Blaster Theory – The Difference Between Knowledge and Understanding

Alright, forewarning, I’m going to be getting a little philosophical today so please bear with me. If you’re a regular reader of the Mod Shop posts but don’t stick around for much else, hang around today and you might walk away with a new lease on modding. A lot of what I’m talking about today is more important than the basics of drilling out an air restrictor or the specifics on disassembling your RoughCut. Instead try to think about today’s topics as one of the very fundamentals of blaster modding, but also something you could apply to almost any aspect of your life. Specifically, don’t just remember how to do something, try to understand how it works.

See? I told you we’d be getting philosophical!

After my first Blaster Theory post went live I had a couple of people dispute the idea that rote-learned knowledge is a bad thing, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. Rote-learning, or memorising facts with little or no understanding about them, is not in and of itself a bad thing, it’s just not as useful as understanding what those facts mean in a practical sense. To get back on the topic of blasters, let’s say you read a how-to on the internet on how to remove the air restrictors in a Nitefinder, and then performed the mod yourself. Assuming you were following a decent guide and you performed the modification well, you should probably succeed in your presumed goal of making your Nitefinder shoot further/faster/harder. Well done; full points all round. However, if you took the time to stop and think about what you were doing; why removing the AR achieves these results, how the catch/plunger mechanism works, etc, then these principals can later be applied to other blasters without the need for a step-by-step walk-through.

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Ever looked at the internals of a blaster and come back more like this?

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I know I mention this in practically every post I make but seriously folks, every time you open a blaster, before you continue disassembling it, spend a couple of minutes just looking at it and try to figure out how it works. What moves when you cock it? Where will the catch end up? What moves when you pull the trigger? What do all those locks do? How does the breech loading mechanism work? Most of these questions are fairly straightforward to answer in most blasters but will seriously help tremendously in both re-assembly and trouble shooting (should something go wrong).

There have been plenty of people who have badmouthed aftermarket spring suppliers in the past because they expected a plug-and-play solution and what they got required a little further modification. That’s cool, you’re welcome to expect things to play nicely out of the box, but if they don’t, don’t just throw your arms up in the air and give up. I’ve been told by about half a dozen people so far that the walk-through I made for the BT spring into an Elite Alpha Trooper had made their purchase useful again. These were people who had thrown the spring in the blaster, saw that it didn’t work, and didn’t look at what was the cause. Not to imply that our fine readership are inept, but in this instance, had they understood how the locks worked and their relationship with the main spring length, the solution would have been obvious.

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Anyone fancy a quick game of spot the difference?

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More than this however, this understanding of common blaster principles is what makes the difference between someone who can follow instructions, and someone who can mod blasters.

Ultimately what I’m trying to say here is that knowledge, and by this I’m referring to committing facts to memory, is better than doing nothing, but still pales in comparison to gaining a real understanding of said facts. By all means please follow walk-throughs where available, but always be looking for that deeper understanding. Again, don’t just remember how to do something, try to understand how it works.

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3 thoughts on “Blaster Theory – The Difference Between Knowledge and Understanding

  1. I just have to add my two cents. I get very upset with the complaints about design and after market parts. I bought a Thunderbolt pistol at a thrift store for $.99. I put in new batteries and loaded it up. The lights and sound worked intermittently and the darts went about 5 feet. I looked it up on Nerfhaven and took it apart. The switch for the lights and sound had worn out. I replaced it with hefty microswitch. I studied the cylinder and plunger. The spring was apparently a replacement and was a little too strong. The plunger barely moved even with a generous amount of grease. I looked at replacement o rings, but I really couldn’t be sure of the size. I took off the original and cut little pieces out until it fit snuggley. Then I went and removed the air restrictors. Now it is a gun. All of this required thinking. Wake up people. This not rocket science, but it is science…physics, mechanics, electronics.

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