Saturday, September 22, 2012

Don't Be a Zombie Hunter

It's fun to think about Zombies--a vast shuffling horde of undead humanity mindlessly seeking to eat people and their brains.  It's scary to think that major portions of the population could be transformed into mindless killing machines by a virus or some other biological mechanism.  A sea of Zombies could overwhelm anything in its path.

Fortunately, it's a horrific fantasy!  Zombies aren't a good justification for stockpiling vast quantities of arms and ammunition.  If you are into shooting and gun collecting, that's great!  Recreational shooting is a blast.  Firearms for self-defense are a necessity in many places.  But, don't cite Zombies as your reason for stockpiling munitions.

A Group of Zombies (Photo By Joel Friesen [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Shooter Stereotypes:  The Zombie Hunter -- Another Shooter You Don't Want to Be 

There are lots of stereotypical shooters in this world from mall ninjas to cop wanna-bes. But, if you are going to enjoy recreational shooting, don't be a zombie hunter.

Recreational target shooting is a blast. It's an enjoyable pastime that combines sport, skill, technology, and history. You'll find lots of enjoyment at the shooting range, but you'll also encounter some stereotypical shooters in this subculture from mall ninjas to cop wanna-bes. But, one shooting stereotype you don't want to emulate is the zombie hunter. Zombie hunters are shooters that buy firearms and stockpile ammunition in order to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse. Seriously.

It's one thing to shoot at a zombie target or joke about zombies. But, if you are going to prepare to fight zombies, you should know that Zombies are fictional monsters. In literature and popular culture, they are dead people who animated to rise from dead and shuffle across the earth eating the flesh and often the brains of the living. They originated in Caribbean folklore and were originally the product of mysterious voodoo ceremonies and spells. In fantasy literature, they are often animated and controlled through evil religious rites or magic spells. But, in western popular culture they are often created as the result of a disease or epidemic.

Zombies are also often used as a metaphor. For the government disaster preparedness agencies, zombies are a popular stand-in for less imaginative disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist acts, or epidemics. The government believes that if you are ready for Zombies, you'll be more ready for more mundane, but serious, real-life calamities. The Centers for Disease Control and Federal Emergency Management Agency have both promoted preparedness for the zombie apocalypse in a tongue-in-cheek way to increase disaster awareness.

It's fun to shoot at paper targets that feature zombies. Some ammunition companies are even in on the joke. For example, Hornady Manufacturing makes Zombie Max ammunition for fighting against zombies. The Hornady website adds a strong disclaimer to ensure that people understand it is all in fun for recreational shooters:

Hornady® Zombie Max™ ammunition is NOT a toy (IT IS LIVE AMMUNITION), but is intended only to be used on…ZOMBIES, also known as the living dead, undead, etc. No human being, plant, animal, vegetable or mineral should ever be shot with Hornady® Zombie Max™ ammunition. Again, we repeat, Hornady® Zombie Max™ ammunition is for use on ZOMBIES ONLY, and that's not a nickname, phrase or cute way of referring to anybody, place or thing. When we say Zombies, we mean…ZOMBIES!
People sometimes semi-jokingly cite the Zombie threat when buying stockpiles of guns and ammunition. However, in the prepper (often called survivalist) world, Zombies can also be a euphemism for the vast hordes of unprepared people who during may try to overrun prepared homes during a disaster in order to steal their supplies. Instead of talking about fighting off hundreds or thousands of their desperate, hungry, countrymen, it's just easier to talk about killing Zombies. It's a convenient code phrase. It's also easier to think about killing Zombies because they are already dead.

When people buy real guns and real ammunition to fight Zombies, that's where the Zombie metaphor becomes dangerous. You have to wonder if Zombie Hunters are delusional. Zombies aren't real, but people are. Preparing to kill dozens of your countrymen in the aftermath of a disaster because they were caught unprepared and have become desperate isn't consistent patriotic. Instead of preparing quietly to defend against the hordes, your time might be better spent helping your community to be better prepared for mass casualties, displaced people, and real human tragedies during a disaster.

While guns are a fundamental tool in maintaining freedom and defending your family from criminals, they are just a tool. A more pro-active approach would include reaching out to your local Salvation Army, volunteer fire department, Red Cross Chapter, Civilian Emergency Response Team (CERT) or food pantry to ensure that your community is prepared for an influx of refugees in the wake of a disaster. Constructively helping to reconstitute civilization and civil authority in the wake of a major disaster is a civic duty. Civilization is what separates us from animals.

Zombies are great entertainment and an interesting mental challenge for disaster preppers. But, zombies shouldn't justify excessive spending on arms and ammunition. That should be justified by an abiding passion for the hobby and sport of shooting. Don't seriously try to become a Zombie Hunter.

"Government Zombie Promos Are Spreading," ABC News Health Medical Unit Blog, September 7, 2012
Zombie Max - Hornady Manufacturing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shaun of the Dead - Cricket Bats versus Zombies

I recently had the opportunity to watch the movie:  "Shaun of the Dead."  It's an understated British comedy about a zombie apocalypse.  I like the way that many in the cast don't notice the Zombie outbreaks because every commuter looks and acts like a zombie in the morning.  At any rate, Shaun and his friends find their neighborhood overrun with zombies, gather their family and friends, and make their way to their local pub to make a final stand.  It's a light-hearted take on Zombies.  However, there are plenty to zombies to whack.  But, since the U.K. has strict gun control laws, Shaun and his mates turn to cricket bats as their primary weapon.

Cricket Bat:  By Lionel Allorge (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Uncle Sam Wants You To Be Prepared for Zombies!

The U.S. Federal Government wants you to be prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse!  Actually, they want you to think about a Zombie Apocalypse and prepare your family for more likely disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.  It's just that Zombies are a lot more fun to think about!