Guns are serious business

I take shooting very seriously.  Partly because it’s my job, and partly because I believe that I should strive for excellence in anything I put my hands too.  I practice hard, I train hard, and in the end I want to make sure my shooting is as good as I can physically make it.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want this to be fun.  Which brings me to the subject at hand, namely zombie targets.  Some guy is upset because he thinks zombie targets make us look bad or something.  Luckily, Tam did all the heavy lifting and said the smart stuff that I was going to say about how zombie targets are largely a socially acceptable way to train against a semi-realistic human silhouette without offending the majority of the other shooters in the range.  They’re also fun.  One of the ranges I frequent has Santa Zombie targets.  You can’t tell me that blasting that jolly-old undead elf right in between the eyes after you get another ugly sweater from your in-laws wouldn’t feel good.

But the point of what I wanted to talk about is that as an industry and sub-culture, we ignore pop culture phenomenons at our peril.  Zombies are popular right now in media, and the firearms industry has a tremendous opportunity to attract new shooters by offering them the chance to do in real life what they would only do in video games or see in film – shoot zombies in the head.  This then creates a training opportunity for us in the industry as well.  Take a video game/zombie film aficionado and take them to the range and have them try to make a reliable head shot on a static target at 7 yards in less than 2 seconds.  It’s not easy, and then that opens the door for us to try and steer that person towards action shooting, professional training, and hopefully making them a life-long shooter and hobbyist.

Zombie targets are fun.  Zombie stages at IDPA matches are lots of fun.  If we constantly sit around pooh-poohing everything that doesn’t mean our lofty standards of “serious shooting” then we run the terrible risk of alienating the current youthful demographic.  I don’t know about you, but I want to still be running USPSA and Steel Challenge matches when I’m 70, but if we don’t still have a shooting culture by then, it won’t be possible.


  1. What would be wrong (right?) is having targets made up of the vampires and werewolves from that teenie boppie series, Twilight……

      1. I’d like to just find a box of the DVDs, and set them out to shoot at. That’s where you get the real “sparkles”…

  2. If we weren’t having fun, we would all still be shooting at bull’s eye targets all the time. After my “serious” shooting I sometimes love to shoot at old plastic pop bottles or milk jugs filled with water. How you set them up can demand skill. And watch a new shooter’s face as he (or she) tries it. They may shoot the rest of their lives.

      1. Would love it if more of the shooting challenges and sports had more reactive targets.

        Even the steel match near where I live is all static 🙁

        Put some targets filled with water balloons & food coloring for head shots! Anything you can knock over.

        I have a real hard time when I bring my wife to the range, and she takes a couple shots at a paper target, and says “so why is this fun?” Because, when I looked at it that directly, why is it? The biggest reason shooting is fun for me is because it is training to do more fun or important things.

        If you make more of a game of it, it becomes much more enjoyable for more people.

        Our local range had a “zombie hunt” this halloween. A flat rate got you a whole arsenal of different guns, including one that was full auto, and a guide through a darkened IDPA-style zombie stage. I didn’t make it, but it sounded like a great idea.

  3. One thing I have learned after 60 years on this big dirt ball is if you are doing anything fun , some whinea_ _
    is not going to like it and if others also find it to be fun then Whiney gets more whinnies and they try to regulate it or pass laws against it .
    So the only thing you can do is enjoy it and if they can’t outlaw it then take great revelry in it and enjoy that also.

  4. So for the IDPA zombie stages, do you use actual zombie targets and just make it an unofficial match with variations on scoring, or standard targets with scenario descriptions that are zombie focused?

  5. The first time I shot zombie targets, I was on an SF friend’s property, and he had a burn pile going at the same time. The smoke was blowing across the targets and made me laugh out loud at how fun that was.

    My club did a zombie match in Oct. with some color targets that had separate brains outside the target. The brains took time off your score, and was the funnest match I’ve shot in a long time. It’s fairly easy to get a new shooter interested in going to the range using them. As shooters, we gotta do what we can to bring new blood into the sport, or the whole thing dies.

  6. Great post man. I agree with you entirely. I feel that although video games do open up a huge incoming market to the shooting community, it also has leaves a certain amount of liability–a liability that the shooting community needs to mitigate with proper education and training, all while being inclusive and less abrasive (some blogs and forums out there are ruthless).

    I find when I take out youngsters to go shooting, it opens their eyes (and more importantly, their minds) to what real shooting is. I feel they grasp the sense of the true disciplines of shooting, mainly safety and real marksmanship.

    I applaud you on the insightful post.

  7. My 10-year old does not have the inclination let alone the discipline to hone her skills with her .22 shooting at bulls eyes – but set up a scenario where 8 zombies (disguised as tin cans) are approaching the house and she is the only one awake … now I have her attention.

  8. I took some zombie targets to a local range that has big observation windows behind the lanes. After a few minutes of shooting I turned around to see about six kids transfixed by the zombies.

    Suddenly my friend and I blasting zombies was the coolest thing at the range. What better way to get kids into our sport than to make it fun?

  9. I couldn’t agree more.

    I’ve never been successful in getting the majority of my friends to the gun range in the past. Despite whatever interest they’ve expressed in it the actual act of getting them to the range has proved nearly impossible.

    Since zombie pop-culture phenomenon suddenly they are nearly all excited to go shooting with me. Guns they previously thought were “silly” or “over kill and stupid” like my S&W MP15-VTAC are now super cool to them since it’s “all about headshots”.

    Just like in video games, it will always be acceptable to shoot zombies and Nazi’s.

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