• UO Guide: The Perfect Snowball Fight

    From taking cover with your team behind a snowy embankment to every-man-for-himself battles under the flurries, we teach you how to have the best possible snowball fight when the temperature drops and the snow starts piling up.
    Illustrations by Rachel Maves

    It's time to grow up and get over the notion that snowball fights are just for kids—because that's completely wrong...and boring. When the snow starts coming down and filling up the streets and backyards, there's always an ounce of hope in everyone that school or work will be cancelled that day. Well, what better way to have fun, socialize, AND get some exercise than pelting your friends in the chest with a handmade snowball? Answer: there is no better way. So when the temperature and precipitation start dropping, grab a group of friends and show off some of these life-changing (for the best) snow throwing skills.

    There are no real regulations to a snowball fight, nor are there any referees to make sure everyone is playing fair. Everyone should use common decency (no dipping snowballs in freezing water, people!) So whether you want teams or every man for himself, that's up to you. But regardless, there are a few things you should master prior to dodging little white ice balls buzzing by your face.

    Taking Cover

    "Your best offense is a good defense" is something that stands true even with snowball fights. No matter how good you are at making, throwing, and dodging snowballs, your best friend will be a large embankment of snow that's ideally taller than you are while kneeling. This is also what makes snow plows good for more than just clearing streets. An easy playing field for a fight could be as simple as having each team stationed on both sides of a freshly plowed street. Plenty of snow and coverage.

    Behind said embankment is also a great place for a designated snowball maker to chill out and replenish ammo when it's starting to run low, or to continuously make them and hand them off to the better throwers. Either way, some coverage is a necessity for snowball fights to last longer than a few minutes, letting people recharge when they get tired, and avoid getting hit for at least a little while.

    Making the Snowball

    Perhaps the most important part of the snowball fight is the actual snowballs. Not everyone needs to be the perfect maker, but at least one person on your side should be somewhat of an artist at it for your team to have any chance of coming out on top. There is in fact an art to it, but you need the right materials.

    Start by looking for snow that's not too wet or too dry, but just right. The colder the temperature, the lighter and airier the snow is. The warmer the temperature, the wetter and slushier it will be. If you attempt to throw a snowball made from the light stuff, you'll end up with both a cloud of snow and laughs back in your face after your creation turns to dust before your eyes. If you attempt the same thing with the slushy stuff, which in turn freezes and becomes an ice ball, well, you'll have some pretty hurt and mad opponents. The best raw material will be just below the surface of the fresh snow, where it has had time to warm a bit, but also has the weight of the fresh stuff packing it down some. Reach for this immediately.

    Now this is where the true snowball artist shines. First off, mittens will definitely keep your hands the warmest, but give you little control over shaping. Gloves will do you one better, allowing all five fingers to help rotate the ball in an even manner. But for the exceptional artists out there, the best ones are made gloveless—but we can't promote that unless you're trying quickly to make something of perfection.

    Regardless, you'll want to dig up just enough snow to fit in both of your hands in a cupping form, and packing the snow gently as you turn it with your dominant hand (clockwise if you're right-handed, and counter clockwise if you're left handed). Each time you pack it after a turn, you'll want to increase packing pressure up until it can not be compressed any further. Then either hand it off to a teammate, or find an opponent, aim, and launch away.

    Warming Up

    We feel this goes without saying, but nothing caps off a day spent in the snow like getting home, putting some dry clothes on, cozying up under a blanket, and drinking a nice cup of hot chocolate—with marshmallows of course. And then plot out how to have an even better snowball fight tomorrow.

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