How Do Laser Tag Guns Work?

Would you run away if someone is trying to hit you with a ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’?

Yeah, I probably would do too! Unless we’re playing a laser tag game and ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’ is just a more impressive way of saying LASER!

When was laser tag invented?

Can you imagine that the idea of the laser tag game was probably inspired by the electronic phaser guns from the Star Trek movies?

In 1979, the first phaser gun toys that used infra-red lights were already on the market. And soon in 1982, a man named George Carter III started working on the idea of an arena where people would use laser guns and target sensors to play a game.

George Carter III and his Photon Gear.png
Photo of George Carter, III taken by Roger Wilco Agency – http://ro.gerwil.co, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The first game was held in Dallas, Texas, in 1984 and the first laser tag guns were available on the market in 1986.

Nowadays there are laser tag arenas everywhere. Actually, you and your friends can buy yourselves a laser tag kit and enjoy playing anywhere!

Game Kit

Now that you know some background info about the laser tag game, we can start to get to the more interesting stuff.

A typical laser tag consists of a laser gun (also called a phaser or a blaster) and sensors, which are usually placed on vests or headbands.

The Idea of The Game 

Each player gets a laser tag gun and wears a vest or a headband with sensors. All you’ve got to do is hit your opponent’s sensors and protect your own from being hit or - as players like to call it - ‘tagged’.

There are several game variations that you and your group can choose to play, and thus you have to decide all the rules of that particular game beforehand.

How Exactly Do Laser Tag Guns Work

As you probably figured, the laser tag guns are the centerpiece of the game, but what you might not know is that they usually don’t use ‘actual’ lasers, surprise! Instead, they use invisible infra-red beams of LED. 

Mechanism of Action

What happens is that the infra-red transmitter on the toy gun emits a collimated beam of light that’s directed towards your opponent’s sensors located on their vests/headbands. The infra-red receivers on your opponent will absorb those rays and use optical filters or modulation detection, announcing your victory!

Too complicated?! Well, you can skip the physics lesson. All you need to know is that this light is safe enough for children above 7 years old to play with, and it doesn’t hurt the eyes.

Tips to Keep In Mind

The laser tag gun has a heat sensor on the bottom, meaning that it won’t fire until your hand touches it. So, you’ll need both your hands to be gripping the toy gun to be able to fire.

Also, in close-range shootouts, keep your distance to avoid collisions. Although the toy gun won’t shoot in the first place, it’s always better to play it safe from the start, right?

Some Cool Features

The design of the toy guns are made to impress people of all ages, so expect all kinds of cool shapes and colors, without worrying about the weight because they’re often designed to be lightweight and easy to use, yet at the same time durable.

The laser tag guns have a pretty wide range, so you can play with them anywhere you desire.

Although most arenas are built as dark rooms with black walls or separating/hiding blocks, it’s also possible to play outside in daylight. However, the laser tag gun range is somehow limited in sunlight.

It’s important to know that the laser tag guns are supplemented by computers, radios and sound systems to add exciting vibes to the game and announce who’s hit, who’s out and information of that sort to keep everyone on their toes.

Safety Precautions

Each arena offers players its unique instructions and precautions lists, but some of those regulations are the same.

Let’s take a look at the general precautions:

  • No running or climbing on objects is allowed
  • No pushing, grabbing or hitting your opponent
  • No physical contact is allowed to prevent injury
  • No lying down on the floor to hide or escape from an opponent
  • Try not to drop the laser tag gun or any of the equipment to avoid their ruining, breaking and/or malfunctioning during the game
  • You can call for help anytime during the game if you don’t feel alright for any reason so that necessary actions can be taken as soon as possible
  • Inform the responsible personnel of any health issues you have (heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, etc.) beforehand, so they can keep an eye on you during the game. 
  • Follow the precautions at all times for your own safety

Concern about the laser tag safety? Here's our detailed guide!

Wrap Up

Laser tag is a super cool and safe game that you can enjoy anywhere with your friends to challenge your wit, reflex, teamwork skills, perseverance and much more.

It’s also one of the fastest ways to know who’s got your back! 

Next time you meet people who bug you at work/school or those annoying people who keep stealing our pens and never give them back (we know you!), challenge them for a laser tag game, gather your BFF squad and take your revenge by tagging them all!

You’re welcome.

  • Updated September 4, 2019
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