The Den of Foam
Nerf: Child's Play or the Ultimate in Competition?
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 “Nerf.”  That’s probably the very last thing you can expect for a response when asking a high-schooler about his hobbies.  Why is this so rare?  Fitting in is a massive part of society in this day and age, and Hollywood has changed the male ideal into a macho figure that doesn’t deal with childish things.  This stereotype has caused Nerf to be labeled as childish.  For the average person, this label is just.  For an avid Airsoft or Paintballer, this title isn’t harsh enough.  For those of us who know, who really know Nerf’s potential, the label is just another obstacle.  Those who think otherwise have every right to do so.  They usually have nothing to go off of as a reference.  They’ve never experienced what real Nerf is, but if they’re content in their ignorance, then there’s nothing to do to change your mind.


What makes Nerf inferior to Paintball in the public’s eye, anyway?  Each game, though they have their differences, is centered on adrenaline-pumping competition.  They all have the same goal, as well.  To take out the other team.  What makes the games different is how they are played.  Each has a separate style which is dependent on the capabilities of the equipment involved.  In Paintball and Airsoft, it is very common to see people using their weapon’s high rate of fire and excessive ammunition capacity to send hails of fire at their opponents, hoping that one of them will hit.  Also, you will never see a Paintballer rush their opponent(s).  They know that paintballs hurt, which makes them want to avoid being hit more than they would normally.  This creates an element of fear when playing that keeps players behind heavy cover trading fire for extended periods of time.  The same holds true for Airsoft.  Though many will claim that it doesn’t hurt, trying to act tough again, they know that it does, and their minds cause them to subconsciously fear being hit as much as Paintballers, whether they like it or not.  This again eliminates the possibility of rushing their opponents effectively, and reduces their tactics down to little more than “spray and pray” firefights.


But Nerf is something else.  No Nerf gun has even close to the ammunition capacity and rate of fire that are enjoyed by Paintball and Airsoft guns.  This completely changes how the entire game is played.  There is no “Spray and Pray” in Nerf.  Everything has to be carefully aimed, and well practiced to be effective.  You must rely on your instincts and your own abilities a lot more than on your blaster’s ability to spray as fast as possible.  It just isn’t effective.  The darts still do hurt, but our fear of the hurt is reduced psychologically because the darts are still made of foam, though they have fishing sinkers and hot glue on the ends.  Our minds don’t think “Fishing sinkers” when they think about the pain.  That would translate into “Painful Projectile”.  Instead, our minds think “Foam Darts”, which causes us to feel a lot less fear about the pain subconsciously than we would normally.  This opens up a whole new field of tactics that can be used to great effect in the game.  Now, rushing is an option.  Running around, dodging, everything you see in the James Bond and Matrix action movies is possible with Nerf.  Nerf encompasses all that is fact-paced and action-packed in gunfights.  It gives ups the freedom to fight, and do it with style.  Style is one of the things that people always dream about when thinking about their Airsoft and Paintball games, but the dreams are never realized because they’re too wrapped up in their subconscious fears.  Nerf is a chance to make those dreams come true.


One of the biggest problems with Paintballing and Airsoft is money.  Paintball guns easily cost in excess of one hundred dollars.  That’s only for fairly decent models, too.  Top-quality Paintball Markers cost in excess of triple or quadruple that price, some of them even more.  After you have the marker, you have to pay for accessories, such as a Paintball Mask, Air tank, Hopper, and of Course, Paintballs themselves.  After all of this, many patrons of the sport will then want to upgrade their Marker.  That is just fine.  These upgrades include such things as barrel replacements, with barrels that will give the Marker better range, accuracy, etc.  Most of these improvements will improve the marker’s performance.  But, like everything, you have to buy them.  And replacement barrels are not cheap.  They cost more than my best Nerf gun, and all of its add-ons, plus about a hundred of my homemade darts.  And if you don’t like the performance of your new upgrade, sure you can switch back to the old barrel, but you’re out fifty bucks.


Nerf is something else again.  To begin with, Nerf guns are extremely low-priced in comparison to Paintball and Airsoft guns.  Some of the most powerful and efficient guns out there go for ten dollars (total) in packs of two.  Granted, they’re still little kid’s toys when you buy them, but the potential is there.  They come with everything that you need, really, to make them great.  The rest is up to your imagination. They just need a little “love”, if you will.


You will rarely (if ever) find an Airsoft or Paintballer who willingly will open their gun up completely with a screwdriver and tinker with the insides, possibly changing the working parts with household materials to somehow make it perform better.  However, you will rarely find a true serious Nerfer who won’t do that very exact thing.  In fact, if you do find someone like that, they’re not truly a serious Nerfer.  Nerf guns, in general, are plastic, weak, poorly-firing child’s toys.  But then there are modified blasters.  These are just like the ones that you buy in stores, with one big difference.  The purchaser took a small risk, opened up the gun, and changes something inside.  This can vary from p\lugging up a valve that allows the release of air when the pressure it too high, to allow for more power, to the removal of objects that restrict airflow in the barrels.  Often, these alterations will also include the complete replacement of the barrels, with household materials such as PVC pipe or Brass tubing, all available at a local home depot.  A trip to Toys ‘r Us and Home Depot, starting with only a twenty dollar bill in pocket can yield amazing results when you let your imagination run free for a little while.


Every Nerfer is different, and so each will have their own preferences that match their style with which they Nerf.  There’s that style again.  It’s all about style.  Their preferences all can’t be met by an off the shelf Nerf blaster, however, and modifying blaster alone just doesn’t always cut it.  Their needs may be higher than what a blaster can offer, or they just may want a blaster that they can truly call their own.  Whatever the case may be, Nerfers will take blasters (often modified) and integrate more than one of them into the empty shell of a Nerf Gun in an arrangement whose configuration fits their needs.  When they customize their blaster to this point, the blaster is not only powerful, but it fits their style that much more, and allows them to Nerf the way that they really want to.  Those Hollywood-style dreams of glory are achieved most often after the Nerfer has customized a blaster.  The ingenuity and problem-solving involved in this stage of a Nerfer’s career really is the pinnacle of Nerf, and are one of the main reasons why Nerf is so great.  No feeling is better than one of those war dreams coming true, because of a blaster that you basically made yourself.


The whole reason people play Paintball, Airsoft, or Nerf, is always the same.  Everyone loves good competition, and nowhere is the competition more fulfilling than in these three games.  The competition isn’t always fair, however.  In Paintball and Airsoft, your style and skills may allow you to take on an entire team by yourself, but you lack of funds keep you from owning a gun that can keep up with your abilities, so your skills go to waste.  Not so with Nerf.  Everyone can afford the right kind of blaster needed for their style, and it doesn’t fit right, everyone can afford what is needed to alter the blaster so that it does fit their style.  See?  Everything goes back to style, because everyone loves to develop their own style, and to use it effectively.  It is a feeling of originality that the human mind loves, and Nerf allow for that feeling to be felt again and again.


In Nerf, Just like in Paintball and Airsoft, your abilities do have a vast impact on how successful you are at what you do.  However, in Nerf, the definition of your abilities also includes how well you can modify your blaster, and/or how well you can match its capabilities to your own, and to your style.  This means that in truth, with Nerf, there is competition both on and off the field of play.  There is a massive, friendly community of Nerfers out there who are willing to swap ideas, comment on yours, and give you help on how to improve your blaster to match your customized style.  They love Nerf as much as you do, and they know how invaluable second opinions can be, because if there’s something that you miss that could be fixed, there’s always someone else out there that can help you fix it to match your style.


It all boils down to competition.  Everyone loves a good competition.  But who will be praised more for their skills, one who hits two people in a round, or one who hits one person in a round with their customized blaster, in the middle of a dive between bushes, with darts flying all around?  The one who did it with style, of course!  And which of the three games allows style to be incorporated, flipped upside-down, turned inside-out, and molded into their own?  Nerf.  Which one then allows you to effectively use this personalized style to great effect?  Nerf.  And which one allows you to customize your own blaster to fit your style and make you unstoppable?  Nerf.


Which one has more to offer than the others could ever know, and which one will always be around, as long as people like you understand the truth behind the games?  I’ll let you decide that one for yourself.


As for me, I’ll stick with Nerf.


Yours in Foam,