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Say what you will about the zombie apocalypse, but when one does occur, will you be prepared?
Because the media worships this catastrophic event, the appeal of defending yourself against this life-threatening creature is seen as “fun.” But in all seriousness, you could die. You could get eaten alive, shot in the head, or fatally bitten, die, and slowly turn into one of the creatures yourself. That shit is far less fun.
So, to help assist us in the event of a zombie outbreak (or, to keep us better informed when idiots on The Walking Dead make stupid, regretful decisions), I spoke to Deidter Stadnyk, the main man behind Zombie Survival Camp, a weekend training camp in Ontario, Canada, that teaches survival skills in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
Deidter has served three years in the Regular force Canadian Armed forces and five years in the reserve force. So yes, he most certainly has credentials. “We’ve been in business for four years now,” Deidter says of the camp, and for the reasonable price of $300, campers have access to all of their teachings (there are six reputable instructors at the camp) as well as hearty meals and heated cabins.
“A group of about 40-50 people come up on a Friday night, where we get to know about everyone’s individual skills and interests,” Deidter says of his weekend-long, post-apocalyptic experience. “Saturday we kick off with a full day of skill-focused workshops, where you learn archery, close-quarters weapons, zomjitsu, field tactics, bushcraft, and emergency first aid/quarantine drills.”
Sunday is when shit hits the fan. “The camp becomes invaded by dozens of zombies, and now this band of survivors has to work together to set up covert outposts in the woods, sneak through the forest, and kill zombies with foam arrows and weapons. It gets pretty intense.”
So let’s figure out some important survival tactics to defend ourselves against these creatures before they completely overrun our planet during the inevitable zombie apocalypse, shall we?
1. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, Is there safety in numbers? Or is fewer cohorts better?
Deidter: A small group of 8-10 people usually works best for safe movement through hostile terrain. Large groups can be difficult to manage, especially if you’re all unfamiliar with each other.
2. What’s the best household weapon to employ if taken by surprise?
Deidter: A couch cushion. You can shove it up against a zombie’s face, and safely push him onto the floor or into a closet, buying you some more time to get to that knife or baseball bat you may have tucked away.
3. Where would one have better odds at survival: in a rural or metropolitan setting?
Deidter: The population density in a metropolitan setting is far too dense with people and zombies. You do have the comfort of infrastructure, but movement between buildings is far too dangerous. The open space of a rural area allows for maximum zombie dispersion. It boils down to simple math, really.
4. If out roaming the streets during the outbreak, where’s the best place to set up shop?
Deidter: A baseball stadium or equivalent is ideal. You have a very tall perimeter, plus a large outdoor space to grow food. If you’re stuck in the streets, it’s probably your best bet.
5. I saw this on your website and had to ask: What is “zombjitsu”?
Deidter: Zomjitsu is our customized hand-to-rotting-hand combat technique. If you are against a zombie without any weapon, zomjitsu is your final defense to create space between you and the zombie, and evade it without getting bit. Our zomjitsu instructor combines many different martial arts he has trained in, including parkour and systema.
6. Are you better off taking a defensive or offensive approach against zombies?
Deidter: Defensive will get you so far, but eventually the zombies will close in around you as any activity does not go unnoticed. Periodic offensive sweeps in and around your perimeter not only keeps the zombies at bay, but it also gives you valuable intelligence of what’s going on in your area of operations. Plus, it keeps morale up, as you get to accomplish a very tangible goal every day of killing zombies.
7. What are the best weapons to defend yourself against zombies?
Deidter: The best weapons are the ones that are easy to find, and you are already comfortable with. Something light that can be used without too much effort is also a plus. A screwdriver through the eyeball is an easy kill to get. A baseball bat is also ideal, as everyone knows how to swing a bat, so your days of beer league baseball can easily be applied to score a grand slam on a zombie skull.
8. What is the best attire to defend yourself against zombies?
Deidter: Mark’s Work Wearhouse attire is the best. A thick, industrial material that can withstand a bite, as well as have a ton of pockets on it. Put on some work gloves and eye protection, and you are pretty darn protected without over encumbering yourself.
9. What are some of the best preventative measures to be taken at your location?
Deidter: Stash some food, water and weapons at multiple points within your location. That way you are never cut off if you get separated from the main armory/kitchen. Always plan that you could get overrun at any time, so think of multiple fallback and rendezvous points, so you can keep defending your location, even if portions of it get breached. And always have an open escape route.
10. In a home, where are you safest: basement, ground level, upstairs?
Deidter: Once you take out the stairs, the top floor is always the safest from zombies. Keep some makeshift rope ladders tied off to the windows, and you can use that as you entry/exit points to move in and out safely without getting trapped.
11. What are the best foods to keep on you/stock up on in the event of an outbreak?
Deidter: Breakfast cereal. It is high in nutrients and carbs, is lightweight, and will keep your brain working in stress situations. It is also very readily available at any grocery store (usually near the front of the store). It will take at least a month before your body starts missing things like protein, fat and vitamin C.
12. In your opinion, who is the smartest in terms of survival on The Walking Dead?
Deidter: Carol makes the cold, hard decisions that have always benefited the group she is with at the time. She looks into the future and assesses threats before they come to the group’s doorstep. She doesn’t give her trust to just anyone, and is always sleeping with one eye open, which is why she has made it so far I think.
13. What is the best mode of transportation in the event of a zombie outbreak?
Deidter: I’m tempted to say bicycle, but a motorcycle will cut so much time and energy to transport yourself. You don’t want anything that’s a gas guzzler when resources are low.
14. Are you better off trusting everyone, or no one?
Deidter: I would say in the spirit of Carol, that you keep a guarded approach to every person you meet. You don’t want to be a dick to potential allies, but you don’t want to make yourself vulnerable to everyone. You can still cooperate well together without complete trust. Trust is a rare commodity in the apocalypse, and it shouldn’t be given freely.
15. You are confronted by a single zombie. Are you better off to run, or fight?
Deidter: Fight it. One is easy. Pick it off now, before it joins a larger horde that outweighs you and your team.
16. If you’re fortunate enough to pack for the outbreak, what are the essential items every survivalist needs?
Deidter: A metal pot is one thing that is really, really hard to make in the wild. Have some water containers, and some power bars to get you though at least 3 days on the move. Rat traps work quite well actually for catching small game in a rural or urban setting. Basic first aid kit with blister protection will save you after your 50th kilometer on foot.
On that note, pack lots of socks. If your feet go down, you are essentially combat ineffective. Don’t worry about small solar panels and elaborate camp stoves. Ounces make pounds, so don’t forget that you will have to carry everything you pack.
17. There’s a safe house the next city over. Word is, they have food and water. Do you risk going for it? Or stay put?
Deidter: I would send a small team over to scout it out and see what they’re about. If they are cool, and it’s just their resources that are valuable, you can negotiate a trade route with them to help supply both parties with the supplies they need.
18. Personal question: why are journalists always THE WORST in zombie films?
Deidter: Journalists go closer to danger than anyone else, in the name of getting the story. However, your stereotypical city journalist has little to no survival skills (no offense). You end up rescuing this poor sap, and all he does is badger you with interview-style questions.
19. Lastly, should you ever trust a man who’s named his weapon — a bat wrapped in barbed wire — after the deceased?
Deidter: There is nothing wrong with personifying your weapons with a dead loved one’s name. People do it all the time with sailboats. Try not to mistake a close relationship with one’s survival tool for insanity.