WEST FARGO - It was 7 p.m. and nearly a score of tweens and teens were ready to get their Nerf on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
Milling about, bouncing with energy, the boys of Fargo’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ youth group doffed their jackets, grabbed their white plastic Nerf blasters, protective glasses, and yellow or blue team vests, and prepared to do let the foam fly at Tactical Action Gaming.
With a Katy Perry song blaring overhead in the converted industrial park warehouse, the boys began their first Nerf knockdown of the night, plinking away from behind barricades or standing in the open, daring their buddies to get a good bead.
“This is the best thing I’ve ever done in years,” 12-year-old Jack Berney declared. “I had more fun at Disney World, but this is the second most fun thing.”
Fifteen minutes later, the game had switched to freeze tag, and Samuel Potter was laying on the floor, waiting gamely for one of his teammates to tag him and get him back into the action.
“It’s very fun, actually,” the 15-year-old said. “I like the competitive teams.”
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Two of the church’s youth leaders were also braving the hail of orange-tipped blue darts.
Red-cheeked Joe Hoehne said that with the days getting shorter and temperatures dipping, TAG turned out to be a good option.
“I know it’s a lot of fun. They’re burning a lot of energy,” Hoehne said, taking a break by the reloading area.
The first-person-shooter workouts are courtesy of Lloyd Hoffarth, the owner of Tactical Action Gaming.
Tucked away in the industrial park just north of the Cass County Fairgrounds, TAG offers two heated indoor courses for laser tag and Nerf dart enthusiasts, as well as a large area for parties.
“It’s a great place for someone to come to in the winter time,” Hoffarth said. “Everything’s here. They just have to show up.”
Hoffarth, of Kindred, N.D., has been a master of all things fun for about eight years, renting out inflatable toys for everything from birthday parties to small-town fairs and festivals. He also has a trailer designed for video game parties, that he can haul to your home.
“The party’s at their house, but not in their home,” Hoffarth said.
Hoffarth opened TAG at 1702 4th Ave. N.W. (Door G) in June.
The warehouse condo unit, just north of a large postal service facility, provides plenty of room for gamers to work up a sweat.
Each of the obstacle-strewn "battlefields" has room for 20 players at a time, with plenty of padded cover and good sightlines for players to dodge, dip, dive and duck while firing darts or laser light during games of capture the flag or freeze tag.
Hoffarth said the facility is also popular for bachelor and bachelorette parties, and church groups and companies looking to do some team building.
The Nerf battleground can be rented for $225 for 90 minutes of constant play time, he said.
There are also open play times on the weekends for $12 an hour per person. (Parents can play, too.)
The laser tag area has reduced lighting levels, but isn’t blacked out. Nor does Hoffarth use blacklight or smoke.
Laser tag is $25 per person per hour. Players must be 8 years of age or older.
Players get a safety briefing, then select one of the black laser taggers.
Participants get real-time feedback during the game when an opponent’s laser shines on a designator.
“When they’ve been killed, they know they’ve been killed,” Hoffarth said.
Participants then have to go back to a base to regenerate their health, much like in a video game. Laser tag participants can take part in four to five missions an hour, Hoffarth said. Scoring is computer-based and the laser taggers get a workout, Hoffarth said.
Some participants have recorded 8,000 steps in an hour on their fitness trackers, he said.
Back in the Nerf battleground, youth leader Jesse Smith grinned as he took in the manic action.
“We were just trying to think of some activity that we could do in Fargo-Moorhead with the weather getting colder and we decided to give it a try,” Smith said. “I think it’s fun so far. I think it’s good for all of us.”
TAG is open 5 to 8 p.m. Friday; 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and by appointment during the week. Groups can cater in whatever food they like, Hoffarth said.
Laser tag walk-ins are welcome, though Hoffarth encourages larger groups to register online.
For more information, call (701) 850-2174 or go to fargotag.com.