Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Zompoc 101: Prepping your Weapons Cache

In previous Zompoc 101 posts, I proposed a few outbreak theories as well as a few tips to prepare yourself a stronghold for the zombie apocalypse. In this installment, I'll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various weapons and armor you might want to include in your weapons cache.


First, let's talk about some of the weapons you might want to stock, specifically for fighting off zombies.  Unless you want to take them down using your mad karate skills, you'll probably need a weapon (or several weapons).

Projectile Weapons

Drawing on popular zombie lore, let's just say you want to go for the head shot, but that doesn't mean you're limited to guns and rifles. Projectile weapons are good, but consider the ammo. How much do you need? Can you make more? Can you reuse it? I like the idea of using crossbows. You can still take something down at a distance, you can retrieve the bolts should you need to (and I recommend that you do unless you want to make them), and yes, you probably could make more.

And, the crossbow is good for a number of other reasons. One, it doesn't take much skill to operate one. When crossbows were first invented and put into use on the battlefield, they changed the nature of war. No longer were armies limited to a few skilled archers. Instead, anyone could be given the crossbow and taught to load, point and shoot it with reasonable accuracy.

Another benefit is that crossbows are relatively silent. If you're shooting off guns and rifles, you're going to draw attention, whether friend, foe or zombie. Wouldn't you rather go unnoticed?

Regular bows might also be a good option, but only if you're already a fair shot with them or have the time to practice and get good while you have other means of defense in place.

And yes, if you prefer, guns and rifles are a viable option. I'd much rather take down a zombie from a few hundred paces away than try to fight it off in close quarters.

Blunt Weapons

Although it's great to have a good supply of projectile weapons, it's important to plan for the possiblity that some of the zombies might get a little too close for those to be practical.  That's where the blunt weapons come into play.

The good thing about blunt weapons is that they are readily available, even those things that aren't typically considered weapons (though a nice mace or battle hammer wouldn't hurt, if you happen to have one lying around). These include things like bats, golf clubs, and staffs. Even a hefty branch from a tree or a fence post could do the trick.

Now, there are a few things to consider when using blunt weapons. One, you've got to have a good measure of strength behind your blows. Remember, mass and momentum make up the force of your strike. If your weapon is hefty, you won't need as much momentum to do damage (but you'll need to be able to handle it for a while). If your weapon is light, you'll need to be able to swing it fast to get enough momentum to do the trick.

Two, you'd need practice. Swinging away isn't enough. You need to know just how close you need to be to reach your target, how hard you need to hit it, and how hard you can hit it without damaging your weapon. The practice can also serve to build up your strength and endurance, a must if you plan to battle zombies in hand-to-hand combat.

Bladed Weapons

Bladed weapons are another alternative when fighting off the zombie hordes. Like with blunt weapons, using a blade requires some measure of skill and strength. If you're lacking one or the other, not only will you have trouble taking down a zombie, you might also lose an arm or leg in the process. Practice makes perfect.

Besides that, I'd caution you to consider the traits of your foe. If you're fighting off undead zombies (like in the movies), the bladed weapon isn't going to do much good, at least not without a lot of work. Chopping off an arm or a leg is only gong to slow that thing down. And even if you chop off the head, that's no guarantee. It'll probably still try to bite you.

Still, if you choose a blade and know how to use it, I recommend slashing over stabbing for your typical undead zombie.  Bleeding out won't be a problem. If they're already dead, their blood will have congealed. Stab them all you want, they're still going to get you.

But what if you're fighting off a viral-outbreak zombie? In that case, I probably wouldn't recommend using bladed weapons if you had other choices. Most viral zombie scenarios involve transmission of the virus by being bitten or scratched, but I imagine that if you take one out with bladework and get the infected blood on you, you're more likely to join the shuffling masses. Cuts, scrapes, and even acne could could prove your downfall.

So, the moral of this story is, make sure you're skin is 100% intact before you attempt to fight off some zombies with a sword.


With a few weapons in hand, some practice and a bit of courage, you're ready to fight off those zombies, right? Wrong.

Before you run off with guns firing, blades singing and bats smashing, you might want to consider putting on some armor. Armor can come in many forms, and I'm not talking a full-sized, metal suit of armor. I hear those can be a bit clunky, incredibly heavy, and stiflingly hot. Instead, consider these options.

Leather Armor

Leather is a decent option for protection against zombies. It's tough, easy to maintain and clean, and most importantly, light weight. You don't really have to worry about projectiles or blades from zombies, just teeth and nails.

A good set of leather armor could also help protect you from contact with infected blood. Even a leather outfit designed for riding a motorcycle would likely give you an edge when dealing with zombies. Plus, you'd look awesome.

Still, keeping things practical, you could make your own leather armor. Focus on gloves, bracers (for the lower and upper arms), shoulders (in case one sneaks up and tries to take a bite out of you), shin guards and maybe a chest guard.  A helmet or such might help as well.

Cloth Armor

Don't have any leather lying around? Try cloth instead. You can use layering to make many of the same types of armor you'd make with leather. In fact, you'll probably want to use a combination of cloth padding and leather for the best effect.

Quilted clothing, like winter coats or even snow suits, can be worn as is or adapted, though they might be rough in the summer months. Go for sturdy fibers, padding, and breathability. You'll want your armor to be comfortable as well as functional.

Metal Armor

Again, I'm not talking about a suit of armor. However, you could use metal to stud your leather armor or reinforce particularly vulnerable parts of your body, like your forearms. Put some thought into it, and don't disregard the weight.

Weapons and Armor Together

As a final word of advice, you may want to practice with your weapons while wearing your armor. The extra layers will help prevent exposure from zombie bites and scratches, but they'll also change how you move. And, if you choose heavier or stiffer armor, you'll need a good bit of endurance to be able to fight for long in them.

So, choose your weapons, craft (or purchase) your armor and build a weapons cache that will keep you and yours well-protected after the zombie apocalypse strikes, but don't forget the most important thing.

Practice makes perfect.

Do you have any zombie survival tips? Share them in the comments.

This is Zompoc 101 #3 of 4. In the next Zompoc 101 post, I'll propose some ways to make life worth living after the zombies strike. Click here to read on.



A survivor's account of the zombie apocalypse

After a vaccine meant to protect against a biological weapon backfires and turns those who are inoculated with it into zombies, a young woman, having survived the initial outbreak, now runs with a group of others who stick together for safety, not that it does them much good. When she picks up a notebook in a grocery store her group is looting, she decides to begin a journal for future generations (if there are any). (NaNoWriMo 2012)

Fearless is available in ebook and paperback formats!

Fearless on Amazon.com