Perhaps as a tribute to the timeless nature of the sword, the Worcester Fencing Club began as a small class held at the Higgins Armory Museum, a collection of arms and armor from medieval Europe and beyond. There, Doug Jacobs—a United States Fencing Association–certified instructor—began imparting his knowledge to a handful of students, giving them a small taste of the age-old sport that, over the years, had become unfairly associated with bullies popping balloons in the streets. Still, many of his students wished to extend their training, and—upon a suggestion of the mother of some of his students—Doug expanded his academy in 1998, forming the Worcester Fencing Club. Today, the school continues to draw fresh blood, introducing students of all ages and experience levels to modern- and Olympic-style fencing in classes still often taught by Doug himself.
A player crouches and duck walks toward the base of an uprooted tree, stepping judiciously to avoid crunching the fallen leaves and pine needles that might give his position away. In the dense woods, an opponent could be mere feet away, perhaps lurking behind a nearby rock wall. Fox 4 Paintball's 34 acres span both wooded terrain and fields designed with inflated bunkers. In addition to supervising the grounds' public play, referees oversee special mission-based scenario games, which are designed after action films such as Ice Station Zebra and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Beyond the fields, Fox 4's facilities encompass a snack stand and picnic tables where players can enjoy any refreshment they bring, barring alcoholic beverages and whole roasted mastodons.
Tires squeal and a 15-horsepower engine hums as its driver cuts through a narrow turn, shaving fractions of a second off the lap. Below the track, a colorful golf ball winds through faux island trees, avoiding walls and stops on its way to an awaiting hole. It's another day at Tri-State Speedway, a multileveled family entertainment center littered with motorized fun for patrons of any age. The upstairs, 22,000-square-foot go-kart track hosts competitive races with karts calibrated for speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. A walk downstairs leads to the island-themed, 18-hole mini-golf course nestled among a large video-game arcade, bowling lanes, bumper cars, and billiard tables. When fun gives way to hunger, Drafters Sports Cafe's servers and cooks serve finger-friendly pub bites, ice-cold beer, and paper napkins fashioned from losing basketball brackets.