ZOMBIE BOOTCAMP STORY – ZOMBIE BOOTCAMP EXPERIENCE DAYS ORIGINS OF RAM TRAINING AND THE BIRTH OF ZOMBIE BOOT CAMP
THE ZOMBIE BOOTCAMP STORY – the idea for Ram Training, starts back in 2010 whilst training a troop of soldiers for deployment for Afghanistan I realised that the same concepts could be the foundation for a sound business plan. At private expense purchased 4 x paint markers that resembled an assault rifle used by the British Army on operations. The paint markers at close range, particularly when used in a building had a better effect than the use of blank ammunition. 5.56 mm blank ammunition also had a hefty price tag of 25p each in comparison to .5p for a paint ball.
Initially Ram Training started on a start-up budget of £9000. I purchased 12 sets of equipment and was kindly loaned the use of an old factory in Gloucestershire. We had differing success with this project offering paintball teams and the odd stag groups a comprehensive 1 day close quarter battle training experience. Sadly after 6 months the factory was due to be redeveloped so I had to look for an alternative site. Luckily I found a site in Worcestershire. Again, we had limited success delivering military themed events. However, whilst reading a hotel magazine I read about a small band of actors based out of Lancaster that offered a theatre event called “How to survive a zombie apocalypse” that very evening I Google’d this group, found their number and gave them a call.
The idea of “Zombie Boot Camp” is born and the Zombie Bootcamp Story begins.
To this day I can’t remember what made me choose Zombie Boot Camp but the name works and is established as a name customers can trust. We were supported from the offset by “Buy a Gift” and “Chilli Sauce” the two biggest names in gift experiences and organised stag events, who still remain today, two of our staunchest allies. Chilli Sauce has been very influential in establishing our overnight events which are continuing to grow in popularity in particular with stag parties. We have developed three different events to meet the needs of our stag and hen inquiries: Zombie Boot Camp 2 (after dark), Wolfmen and the Asylum (our most violent and challenging Zombie experience).
The combination of citizen soldiers fighting the walking dead in the Zombie Apocalypse is part of the Zombie Bootcamp Story, other organisations since then have replicated the same concept to differing success. On average one new Zombie Experience style events starts up every three months and disappears shortly afterwards. They claim to be the most extreme, cheaper etc. Zombie Boot Camp and all our other horror events e.g. Wolfmen and the Asylum operate like a theatre production. The pillars of success are: casting, consistency and performance.
Our boot camp military instructors are exactly that, military, many other companies in fact all of them use civilians to act out the role of the military. The average customer is discerning and sees the value of being offered an event that is authentic. The Zombies undergo a rigorous selection process based on adaptability, fitness and dependability. They undergo regular first aid, conflict management and breakaway training. Initially we looked to recruit Zombie cast members from the Zombie geek class – these individuals proved to be emotional, brittle and too attached to a fictional character. The Zombie Bootcamp cast members we need and recruit are, to coin a phrase, “a bit handy” and can suck up a bit of pain. We do not overly use makeup and prosthetics as they generally fall off or sweat off during the event due to the very nature of the event.
ZOMBIE EXPERIENCE CONSISTENCY
No matter what ever the weather the show goes on, it’s the Zombie Bootcamp Story. We continuously strive to improve and innovate but all of our customers walk away exhilarated, happy and definitely wanting to come back to pit themselves against our Zombies at the next level up.
This is down to choosing the right team. Five events a weekend, needs stamina the last event must be as good as the first. Poor performance means poor reviews and in this age of web based reviews means damage to the brand. I always use Trip Advisor as a review barometer as the site is impartial and widely read prior to any purchase been made.
IN THE BEGINNING
As you can probably imagine, we had a few teething problems; we tried rubber masks with paint ball masks underneath that did not work. The Zombies consistently suffered injuries from paintball strikes no matter how much protection we used. Eventually Max the Ops Manager suggested adding a splitter to the barrel. Overnight we had solved our biggest problem; the splitter would disintegrate the ball as it exited the barrel. Now Zombies suffered no more than a splattering of shell case and gunk; rather than extreme pain from a ball strike at close range. This bright idea allowed the Zombies and Wolfmen to use make up rather than masks.
I am often asked what makes our Zombie Experience Day events such fun? Well we must be getting something right as 25,000 people have enjoyed our events. That’s a serious contribution to national security 33,000+ citizens who have an idea about how to combat a Zombie Apocalypse. In essence customers demand authenticity, a kinetic experience and an element of believable danger. From the spectators perspective it all looks pretty violent which it is but the violence is managed. Strains and pains, the odd bruises are by-products of our kinetic events. Most people will feel a little tender on Mondays when back at work this is due mainly to using muscle groups that quite frankly we don’t normally use. By far our biggest group participants are males between the age group of 18 to 30 usually on a stag event. The word is getting out and more and more groups turn up sober and not suffering from hangovers. In the beginning stag groups would turn up that worse for wear that many were unable to participate. Many stag groups who attend Zombie Boot Camp now see the event as a Rights of Passage. The days of clay pigeon shooting, go karting and archery classes are over. People demand more which is exactly what the Zombie Bootcamp Story is about. We are continually seeing repeat customers with groups of friends doing every event. Most Saturdays we will see a familiar smiling face, bursting with excitement with a group of mates he or she has persuaded to come along.
Zombie Boot Camp is going from strength to strength our reviews are magnificent and I am very proud of what we have achieved. We continually strive to innovate and add additional effects to our events. Customers should trust in the companies who have been out there longest, read the reviews and be cautious of any company offering horror events who has no reviews. As the original we know that Zombie and Wolfmen events, by their very nature, are very expensive to resource and run. Other companies offering cheap events tend to offer a lesser experience; you should consider their health and safety standards, suitable indemnity insurances, are the workers been paid? Whilst we have no plans to expand or open any new venues; we retain one site and reinforce success, event after event.
We constantly reinvest in the business with exciting new ideas, new props – see our great new Zombie Response Vehicle and to make more great ads so visit our Facebook page and keep up to date with developments