By Brian Vasquez
Chances are if you went to any of the Summer Dew Tour events last year, you walked through Festival Village. If you did, chances are even better that you saw a gigantic Nerf Dart Tag League display. A giant, inflatable dome where teams of 4 competed for pride, honor, bragging rights, and possibly $25,000. Nerf made a splash last year bringing competitive and standardized Nerf out of the random hallway blaster fights and occasional ambush prank and into an organized league. It was fun, hilarious at times, and a way to see a new blaster before it ever hit the stores. So, the NDTL was born.
The darts don’t end at Festival Village, though. All across the US and beyond, people of many ages pick up blasters and get together to have their own brand of dart-flinging action. Chicagoland is home to one such community. Not only do we get Nerf blasters but on occasion we make modifications to them in order to get higher ranges, higher rate of fire, or even put two previously separate blasters together. Bottom line is, we aren’t limited by what we’re given and we test the waters. Nerf does their job properly with their caveat about modifying blasters or using modified ammo, but some of us disregard this in the pursuit of a new way to play.
Gametypes, ammo, blasters, and participants can vary; our motivations are all different too. Some come for the spirit of high levels of competition. Others of us just like to shoot other people with foam ammo while feeling like they can dodge bullets. We can play capture the flag, team elimination, battle royale, 300 (just as epic as it sounds) and anything else our demented minds can come up with. Our tools of the trade are anything that shoots a foam dart (usually NERF blasters) and sometimes something that’s been configured from its original condition to fire foam ammo (more on that later.)
To date in Chicagoland we’ve had upwards of 20 people showing up to get their blaster on. Areas in California and New Jersey have communities that reach way beyond that. Singapore? Don’t worry, you’re up there as well. The fact is, there’s another way to play that doesn’t involve exorbitant costs and safety concerns in specialized play areas; grab a blaster, some friends, and run to your nearest park!
Curious? There’s so much more to say but maybe showing is better than telling. Here’s a recent video: (there’s music in it, some of which may be too much for youngsters so PG-13 folks).
See ya next round!
Brian Vasquez likes to look at the untold stories of niche sports around Chicagoland. You can view the work he’s done with NERF at his blog, Foam From Above, and follow him on twitter at @VasTheStampede.