Francisco.Lahoz    ORIGINAL GONGSTER

NERFing for Dummies

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Credit: Youtube

On one particularly hot summer day, I took a stroll through a park. The birds were chirping, the leaves were rustling in the wind, and a bunch of kids and young adults were shooting each other with foam darts. Nerf guns are no longer just for children and sad losers who think they look tough holding a plastic neon yellow rifle.

Popularly believed to stand for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam, Nerf began in 1969 when the company started producing four inch polyurethane foam balls. While Nerf still makes recreational foam sports balls, their main focus has pivoted since the 1980s to producing their foam dart flinging “blaster” line of products. 

Nerf Blasters have long been praised, winning countless toy awards, and selling in multiple different countries. Nerf has become so ubiquitous with foam flinging toys, that anything that even closely resembles the line is considered a nerf gun.

What I saw that day was a league of “Nerfers”. People who have taken the popular toy line and transformed it into a full blown hobby. Nerf enthusiasts deck themselves out in tactical vests, carry dozens of magazines and modify their blasters to hit infinitely harder than the original manufacturer ever would have considered. 

The hobby has become even more serious in recent years with the growing independent 3d printing scene. Hobbyists produce replacement parts, new accessories and even go as far as making their own blasters. Some Nerfers have even made careers out of their hobby, setting up Etsy shops selling homemade parts, ammo counters, and even their own darts.

In the above video from YouTube, Nerfer and shop owner Out Of Darts, takes us on a tour of a Nerf workshop in Napa Valley, California. The video shows a shop you wouldn’t expect if I told you these guys like to play with Nerf guns in their spare time, the walls are covered in plastic blasters with some having intricate paint jobs. 

Even this workshop pales in comparison to some of the videos I found in my research, showing some collections with pieces numbering in the thousands. One video in particular showed a Nerfer known as LordDraconical, who dedicated three different rooms of his house to his collection of Nerf blasters, some of which are rare enough to be sold for hundreds of dollars.

I could go into more detail on this hobby, but I wouldn’t be able to do the nearly 50 years of NERF history justice. Not to mention I’d likely piss off the hundreds of thousands of active Nerfers from all over the world. 

If you want any more information on the hobby, the included videos are from influential members, and they have thousands of videos covering the subject. There are also many forums online for different regional communities. Entering the community is as easy as grabbing a blaster from Target and finding your nearest Nerf War.

When was the last time you picked up a Nerf gun? Let me know in the comments.

Francisco has been a massive media nerd since he could remember. He's an anthropology major at Queens college and part time as a teacher's assistant in Brooklyn. He enjoys writing science fiction/fantasy stories when he's not watching the newest Netflix show or listening to a podcast.
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