Nocturnal adventures are currently experiencing a grey mist which unfortunately obscures my recollection of travelling six out of seven days a week at the moment, so I’m a little disappointed to not be adding much content to my @Night section. Regardless, the pace of 2013 and all the things I’ve been involved with remains largely a relentless procession of days, mainly involving a significant degree of hard graft. I’m currently involved in a building project that has been going on for nearly three months. I’ve helped disembowel the basement level of a house in Bath in view to knocking three rooms through into one large open plan space, then building an outdoor extension onto that. The project has taken me away from general stone masonry practices and moved me out of that comfort zone into learning quite a bit about general building techniques. I’d say, on the whole I’ve learnt quite a lot. Sadly, by 8pm on any Friday evening my mental activity is so diminished that my brain resembles a soggy house brick.
To let off a little steam, I went up to Worcester last weekend (Jan 27th)with my friend Auri, to engage in an excellent activity called ‘Zombie Riot’. Like the name suggests, the activity was an organised riot, with 50% of it’s combatants made up to resemble Zombies. It takes place once a week at a trading estate a couple of miles from Droitwich. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, how well organised the event would be or quite how much fun would be involved. In retrospect, it’s easy to imagine how badly it could have been done in the wrong hands. Fortunately, the event was in the very capable hands of a company called RAM Training, who consist of ex soldiers- infantry and airborne. These guys really know how to orchestrate a controlled riot and make the whole exercise a massive dose of fun.
The day is divided into two riots featuring two equally balanced teams, each team gets sent off to a training bootcamp of either zombie rioters or military police. (Attack and defend) My friend and I found ourselves in the Zombie group for the first half of the day, we were garbed up in protective clothing and gory face paint then taught various strategies for breaking through riot police defences and tackling people down to the ground in a controlled fashion. In spite of the cold January wind breezing around us that morning, the bootcamp training soon got all participants warmed up and having a good laugh within a short space of time. We were briefed on what to expect when the opposing team would arrive and we were encouraged to utilise the boxes of crates filled with plastic bottles half filled with water as throwable projectiles. For the larger build, stronger players, a small group were shown how to overturn a car parked in the middle of the first riot zone.
Training whizzed by quickly then we were told that the enemy team were making their advance to the main riot arena. The arena itself was a somewhat neglected corner of the trade park, dilapidated corrugated iron buildings sitting on waste ground with abandoned, smashed cars littered around them, for mood, the setting was absolutely perfect.
It was incredible how quickly the mood of our group elevated to an amped state of pre-riot aggression, once we knew that the other team were within the perimeter of the arena, we were encouraged to growl,scream and shout all manner of Zombieisms just to stoke up their sense of apprehension. We were kept behind a wire fence barrier, which would be smashed down at the command of one of the marshals at a particular point, until that moment, we lobbed wave after wave of water bottles at the huddled group of riot police cowering behind their Armadillo shields. The command was given and Team Zombie went full charge into the cluster of opponents. It was delightful mayhem, the Armadillo shield barriers lasted a second before we crashed through with the full intent of taking down anyone resembling a slightly fearful riot police officer. Naturally they were trained to counter attack with foam covered batons. The rules of engagement were quite simple, If you are a Zombie, tackle your opponent down to the ground. If you are riot police, strike Zombies six times to take them down. Once defeated, players are out for a couple of minutes before a marshal prompts you to get up and join the fun again. I got beaten down almost immediately on the first attack, It afforded me a brilliant couple of minutes watching the rest of the combat take place. I was reminded of my childhood, during the Winter months,when there was black ice on the playground, kids would take a long run up to a patch of ice and do a sliding skid, usually in a procession of other kids. Occasionally someone would collide with someone else and fall to the floor. Someone else would yell ‘Bundle!’, which would prompt all other kids in the nearby vicinity to charge at the fallen duo until there was a pile of clambering children writhing about on the floor laughing. The riot wasn’t a million miles from this as it was clear that combat would start to form clusters.
To keep the riot ongoing and fresh, the game would seamlessly be marshalled into separate waves taking place at three or four locations within the main site. By the time the riot was into it’s fourth wave there was a strange combination of everyone being fully familiar with riot dynamics and physical fatigue. It takes a lot of stamina to charge and tackle down armoured, shielded opponents over the course of about twenty minutes.
I really enjoyed the primal nature of the combat, that incredible rush of being firmly in the moment with two simple objectives; attack and survive. It’s a very similar mentality to how I feel when I’m paint-balling, another fabulous source of adrenaline.
The final stage of the riot was a simple theatrical state of closure. The riot police were ushered back outside the riot complex and the large metal barred gates were closed and locked. Zombies yelling abuse and taunts on one side, Riot police doing the same from the other. I found a rubber severed human foot near where I was roaring, so I picked it up and slam-dunked it so it bounced off someone’s helmet on the other side of the gate.
This neatly took all participants to lunch time, where we indulged in a much needed food break. This was provided by the organisers as part of the package. Hot soup and a variety of baguettes. Absolutely perfect for the energy expended during the morning session.
Unfortunately,Auri decided to duck out of the afternoon’s riot schedule having discovered that rioting wasn’t quite as exhilarating as jumping out of aeroplanes…
After lunch, the inevitable roll reversal took place. My team and I kitted up in riot gear while the other team went off to learn Zombieisms. The Riot police first exercise was an unexpected treat, we were given paintball guns and taken into a warehouse area designed for training armed squads to enter scan and eliminate any targets, I think it was called a ‘Room sweep’. The onus was on team work, two people would enter a corridor, scan and fire at any obvious targets before shouting ‘Clear!’ which would allow two other squad members to advance further into the compound to repeat the exercise while having their backs covered by the first two. A bit like a baton race but with guns. Our excellent instructor, guided the training and threw a flash-bang grenade into one of the rooms just to add to the authentic combat training atmosphere. An air raid siren droned throughout the entire exercise which created another level of tension to the procedure.
After everyone in the Riot police group had had a turn at this tactical exercise, we were then taken into another warehouse to learn how to use Armadillo and Snatch shields.
The Armadillo shields were pretty cool, when used correctly, they lock together edge to edge creating an instant wall between users and rioters. This does require all riot police moving in unison and barking repeats of orders issued by a commanding officer. I wound up being an Armadillo carrier for the afternoon riot, I found the shield quite uncomfortable and a cumbersome weight after a while but in the spirit of wishing to fulfil my team roll and also defend myself when the barrier was ultimately smashed through, I clung to the bloody thing and used it as best I could. It may have been a Moose to carry but it certainly performed with excellence at batting away hurled objects and charging undead.
The afternoon riot was somewhat more intense than the morning one, all participants understood their roles perfectly, as if the morning had merely been a warming up exercise.
When my group entered the compound and advanced into riot zone one, we noticed that larger projectiles were occasionally smashing into our defences, the sight of a plastic beer crate whizzing through the air being a particular example. My team worked well, the Armadillo defence seemed to last a few seconds longer than the other groups morning effort. We seemed pretty effective at beating down our attackers with the foam batons, I think I only got tackled down effectively once. I’m not a violent person by nature but I do acknowledge that there is an element of my character, call it my dark side, that relishes in combat games whether they be electronic, paintball or riotous. I admit freely that I took great delight thwacking people in the chest,hips and knee areas while snarling “Get down, GETT DOWWNNN!!!’ It fed and satisfied my inner fascist.
And then the second game was over. We all marched back to the main warehouse to change out of our riot gear, shake hands with our opponents and part company. The day ended on a high, I could see it in everyone’s faces, they were exhausted yet elated. The event had been everything promised in the title and more, we’d had a riot, both figurative and literally. I felt so impressed with the overall organisation of the event, the RAM training team are superb and provided an event designed with meticulous attention to detail, which in turn gave the whole day a total sense of value for money. As we began to get ready to leave, we were informed that for £10 we could obtain a download link for photos taken by the RAM Training guys during the day, for £20 we could also buy a DVD with footage of the riots. I couldn’t help but pay for both. With hindsight, I would have just bought the DVD, the footage was excellent and really captured the energy of the day. The photos on the other hand were a little disappointing as the bulk of them featured mostly other people, if you are attending with a large party of friends this would work better, if it’s just a couple of you then there are a lot of pictures of relative strangers to sift through. Quite a few of the shots were poorly lit with dubious attention to composition. If you are thinking of attending a RAM training event, then I’d definitely suggest getting the DVD version of your day, it provides a very satisfactory ‘action replay’ of your memories.
The day was superb value for money (£60 on Living Social) I fully intend to do it again, bringing more reinforcements with me next time. For anyone who has found this review whilst looking up the Zombie Riot, I’d recommend turning up in clothes that you don’t mind getting mucked up or damaged. The day, as mentioned is brilliant fun and involves a lot of physical activity so I think it helps if you are feeling fit and don’t mind a bit of rough play. There were plenty of ladies involved in the rioting so don’t go thinking it’s just fun for the boys.
Link to Ram Training below.