As finals week ensues, many students are desperate for stress relief. Some achieve this by hanging out with close friends. Others achieve this by hitting those close friends with foam weaponry. The Davis Boffer Club offers this opportunity.
The Davis Boffer Club was inspired by the Epic Quad Battle, which occurred annually from 2005 to 2007. The event allowed students to gather on the quad and battle it out with weapons such as pool noodles or cardboard swords.
After an injury in 2007, university administrators demanded an end to Epic Quad Battle. However, a group of students wanted to continue the concept in an organized fashion that insured participant safety. Thus, the Davis Boffer Club came to life.
Club members gather every Saturday at 1 p.m. on an open UC Davis field. Participants play games like Capture the Flag, Steal the Bacon or even have one-on-one duels. Most of these games begin with a draft where captains pick their teammates.
“We operate like a pick-up game of Frisbee,” said Dustin Ferguson, Davis Boffer Club President and UC Davis alumnus. “We stay until we can’t walk anymore, which is usually 4 o’clock.”
Players are entitled to a weapon and shield during games, all of which are inspected before play.
“We have strict standards on what we consider a weapon, so we have workshops at my house,” Ferguson said. All weapons must be inspected by one of the four club marshalls before being used.
During a game, one can see seven-foot-long spears, daggers, flails, hammers, tridents, nunchucks and even a foam broken bottle. All of these weapons are constructed primarily from foam and PVC pipe. The term “boffer” comes from the “boff” sound the weapons make upon contact.
A handout on Boffer Construction Standards says that tennis balls are also permitted to counterbalance the weight of a weapon.
“We scrounge around the tennis courts to find lost tennis balls,” Ferguson said. “We are doing our part to clean up the school campus.”
During the club’s first meetings three years ago, there were about ten players. Now the club has an average of 15 players every week. One particular Saturday last year, they had around 40 participants.
Ferguson said many people learn about the club by simply walking by a meeting. While many of bystanders confuse the Boffers with Live Action Role Playing (LARP), Ferguson says they are quite different.
“In LARPing you can cast spells and shoot magical arrows,” Ferguson said. “We wanted to do something more physical to appeal to everyone.”
Boffer Club Event Coordinator and UC Davis alumnus, Ryan Mansfield[cq], said the games are something anyone could enjoy.
“I don’t think people ever out grow wanting to hit their friends with sticks,” Mansfield said. “We’re just trying to be a physical activity that people can get behind.”
Mansfield said his favorite part about playing Boffer is the surprising turn of events a game can have.
“I just love the crazy moments that happen,” Mansfield said. “Like someone jumping through the air and killing three people without dying.”
Some long-time members have grown so fond of the club that they commute to meetings even after moving away.
UC Davis alumnus John Counihan drives from Fairfield every Saturday.
“I come up here just for this,” Counihan said. “I commute forty minutes every week.”
So what is Counihan’s weapon of choice?
“My favorite weapon is the axe,” Counihan said.
While the club predominately consists of men, there are a few women Boffers and the club welcomes anyone who wants to play.
Elizabeth Faulkner[cq], sophomore biological science major and club member, learned about the group from a friend.
“I started playing spring quarter my freshman year,” Faulkner said. “I like to come every Saturday to socialize and get a little exercise.”
While the games are physical, injuries sustained during meetings have been minor. Ferguson received a “very tiny” cut above his eye after being hit in the face with a sword. Another player lost a toenail during a game. A policy condemning open toed shoes was instated quickly after to prevent similar incidents.
Ferguson said Boffer is a safe activity. Strict regulations on weapons have helped insure safety, and members must inform the club of any pre-existing health conditions. The club has even written up an “Agreement and Release from Liability” form that players must sign.
“We even have every new member duel a marshal to make sure they don’t have power control issues,” Ferguson said. “We also don’t want them to be surprised when they play their first game.”
Overall, the club serves as an outlet for people wanting to socialize and swing some sticks.
“It’s just a really fun and social thing to do,” Mansfield said. “Everyone here is friends.”
Those wanting to learn more about the Davis Boffer Club can visit the group’s table at 10 a.m. Thursday on the Quad. You can also visit the Davis Boffer Club group page on Facebook.
AMANDA HARDWICK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.