Not sure if you want to take the plunge into the dizzying world of the University’s 200+ societies? Don’t know your Blowsoc from your Bladesoc? The Socumentaries team endeavours to sample as many societies as possible so you don’t have to.

Soc-umentary – A factual article about a society, presenting the facts with little or no fiction. As in, ‘Did you see that socumentary about Fashion? That shit cray.’

“No, no. There needs to be a bigger gap here. You know, for people to die in.”

This is what I heard as I watched the Portland Atrium transformed into a battlefield. Sofas, stools and display boards were all taken out of their comfort zones and turned into obstacles on the Portland proving ground. What was the ensuing battle you ask? It was of course, the weekly meeting of NerfSoc.

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For those of you who never had a childhood, Nerf is a game in which people attempt to destroy their fellow human-beings using foam darts that are fired out of spring loaded guns, really really fast.

All around me steely-eyed veterans were unpacking all sorts of cool and customised guns from pistols and rifles to an automatic-spinning-death-machine known only as the ‘Overkill’ and wielded by the ‘Terminator’. I looked down at my standard-issue ‘Strongarm’ and hoped it would be up to the challenge. Safety goggles on, I was ready for war.

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The first game was Capture the Flag and the rules will be familiar to anyone who had a misspent youth playing computer games. Each team has a flag, in this case a rag, placed in their home base. The objective is to capture the other team’s flag without being shot. If you are shot, preferably in the head, you return to a dead-zone in your base and re-enter the fray upon the next re-spawn. Simples.

I cack-handedly fumbled with my bullets for 30 seconds before being shot in the face from the other side of the room.

I was on the mighty Black team, as indicated by the black rag that was attached to one of my belt-loops. As we few, we happy few, were waiting for the beginning of our 10-minute game, I was advised to stuff as much ammunition into my pockets as possible. This was sound advice as the pace was brutal and before I knew it I’d fired all of my rounds in the vague direction of the enemy.

I was advised to stuff as much ammunition into my pockets as possible.

It’s a good job I coolly reloaded, spun the chamber like a cowboy and killed five of the White team without blinking. Nah, only joking, I cack-handedly fumbled with my bullets for 30 seconds before being shot in the face from the other side of the room.

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A minute later I’d respawned and now it got serious. A tactical bound behind the sweet protection of a felt notice-board and I began to pick off the advancing enemy. It’s quite satisfying to know you’ve killed someone, even if it is only for less than a minute. You can’t help but feel like an assassin when you see your orange and blue dart hit an unsuspecting victim in the neck.

You can’t help but feel like an assassin when you see your orange and blue dart hit an unsuspecting victim in the neck.

I definitely adjusted for the coriolis effect on that one. I can’t quite claim to be the Rambo of Nerfsoc just yet though, as my crowning achievement was probably an (unwittingly) self-sacrificial run toward the enemy flag. I followed this with a particularly heroic impression of Tony Montana during which I took at least 10 darts, but the distraction allowed my team to capture the flag.

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Not only is shooting people, and getting shot at, great fun, but it’s also damn good exercise. I was quite surprised how much the running, crouching, jumping, diving and the general excitement tired me out. Good job the break-time armistice was signed and allowed me to chat to the President of NerfSoc, Finbar Deane-Stott.

He told me how a spontaneous purchase of on-sale Nerf guns led to a series of epic skirmishes with his flatmates, before he saw it as his duty to introduce the game to the University at large. Inspirational stuff. He also told me about some exciting plans for new games they have coming up, including one based on Captain America, complete with shield.

NerfSoc and it’s 100-ish members have one hell of a good time. They meet on alternate Fridays and Saturdays sometimes in the Atrium but usually in C11 (which I’m told is even better) and I think I’ll be joining them from now on.

Sam Rigby

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