Suitcases packed with weapons. Buckets of bullets litter the floor. Dozens of people dressed in black, shooting. You may have just stumbled into a war zone, or you may have just walked into Jennings on a typical Friday night.
Nerf Wars, as it is called today, originated in 2010. Until that point, two groups of students battled against each other in different places across campus including White Hall, the Bowld Student Commons, Jennings and the Penick Academic Complex.
Eventually, the weekly event grew, and the leaders at the time decided to make it more public. After speaking with Safety & Security, Nerf Wars began meeting in Jennings every Friday night.
Rachel Brewer, sophomore engineering major, first heard about Nerf Wars from a friend who attended Union before she did. Her first week as a freshman, she asked around until she learned the details of the event.
“So I came the first week and wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Brewer said. “I thought it could be really cool or kind of overplayed and lame, but I came and had a blast. I’ve been here every week since.”
Brewer is now the “head admin” of Nerf Wars. This group of five administrators act as a liaison to Safety & Security, ensure that waivers are signed by each participant and are in charge of set up and clean up before and after Nerf Wars.
Allen Bradley, junior business major, is another student who has participated in Nerf Wars since his freshman year.
During the campus tour of Focus weekend, Bradley’s Focus leader mentioned Nerf Wars when they came to Jennings. The next time Bradley went home, he grabbed his Nerf guns and decided to give it a try.
“The group was very welcoming,” he said. “Quirky a lot of times, but a really friendly group.”
On a typical night, there are between 20 and 30 participants, but Bradley said there have been almost 70 people playing at once.
There are several different games that the group plays, but the main two are called Slayer and Zombie.
Slayer is basically a team death match, Bradley said. When someone gets hit in the torso or the head, that person is out of the game. If one is hit in a limb, that person must not use that limb for the remainder of the game.
In the second game, two “zombies” start without guns, and they must run around tagging others. Two hits to the torso or one to the head will put players out of the game. Once they “die,” they must count to 30, and then they are able to rejoin the game.
In each game, all three floors of Jennings are used.
“It’s just the right amount of competitiveness,” Bradley said. “You can be really lax, and sometimes people dress up. It’s a lot of fun.”
Bradley said that at times, players get competitive, and the admins will have to solve disputes.
“I’m sure if you weren’t involved, it would actually look really lame and not exciting,” he said. “But sometimes it seems like a good idea to jump down flights of stairs, so people will twist ankles, sprains and breaks. It’s usually people getting whacked in the face with a gun while turning corners, or just running into people . . . just a lot of little accidents with people being in a tight space.”
Bradley said that for the most part, faculty and staff do not mind the weekly Nerf Wars.
“We had two physics professors come and play with us one time,” he said. “Usually people are pretty good with it.”
One time, the glass of the debate trophy case on the third floor was accidentally smashed, Bradley said. The group chipped in money to replace the glass.
Nerf Wars happens every Friday night in Jennings from 9 p.m. to midnight. All are welcome to join in, and players can come and go as they please.