Shooting zombies with Adventure Combat Ops

Here’s what you need to know about Adventure Combat Ops: It’s the sickest $@#%*#! experience I’ve done all year. Change your plans and go there right now. It was so wild; I’m not even sure I’m badass enough to write about it. Kind of makes me want a throat tattoo to up my street cred.


The people I hardly knew but defended like my life depended on it. Photo by Doralynne Valenzuela.

When I kicked the first door down and a zombie busted through a boarded-up window, I knew this place was no joke. It’s a total immersion experience that’s better than any video game you’ve ever played, and it’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to seeing what our military goes through. Or Rick Grimes, if you’re a “Walking Dead” fan. It’s dark, it’s gritty and it awakens the most carnal instinct you have: to survive. But first, you’ve got to be trained.


Did I forget to mention some of the rifles come with optics? Photo by Doralynne Valenzuela.

Basic Training

We were briefed in a real military tent at 18:00 hours and learned about the virus that was ravaging the planet. We were given our orders by our team leaders Wambat and Gator, before suiting up and being issued our weapons. The training camp taught us real life tactical skills like how to properly case, breach and secure buildings, and how to use our air-soft rifles. And basically, how to be mother-effing bosses.


Some were serious, some were photobombing…all had a lot of fun. Photo by Doralynne Valenzuela.

The Mission

Our units were deployed into a 54,000-square-foot blood-splattered cityscape, which I can only describe as an active movie set. Wambat and Gator are retired Special Operations so when they yelled the orders, we scattered like cockroaches. We stormed a housing tract, took cover behind burning barrels and abandoned cars, and ran through streets that were crawling with actors dressed as zombies that come after you.

Once our locations were secured, we turned the staged houses upside down looking for “intel” that would tell us where we needed to go next. I’m talking flipped mattresses, tossed couch cushions, and plunged hands into toilet tanks looking for any evidence we needed to complete our mission. My team member opened an armoire and a zombie exploded out, scaring us half to death before we shot him.


The man, the myth, the legend: Wambat. Photo by Doralynne Valenzuela.

After I made sure I had not actually defecated on myself, the mission continued. There were loud explosions overhead (air strike simulations) that were deafening and shook the houses. Smoke filled the streets and there were even sour smells piped in, which was a bit of a relief because I was almost positive it was me who reeked.


Yes, that’s totally a zombie crawling across the top of an abandoned car. Photo by Doralynne Valenzuela.

We breached an RV à la “World War Z,” climbed through windows and defended each other like our lives depended on it (even though we had just met in the lobby). I’m 5’4″ and a buck 30 on a super good day, and I was barking orders at dudes twice my size. I was reeling with adrenaline, sweating like a farm animal and completely, hopelessly addicted.


Nothing like having a combat photographer to capture the moment. Photo by Doralynne Valenzuela.


What I learned about myself is that I’m a fighter, and if the zombies attack – I’ve got your back, bro. I also learned that the next time I decide to save the world, I shouldn’t wear hot pink Nikes because they’re just distracting.


You can’t be taken seriously as a zombie slaughterer in hot pink shoes. Photo by Doralynne Valenzuela.

That’s what this experience does to you – it forces you to use your basic human instincts and decide if you’re going to eat or be eaten. It’s like being in an action movie. You’re not watching the show, you’re actually part of it. If you need to break out of your shell, forget the work piled on your desk or just plain see how big your –err– ego is, this is exactly what you need. You’ll walk away from this experience with your own highlight reel. And let’s be honest, you haven’t had one of those since high school.

Check out for more details on Adventure Combat Ops.


Born a Buckeye - raised a Hoosier. I grew up in a one-horse town that straddles the Indiana/Ohio state line and until 2006, was in two different time zones. There were three stoplights and a whopping 48 students in my graduating class. Fast forward a few years later, I was bitten by the travel bug and decided to head west. It seems like no matter how long I live here, there’s always something that still makes my jaw drop. That’s what I love about Vegas; you never know what you’re going to see next and that’s what makes living here so much fun. Basically, if you’re bored in this town, there’s something wrong with you…not the city. I’m an avid traveler with an incurable case of wanderlust so stay tuned for all the tours, attractions and shopping adventures that Sin City has to offer.