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Black Knights Nerf
A Nerfer's Guide to Cross-Training
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Training and conditioning have been approached from MANY different angles in regard to the sport of Nerfing. Most don't bother with it because the general populous of the Nerf community isn't all that competitive. No, I take that back. The community is VERY competitive. Flame wars wouldn't spring up on the online forums if people weren't competitive. Sure, they're started by someone cracking a joke or something, but people wouldn't be so defensive in response if they weren't competitive.

We usually don't see this competitive side of people as competitiveness because we rarely play with most others in the community. But when we do, we all get together and have a good time. But you can't deny it, at the end of the day (and even during the day) you find yourself thinking that you could be performing a LOT better than you have been. You find yourself comparing yourself and your performance to those around you. It may seem excessive for a sport that most simply call a game which has no leagues or organized tournaments, but a healthy training regimen can, in fact, make ALL the difference in Nerfing as well. We all play for fun, regardless of whether we win or lose, but NO ONE can argue that they don't have more fun when they win. The following suggestions can and will make all the difference at wars in the future if you follow them consistently.

1) Stamina

It doesn't take a genius to know that you can't Nerf successfully without being able to run for extended periods. I say successfully because those who stand around and play in a somewhat detached way, remaining physically inactive, find far less success on the field than those who get physically involved, running and gunning. The more stamina you have, the longer you can last at your top performance level throughout any given day. You'll be less tired at the end of each round, you'll be able to react more quickly and naturally for dodging and other purposes, and you'll be harder to hit overall.

How do you achieve this? There's more to it than distance running if you're applying it directly to Nerf.

2) Balance

When playing outdoors, you very often find yourself on uneven terrain. Players find themselves slipping/tripping, etc. when running around in wars because their feet fall behind them when going downhill, their feet get ahead of them when going uphill, or just due to a general lack of sure-footing. Distance running rarely helps you with this aspect, because it's all on fairly flat terrain.

So find some stairs and run up and down them. Not only will it work your legs harder, it'll get your body used to adjusting to grade. Go hiking; find steep trails and run up and down them. The difficulty added by the unevenness of the ground and its tendency to move under you will do wonders for increasing your overall balance on the move. Have an indoor basketball court at your school or church? Try running around on the slippery floor...in socks. Heck, if you can, have some pistol rounds with a small group of friends, all wearing just socks on their feet. It's GREAT fun, and it REALLY helps focus you on your center of gravity.

3) Strength

You don't have to be a bodybuilder. Believe me, I'm far from it, and will never get anywhere close. But considering the fact that we're typically carrying very lightweight plastic toy guns, strength is rarely considered when people think about getting in shape for Nerfing.

Bill Nye and I would like to ask you to consider the following:

You're being chased. Your team is toast, and you've got three guys hot on your shebs. You find a moment of peace on the backside of a building where you have a minute or so to come up with a plan. There's a drainpipe on the side of the building, and, knowing that people rarely look up first, you decide to climb it and get yourself out of your opponent's immediate vantage point to buy yourself a few seconds' reaction time. So you climb up it a few feet until you can reach the edge of the roof. You grab it with one hand, hold your gun with the other, and walk your feet up the wall, so essentially you're hunkered up in the fetal position with your arm sticking out to the side, about eight feet off the ground. You hear two of them approaching the corner. Perfect; you've only got a Splitfire in your hand anyway.

But your arm is starting to hurt.

A LOT.

Just as they're about to round the corner, your fingers slip, and you fall. Your feet and butt hit the grass first, followed by their darts hitting you right in the middle of the pained expression on your face. Game over.

Now rewind a bit, and imagine you've been doing your push-ups and eating your Wheaties. Your arm doesn't hurt.

Gunner number one pokes around the corner and gets a dart to the face. You drop to the ground. Gunner number two rounds the corner, looking up at where the shot came from. Gunner number two gets a dart from ground level to the groin. Game is down to one on one. Fair enough?

Excessive strength is not necessary, but keep your arms and legs in good working shape, and none of the random on-the-spot ideas you have to save your behind will be out of your capability. Do your push-ups, and eat your Wheaties.

4) Dexterity

I'm calling it Dexterity because I'm a Nerd. Another way to describe what I'm talking about would be "nimbleness," perhaps.

Be light on your feet. Keep yourself up on your toes, more or less. Every time you move, things should be fluid. Jerky movements are reserved for dodging. Everything else (charging through a crowd of opponents, hit and fade rushes, etc.) should all have a flow to them. Hesitation is the number one cause of getting shot during a rush. If you rush, commit. Your team is expecting you to, so do it.

"Dude...this is starting to sound like a tactics article. I thought this was about training..."

Keep your shirt on...I'm getting there.

If there's an obstacle course at a school near where you live, you're set. If not, find a playground or something similar, and make a route to follow through it. Do ridiculous things such as traveling around the outside of the jungle gym rather than on the stairs. Do a bit of both. But when you're doing this, whether it be on an obstacle course or elsewhere, constantly think about pauses between different objects. DON'T pause. Commit yourself, so that when your feet hit the ground, they're already running, when you get to the top, you're already moving, when you get on the rail you're already off it, and when you're heading up the wall, you're already on your way down. Always be thinking one step ahead of where you are, and you'll never have to hesitate or stop and think.

One thing I have yet to implement in my regimen is a gauntlet. The problem is, it requires having others along with you, and training regimens are supposed to be consistent. Consistently having training partners for nerfing isn't exactly common. But regardless, I am eager to get a group together consistently during the summer to bring their guns to the local obstacle course, and take turns running it, as fast and fluidly as possible, amongst gunfire. If you get hit, so be it. Keep running. Do it right, and you'll be hit less.

5) Jumping

Vertical clearance on the jump is a huge thing in urban play. The less time spent with a hand or foot helping you get over a rail, the better. A hand or foot on a rail slows you down. If you can clear it without, you can keep that hand on a gun, and get that foot on the ground sooner so you can keep running. Practice hurdles. Do standing jumps up stairs. Whatever you want. But, as always, stretch, stretch, stretch. PLEASE stretch. Most nerfers are guys...you don't wanna hurt yourself in that area.

Stretch.

These are by no means the end-all methods for training as far as nerfing goes. This is simply what I do. Take from it what you will, and if all goes according to plan, you should be playing better, harder, and longer in no time. And everyone else will notice.