The zombie apocalypse has started! The third episode of Fear the Walking Dead is just around the corner. In the first two episodes we see an attempted murder with a firearm; a search of a dangerous, dark, and abandoned building; and an attack on a student in a school.
The show itself is great entertainment (in my humble opinion) and most people probably do not believe a zombie apocalypse is actually possible. However, fictional shows are great to learn from because they pack unanticipated, low probability, and high consequence events into a short time frame and in an exciting way.
Some lessons can be learned from the show. Remember, being prepared does not mean you are paranoid. Nor does it mean you actually believe a zombie apocalypse is possible. Let us see what we can learn to be better prepared.
If you have not seen Fear the Walking Dead, AMC makes the full episodes available after they premier on Sunday night:
Scene: Search of the abandoned church/drug den by Travis. Travis knows he is entering a possibly dangerous area. He brings a flashlight, but no weapon.
The good: He brings a flashlight. If you carry, a flashlight is something you should always consider. The majority of gun fights happen in low light conditions and within 0-21 feet.
Even in sunny California, during the daytime, you could be faced with a situation where you need to illuminate an area. Whether you use a weapon-mounted light or handheld light, you should practice shooting with it in dark scenarios. Your sight picture, feel of the weapon, and grip may be affected. Practice will reduce the impact on your ability to deploy the weapon system.
The bad: Travis did not bring a weapon. From watching the episodes, we can assume he is not a concealed carrier and probably does not have weapons training.
The need to have a weapon available presented itself when he was surprised, not by a zombie, but the next closest thing: a drug user. From this we not only learn the value of carrying, but also the need to train with whatever weapon you have. We also learn that empty-handed training is valuable regardless whether you carry a weapon or not. We will see similar lessons in the next scene.
Scene: Nicholas’ drug-dealing friend tries to kill him with a firearm he gets from the trunk. Nicholas sees the weapon and takes action. He is able to fight for the weapon and the pistol discharges into the drug dealer/soon-to-be zombie.
The good: Nicholas did not want to die and fought to stay alive. This mindset is beneficial. He also tried to control the weapon and took action to do so. Even without training, by controlling the weapon and staying close to the drug dealer, he saved his own life.
The bad: We can learn from the drug dealer, too. He should have had the weapon with him and not in the trunk. It was too difficult to deploy because he had to exit the vehicle, enter the trunk, then grab the pistol. The drug dealer did not practice weapon retention. This is something to practice if you do get in a fight for the weapon. Nicholas, while wrestling for control of the weapon, should have used a distraction, this may have given him the upper hand. Not only are weapon retention techniques valuable, so are empty-handed techniques to deal with someone who is armed.
Scene: Madison (the school counselor and Travis’ girlfriend) takes a knife from Tobias (a student) in episode 1. Note: I remember thinking to myself “that’s not a knife” (in my best Crocodile Dundee accent).
In episode 2, Tobias and Madison meet again at the school after they both know bad things are happening. Tobias gets his flimsy knife back and they gather canned food. They then encounter the former principal/new zombie. Tobias attempts to stab him in the head with the flimsy knife. It deflects off his skull and Tobias loses all the advantage he had then becomes the victim, although he never gives up or stops fighting. Madison finishes Art off with a fire extinguisher.
The good: Tobias understood the threat. Tobias also carried a weapon. Tobias never gave up. Tobias was thinking steps ahead of everyone else (considering the need for a weapon and food). Don’t judge a book by its cover. When Madison needed a weapon, she used an unconventional weapon, but something that worked (fire extinguisher).
The bad: The knife was improperly carried. We know this because it was found by Madison. If you are carrying concealed, carry in a way that is comfortable and keeps the weapon hidden. The knife was inadequate. If you are going to carry a weapon, make sure you consider why you are carrying it, and what you expect it to do. If it does not meet your criteria, find another weapon. Also, if you are going to carry a weapon, know its limitations. Are you going to take a shot at 30 feet with a .380 pocket pistol or would you be better off to close the distance and take a shot that will have an impact? Finally, Madison finishes the zombie off with a fire extinguisher. This was effective, but it is a large, unwieldy weapon that is difficult to deploy quickly. It worked against an adversary that had tunnel-vision (zombie wanting to eat Tobias), but in a real-world situation, consider if you can quickly deploy a weapon or if it is something that may become a liability if you miss your first shot.
In summary, here are the lessons learned:
- Consider carrying a flashlight. The majority of gun fights happen in low light conditions.
- Practice how you will use your weapon. If you have never shot with a flashlight in your hand, do not expect to be able to do it effectively the first time.
- Learn empty-handed techniques. You may not have the time to get to your weapon, or you may not have a weapon. You always have personal weapons (hands, elbows, feet, knees).
- Learn weapon retention.
- If you are going to have a weapon, carry it where it is accessible.
- If your weapon is supposed to be concealed, do your best to make sure it is and that it stays that way.
- Know what your weapon can and cannot do. Deploy it within the parameters it will be effective.
- If you do not like what the weapon can and cannot do, get a new weapon.
- Think – all the time. Where is the danger? What happens if you miss your first shot? What can you use for a weapon that is nearby? Where are your escape routes?