Nerf on the turf: Garage Nerfer’s League darts into park

Participants J.D. Barlow, 12, left, and Thomas Konrad, 11, duck behind an inflatable Nerf Bunker during a "Nerf War" held at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country on Saturday, 032622. Dan Watson/The Signal

Two friends bored in a garage with a passion for toy gun blasters. Nerf-ing can go wrong, right? 

After Canyon Country residents Jake Groves, 15, and Taylor Sanches, 16, put their brains and Nerf gun obsessions together, the Garage Nerfers League was born. 

“I talked to [Taylor] about Nerf one time and he was like, ‘Oh, you’re into Nerf too?’ and it was all over from there,” Groves said. “Ideas exploded.” 

Laura McPherson, left, and Cher Carlton load their Nerf rifles in preparation for a “Nerf War” held at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country on Saturday, 032622. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Garage Nerfers League hosted a “Nerf War” event at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country on Saturday afternoon where around 30 participants battled it out in various competitions with their Nerf blasters. 

High schoolers Groves and Sanches said they started the Garage Nerfers League after coincidentally discovering they were both heavily interested in Nerf.   

Groves said the pandemic had an influence on him founding the Garage Nerfers League due to being cooped up in his house for almost two years.  

“We were both into Nerf,” said Groves regarding his and Sanches’s shared Nerf interest. “We then asked ourselves, ‘Why don’t we allow other people to get in there and provide that kind of fun for everybody around the valley?’” 

Sanches mentioned how he noticed Santa Clarita had no Nerf leagues or battles in the community despite its rise in popularity in recent years. 

“Every month or so we get together in the park, we bring all our blasters and we just have a good time,” Sanches said. 

Garage Nerfers League, event co-organizers Jake Groves, left, and Taylor Sanches give the rules for the “Capture the Flag, Nerf War” held at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country on Saturday, 032622. Dan Watson/The Signal

Groves said they created an Instagram account to get the word out and embedded a link in their bio to a sign-up sheet where prospective participants put their name down prior to the event. 

Along with their blasters and ammunition, participants were required to bring goggles or some type of eyewear to protect them from getting hit in the eye.  

“We do bring some safety goggles, but we encourage everyone to bring their own because we don’t have enough for everybody,” Sanches said. 

“We also talk about blaster safety such as making sure people don’t use their blasters in the wrong way and just being kind to people,” Groves said. 

Nerf war participants were able to engage in multiple game modes including team battle, capture the flag, and cops and robbers. Groves said they also incorporated creative competitions such as “Kings.” 

In Kings, Sanches said players are split into two teams with one player from each team anonymously being labeled as a king. Every player on both teams has an infinite amount of lives until the king is “tagged” from the opposite team. Once the king is tagged out, every player on that team has one life and the team that tags out all the players first wins the match. 

“When I say tagged, it means hit by a dart,” Sanches said.  

Garage Nerfers League, event co-organizer Jake Groves, left, counts off players to pick teams for a “Nerf War” held at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country on Saturday, 032622. Dan Watson/The Signal

Both Groves and Sanches said the reaction they are receiving from players is overall positive and it looks like “they’re all having fun and a good time.” Groves also mentioned how people have offered their help to make their league better as well. 

“People are also providing some ways we can improve it,” Groves said. “We’re really appreciative of that. We love being able to have that feedback so that we can make it even better.” 

Sanches said getting involved in their Nerfing league gives community members a unique option to stay physically active rather than going for a walk or riding your bike. 

“You get a sense of community,” said Sanches, comparing their Nerf league to other activities. “You’re playing with other people. You’re making friends. You’re competing against one another. It’s just a lot of fun.” 

The Garage Nerfers League is looking forward to planning future events every month along with the goal of keeping it free and creating more competitive events with bigger and better blasters. 

Zoey Meza, 5, prepares for a “Nerf War” held at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country on Saturday, 032622. Dan Watson/The Signal

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