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Reactive Zombie Targets

Halloween is a great time to break out the Zombie films, but have you considered whether the dead may indeed one day rise up to attack the living? Perhaps you have! If so, then here is the perfect training tool for you.

So, let's say you've decided to put in some practice time at the range, shooting at some paper Zombie targets. That's all well and good, but as everyone knows, Zombies can be killed only by headshots. How can you simulate this important feature on a plain paper target easily and cheaply?

Thanks to a fellow that participated in a Zombie shooting match I ran, we have the answer! Paintballs! A bullet to the head (and only the head) of one of these targets is unmistakable.

Attaching a paintball to a paper target gives you a reactive target a little over 1/2" in diameter. On a silhouette scaled for 250 meters, a single paintball fits nicely on the head.

The target on the left shows a single Zombie on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper and is mounted at 25m.

The Zombie is scaled to appear as through it were 100m away. 4 paintballs cover the killzone.

As you can see, the hits are very positive, and easy to identify.

I have two things to share regarding this simple little concept. One: good methods to use for attaching paintballs to paper, and Two: Ready-To-Print Zombie targets, scaled for use at 25m for you to download and use.

Good Methods for Attaching Paintballs to Targets

You can use any method you wish for attaching the paintballs to paper targets, but here are a couple that have worked well for me.

  1. Glue the paintballs directly to the target with a hot-glue gun.

  2. Glue the paintballs to an adhesive backing, allowing you to stick them onto things as needed.

Both methods involve hot glue.

Method #1 is easier, but requires you to make the targets beforehand (and they can be a little awkward to transport if you have a lot of them).

Method #2 is more flexible as it allows you to make what are basically "paintball stickers" for later use and easy transport.

The only thing to watch out for is that paintballs are really quite fragile. Pushing them into hot glue can cause them to rupture. With luck, the paint is contained within the glue and doesn't leak out - otherwise you'll have a mess on your hands. It's best to let the hotglue cool just a bit before sticking the paintballs to it, and move them as little as possible until the glue has cooled.

How To Give Paintballs an Adhesive Backing

This is my preferred method. You will need:

  • Paintballs of a pleasing color.

  • A hot-glue gun.

  • A sheet of suitable stickers. The individual stickets should be each no more than 1/2" in diameter.

Heat up the glue gun and put a dab of glue on one of the stickers.

Then, gently push a paintball down onto the glue.

If the glue is too hot, the bottom of the paintball may rupture, leading to something like this. But in most cases, the paint will be contained within the hot glue (like a bubble), so no harm done. Just leave it steady until it's cool.

Repeat until you have a nice panel of convenient, ready-to-deploy exploding Zombie noggins!


Next, print out some appropriate silhouettes. I have aleady made some that are useful for this purpose: download the PDF file containing suitable targets here.

Then, attach the paintballs. The target on the right represents a single zombie scaled to appear as though it were 100m away when mounted at 25m.

The target on the left represents a helicopter pilot surrounded by zombies, all scaled to appear 250m away.

Video Demonstration

So, how well do they work? What's it like to shoot them? Check out the video highlights and see for yourself!

Final Words

Should the possibility of a Zombie uprising be something you take seriously (or enjoy pretending to take seriously) enough to be reading this page, perhaps you would like to plant your tongue even more firmly in your cheek and consult Max Brook's excellent book: The Zombie Survival Guide. Invaluable reading! (Warning: that size resizes your browser window.)


I have the Internet to thank for the base Zombie image I used for making my targets, and Office's clipart for the picture of the Chopper.

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