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Zombie Apocalypse: the undead appear to be everywhere ... for the time being.

THE 2012 SHOT SHOW IN LAS VEGAS WAS A HOOT. SIXTY thousand gun industry folks having fun promoting their products. And the pervasive theme was, by all indications, the menace of the undead. Zombie posters and promotional materials were everywhere.

Zombie targets from Birch-wood-Casey and Champion, zombie machetes from Gerber and a host of rotting-brain potpourri littered the booths and aisles.

The most spectacular success is from Steve Hornady and his crew of sick pups from Grand Island. A lifelong fan of zombie movies, Steve felt it was time to get serious about the threat. His resulting Zombie Max ammo--originally a marketing joke in 9mm, .45 and, 223--is now a blazing success with nine (count 'em, nine) chamberings as this is written, including a 12-gauge nastiness.

Is it effective? Well, have you seen any zombies lately?

In surfing the Web from the defensive stronghold of my home, I found several zombie forums and a real surprise: The U.S. Government's Web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a page on emergency pre-paredness and response titled "Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse."

The CDCP page even quotes a fiction paper presented in Night of the Living Dead identifying the infectious zombiecreator element as "Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome."

Audiences can't seem to get enough of zombie movies. Every time I grab the remote, crack a cold one and settle down for some cable while cleaning the day's carbon off my zombie-repellent dispensers, there's "The Walking Dead" being promoted.

The concept of zombies--reanimated corpses obsessed with killing the healthy--is usually associated with Haitian voodoo and West African animist religions. But I think the whole darned thing has been passed down, generation to generation, from the Great Plague of the 1350s and subsequent pandemics of Bubonic Plague or the great syphilis kill-off in the 1490s.

Historian Barbara Tuchmann in her definitive work, "A Distant Mirror," chronicled how the Bubonic Plague actually destroyed the fabric of European civilization. Entire populations abandoned their cities to try and escape, only to bring their lethal disease to others. Sound familiar?

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I first heard the term "zombie gun" in the 1990s from a friend in Michigan. "Bug-out gun" was--and is--also a popular term. I've enjoyed using the acronym COMWEC, for "Complete Meltdown of Western Civilization." But the term "zombie gun" tells people you don't take yourself too seriously. Yes, the FAL, bandoliers and full CamelBack are serious pieces of equipment, but you're not a steely eyed, hyper-vigilant paranoid.

People who haven't seen large-scale civil unrest can c pooh-pooh the idea of a go-to, uh, zombie gun being fueled a and ready to go. But I remember having law enforcement and 'i National Guard neighbors who a struggled to contain the Watts L Riots of 1965. We could see smoke and fires from our home t in the'burbs. For a seven-year-old, it was unsettling.

Average Joes, sportsmen included, used to mock their neighbors and hunting buddies who kept things in readiness. That all changed with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The massive failure of local, state and federal governments to control the situation and the sudden evaporation of social order caused all of us to wonder, "Could that happen here? Hmm ... maybe I should be a little bit better prepared." We can always start by picking up a copy of "Shotgun News.

But' he roll king good time of the current zombie enthusiasms is that no one (except accountants) in the industry is taking this fad seriously. Yes, it sells targets and ammo and knives and other products, all of which are made to the highest standards, but at the same time it allows us to chuckle at ourselves.

Many times I've shared with you my theory that while shooting, in whatever form, is a serious sport and business, I like it to be enjoyable as well--and a healthy sense of humor helps.

The zombie fad will fade as certainly as have white-line spacers, excessively over-bore magnums and the FBI shooting stance. We'll still be laughing about it a decade from now: "Remember the whole zombie thing back in 2012?" Writing this has been work ... it feels like something is eating my brain.

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Title Annotation:ROUNDS DOWNRANGE
Author:Venola, Richard
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:May 19, 2012
Words:756
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