Seven Hard-Won Lessons From the Youth Group Nerf Wars

1. If you’ve never had a nerf war with your youth group, you should seriously consider it. It quickly reveals who you want on your team in the event of a zombie apocalypse. You never know when you might need that information.

2. A nerf war is a GREAT way to revive the kids after a movie at a lock-in. Especially if you have a balcony to shoot from. And it’s cathartic.

3. Every nerf battle has 2 stages. In Stage 1, you expend the ammo load-out that you started the game with. In Stage 2 — which lasts a lot longer — you are scrounging darts off the floor, hoping someone will shoot at you so you can collect the dart and shoot it back. At any given time, you only have a handful of darts, unless you’re a hoarder. This 2-stage dynamic is important because…

4. In Stage 1, motorized, clip-fed blasters are the most fun you can have. Good news: with good fire discipline and a couple high-capacity clips, this stage can last quite a while. Bad news: when it’s over, it’s over. In a typical every-man-for-himself scenario, you’re on the run all the time. Reloading a clip with scrounged darts on the run takes three hands, and when you’re reloading, you’re not ready to fire unless you’re juggling two clips (which takes four hands). It’s not a ton of fun. Having one as part of a three- or four-man squad would probably be worth it, but by yourself, it’s just a pain.

5. Your best bet for Stage 2 is something small and VERY easy to reload. (Which is fantastic, because the little blasters are pretty cheap.) Single-shot is okay, but it’s better if you have the capability for at least one fast follow-up shot. For my money, a hammer-action revolver like the Hammershot is best. It shoots and cycles one-handed, leaving the other hand free for picking up darts and reloading (or wielding a sword, but we’ll get to that). It carries 5 darts in an open-front cylinder, so you can reload as you go, and you’re almost always ready to shoot.

6. In an all-out melee, nerf swords are much more useful than you’d think. You’d be surprised how much ground you can cover in a charge while your opponent is struggling to reload. There’s a serious shock-and-awe factor, and it’s mad fun. The swords are probably going to get destroyed, so get cheap ones.

7. Close-range hostage crises are best resolved with a sword. True story.

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