The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 2: What kind of Zombies are we talking about?

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Just what are we dealing with here?

Jonathan Glazer, 17 July 2015

The available information on zombie outbreaks has, unfortunately, been unclear regarding the exact nature of the threat. Of course we all know they are humanoid in appearance. They look somewhat like us. They walk on two legs, if they have them, and they are not friendly. Beyond that, there is disagreement about some of the variables. Are they fast or slow? Early zombies, as depicted by George Romero were slow ambling creatures that gradually made their way to you only to rip you to shreds in the course of eating your innards. The idea was that as they decomposed, their ability to make athletic use of their muscles was seriously compromised. More recent depictions show them as fast moving predators that run at full speed and do not tire. I find this a terrifying concept. The British versions endorse this by introducing zombiism as a virus which causes the infected to virtually explode in a rage fueled by overproduction of adrenaline.

Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle. A mixture of faster moving creatures supplemented by slower moving elements seems to fit more with the evidence. Preparing to engage only fast movers or slow movers is not a great mindset to use when embarking on training as you might be caught short once action begins. Not coincidentally, this kind of element is also quite similar to what you might expect to encounter in any other kind of social upheaval scenario. Always remember that if you are prepared for a zombie outbreak, you are prepared for almost anything else.

Zombie-Hand-psd96257What is it that zombies want? Why, to eat us, of course. Silly question? Perhaps not. Even here there is disagreement. I want to come out strongly regarding one of the commonly misunderstood goals of the zed. They do not want to eat only our brains. That is a fallacy generated by one series of comedic movies. If they are going to start snacking on living (or recently departed) people, they treat us as an all you can eat buffet. Regardless of whether you feel they truly want to consume humans, the ultimate outcome for any of us in terms of the worst case scenario is our demise. And once again, this is true of most survival situations in a post-apocalyptic world or region. In the absence of police or any other civil authorities to protect us, the predators among us will resort to primal ways of satisfying their needs. Got a couple months of food in your cupboards? Scavengers who haven’t had a square meal in weeks are not prone to ask to share your provisions. They are more likely to liberate your food and leave no one around to try and liberate it back from them. If you think you can give handouts to someone who is on the verge of starvation and expect them to turn around and go elsewhere, think again. They will want everything you have and then some. Once hunger comes calling, your life is not worth anything to someone who feels they are fighting to preserve their own life.

The next topic for considerations concerns how they can dispatch us. Everyone knows that zombies don’t use tools or weapons and as such, will rip a person apart using hands and teeth. These are potent weapons, even for a still living adversary. At contact range, one must have a means of defending oneself, whether it is use of edged weapons, firearms or empty handed combat. Current thinking is that a bite from a zombie transmits their virus to us causing us to shuffle off our mortal coil and become one of them. Even if this is not true, you do not want to be bitten by man, zombie, poodle or gerbil in a world with no Emergency Rooms, Antibiotics or sterile battle dressings. Infection has killed more soldiers than bullets in warfare since time began.  Keeping from being bit is always a good idea. Just keep in mind that contact distance is not your only danger zone. Just as in any time of civil upheaval, the biggest threat during a zombie outbreak may not be the undead. We are more in danger from the other frightened or not so frightened people who are trying to survive just like us. The survival instinct, as I mentioned previously, will turn normal nice people into warriors capable of killing you from long distance, if they happen to know basic rifle marksmanship. Your preparations need to be made with this in mind. That means stealth, cover and concealment will always need to be part of your training and planning.

Finally, I feel we need to talk about how we dispatch them. Separating the Brain from the body is generally accepted as the only way of ending the attack. Does this mean we should only concentrate on head shots while practicing at the firing range? The answer to this one is less clear and involved being flexible with regard to your target. We have all seen what happens when someone insists on shooting center of mass on a zombie, which keeps on coming. The poor hapless victim eventually gets bitten and one of the heroes will cap the zed in the head, ending the attack but leaving the survivors with a newly bit human who is now interviewing for the job of flesh eater. Think this is only relevant for attackers who are no longer living? What happens if a human attacker is wearing level IV body armor? Those plates will soak up a lot of hardball and the bad guy can still present a threat. Just ask the cops who were present at the North Hollywood Bank Robbery where perps in body armor soaked up hundreds of center mass hits and they still kept on shooting. Always be flexible. Most training involves shooting to center mass and that probably shouldn’t be changed. If you score a few in the ten ring and that sucker isn’t dropping, perhaps you need to pick a new point of aim on the target. Switch to the head if needed. Just be flexible and shoot where you need to shoot in order to end the threat. One of the North Hollywood bank robbers was brought down with multiple shoots to his ankle under a car.

We covered a lot of ground in this discussion. I am sure some controversy was generated. That is a good thing. The more we keep the information flowing, the more we help to protect the still living.


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