A new take on Nerf is locked and loaded in the Garden State.
Pups of War, located inside the Brunswick Square Mall in East Brunswick, is one of New Jersey’s greatest thrills—offering a 4,000-square-foot arena where people aged 3 and up can shoot each other with foam darts and balls. The battlefield, which includes obstacles, hideouts, fake buildings and vantage points for snipers, hosts birthday parties and open play sessions. It’s also about to launch a new adult night promotion on April 22, making Pups of War a fun time for all.
“Everyone likes to tag each other,” says Dan Hazlehurst, the company’s regional vice president of operations. “We’ll do organized games, but these kids love to do free play, where they just run around and tag everybody.”
While Pups of War is safe and fun for kids, not every Nerf blaster provided by the company is the same as the children’s toys you may have grown up with. An armory offers a massive assortment of blasters, including ones with extended ammo clips, batteries, motors and rapid-fire capabilities. Some armaments can shoot a stinging 150-180 feet per second, though those high-velocity weapons are reserved for adult nights, which feature a five-on-five tournament format where shooters aged 16 and up compete for a wrestling-style championship belt.
Don’t worry: All players must wear protective glasses, as well as non-slip socks that are sold in-house but are yours to keep. Long sleeves are not a terrible idea if you’re playing with the more powerful rifles. But if any curious adults would rather avoid the blasters that pack a real punch, they’re welcome to participate in open plays. However, Hazlehurst warns that “if you’re an adult on the field, you’re a big target” for younger players.
Pups of War’s East Brunswick location has been open since June 2021. The company also has four locations in Hawaii, and Hazlehurst, who went to Rutgers, is in charge of opening more venues on the East Coast. There are plans for expansion in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Connecticut.
“Our whole purpose is to bring communities together,” Hazlehurst says. “Family, friends, neighbors, all to come together, get off the couch, put down the electronics and get some exercise running around while having a great, safe time.
“Everyone has a blast doing it.”