be selected to be slightly stiffer in order to resist distortion with reduced mass.

Projectiles 40 constructed in accordance with the foregoing principles have been found to be aerodynamically stable in flight at velocities within the range of 75 to 150 feet per second (22 to 45 meters per second) and to reliably meet the objectives previously set forth.

Attention is next directed to the third preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in FIGS. 10 through 14. Illustrated is a cone-shaped marker projectile generally designated with the numeral 50 which is reduced in size from the previously described examples. The projectile 50 includes a nosepiece 51 and a cylindrical skirt 52 integrally joined to the trailing end of the nosepiece 51. The diameter of the outermost surface 53 of the skirt 52 substantially corresponds to the bore of the appropriate marker gun barrel for propelling the projectile 50. The diameter of the outermost surface 53 therefore falls in the range of approximately 23 to 25 millimeters.

The skirt 52 also defines a tail cavity 54 in the trailing end of the projectile 50 which is larger in diameter than the leading portion of the nosepiece 51. This feature controls weight and also provides a limited nesting function as will be later discussed.

The leading end of the nosepiece 51 is formed by a flat face 55 on which is glued, or removable connected by a hook and pile fastener, an absorbent sponge or pad 56. The pad 56 projects forwardly from the face 55 in order to first come in contact with any target at which the projectile 50 is directed. The pad 56 is saturated with a suitable marking agent, a portion of which is released to provide a visual indication of the point of impact whenever the projectile 50 strikes a target. When the marking agent has been dissipated from the absorbent pad 56, the pad may be recharged with additional marking agent in order to continue reuse of the recovered projectile 50.

Marking agents suitable for use with this embodiment and materials of construction of the projectile body are the same as previously disclosed with reference to the first embodiment.

As previously noted, the tail cavity 54 of the projectile 50 is larger than the leading portion of the nosepiece 51 such that the nosepiece 51 of one projectile 50 may be inserted into the tail cavity 54 of a like projectile 50 as illustrated in FIG. 14 to provide limited nesting of multiple projectiles 50 and to protect the pad 56 carrying its associated marking agent. Here the nesting feature per se is not as important as in the case of the prior embodiments because the projectile 50 is shorter in overall length. However, the ability of the tail cavity to limit contact of the marking agent pad 56 does remain an important consideration of this construction.

As illustrated, contact between adjacent projectiles 50 in a nested orientation occurs when the trailing end of the skirt 52 engages the shoulder of the nosepiece 51. In comparing this construction with the first embodiment, therefore, those skilled in the molding arts will understand that the material of construction for projectile 50 should be selected to be slightly stiffer in order to resist distortion of the skirt 52.

Projectiles 50 constructed in accordance with the foregoing principles have been found to be aerodynamically stable in flight at velocities within the range of 75 to 150 feet per second (22 to 45 meters per second) and to reliably meet the objectives previously set forth.

Attention is next directed to the fourth preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in FIGS. 15 through 18, which, save one feature, compares closely to the previous embodiment. Illustrated is a cone-shaped marker projectile generally designated with the numeral 60. The projectile 60 includes a nosepiece 61 and a cylindrical skirt 62 integrally joined to the trailing end of the nosepiece 61. The diameter of the outermost surface 63 of the skirt 62 substantially corresponds to the bore of the appropriate marker gun barrel for propelling the projectile 60. The diameter of the outermost surface 63 therefore falls in the range of approximately 23 to 25 millimeters.

The skirt 62 also defines a tail cavity 64 in the trailing end of the projectile 60 which is larger in diameter than the leading portion of the nosepiece 61. This feature controls weight and also provides a limited nesting function as will be later discussed.

In this embodiment, the absorbent pad functioning as a marking agent retainer of the prior examples has been replaced with an alternative construction. Cut into the surface of the leading end of the nosepiece 61 are a plurality of capillary grooves 65 to function as a marking agent retainer for liquid marking agents. The grooves 65 may range in width from 0.5 to 0.7 millimeters and have a depth of at least 2 millimeters. As illustrated in FIG. 15, the grooves may be formed as a series to interconnected, concentric rings, but any convenient pattern may be utilized without departure from the intended scope of the invention. When the nosepiece 61 is dipped in a liquid marking agent, the grooves 65 fill with the marking agent. Surface tension of the liquid causes the marking agent to be retained in the capillary grooves 65 until the projectile 60 strikes a target. Upon impact, the marking agent is released from the capillary grooves 65 to provide a visual indication of the point of impact on the target. Recovery of the projectile 60 and re-dipping of the nosepiece 61 into a liquid marking agent permits reuse of the recovered projectile 60.

Marking agents suitable for use with this embodiment of this invention include a broad spectrum of liquids, such as water, inks, dyes, pigments and paints, which have a surface tension sufficient to display capillary action within the capillary grooves 65. Preferably, any ink, dye, pigment, paint or powder utilized will be water soluble in order to facilitate removal from clothing, face shields, equipment and other objects impacted by the projectile 60.

As previously noted, the tail cavity 64 of the projectile 60 is larger than the leading portion of the nosepiece 61 such that the nosepiece 61 of one projectile 60 may be inserted into the tail cavity 64 of a like projectile 60 as illustrated in FIG. 18 to provide limited nesting of multiple projectiles 60 and, most importantly, to protect the capillary grooves 65 carrying the associated marking agent.

As illustrated, contact between adjacent projectiles 60 in a nested orientation occurs when the trailing end of the skirt 62 engages the shoulder of the nosepiece 61 beside the region containing the capillary grooves 65. In comparing this construction with the first embodiment, therefore, those skilled in the molding arts will understand that the material of construction for projectile 60 should be selected to be slightly stiffer in order to resist distortion of the skirt 62.

Projectiles 60 constructed in accordance with the foregoing principles have been found to be aerodynamically stable in flight at velocities within the range of 75 to 150 feet per second (22 to 45 meters per second) and to reliably meet the objectives previously set forth.

Attention is now directed to the fifth preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in FIGS. 19 through 23, which, except for two additional structural features, compares closely to the previous embodiment. Illustrated is a cone-shaped marker projectile generally designated with the numeral 70. The projectile 70 includes a nosepiece 71 and a cylindrical skirt 72 integrally joined to the trailing end of the nosepiece 71. The diameter of the outermost surface 73 of the skirt 72 substantially corresponds to the bore of the appropriate marker gun barrel for propelling the projectile 70. The diameter of the outermost surface 73 therefore falls in the range of approximately 23 to 25 millimeters.

The skirt 72 also defines a tail cavity 74 in the trailing end of the projectile 70 which is larger in diameter than the leading portion of the nosepiece 71. This feature controls weight and also provides a limited nesting function as will be later discussed.

As in the previous example, the marking agent retainer is provided by a series of capillary grooves. Cut into the surface of the leading end of the nosepiece 71 are a plurality of capillary grooves 75 to function as a marking agent retainer for liquid marking agents. The grooves 75 may range in width from 0.5 to 0.7 millimeters and have a depth of at least 2 millimeters. As illustrated in FIG. 19, the grooves may be formed as a series to interconnected, concentric rings, but any convenient pattern may be utilized without departure from the intended scope of the invention. When the nosepiece 71 is dipped in a liquid marking agent, the grooves 75 fill with the marking agent. Surface tension of the liquid causes the marking agent to be retained in the capillary grooves 75 until the projectile 70 strikes a target. Upon impact, the marking agent is released from the capillary grooves 75 to provide a visual indication of the point of impact on the target. Recovery of the projectile 70 and re-dipping of the nosepiece 71 into a liquid marking agent permits reuse of the recovered projectile 70.

Marking agents suitable for use with this embodiment of this invention include a broad spectrum of liquids, such as water, inks, dyes, pigments and paints, which have a surface tension sufficient to display capillary action within the capillary grooves 75. Preferably, any ink, dye, pigment, paint or powder utilized will be water soluble in order to facilitate removal from clothing, face shields, equipment and other objects impacted by the projectile 70.

As previously noted, the tail cavity 74 of the projectile 70 is larger than the leading portion of the nosepiece 71 such that the nosepiece 71 of one projectile 70 may be inserted into the tail cavity 74 of a like projectile 70 as illustrated in FIG. 23 to provide limited nesting of multiple projectiles 70.

Materials suitable for fabrication of the projectile body, as in the case of earlier embodiments of the invention, include relatively lightweight plastics and moldable foams. Particularly desirable as the materials of construction are polymers such as ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyurethane (PU) or polyethylene (PE). These materials provide workable ranges for durability, density, flexibility and hardness in the fabricated projectile.

In this particular construction, a formulation of the material of construction was selected to provide a softer, more flexible material. In order to reinforce the skirt 72, radial support webs 76 are included within the tail cavity 74. Additionally, rather than have the more flexible skirt 72 engage the shoulder of the nosepiece 71 as in the case of the previous example, an axial support post 77 is located within the tail cavity 74 and is integrally formed with the nosepiece 71 and the support webs 76. In order to prevent distortion of the skirt 72, therefore, the central portion of the nosepiece 71 engages the end of the axial support post 77 within the tail cavity when adjacent projectiles 70 are nested.

Projectiles 70 constructed in accordance with the foregoing principles have been found to be aerodynamically stable in flight at velocities within the range of 75 to 150 feet per second (22 to 45 meters per second) and to reliably meet the objectives previously set forth.

Lastly, attention is directed to the sixth preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in FIGS. 24 through 27. Illustrated is a spherically shaped marker projectile generally designated with the numeral 80. The diameter of the projectile 80 substantially corresponds to the bore of the appropriate marker gun barrel for propelling the projectile 80 and, accordingly, falls in the range of approximately 23 to 25 millimeters.

As in the previous example, the marking agent retainer is provided by a series of capillary grooves. Cut into the spherical surface of the marker projectile 80 are a plurality of capillary grooves 81 to function as a marking agent retainer for liquid marking agents. The grooves 81 may range in width from 0.5 to 0.7 millimeters and have a depth of at least 2 millimeters. As illustrated in FIG. 24, the grooves may be formed as a series to interconnected, concentric rings on opposite poles of the spherical projectile 80, but any convenient pattern may be utilized without departure from the intended scope of the invention. When the projectile 80 is dipped in a liquid marking agent, the grooves 81 fill with the marking agent. Surface tension of the liquid causes the marking agent to be retained in the capillary grooves 81 until the projectile 80 strikes a target. Upon impact, the marking agent is released from the capillary grooves 81 to provide a visual indication of the point of impact on the target. Recovery of the projectile 80 and re-dipping in a liquid marking agent to recharge the capillary grooves 81 permits reuse of the recovered projectile 80.

Marking agents suitable for use with this embodiment of this invention include a broad spectrum of liquids, such as water, inks, dyes, pigments and paints, which have a surface tension sufficient to display capillary action within the capillary grooves 85. Preferably, any ink, dye, pigment, paint or powder utilized will be water soluble in order to facilitate removal from clothing, face shields, equipment and other objects impacted by the projectile 80.

Materials suitable for fabrication of the projectile body 80, as in the case of earlier embodiments of the invention, include relatively lightweight plastics and moldable foams. Particularly desirable as the materials of construction are polymers such as ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyurethane (PU) or polyethylene (PE). These materials provide workable ranges for durability, density, flexibility and hardness in the fabricated projectile.

Projectiles 80 constructed in accordance with the foregoing principles have been found to be aerodynamically stable in flight at velocities within the range of 75 to 150 feet per second (22 to 45 meters per second) and to reliably meet the objectives previously set forth.

From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all the ends and objects hereinabove set forth, together with the other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the invention.

It will be understood that certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims.

Since many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.