Here's a new one for you. An introduction to handguns course, set against a fictional backstory of a zombie outbreak in Los Angeles. Chris Costa, real life firearms instructor, tells the story of his fictional deployment and survival in the aftermath of the zombie outbreak. We're watching a "training program" that's being taught in case of a future zombie apocalypse. That's Operation Z Volume 1: Introduction to Handguns.
This isn't a joke either--the zombie apocalypse is taken very seriously; Costa does an impressive job weaving in stories of dealing with infected in with his firearms instruction, and there are survivor interviews and "found footage" interspersed between different segments of the training.
Costa also addresses firearms considerations that are specific to a zombie outbreak or other apocalypse - for example, they train on an eclectic mix of guns, ranging from a Walther P-22 to a reproduction Schofield revolver; he goes over recommended familiarization procedures for a "found' weapon, and, of course, headshots are covered.
The trainees are all beginning shooters, and the DVD is definitely at an introductory level. Of course, with shooting, fundamentals are most everything, and a refresher is useful for even advanced shooters. We're talking stuff like the 4 rules, grip, stance, sight alignment, trigger control.
It's the first time shooting for many of the trainees, and it definitely shows--at 7 yards, on an 8-inch target, with plenty of coaching and even hands-on from Costa, most of the shooters really struggle to get hits. A wake up call to any new/non-shooters that think they can just pick up a gun and become an ace shot right out of the gates.
Costa runs each shooter through a couple handguns of different handguns, coaching them, trying to improve their technique and help them get hits on target. It is all fundamentals, and for me, did get a bit repetitive at some points, especially with some of the slower-to-learn students.
Because it is an introduction to handguns, this DVD is geared more towards new/beginning students, or those who have been shooting for a while but haven't gotten any kind of instruction. The zombie invasion spin is unique, and helps Operation Z appeal to wider audience/more mainstream audience than a traditional firearms training DVD. Operation Z probably an easier sell for that new shooter friend/family member of yours than say popping in Magpul Dynamics: Art of the Handgun.
Aside from the main teaching/coaching segment, there's a segment on shooting moving targets, and then a Q&A on Costa's experience and learnings from surviving the fictional zombie apocalypse.
From the beginner point of view, some of Costa's instruction is going to have varying levels of appeal. He's a former military guy turned pro firearms instructor...he lives firearms and is, I imagine, used to talking to an audience with a certainly level of knowledge. For the most part, he does a good job of delivering the information at a intro level, but I'm sure there are times when he'd lose a beginner. I'm 100% positive that I frequently lose newbie readers with acronyms and by brushing over ideas or explainations that are basic knowledge to me, so certainly a challenge to adjust and talk across audiences and knolwedge levels.
For a beginning/instructional video, I'd also like to see more close-ups and a more complete view of the fundamentals being taught. What a good grip looks like, from both angles. Exactly what part of the finger he's saying to put on the trigger. I follow along fine, but again, a newbie may struggle to understand exactly what he's asking for.
Reloading and one handed shooting are not covered at all, and malfunctions are only sort of covered.
In addition to the main training DVD, there's an entire second DVD of extras, which are pretty good for DVD extras. There's Survivor Jane talking about the gear she used to survive the zombie apocalypse. While the kit she runs through is not without its flaws, it's also not half bad for a lightweight urban survival kit assembled from off-the-shelf (for the most part) stuff. For a newbie, a decent introduction into the idea of having a survival kit, and some food for thought for the rest of us. Also a segment with Chris Costa discussing the effectiveness of various melee weapons--from fire ax to katana, he talks about how each fared in zombie slaying. The famous Fubar/Fatmax gets a special mention, too. A third segment tells the story of a survivor who built (and is now marketing) an air-driven arrow gattling gun. Pretty cool device, a bit too long in the back story and short on destruction, though. And a final segment with a fictional FBI dude running through a catalog of improvised weapons, with a couple things I hadn't seen or had seen and forgotten about.
Overall, I'm a fan. Got a refresher on a some of the training, got a few ideas and like the zombie spin they put on things. Mrs. Wolf even stopped what she was doing and paid attention during the "Survivor Jane" survival kit dump. We'll see if I can get her to watch the handgun training portion, too.
For the $15 asking price, it's really hard not to recommend Operation Z: Volume 1. There's quite a bit there--if you're a seasoned shooter, there's a refresher, some zombie content, some survival/prepper content, as well as a DVD you can show friends/family who might be new to shooting.
If you're a new shooter, then you get a good run down of the fundamentals of shooting, examples of shooters who may actually be worse than you are, an intro to a variety of handguns and the zombie content on top of that. Most of the other DVDs I've seen will run you well north of $30, have less content than this and zero zombies.
Also, there's just the sheer cool factor of supporting a project like this--a serious, top-tier firearms instructor working, zombies and survival all in one. Buying something is like voting "Yes, I want to see more of this in the future," and I'm excited that we're seeing anything like this. Thumbs up to Chris Costa and Lugdunum Studios, creators behind Operation Z, for tackling this.
You can pick it up on Amazon for $14.99 - shipped through Amazon, so it's Prime/free shipping eligible.
This is Volume 1 of a planned 12; I'm certainly planning on picking up the next volume, an intro to carbines.