A zombie shuffles through the village of Fort Langley during a previous Halloween-inspired event. File photo

An old-fashioned approach to fighting zombies at historic Fort Langley

How to use black powder muskets and other fur-trade era survival skills to combat the undead

There are certain challenges to fighting the undead with a black powder musket, Nancy Hildebrand says.

For one, thing it takes around a minute — if someone is an expert — to load and fire a musket.

It’s a process that requires multiple steps, including measuring, then loading gunpowder and using a ramrod to load the metal ball that serves as a bullet.

“And sometimes it misfires,” notes Hildebrand, a Parks Canada public relations and communications officer.

Just in time for Halloween, the Fort Langley historic site at 23433 Mavis Ave. is presenting “A Survivalists’ Guide to a Zombie Apocalypse,” an adults-only course in battling the undead, using skills from the fur trade era such as musket-firing, wilderness first aid, fire-starting, and blacksmithing.

Hildebrand says in most zombie stories, civilization has broken down and survivors end up seeking refuge behind barricades, like the sturdy log walls of the fort.

“It’s on high ground,” Hildebrand says of the recreation of of fur-trading fort. “It has big walls.”

The event is inspired by movies like Dawn of the Dead and games like Plants versus Zombies, Hildebrand says.

“Some of the staff (at the Fort) are big fans of those kinds of movies.”

There won’t be zombie performers, however.

The idea is to provide a slightly different and entertaining angle on the survival skills that people had to employ back when the fort was the centre of the fur trade on the west coast, Hildebrand says.

“We’re trying to do a variety of activities that appeal to different demographics.”

READ MORE: Summer is in full swing at historic Fort Langley

READ MORE: Undead come out to play for White Rock Zombie Walk

With the event, Parks Canada joins a growing list of government agencies that have used the notion of a zombie apocalypse as a form of public education.

On the B.C. government website’s emergency preparedness section there is a page devoted to zombies that offers an “arsenal of zombie preparedness tips,” that would also be valuable in other less far-fetched emergencies, tips like ensuring your gas tank is always at least half full and having emergency kits for your home, office and car.

The “Zombie Preparedness” page at the website for the U.S. Center for Disease control and prevention says it started as a “tongue-in-cheek campaign to engage new audiences with preparedness messages (that) has proven to be a very effective platform.”

Junior officers in the US Department of Defence once created a plan for a military response to a zombie invasion as a way of learning strategic planning (it’s been said that some conspiracy theorists think it might be real).

As for using retro weaponry against the undead, the zombie.wikia.com “zombiepedia” says there is, sort of, a case for black powder muskets and pistols.

That’s because when modern technology breaks down during a zombie apocalypse, the ammunition for muskets would be easy to manufacture and the guns fire higher calibre rounds with greater stopping power than their modern counterparts.

But after weighing the pros and cons, the page concludes that muskets have “critical disadvantages that make their use in any situation (even as a last resort) a highly questionable affair.”

Tickets for the Sept. 29, 6 p.m. zombie event at historic Fort Langley are$43.94 (with service fee) and can be purchased online at https://zombienight.brownpapertickets.com.

The event is listed as non-smoking and wheelchair accessible, but not kid- or dog-friendly



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

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