St. Joseph Nerf Events

May 16, 2018

Written by Rachel McCoy | Photos by Jessica Stewart


DEFINITION: Filled with or characterized by a lively energy and excitement.

On a Sunday afternoon in St. Joseph, you might see something a little unexpected at an area park. It’s not laser tag. It’s not paintball. It’s not even a water balloon fight. It’s foam warfare, and there’s a good chance you’ll want to join the fun.

Tactical Foam Warfare, or St. Joseph Nerf, offers kids and adults the chance to run, laugh and play together in a safe, family-friendly environment. The only requirement is to bring a Nerf foam blaster and the willingness to share some laughter and high-energy moments with fellow Nerf-lovers.

Tom Newby started St. Joseph Nerf in 2016 out of a simple love for having safe, outdoor fun that could bring people together. The group has grown in popularity and attendance, due in part to Tom’s enthusiasm for the game. He applies his experience as a founding force for a local LARP group (live action role playing), a separate league that promotes chivalrous battles with Renaissance-style foam weapons.

On the last Sunday of each month, the St. Joe Nerf group gathers at an area park – typically Bartlett Park – and sets up targets and obstacles to heighten the excitement. Participants assemble and the event begins, with much whizzing of darts, running, diving, jumping and laughing. Only “traditional” Nerf-style foam blasters and darts are permitted, and Tom encourages safety eyewear for all – even if it’s just sunglasses.

No high-speed, modified or ball-style blasters are allowed. This keeps the focus on fun, energy and safety. The introductory recommended age for children is eight to nine years old, and adults of any age are welcome.

“I bought my nephew a Nerf blaster and I had so much fun with it that I thought, hey, other kids and adults out there would love this, too,” says Tom. “I’m having a great time collecting gently used Nerf blasters and darts from area thrift stores so that the event can be available as a fun outlet to more people.”

Tom’s collection of Nerf blasters is extensive, and he brings buckets of foam darts to monthly events for all to share and enjoy. Donations help keep the group stocked with darts, obstacles and other elements that enhance the experience. One item Tom is adding to his collection is a set of blaster boards. These are plastic and sturdy, used in foam warfare to make a small pillar or fort to hideout in.

While the group has used spaces around Krug and Hyde parks, they prefer Bartlett Park due to the ability to keep the area somewhat enclosed and organized. The large treehouse structure at Bartlett Park has also been a focal and blasting point for tactical foam warfare participants.

“Sometimes we have kids at the park who are there for a birthday party, and they just come on over and start playing. It’s the same for adults. People are surprised at what a great stress release it is and how much fun they’re having,” says Tom. “It’s high-energy and it’s outside, away from [television, computer, and phone] screens, so there are all kinds of benefits.”

The local group in St. Joseph has become so popular that other groups in the region are popping up, including Maryville, Mo. Tom says he often sees that a family arrives with their children ready to play, and then in just a few minutes, the parents have joined in and are enjoying themselves as much, or more, than the kids.

For those who are considering giving St. Joe Nerf a try, Tom has some simple instructions:

“Bring your blaster and join us. We prefer the six-shot type of Nerf blasters so the event stays kid-friendly, and eye protection is also encouraged. We aren’t there to watch children, but to encourage kids and their parents to get involved in having some active fun outside together. It’s a new experience that anyone can enjoy.”

Tom’s wife, Samantha Newby, says the event has been a blessing to so many. “We’ve met some great people. It’s a way to make connections with the community and as a way to give back,” said Samantha. “We can be creative, inventive and enjoy good clean fun together.”


Find out about upcoming tactical foam warfare events in St. Joseph on Tactical Foam Warfare (St. Joseph Nerf) Facebook Page


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