As a kid, I was a huge fan of B-grade horror movies. Truth is, I still am, to my family’s occasional exasperation. As time has gone by, my enthusiasm for creepy mansions and mad scientists has been tempered by the mundane demands of reality — but it has never really gone away. So unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably know you’re going to read an article about … what else? Zombies. But before you scroll down and vote “awful” and cancel your subscription to the Personal Defense Network, hear me out. They say that politics makes strange bedfellows — and as defensive-minded gun owners, we may find these mythical flesh-eating ghouls the best friends we’ve had in a long time.
Let’s start with the obvious: zombies are everywhere. They’ve permeated every facet of our popular culture, from books and graphic novels (adult comic books) to movies and TV shows. They appear on boxes of breakfast cereal, clothing of every description, and even bottles of beer. Charitable organizations have tapped into the power of the undead, hosting “zombie walks” where people dress up as shambling corpses and give canned goods or cash donations for the privilege. Across the country, including here in small town Ohio, local officials have used zombies to conduct emergency management training for their first responders. Masses of locals volunteer their time to portray the undead, and everyone ends up better prepared and more knowledgeable about their local civil emergency readiness.
Benefit #1: Disaster Preparedness
Even our federal government has been bitten by the zombie bug. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response has an internet blog about zombie attacks in which the director of the CDC is quoted: “If you are generally well-equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack.”
Which is, of course, the first benefit of zombie-mania: It is a widespread and mainstream phenomenon. Those of us who are active at our ranges and in our communities should tear this page out of the CDC’s playbook and use the zombies’ popularity to get a conversation started about disaster preparedness. The CDC and FEMA, along with scores of agencies at the state and local levels, offer advice about assembling disaster survival kits and planning for emergency conditions.
These entities, of course, leave out the part about defending you and yours with a firearm. Many of us gun-types are ahead … probably way ahead … of the curve on this, but our non-gunning friends and family likely aren’t. The larger topic of preparing for a natural disaster or civil unrest is a logical way to introduce the benefits of training and ready access to arms. This could be of use if the given audience is not particularly predisposed to firearms ownership. Remember that it is the conversation that is important, not the silly gimmick that got it started.
Benefit #2: Hot Sellers
The second big benefit of the current zombie craze is more subtle and perhaps a bit self-serving, at least on the surface. Interest in zombies and a coming zombie apocalypse has created an interest in the development and marketing of zombie-related products. Examples abound at the local range and gun shop:
Hornady ammunition hit the ground running with their Zombie Max line, pretty much a repackaging of their premium self-defense and varmint-hunting products. L3 Communications offers a special version of their excellent EOTech weapon sight sporting special zombie markings. It even uses a holographic bio-hazard symbol as an aiming point instead of their signature circle dot reticle!
Mossberg has brought out an entire line of anti-zombie firearms that includes several models of shotguns. There is even a highly specialized version of their model 464 lever-action rifle complete with accessory rails, optics mount and collapsible stock.
And of course, there are zombie targets. Dozens of vendors large and small have introduced zombie-themed targets of all descriptions, and at many ranges they’re top sellers. In fact, there is a fine little company producing an innovative line of reactive three-dimensional targets for training and recreational uses. Their name? Zombie Industries — check ‘em out.
Now you may be saying … so what? These companies are jumping on the bandwagon and making a quick buck on this stupid zombie craze. In the small picture, maybe so. But think of it this way: Hornady, Mossberg, L3 Communications (EOTech) and Zombie Industries are American companies that have a vested interest in the continued success and growth of the shooting sports. The more established firms have track records of putting their money where their mouths are and supporting the Second Amendment and the hunting heritage rights of all Americans.
In other words, your fight is their fight. This is an election year and I am of the opinion that the coming months are going to be very important to a lot of people in a lot of ways. So for me, when I load a round of Hornady Zombie Max, aim through a bio-hazard EOTech, or shoot some kind of zombie target, I am voting with my wallet and having a hell of a lot of fun at the same time!
From a training perspective, is my readiness actually degraded by the occasional use of a zombie target? Does the process by which I orient on the threat and execute multiple combat-accurate shots to the high center chest change if my target is a photograph of a terrorist, a bottle-shaped humanoid shade, or a graphic cartoon zombie? I don’t think so.
Let’s look at the bottom line. If you are searching for a way to interest friends or family to become involved, learn about guns and their role in home and personal defense, these unpleasant zombie characters are a great way to do it. If your range or gun club is looking for new members or to create a little positive publicity, try a zombie-themed event. Here at Black Wing Shooting Center, we’re gearing up for our third annual Zombie Hunt. A little imagination and some homework are all it takes. That’s why I’m talking about it now, so start making your plans today. We’ve got some surprises up our sleeves at Black Wing Shooting Center, and Zombie Hunt 2012 will be the best ever.
Also, if you’ve been walking past those stupid zombie posters on your way to the B-27 silhouette target, may I humbly suggest you give it a try? It absorbs bullets as well as any other piece of paper, and just maybe breaking up that familiar shape can have some value.
Finally, what to do if the zombie apocalypse actually comes? Me and mine are headed straight for Capitol Hill … because nobody would ever go there looking for brains…