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The Aurora Sportsman’s Club, not even an hour west of Chicago in Waterman, Illinois, held its tenth annual Zombie Shoot on Saturday. With ten stages and opportunities for everyone, it proved a big hit for 210 registered shooters ranging from novices to skilled experts. One hundred twenty-five volunteers from the club stepped up to help make sure the event went smoothly and safely for all involved.

While often-windy Windy City Democrat politicians love to blame the presence of guns for the insane violence on display in America’s largest outdoor shooting gallery they call Chicago, strangely enough there were no injuries, much less deaths at this family-friendly event chock full of guns, big and small.

The day started off with a steady drizzle and temperatures in the low-60s. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of early arrivals. They wanted to shoot.


And after a safety briefing, shoot they did just that.













As the day wore on, the sun came out and people were stacked up as far as the eye could see.




One of the stages had been set up with the option of shooters to use suppressed firearms. Thanks to SilencerCo, the American Suppressor Association and the Firearms Technical Group for helping to make this happen.





There were a couple of opportunities for folks to shoot from elevated positions.


First, a pair of towers fired on targets at 200 yards.


And a “firing from a rooftop” position firing at targets from 400-600 yards, including a 600-yard headshot.



The headshot target is the bright green speck just to the right of the shooter’s muffs.

Two stages in particular offered a great time for novice shooters. The first was the “Shooting Gallery” that kids and adults both loved shooting everything from bowling pins to plastic bottles.



Lots of people took souvenir photos and videos.

Then there was the “Crazy Quail” throwers which provided shoot-till-you-drop opportunities. The computer-controlled throwers were a lot of fun and the Crazy Quail people brought four of the machines, loaner shotguns and cases and cases of ammo. The Aurora Sportsman’s Club provided a pallet of clay birds.



These were wicked fun.

Kudos to club volunteers who helped keep things going smoothly.





Todd Vandermyde, right, orchestrated this year’s event, including a lot of the new structures built for this and future Zombie shoots, as well as training and competitions at the Aurora Sportsman’s Club.

While some stages had shooters on a timer, the scores and times weren’t recorded – it was a very non-competitive “bragging rights only” event. I saw lots of big smiles and very few frowns. More than a few ladies and young folks came out to shoot, which is always good to see. Better still, the entire event was family- and novice-friendly from start to finish. The range officers/stage bosses all knew their stuff and cheerfully assisted those who needed a hand.

My first impressions from watching the shooters was that some might be better served buying less multi-cam and fancy gear and spending a few dollars on training. Anyone who can burn through a whole 30-round magazine and not hit but one or two stationary clay birds at less than 25 yards (from a supported position!), might benefit from Appleseed. Other folks tested their kits and found them wanting in one manner or another. But it’s better to learn about problems in a fun event such as this than when the real zombies are knocking at the door.

More often though, many of the zombie-hunters brought a big grin to my face, showing skill and confidence as they smashed clay bird after bird, with little or no wasted movement. Watch out, zombies. You don’t stand a chance against those folks.

All photos by John Boch.

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  1. I like seeing so many women and kids enjoying themselves shooting. Poor Shannon Watts… nobody ever smiles at her events!

  2. Yeah… I love going down to ASC for their monthly practical rifle competition and 2 gun courses. I still have a lot to learn and quite a few pounds to sweat off.

  3. Looks like a nice event, and other than the “story” behind each stage, doesn’t seem to feature anything actually zombie about them… and that is a good thing in my opinion. While we need shooters from all walks of life such as gamers, hunters, and even zombie “preppers”, ensuring the event comes off as lighthearted fun rather than training for an actual zombie invasion is important. Maybe shoot for an alien theme next “Independence Day”.

    And props to SilencerCo for sponsoring the shoot with some of their products. While it certainly has self-serving aspects to it, the more shooters we can get interested in suppressors, the greater chance we’ll get the Hearing Protection Act passed, and remove suppressors off the NFA list. Then we can focus on the rest of the NFA. Incrementalism works both ways…

    • The big push is to get suppressors legalized in Illinois. Right now, you can’t own a can unless you have an ATF SOT to deal in suppressors. Unfortunately, the bill necessary to do so passed the house and is stuck in the Illinois senate.

  4. I’m sorry, its not a true zombie shoot if you can get credit for torso hits!

    Head shots only.

    These guys CLEARLY need to see walking dead more often.


    • Ah, but I think you misunderstand the modern definition of zombie. Clearly headshots are acceptable/preferred, but destruction of the spine will also suffice.

    • As the Match Director and Walking Dead fan I can assure you I, and the others putting on the shoot understand the headshot nature of zombies. The double targets you see were Wolves and Negan’s Survivors, as we themed several of the stages around the Walking Dead show and scenes from it.

      One was based upon the wolves raiding Alexandria, so you had Zombies and Wolves to contend with. Another stages was like the raid on the Survivors that Rick’s people pulled, but instead of knives, we used suppressed weapons.

      You can go here and click on stages to see the descriptions

    • As the Match Director, and Walking Dead fan I can assure you we most certainly understand the headshot requirement. However, several of the stages were themed around scenes from the Walking Dead.

      One stage was the wolves raid on Alexandria so you had wolves, which had both target and Zombies with just the headshots.

      If you would like to see the stages you can go here:

      And it was a truly a zombie shoot

  5. Looks like a fun event. Can’t wait to read the Chicago newspaper rant about the insensitivity of holding such an event within driving distance of Chicago.

  6. I initially misread the headline as “Family-friendly Zombie Shot Just 60 Miles From Chicago.”

    Well, that’s all we need, I thought, Cecil the Zombie…

  7. So how did I miss this? Was it only for Aurora Sportsmen’s Club members? Did I miss something in the GSL newspaper?

    How do I get an invite next year?

      • Same shoot for members and non-members alike. I’m not a member and I was at the shoot. Had a blast! Actually the patch photo in the article is of my range bag.

    • One thing to keep in mind is that ASC runs a practical rifle shoot once per month (except for the same month as Zombie Shoot). It’s always a hoot and it’s a great way to practice your fundamentals in a less bench oriented environment.

      Just make sure to leave your sidearm at home. Going prone with a sidearm, even holstered, is an automatic DQ for breaking the 180. (At least one stage every month will force you to go prone.)

  8. Shooting a family-friendly zombie is deplorable! Especially when there are so many Democrat zombies out there who hate families. #deadlivesmatter

  9. With all do respect, I AM a Zombie…really! I’d appreciate no Zombies being harmed.
    I do Z-Nation. I can be seen in episode 4 last year. I was a garage harvester for Z Weed!
    This year, I will be in episode 14, a Zombie.

  10. As mentioned, Appleseed. If you haven’t been or taken a young’un do so. Took all of my kids Sat/Sun. Great weather on Sunday, fair on Sat. Excellent training (out in a hayfield). Over 350 rd fired each.

    Less expensive than anything similar that you can find. For kids is $14 (with Groupon ticket).


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