This weekend marked the first meetup for a Nerf battle I knew about that was organized through the Nerf Internet Community and staged in the city of Chicago, specifically Hyde Park. Most of the Chicagoland Nerf Wars I had heard about were organized in the surrounding suburbs, this was a nice change of pace.
11 AM, April 11th. Information Day. It took a member of California’s vaunted Nerf community to set the whole shebang up, but finally it happened. “Ice Nine” from Nerfhaven chose to go to school in Our Fair City and he confessed an itchy trigger finger. Having participated in Nerf Wars in California, he and his roommate, “Zorn’s Lemma” decided to get the ball rolling and put out word MONTHS before on Nerfhaven, inviting all interested fighters and guests. One of whom, was yours truly.
Now I’d organized some battles before within my circle of friends but never went so far as to organize a group from Nerfhaven. This was how I found myself wandering around Promontory Point on a Saturday afternoon. I figured all I had to do was look for the brightly colored weaponry, name calling, and a large group of people. Coming over the hill, I looked down and saw some foam darts laying around. And more. Following the trail, I found them in the middle of capture the flag. Quick introductions and a team assignment later, I was out there with my Disk Shot pistol and crossfire shield in hand.
Until that day it had been awhile since I’d been on the field. Running from position to position, jumping, taking pot shots… it was coming back. Not entirely sure how good I felt about running into six blasters and an N-Force sword camped around the flag objective but whatever, it was the nature of the game and I had to remember how to play, and remember fast.
There was the familiar click of priming handles, the snap of plunger heads colliding along plunger tubes, and the “foomp” from air guns. Darts whistled past my ear crashing into benches and playground equipment. People were yelling, running, and jumping all over the place. At times all I saw were swirls of the yellow and red flags, the grass, the sky, and the various bright colors of the plastic Sometimes all I could hear was the pounding of my heart. Sometimes I opted to sit out so I could take photos and video; it was crazy to make sense of all the action and small struggles that comprised each round. Hunters became the hunted, teams were dwindled, mates disappeared. Unlikely and unarmed heroes rose above the ranks to unlock their achievements for victory.
As the day went on, I was able to attach names to faces. Snake, Ice9, Zorn, Mr.Badwrench, DemonLord, Finnster to name a few. All decent enough fellows. There were maybe close to 20 total, and the darts came flying fast and furious during each round.
Some personal highlights came from running through large crowds of the other team untouched and tagging at least one of them. My “Han Solo” moment chasing a target and then running into his entire team, having to run away and find my front lines again, yelling “TRAIN!” to make sure they knew I was in trouble. Dead man rushes, one of which ended up with me going headfirst into a high powered PAS (pump-action shotgun). Very deadly, very accurate and not the smartest idea. Somehow though, the only contact I heard was the “ptank” it made bouncing off my crossfire shield. When I looked up, I saw the amazed looks and kudos, confirming I achieved the unlikely. A quick shot and a sprint to safety later, I finally got to relish the vindication. Close to that point, I figured I should play a bit more and then call it a day because I couldn’t do anything better for the rest of the fight. For me, the fight was finished.
In addition to the fighting, just seeing everyone’s mods in person was finally seeing money where their mouths were. It was confirmed with my own eyes the ranges these guns got, and damn it was kinda scary to think one day I would be on the other end of that barrel. Spare parts were up for grabs and people were able to trade and sell as needed, as the community helps each other out to get our mods to be all they can be. Or at the least, open up space for new acquisitions.
Living the dream, as they say. Words to practice and thoughts to action. Hey, when in doubt… squeeze the trigger and give it a shot.