Every Saturday night in Olin hall, Ursinus students release stress by pelting each other with Nerf darts. Though the group is unofficial and informal, meetings regularly occur around 9:30 p.m.
The rules of engagement are simple enough for a beginner. Typically, the players divide themselves into two or three teams, marked by colored bandanas. If a player is hit with a Nerf dart by another team, that player “dies” and must sit out for the remainder of the round. The last team with surviving members wins the round.
When there are fewer players, a free-for-all game is used in place of teams. Each player still has only one life, but the game continues until only one player is left standing. The same rules about “kills” apply.
Another common game is “Zombies,” where one player attempts to “infect” the “humans” by hitting them with Nerf weapons. Infected humans become zombies. Zombies have unlimited “lives,” but after being hit by a human, they must wait one minute before returning to play. If any humans survive for the predetermined amount of time, they are the winners.
“I remember I started as the one zombie, and I don’t think I won, but it was a lot of fun, because . . . if I got shot I’d just come back and start shooting people,” said Nerf armorer Max Koren.
Nerf players sometimes have difficulty determining when a “kill” has occurred, because the darts are soft and do not stick. “It’s the honor system. If you get hit, you have to admit it,” said junior Nerf veteran Stacey Shapiro.
Beginners do not necessarily need to purchase their own weapons before attending. Some players have amassed Nerf armories, and they are willing to share. “My friends and I, we all have a bunch. We have one of our dressers just full of Nerf guns,” Koren said. Shapiro takes advantage of the surplus of Nerf guns.
“I don’t have any myself. I have a Nerf sword, but we can’t use melee weapons, because it ends poorly,” Shapiro said. On one occasion, the fake violence became too real when Nerf swords were in play. “It’s basically Taylor [Wieczerak]’s fault. He hit Cara once, in some place she had had surgery, and she collapsed on the ground,” Shapiro said. Swords have been seldom used in Olin since.
More serious Nerf players have modified their guns. For some, the intent is to create an aesthetic that is preferable to Hasbro’s standard yellow-blue-and-orange scheme. One member fashioned a bayonet by attaching a Nerf sword to one of his guns.
Others are after more distance behind their foam darts. Wieczerak modified a Nerf rocket launcher to shoot a standard dart. The result is a long-range threat that Ursinus players refer to as a “sniper rifle.”
“It can shoot from the third floor and hit something pretty accurately,” Shapiro said. To hear more about the sniper rifle and see it in action, check out the video for this article.