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Dennis Seal was returning from a bike ride when he made the fatal mistake of leaving his gate open behind him. His dog tried to warn him about the intruder lurking behind, but it was too late. He was shot in his garage…with a Nerf gun.

Seal is one of 60 Lakewood fathers who have been packing heat for the group’s second annual Nerf war.

“We were given notification via email about a month ago that we would partake,” Seal said. “You don’t ask questions. You don’t say no. You are participating.”

Participants get a gun and a diagram with marked targets delivered to their door. Then the games begin.

The school grounds are off limit, but everywhere else is fair game.

“We’ve had football games, and fathers are running around behind the bleachers,” Seal said.

There was another shooting Wednesday in the Lakewood Towers parking lot as neighbor Joe Bevers stalked his prey, who works in the building. Bevers arrived in a different vehicle and waited two hours for his target to appear.

Two shots, and you’re out. Then the deceased must pay $50 for an end-of-game party.

Kills are reported online, and updates are sent to members daily.

“It’s really exciting watching every step you take and not knowing who’s out to get you,” Seal said. “Paranoia sets in.”

Kids are not involved, but they have been known to invite their friends over in the hopes that their father will be enticed to drop them off. They’ve also been used as the occasional decoy. When Bevers’ neighbor asked for his help to move some heavy objects, he smelled a rat. He sent his son over instead and avoided being shot by one assailant hiding in a closet and another hiding behind a sofa.

Hunkering down is a strategy that won’t work. Organizers draw contestants out with tickets that must be picked up at certain locations or else they will be eliminated.

The six remaining contestants will face off in a duel Thursday night. They will take 10 paces, turn and fire until there’s only one man left standing.

“It’s fun. The fellowship and the camaraderie is helping everyone get through this,” Seal said. “You feel like a CIA agent or James Bond. It’s testosterone to the limit.”


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