“So there I am, competing in my first pro game of my first pro event, being yelled at by Bob Long to run up to the center 50 “X” and lock down the snake side! It’s the Mardi Gras Open, the year is 2003, and the field is completely flooded to the point where the water is up to my knees. Without question I trudged up to the “X” and pulled off a big shot on one of my favorite players in the game, Ryan Williams, from Chicago Aftershock. It was my first confirmed pro elimination in the NXL and the rest is history.” From the very start, Tyler Harmon was destined for greatness.
Who is Tyler Harmon?
Known as one of the most versatile players in the World, Tyler Harmon of Houston Heat has been carving out his legacy in the sport of paintball for nearly 20 years. From his early roots in Modesto, California training under the brutal and demanding presence of the legendary Rich Telford, to his status as one of the best paintball players in the World, Tyler Harmon has been one thing above all else, intense.
Tyler’s ambitions in the game were something that was evident from the earliest points of his playing career; he always demanded more of himself. Nearly twenty years ago, players like Micah Mcglocklin, Oliver Lang, and Yosh Rau were entering the pro league as some of the first teenage players to play the sport professionally and starting a new trend in the traditionally older playing audience. However, when Tyler joined Bob Long’s Assassins at the age of 13, he set a new precedent that has yet to be matched or beaten, and likely never will. He quickly carved out a reputation as an athletic and energetic gun-fighter, and under the watchful eye of Bob Long, he quickly blossomed into one of the best young players in the game.
Now, after nearly 20 professional seasons, Tyler is one of the most feared players in the league among his peers. His incredible versatility and ability to play any position on the field, combined with his elite closing ability has driven him to the top of the paintball world on his team Houston Heat. One of the major candidates to win Icon of the Year, we sat down with Tyler to talk about his ambitions in the game, his upbringing, and how his journey through the sport of paintball changed his life.
Talking with Tyler, Early Career.
You grew up in the sport and have been a pro for the majority of your life. What was it like becoming a pro at such a young age? How did you get the opportunity?
I’m so grateful for the game of paintball and all the gifts it has manifested into my life. This is truly one of the greatest sports communities in the world and I’m so excited to watch this amazing sport flourish into the future. I started playing when I was 11 and soon turned pro at the age 13 with Bob Long’s Assassins, which to this day I still pinch myself over. It was pretty crazy to go pro that young and I still hold the world record for the youngest pro paintball player.
What was it like traveling the country when you were 13/14 years old, playing with one of the best teams in the league?
It was a lot of work I’m not going to lie! I was still in school as an 8th grader when I went pro and had to get good grades in order to play so I would always be doing my homework on a plane or at the hotel to maintain my GPA and keep the dream alive of playing pro paintball. I was able to maintain a 3.5-4.0 GPA all throughout high school and 2 years of college and will always cherish those memories. My dad traveled with me from the age of 13 until I was about 18 to every event and practice. We had the best times ever hanging out and running around trying to win pro events! I’m so grateful for all of the timeless support from the paintball community and my family to be able to still be playing top-level pro paintball at the age of 32.
Playing with Giants.
You trained with guys like Rich Telford and Bob Long early in your career, what was that experience like? Do you think you were able to learn things that can no longer be learned in the current formats during the 10 man and 7 man era?
The experience of playing alongside guys like Rich Telford, Bobby Long, Oliver Lang, Chris Lasoya, and countless others has been nothing short of a miracle that I will always be so thankful for. You learn something unique and applicable from each of these player's styles that I’ve been so fortunate enough to be able to constantly incorporate into my own style. I carry a piece of all the paintball greats with me and truly value all of the paintball players that have come before me with tremendous honor. One of my main goals in this game is to make sure the pioneers who came before me live on forever.
From the start you were closing games and dominating players more than twice your age. What about your upbringing made you able to operate, and succeed in, such high pressure situations on the pro field?
I would definitely have to attribute my success in the pro paintball scene to my parents, the Oakland Assassins, and Twisted Factory for training me proper. My father is an Army Ranger from Iowa and my mom is a full-hearted lover from Santa Cruz California so I got the best of both worlds at home. Having both of their unique styles of parenting truly gave me an eclectic framework of thought processing that has allowed me to navigate the pro paintball game from a young age. I love my parents with all my heart, I owe it all to them and the amazing paintball community that has raised me in this awesome game.
Going Out on His Own.
When Bob Long’s teams collapsed and you were suddenly without a team, was it a bit scary to be venturing out into the larger world of teams outside of Bob Longs umbrella? It had to be a bit intimidating since you were raised in his camp.
It was definitely a little bit intimidating (no pun intended) at first trying to find a new home once the Bob Long camp closed down. I soon found out that over the course of my 8 years with Bobby I had made friends with dozens of other pro players and was fortunate enough to be able to play with countless top pro teams after the Bob Long chapter had closed. These opportunities would not have been possible without my relentless hunger to play at the top of my game and always be the best community member I can in this great sport. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons anyone can takeaway from this interview is to genuinely care about the people around you and play with a full heart. Teams are always going to want to pick up a player that truly cares about the process of being a great player/teammate, working hard, and spreading good energy to chase down those big gold trophies.
During the period of the late NPPL, you moved around a bit between a few different teams. What was it about Dynasty that made you feel at home? You ended up playing there for a lot of years and really created an iconic identity for yourself there on the way to earning multiple World Titles and more than a dozen event wins.
I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to play for some of the most iconic names in paintball prior to making the move to Dynasty and requesting a tryout. Ever since I was a kid, it was always a dream of mine to play for Dynasty and I finally reached a point in my career where the stars aligned and that became a reality in the beginning of 2013. We went on to win multiple events and the 2013 series World Title during my first season with the team and that was just the beginning of a tremendous 8 year run! I will always be immensely grateful for my time with Dynasty and will never forget all of the great memories we shared together.
Looking Ahead, The Future is Brighter than Ever.
How has the experience been transitioning into your new role with Heat. Did leaving Dynasty sort of feel the same as when you eventually pulled away from Bob Long? Was it hard to depart from Dynasty?
The experience of playing alongside all the guys on Heat has been so much damn fun and I couldn’t ask to be surrounded by a better group of people. Parting ways with Bobby and Dynasty we’re completely different situations because Bobby had to close the doors on his operations and it forced me to move into another organization. Whereas I parted ways with Dynasty due to personal reasons that involved me thinking about what’s best for my career/ family (sending the utmost love to my beautiful wife Sarah and my sons Theo and Max I love you guys). The transition over to Houston Heat has been nothing short of seamless and completely natural. I feel like I’ve been on this team for years already and I’ve known all of the guys on the team for a large portion of my career. I’ve been playing against all of the Heat guys for a long time, so we already had a really well-rounded idea of how each other plays which makes the transition extremely easy. I’m so blessed and excited for the future with this organization. I feel so lucky to have the support I do from the Smith family, HK ARMY, and DLX technologies as we move into the future and chase those big chips!
You have achieved some monumental feats, won World Championships, and played with arguably some of the best players ever. What do you feel is the most critical moment of your paintball career thus far?
I whole-heartedly believe that the most critical moments of my paintball career thus far are found right here in this very moment. I’m playing for one of the strongest paintball teams ever fielded and we are hungrier than ever to flip the game on its head and take the pro paintball circuit to new heights. I’m grounded in the present moment and feel so humbled by the opportunities I have to chase these world championships with Houston Heat. Paintball has allowed me to connect with people from all over the world and I’m forever moved by the love I receive from the paintball community on a daily basis. I play this game for the love of all paintball players across the globe. Thank you to all the people out there who have supported me on this amazing journey! Lets keep having fun playing paintball globally and I hope to see you all at an event soon!
Tyler Harmon, Nominee for Icon of the Year.
For the entirety of the 2021 NXL season, Tyler has been one of the most effective and consistent players in professional paintball. His tireless ability to close games for his team, his elite poise on the field, and positional versatility are the biggest reasons he has earned a nomination for the Icon of the Year award, which recognizes the best player in professional paintball in the 2021 season. Each event, when Houston Heat needs a clutch play in the biggest moments, Tyler has answered. His ability to win low body situations, 1v1s, and swiftly change the games momentum has been nothing short of elite and we're proud to announce Tyler as the official first nomination of the inaugural Iconic Awards.
You can watch Tyler compete in the final NXL event of the season at World Cup, where his team is currently undefeated and battling for their 3rd World Cup Title in 4 seasons, as well as the coveted Season Championship. Catch it all on GoSports.com.