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My kids really enjoy playing with Nerf guns. Over the past few years, the family Nerf arsenal has grown, and so have the number of Nerf gun games that we play.
Before I share the Nerf gun games we play, here’s a look at some of the favorite Nerf guns in the collection, and how we integrate the younger kids into Nerf play.
Favorite Nerf Guns
The very first Nerf gun we ever purchased was a Firestrike.
This one is still a favorite for some of my middle kids. Simon, Sydney, and Ellie prefer this one. (We have several of them now.) It’s fairly easy to load and cock, and has a cool laser feature to help the younger kids aim.
My ten year old son has really gotten into Nerf guns. He’s spent some birthday and Christmas money on them. Of his collection, this FlipFury is his current favorite. He loves that it can hold several darts, and that he can easily switch between the two.
My oldest daughter prefers this SurgeFire. She says it’s easy to load, because you can load the drum as you are shooting. Some of our larger guns require you to empty it completely and then stop and reload, which can leave you vulnerable for a minute or two.
My husband has several rifle style Nerf guns, and several fully automatic ones. Those typically jam, so they aren’t as cool as they sound. His absolute favorite is the Retaliator, which is one of the first ones we ever bought. It’s lasted through a lot of Nerf gun games!
He’s even braided a parachute cord strap for it, so he can sling it 0ver his body while we play.
I personally like just a simple pistol style Nerf gun. It’s small and easy to hide with :D. I always play with the Triad EX-3 if it isn’t already claimed.
Nerf Gun Darts
You can’t play Nerf gun games without darts! You will want a lot of them.
In fact, these are a favorite item to suggest when extended family members ask what they can get you for Christmas. They’re a fairly inexpensive gift that encourages family playtime and togetherness.
We typically buy several hundred darts a year. They get broken. They get the tops snapped off. Or they get lost. However it happens, we always end up with less than we took out at the start of a game. So, we buy them in bulk and just keep plenty on hand. We use a coffee can to store them in, and when it starts running low we open another pack of 100 and dump it in.
To save money, you can buy the off brand darts. Just make sure they are compatible with your guns. The only time we have “real” Nerf darts is when someone buys a new Nerf gun. They come with some darts. Otherwise, we order the off-brand from Amazon, like these ones.
Nerf guns do shoot different size darts. We have made a rule in our house that we only buy guns that take the Elite size. The Megas are huge and we’re worried some of the younger kids would get hurt. But, if you do have multiple sizes, you will want to keep darts on hand for both.
Integrating Younger Kids into Nerf Gun Play
For our younger kids, we start them with the FireStrike. It’s easiest to use. When they are old enough to want to play, we typically cock their gun for them and let them shoot. They have tons of fun chasing bullets all over.
We have one child who prefers to play dart collector. She uses a basket and runs around gathering shot ones and passing them out to whichever team she thinks needs them most.
We also have one child who eats the Nerf gun darts. Because of this we almost always wait until he has had his evening medication to play. He takes something to help him sleep for his sleep disorder associated with Angelman Syndrome, so when he’s tired he’s not crawling all over trying to eat the darts. Then we just have to make extra sure we pick up all the darts when we are done.
By waiting until night, we can also put the baby to sleep before we play. That way he doesn’t get tempted to eat any darts on the ground, or get hit accidentally.
Favorite Nerf Gun Games
Here are five of our favorites, with the rules we use for playing each.
Nerf Gun Game #1: Protect the Fort
As you may have guessed from the title, the objective of this game is to protect the fort. Players pick an area of the house, and create a fort there. We typically use the dining room table.
The defending team has five minutes to make it a fort. Typically this involves setting chairs on top of the table and setting up blankets. They space things just right to leave holes for their Nerf guns to shoot through.
Once the fort is ready, the other team sets out to get inside the fort. They have five minutes to breech it. If they get shot by the defenders, they have to run back to the home base (typically an upstairs bedroom) before they can try again.
However, if the attackers get shot three times, they are done for the rest of the round and sit down out of the way.
If one of the attackers gets inside the “walls” of the fort, their team wins. If not, the defenders win.
There are some fun ways to add variety to this game.
- You can set up a Nerf gun target. Then the attackers have to shoot that instead of get inside.
- You can set paper cups around the fort and require the attackers to knock them all down.
- You can change the time limit, or the number of times people can get hit.
Nerf Gun Game #2: Protect the President
In this game, one person is the president. They get a single shooter Nerf gun.
The president picks two body guards. The goal of the body guards is to escort the president to a designated location without having that player hit. They protect the president.
The other players want to stop the president from arriving. But, if they get shot, they are done.
The bodyguards are wearing armor, so they can get shot three times before they are out.
This is a fun game for the younger kids, and they love being president. We’ve had bodyguards pick them up and run with them. It’s a lot of fun.
We did learn that a time limit needs set on this one. So, we set it for five minutes typically. That way the bodyguards and president can’t just stay holed up all night. The timer forces them to act.
For variety, try:
- Changing the designated location
- Requiring the president to go up stairs or across the yard
- Change the number of bodyguards
- Allow the president to carry a larger Nerf gun
Nerf Gun Game #3: Hide and Shoot
Do you love hide and seek? It’s one of my kids’ favorites!
This variation combines Nerf guns and hide and seek.
One person is the hider. They get to select one person to defend them.
Everyone else are seekers. They get five minutes to find the hider.
This is also a fun way to integrate the younger kids. They are smaller, and can hide in some crazy places. We’ve had kids go inside of diaper boxes, on top shelves of closets, and in the cupboards. Typically, the defender chooses to go to a completely different room to throw the seekers off the trail.
If you are seeking and get shot by the defender or the hider, you have to go back to base (a room in your house) before you can set off again.
To spice this game up, you can make some of the following changes:
- Only give the hider a Nerf gun – everyone else is without
- Eliminate the defender
- Hide two people, one on each team and see which one can find the other first
Nerf Gun Game #4: Mission Impossible
This game sounds complicated, but it’s a lot of fun.
Before the game, you write down several different missions on pieces of paper. Then you cut them out, so each slip of paper has a single mission. Each person randomly selects one. And they have five (or ten) minutes to accomplish their mission. Since they never know what everyone else’s missions are, it’s a lot of fun.
You may wind up accidentally helping someone. Or keeping them from accomplishing theirs.
This one we typically play several times, and they earn a point for each mission they complete. It’s fun to see who completed the most by the time we’re done.
Here are some of our favorite missions:
- Defend the ____ room (Don’t let anyone into this particular room of the house)
- Defend ____ (Don’t let a particular person get shot)
- Shoot _____ (Go shoot this person)
- Hide (You go hide and can’t shoot your gun)
- Don’t Fire (Stay alive without firing your gun)
- Be the Last Man Standing (Shoot everyone without getting shot)
- Collect X Darts (End the game with a specific number of darts)
You can seriously write down whatever you want. You just have to take time to explain all of the missions before you start. That way everyone is clear on what their goal is.
Then, once everyone has their Nerf gun and their darts, you set the timer and go. It’s fun to see who completes their mission.
To add some fun to this game, you can:
- Have traitor missions where the goal is to sabotage someone else from completing their mission
- Hide all the missions around the room and have people go find as many as they can and then start completing them
- Limit the number of darts allowed
Nerf Gun Game #5: Alien
This is the most popular game in our house. It’s frequently selected for family play time. I’ve even seen my kids join together and play it on their own during free time.
One person is the alien at the beginning of the game. This person’s goal is to turn all the humans into aliens. They do this by shooting them with Nerf darts.
If you’re a human and you get shot, you become an alien. You must go to the alien home base (a specific room) and join the alien team.
If you are an alien and you get shot by a human, you must return to your home base before you can shoot again.
But, aliens can’t last long in earth’s atmosphere. So, after five minutes, they must retreat. If any humans remain after five minutes, the humans win. Otherwise, the aliens win.
One benefit of this game is that you aren’t out if you get shot. You are just on a different team. That makes this a good one for mixed age groups.
There are a lot of ways to change up this game. Here are some ideas:
- The aliens have a ship with technology that will force them to retreat. If the humans find this, they win. (Hide a specific “flag” or other object.)
- If the alien gets shot, they freeze for twenty seconds instead of going back to base.
- The humans can opt to hide someone to make it harder for the aliens. But…you have to decide if the converted humans are going to tell the others where that person is…
- The aliens need to find a specific item to capture all the humans. The humans band together to defend that object.
Nerf Gun Games for Fun Family Time
If you enjoy playing Nerf gun games, I hope you found inspiration here. A good Nerf gun battle is a fun way to spend time together as a family. I’ve learned that by playing games like these, instead of having a free for all shooting match, we are much more likely to walk away with everyone happy rather than in tears.
Will you be trying any of these? Do you have a favorite we should try? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.