If we're to believe some of the old timers who troll through Zombie Nation posts complaining that this "zombie garbage" has no place in the shooting world, then this past weekend's events in Morristown, Minn., should never have happened.
But the fact of the matter is that the DPMS-sponsored Outbreak Omega 5 went off without a hitch, and it's high time for folks to realize that the zombie shooting culture isn't going away anytime soon.
Touted as the "original and largest 3-gun zombie shoot in the world," Outbreak Omega, hosted at Ahlman's Guns Parts & Services, offered shooters the chance to live out their zombie fantasies in ways only imagined; shooters could blast zombies while sitting in cars and outhouses, or driving through the woods scouting for brain munchers. For a $10 fee, shooters could even fire full-auto rifles, marking the first public suppressor shoot in Minnesota.
How many other shooting events have offered Minnesota residents that opportunity?
Despite the draw for hardcore shooters, zombie haters would expect this crowd to be, to put it bluntly, nerds. Geeks. Pimply faced weirdos who spend too much time playing dress-up and not whining about "real issues."
That broad, sweeping view couldn't be farther from the truth. The crowd wandering between ranges was more diverse than one could imagine. Shooters of all ages, male and female, from different backgrounds and lifestyles -- from active National Guardsmen to non-shooters -- were seen perusing around the facility, all socializing and, for a lack of better words, just having a great time.
And boy, did they have a good time. Going all out in a variety of costumes and gear, shooters were decked head-to-toe in zombie apparel -- and were of course armed to the teeth, setting their firearms down just long enough to grill a few burgers and take a seat and share in each other's company.
That's what Outbreak Omega is all about. To the 1,200 participants who gathered Saturday in Morristown, Outbreak Omega was a chance to spend time with shooters sharing a common interest, while of course pumping thousands of rounds of ammo downrange.
It was a chance for families to spend some quality time together, and for parents to teach proper gun safety and discipline.
Perhaps best of all, it was a chance for non-shooters to get a real idea of what the gun culture is about: spending some time outside shooting and having fun doing it. And if it takes zombies to get folks out to the range, what's there to complain about?
Let's be honest: The zombie culture is no different than the Cowboy Action circuit. From shooting at humanoid targets to living out one's own fantasies, the two cultures almost mirror one another. That much was crystal clear when the two cultures were fused together Saturday, Ahlman's usual cowboy-styled ranges being transformed to host the living dead. The scenery fit the motif perfectly; old-style, ghost town signs and sets, haunting and abandoned, crawling with the infected, undead remains of the recently departed.
Yet for some reason, one culture is considered more legitimate than the other. To some, a shooter decked out in tactical gear with a patch reading "Zombies Suck" is frowned upon, while one wearing chaps and a Stetson hat is more acceptable.
Why is that? Just because one doesn't fit the tastes of a few individuals, why is it viewed as nonsense, even when it's bringing in people who may not have even held a gun in their lives? You can claim that anti-gunners will use zombies as fodder against the community, when in reality anyone that vehemently opposed to guns will use anything as fodder against shooters; so why oppose a fun, positive sub-culture that's reaching out to non-shooters just like cowboy scene continues to do years after it began?
And just like cowboys, zombies have been a part of pop culture for decades. The first full-length zombie film, White Zombie, was released in 1932. In the '60s, George A. Romero set the standard for modern zombie movies with his undead manifesto, Night of the Living Dead. Video games in the '80s were the first to give young zombie hunters the chance to eradicate brain-munchers, and only in the last couple years have shooters gotten in on the action. If zombies have been around for 80 years, what's going to stop them now?
When Outbreak Omega 6 rolls around, I encourage you to actually get out and have some fun. Otherwise, you're going to be awfully exhausted railing against a craze that shows no sign of slowing down.