When the apocalypse hits, some will be more prepared than others. For many Military, Law Enforcement and protection professionals honing their expertise beyond anticipated threats is essential. But how do you train for the unthinkable? One weekend a year, the peace and quiet of the West Virginia countryside is disturbed in a unique way, as hundreds of men and women take on a simulated Zombie invasion.
“The basic concept is that you find yourself in an apocalyptic situation and all you have to survive is what you are carrying,” says Jeremy Gray, Hesco Armor President and one of the founders of the event.
“It’s a recon-style event, meaning that once you get the safety briefing and assemble into your squads, you are not coming back to your vehicle to get more stuff. You need to think about the stages ahead of time and determine how much ammo, magazines, etc. to take with you.”
Zombie invitational’s covert nature serves two purposes; to protect the identities of its off-duty participants, and for maximum authenticity as a training exercise.
“It’s about realism. You don't get to plan for dangerous situations in great detail. Often that planning is thrown out immediately.” Says fellow event founder, known as V.
“You get to bring two guns per day, a pack, holster and belt, fixed blade knife, food, water, wet weather gear and a change of clothes. And as much ammo as you think you need. That is one thing that makes the Zombie Invitational different. You don't know how much ammo to bring.”
Even details such as the exact location are not revealed to competitors until the last minute, in keeping with a real outbreak or emergency event. The zombie theme, while fun on the surface, serves a real purpose.
“There are no hints, no plans, no help. You show up cold, ready for anything. If it rains, zombies don't care. If it's 29 degrees Fahrenheit, zombies don't care. You didn't bring enough ammo, zombies don't care.
“The other benefit to the theme is the well-known method of neutralizing Zombies. You have to disrupt the braincase… Shoot center mass at the HESCO zi3g 2019, zombies don't care.”
Competitor John Gaddy of Nemo Arms is a Former U.S. Marine Corps Ammunition Technician 2311 and Reserve Military Police Officer, is a member of the returning MultiCam Mafia team.
“The Match provides a fun competition and at the same time good training or skills maintainer for various shooters with a scenario and rules that change up a typical shooting match. It’s different every year with new stages, new targets and new scenarios in the HESCO Shoot House.”
An important part of the Zombie experience are the bonds that are formed between competitors, that in some cases span years.
“Our team is called the Multicam Mafia, named by our Squad Leader Shelton Little, a retired US Army EOD Major. The Zombie 3 gun match originally started out having squads of 10 to 12 competitors and over the years those squads are now formed up into teams of shooters who know each other as friends, Co-workers or shooting match partners.
“We have our own base at the match and almost all of us camp there. Our Squad is composed of Former U.S. Marines, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Virginia State Police, Federal Police, and a couple of civilian competitive shooters.”
“The camaraderie is incredible.” Says V.
“We always encourage people to come out and see what it is all about. So many people said they were hesitant their first year and now they have two, three, sometimes five years of fun to talk about.”
Once the threat of zombies has been neutralized, it’s time to raid for supplies. The event is sponsored by a host of industry brands including Midwest Armor, NEMO Arms, Trijicon, Otis Technology, EOTech, MTM CaseGard, Warne Scope Mounts, NOTCH Gear, Magpul, Triumph Systems, Stillwater Human Capital, KKM Precision, EAR Virginia, Shooters Connection, Dick Kramer Tactical Art, Surefire, Zombie Tools and Hesco, with many donating prizes for this year’s bounty.
“Come out and challenge yourself!” Says Jeremy. Sign up slots often sell out weeks in advance of the event, and are restricted to competent shooters who are required to complete a Range Safety Briefing and sign a Liability Waiver before competing.
“It’s a great weekend to bond with buddies that you don’t get to see often. Where else can you plan for the days of the zombie apocalypse with like-minded people?”
Find out more about the Hesco Zombie Invitational 2019 and sign up now.