Remember that old Nerf gun you have lying around? You know, the one you pick up and shoot the employee in the next cubicle with? Well, have you ever wanted to hit the guy five cubicles down?
You won’t be able to do that with any old Nerf gun. “Then, how do I hit him?” you might ask. Simple: nerfhaven.com is a website devoted entirely to Nerf guns. How to modify them, how to make your own darts for them (called “Stefans,” since Stefan is the name of person who invented them), and even how to make your own gun from scratch!
Nerf is a hobby that many people can enjoy, due to its many aspects. In the Nerf Internet Community (NIC), the aspects that have the most practitioners are the modification of Nerf blasters and the use of modified blasters in organized Nerf “wars.” The former obviously appeals to those who enjoy working with their hands and solving mechanical problems; the latter appeals to children and those who are children at heart, as a Nerf war is a very entertaining pastime that reminds many of the diversions enjoyed when they were children.
One longtime Nerfer once said that he liked to Nerf because “you get to think like an engineer, and act like an 8 year old." Adults and teens that love to tinker around with things enjoy Nerf. Meanwhile, the idea of a Nerf war may take adults back to their days of playing “army,” and younger adults may even remember their days of playing similar games with unmodified Nerf blasters. In fact, Nerf can also be a great way for parents to connect with their children.
There are other aspects to Nerfing. One that is very similar, but more complicated than modifying a Nerf blaster, is the production of a “homemade” Nerf blaster (or, simply, “homemades”). Generally utilizing such materials as PVC pipe and polycarbonate, homemades often replicate or improve upon the mechanisms that mass-produced Nerf blasters are made with; other Nerfers have come up with ideas that were never used in the mass produced toy blasters.
There is even an aspect of the Nerfing hobby that is artistic. Many people have given their blasters (modified or left otherwise stock) new paintjobs. Some merely like the aesthetics, while others find them useful as props for costumes.
Starting with LISTSERVs in the early ‘90s and through the forum systems of today, NerfHaven and NerfHeadquarters, the concept of Nerf has improved greatly through hundreds of innovative inventions.
The Stefan, or the homemade nerf dart, is perhaps the greatest of such inventions, has served as great inspiration for many. They are made o f lengths of Foam Backer Rod, or caulk saver, weighted with hot glue and fishing weights. Invented by Canadian Nerfer Stefan Mohr, its concept has been transferred over to many other dart forms and has been elaborated on by many – a great symbol of this community’s ability to work with one another. Stefans can be found in any true Nerfer’s home as well as many parks and schools across America. These venues have played host to many great wars over the years.
Apocalypse, Armageddon, Deal, Reckoning, and Yellowstone Area Nerf Outing – all these wars have been integral in the perpetuation of the hobby over all these years. Organized by clans such as the LCM, LGLF, and Horsemen, they serve as the proving ground for all the ideas that seemed so great on paper. In deathmatch and capture-the-flag scenarios, mostly, Nerfers can test their worth and determine if they deserve to be known as one of the greats. Of course, as with all hobbies, there are multiple ways to achieve greatness. Participants of the forums who modify and create their own Nerf-like blasters (referred to as homemades) are often revered just as highly as those “gods” of the fields.
Innovators such as Boltsniper, CaptainSlug, Carbon, and Forsaken_Angel24 have commanded much respect of the NIC since their first posts of modifications and homemades. These engineers of the sport have perpetuated it as much as the organizers of formal events. With modifications that changed the Rapid Fire 20 into the Rapid Fire 40 (more commonly known as The Eyes of Fire), and homemades such as the Fast Action Rifle (FAR) that blew every member’s mind, these great innovators have not only shown others the way, but proven that Nerf can compete with range comparable to paintball gun ranges. Among others, these four have been essential in making Nerf as enjoyable as it is today.
Perhaps more enjoyable than paintball and airsoft, the foremost “competitors” of Nerf, Nerf, allows the average person to pick it up without burning a hole in his or her pocket. For instance, to equip yourself with one decent weapon for paintball, you could effectively finance yourself for nearly six months of Nerfing with as many as three or four weapons.
Nerfing is also seen by many as a more relaxed wargame. Minimal protection is necessary, only enough to protect the eyes from the moderate-by-comparison projectiles. Although you will not bleed or retain bruising as easily as you would from paintball or airsoft, you can still feel Stefans hit you. These two key factors primarily embody the mindset that allows most Nerfers to consider our hobby more enjoyable than the others.
Interested in this enjoyable, low-cost hobby? Wish you could shoot your colleague that is fifty feet away from your office rather than the one who is five feet away? NerfHaven and NerfHeadquarters could be the place you were looking for.
The modification of a new Nerf blaster is a wonderful thing. It can be challenging, but extremely rewarding.
Let us say, for instance, that you are cleaning out your parents' basement. There you find a toy pistol with a foam dart in the barrel. You pull back on the ring and aim at your brother, who has been helping you with this chore. Pulling the trigger, the dart is launched out of the pistol, and hits the ground only a few feet away. Your brother, who was on the other side of the room (a mere 20 feet away, if that), laughs at the poor performance and suggests that you go play a "real man's" game like paintball or airsoft.
Later that night you are stewing over the incident. You remember how much fun you had with that toy when you were young, but now it seemed so unimpressive. It couldn't even hit the opposite wall of a room! Bored, however, you pick up the blaster again. You've already put some rubber bands around the ring in order to pull it forward faster and harder, and now the pistol was shooting a little further. Still unsatisfied, however, and noticing the screws in the blaster, you decide to open the toy. Inside, you find a spring on a large piston. Apparently, the force of the air compressed by the piston forced the dart out of the barrel. Seeing the innards, you would think that the dart would at least go a few feet further.
So, you get to work. First, you see that the piston does not form a very good seal with its cylindrical chamber. So, you wrap a few layers of electrical tape over the aged and rotting rubber. Reassembling the blaster and shooting the dart again, you see that the range has increased a little.
Opening the pistol again, you take out the piston's cylinder and the attached barrel. While tying to think of something else to do, you absently look into the cylinder. Strangely, you can't see much light coming through the barrel. "Aha!" you think: something is blocking the flow of the pressurized air. After retrieving your power drill, you drill a hole through the blockers. Also, you see a length of PVC pipe sitting in the corner of your workshop. The foam dart fits much tighter in the pipe than in the toy's stock barrel, so you cut off the old barrel and put on several inches of PVC pipe.
Fitting everything back together, you put the dart in the barrel and push it to the back with a pen. You cock the pistol, pull the trigger, and the piston moves forward, but nothing happens: the dart didn't leave the barrel! But it did get pushed forward a little, so you try again. This time the dart makes it all the way to the wall, though far below the point at which you aimed. In one sense you are pleased that you can now at least hit the opposite wall, but you are also disappointed by the inaccuracy and the fact that it took two tries for the dart to leave the barrel. You decide to retire for the night.
Lying awake, you continue to think about the latest results of your little endeavor. Suddenly, you have another eureka moment with the realization that the barrel that you made is too long. Trying this the next day, you get better results. The dart always leaves the barrel on the first try, and the dart hits the wall a little harder and only just below the point at which you aimed.
Two days later, your brother and his wife stop by for a visit. While the wives were off in another room, you pull the toy pistol from a drawer and hit your brother in the back of the head. He cries out, but you know it is much more out of surprise than pain; you shot yourself in the head at pointblank range to make sure it was safe, and it only stung a little. Turning around, he gapes as he recognizes the toy that you had found a few days ago, now transformed into quite the beast. You pull a second pistol from the drawer, one that you had bought from a toy store the other day and modified using what you had learned from your first modification. You tossed it to your brother, and he shoots it down the hall. He says, "Hey, these are pretty cool."
You think to yourself how right he is, but instead of wasting time by telling him you merely say:
Nerf: Cheap, fun, and a great hobby. What’s to lose?
Edit: 1/26/08-Typo- C-A_99
Edit: 1/27/08-Stefan Paragraph- Carbon
Edited by Ubermensch, 27 January 2008 - 07:44 AM.