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Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse
Before It Happens
Without Looking Like a Kook

by Christine Wohlers

In today’s pop culture, Zombies saturate the media. There are TV shows like The Walking Dead, books and movies like Warm Bodies and World War Z, and countless zombie-related games and publications.

I love watching these shows, reading the stories and novels and have regular hypothetical conversations with like-minded friends on how we would survive the Great Zombie War. If you do a quick Google search, you can find numerous sets of rules to help you stay alive.

However, it occurred to me that these lists are mostly useful after the apocalypse has already happened, and everyone is frantically running around and spending all of their time simply trying to survive.

I began thinking: What could I do now? How could I get ready before the world went crazy? However, I don’t want to seem like a crazy, survivalist nut-job to my neighbors. I am a well-educated, middle-school teacher living in a quiet suburb where the biggest problem is an overgrown lawn.

And, realistically, the chance of the flesh-eating dead rising from their graves is almost zero. The last thing I need is for someone to call the police or CPS about my crazy obsession. After careful thought, here are some of the everyday hobbies any normal person might have, that can later improve your chances of survival should hordes of your former neighbors come looking for an uncooked meal.

Target Shooting

This one is a no-brainer. Bullets are an extremely effective method of dispatching a zombie, especially at a healthy distance. But as any gun owner will tell you, it is not as simple as “point and shoot.” Shooting is easy, but actually hitting a zombie in the head is much harder. There is a reason law enforcement trains to aim for the torso: the target is bigger. It takes practice to consistently hit a small target without missing.

When the factories shut down, you don’t want to waste ammunition learning to shoot, so practicing now is essential. You don’t even need to own a gun to learn. Most gun ranges have guns for rent, and ammunition for purchase.

Hitting a moving target, even a slow shambling one, can be a challenge as well. Paintball is an excellent extension activity; you can practice your aim on actual moving targets, and you can have fun while doing it.

If you do not have the time or money to invest in this hobby, there are first-person point and shoot video games that may help. Wii has the Wii Zapper and games like Heavy Fire: Black Arms or Greg Hastings Paintball 2. The PlayStation 3 has a Move Sharp Shooter for games like Killzone and SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs.

Fencing/Martial Arts

Zombie aficionados will likely agree that most types of zombies are attracted to noise. To zombies, noise equals a possible food source, and so they investigate sounds. This makes guns a potentially hazardous way to eliminate a zombie, because you’ll just bring more around.

A quiet alternative to guns are blades. But again, stabbing someone in the head with a sword is easier said than done. Miss by a tiny amount, and you cut off its ear instead of severing its brain stem. Fortunately, in today’s fitness obsessed culture, none of your neighbors will bat an eye at you taking martial arts classes to “get in shape.”

Some forms that include blade skills are Ninjutsu or Iaido from Japan, Gumdo, a Korean form, or Kali, a Filipino martial art that incorporates knife and machete skills. If you are more interested in European forms, modern fencing schools exist all over the country; epee or saber classes can provide elegant and potentially deadly sword skills.

Basic Auto Mechanics

You are going to need transportation for quick getaways or scavenging trips. While there will be millions of cars sitting around, there will not be millions of mechanics left to take care of them. And although there will be many cars to choose from, they won’t all have keys conveniently hanging in the ignition, ready to roll. You’ll need a reliable vehicle that you can count on when fleeing a mob of the reanimated dead.

Learn the basics of car maintenance — changing the tires, the oil, spark plugs, and the battery. You don’t need to be an expert; just know enough to keep a car or truck running. And if your neighbor should ask what you are doing? Blame the economy! It is usually cheaper to do things yourself than it is to pay someone else.


Whether you sew clothes for your kids or enjoy quilting, learning to sew gives you a reason to have a set of “zombie armor” lying around the house. Amaze your neighbors with your fantastic Halloween costume, which also doubles as a realistic attempt at bite-proof protection! Throw a zombie theme party and create armor for the whole family! Then, if someone notices your zombie armor in the closet, you can just tell them you worked so hard on it, you couldn’t bear to get rid of it when the party was over.


Growing your own food in a garden has once again become a popular hobby. People garden for health reasons, because it’s trendy to be earth-friendly, or because they like the taste of fresh produce. No one will think twice about a garden in your back yard. And don’t just learn how to grow vegetables. There are plenty of culinary herbs that double as medicine, since we can assume the pharmaceutical companies won’t survive the end of the world.

Parsley, tarragon and dill all help soothe gastrointestinal disorders. Rosemary can manage blood pressure and relieve headaches. Lavender works on insomnia, and can also help with migraines. Oregano relieves stuffy noses and coughs.

Eventually, survivors will find a safe refuge, pre-apocalypse supplies will run out, and let’s face it: canned food will get really boring. Knowing how to grow food and medicines will give you valuable trade goods in the new economy.

When you start your garden, make sure you research organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers. Like the pharmaceuticals, factories won’t be churning out their product anymore. You can be proud of your garden when you show it off during a back yard barbecue, and secretly content with the knowledge that you are prepared for anything.

There are hundreds more hobbies that could be useful to someone trying to survive in the aftermath of any disaster, zombie-filled or not. Camping, foraging, hunting, fishing, and archery are just a few. These hobbies can also be a lot of fun without worrying about the end of life as we know it.

So get out from behind that computer desk, off your couch, and into the daylight! Be prepared! Get those apocalyptic skills sharply honed, and avoid becoming a midnight buffet when the world is overrun by masses of ravenous monsters.

Copyright © 2013 by Christine Wohlers

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