Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Zombie Weapon: The Crossbow

No one can deny the efficiency and the effectiveness of firearms. They make excellent weapons against both zombies and humans. However, they also present an incredible risk to someone on the run. A single gunshot can alert every zombie for miles of your presence, causing them to converge on your position.
Melee weapons pose other risks. Obviously, hand to hand combat is risky, even if only against a single zombie. One false move and instead of a quick, clean decapitation you might find yourself fatally bitten. Less obvious is the zombie's moan. Zombies tend to moan when they sense prey, and this moan can alert other zombies just as effectively as a gunshot.

So, what's your average civilian, who would not have easy access to a sound suppressor, to do in such a situation? One possible solution is a crossbow.

A modern hunting crossbow is almost as effective at destroying a zombie as a rifle, while having the advantage of almost complete silence. They are as easy to fire as a rifle, allowing for a quick clean headshot without alerting anyone, zombie or human, to your presence. Their ammunition is also reusable, if you have the time to retrieve and clean the bolt.

However, the crossbow does have some rather severe limitations that make it ineffective as a primary weapon. First and foremost, each shot has to be individually loaded by hand, an arduous and time consuming process. Though very effective at dispatching a single zombie in silence, the process is very inefficient. Against multiple zombies you may well be forced into using firearms or melee weapons anyway.
Another issue is it's size. A hunting crossbow, though often made of lightweight materials, is still a large and bulky piece of equipment. It's awkward shape also makes it difficult to carry on a pack. The bolts (arrows) also take up much more room than a similar quantity of rifle ammo would, meaning that you can't easily carry as much ammunition. More importantly, a crossbow would have to be carried in addition to a standard firearm, since just a crossbow is not enough for a sizable zombie threat. That means that the crossbow, bolts, and all necessary accessories, are extra gear, and as any camper or backpacker will tell you, ever ounce you carry on your back matters.

Ideally, one member of a 5-7 person team should carry a crossbow or similar silenced weapon. Another member should carry the ammunition in an easily reachable location. That way the crossbow can be used as a team, if need be. One person shoots, the other feeds ammunition and spots, much like a pair of hunters or a military sniper team. This will help the shooter reload more efficiently, while having someone else to guard his back. This arrangement slightly reduces the encumbrance to individual members of the group and would slightly increase efficiency of use.

A crossbow's uses are somewhat limited, but it does have its niche. The simplest one is taking out a single zombie threat while maintaining stealth. If, for example, a group is moving through a city or town, and encounters a zombie, a gunshot might bring every zombie in the neighborhood down on them, quickly trapping them. They might use a single, well-aimed crossbow shot to kill the zombie before it notices them. Then, just as quickly, the move on.

Similarly, a group of zombie survivors hiding out for the night or laying low might need to dispose of a zombie that has wandered too close without giving themselves away and being forced to move.

A crossbow isn't the perfect weapon by any means. In fact, when on the move, it's often just a dead weight. Still, don't count it out. When the situation calls for a single, swift, silent kill, a good hunting crossbow can deliver.


  1. Hello,
    What would be the pounds in strength of the crossbow to pierce a Zombie's skull to effectively neutralize? Please bear in mind the weapon should not cause the operator fatigue when combating Zombies in a surprise attack or ambush. Weight, Effectiveness and portability are lifesaving choices.