Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Impact weapons

Kit has provided us with an excellent basic overview of weapons. Given my experience with blunt weaponry, I thought I'd expand a bit on the category of impact weapons.

Impact weapons were probably man's first killing tools, and they are still a popular and inexpensive way of subduing the enemy. You probably have a few nearby as you read this. These weapons of opportunity may form the first line of defense when the ravening hordes rise.

First, a bit about targeting. Modern martial arts folklore holds that cracking the human (or formerly human) skull requires 1400 lbs of pressure. I have always figured that was calculated at the top of the skull (the thickest part), and not at the delicate facial bones which crack much more easily. A blow to the front of the head, particularly in the eye/nose area is more likely to penetrate and damage internal structures like the brain, which is the point of smacking zombies anyway.

Another vulnerable point is the junction between the head and neck. The hollow in the back of the skull can provide easy access to the brain and spinal structures. This is a good target for attacks from the rear - and why give the dead a chance to face you anyway?

In short, aim for the front or back of the skull, not the top. That said, let's move on to the weapons.

Probably the most commonly available impact weapon is the time-honored stick. Baseball and cricket bats, hockey sticks, pool cues, and the like obviously fall into this category, but don't overlook table and chair legs, pipes, and even the clothing rod from your closet. The stick has the advantage of being simple to use; grab one end with one or both hands and start swinging. In general, horizontal strikes come more naturally to the untrained, and since zombies usually just wade in without much in the way of defense, you should have little difficulty scoring telling blows.

The next category of impact weapon is the mass weapon, or mace. This differs from the stick in that the mass of the mace is concentrated at one end. Axes, hammers, wrenches, and golf clubs all fall into this category. These require a tiny bit more finesse and strength to use properly, because wild swings are harder to recover. In other words, if you miss it will take a bit longer to get ready for another swing, due to the weight at the end of the weapon. The mace easily makes up for this minor inconvenince with killing power. All things being equal, a well-placed blow with a pipe wrench will do much more damage than the same blow with a pool cue. In order to make best use of the mace you have to let gravity to its part, so try to incorporate some diagonal or overhead blows in your repertoire as well, keeping in mind the above caveat regarding targeting.

The final category we will cover today are flexible impact weapons, or flails. Nunchaku and three section staves are obviously members of this group, but so are log chains, blackjacks, and improvised weapons like a bar of soap wrapped in a towel or a couple batteries in a sock. This is probably the most misunderstood form of impact weapon. Martial artists can do amazing amounts of damage with a flail, but in the hands of the unskilled the flail often hurts the weilder as much or more than the target. If you are not trained, only resort to these weapons when nothing else is available. In a pinch, putting a couple cans of frozen orange juice concetrate in a pillowcase is better than trying to fight off hungry zombies with your bare hands, but try not to put yourself in this position.

Take a few minutes to make sure you have a good impact wepon in each room of your house, and also in the car. Next time, we'll discuss edged weapons...