So, you have found yourself in some form of trouble; you need a weapon, and you need one fast. When you need a weapon fast, you generally want one that is easy to get and easy to use. And, when most people think of a hand weapon that is easy to use, they invariably think of the humble club. What could be simpler? You find a broken piece of tree, pick it up, and hit something with it. Hercules did it. Hell, Granddaddy did it overseas, in one of those places we do not talk about anymore. So, let us break this down.
Clubs form the basis for the bludgeoning damage category of weaponry. In design they are often straight forward, a handle with a striking surface at one end. They can be as simple as the humble stick, or as overdesigned as the gunstock war club, all of which we will be discussing here.
Clubs really fall into one of two categories, lethal and nonlethal. Lethal clubs, for our purposes, will be defined as clubs that are designed specifically to be effective at ending lives. They tend to follow specific design patterns, and often require at least some skill to produce. Nonlethal clubs will define any club that takes either extreme effort or specific circumstances or techniques in order to be lethal.
Firstly, let us go over Nonlethal Clubs:
The Common Stick: The Common Stick Covers a lot of ground. Broomsticks, escrima sticks, practice swords, etc. The Common Stick can be used to define almost anything simple that will not crush a skull in one shot, which is a defining characteristic of this type of club. If you would hit your cousin with it, it is probably not big enough. Even most “fighting” arts that make use of the Common Stick use it primarily to incapacitate weaker parts of the body and to deflect incoming blows, neither of which are particularly effective against the undead.
A special note should perhaps be given at this point for the traditional Irish Shillelagh. Crafted specifically from the Irish Buckthorn bush, the Shillelagh would be carved into shape, then covered in fresh butter, and placed up inside the fireplace to slowly smoke and hardened in the fiery environment contained within. The result would be a remarkably hard and effective club, often disguised as a walking cane that sprung up several styles of fighting in its own right. The construction and durability of this club would perhaps bring it notice as more of a fighting club than a Common Stick.
The Baton: Batons have become fairly common in this day and age. Used by Police and security forces, the baton comes in both solid and collapsible forms, to better fit the needs of the person carrying them. They can be also be found in the hands of law abiding citizens looking for a less lethal or longer reaching option for self-defense use. The problem with batons in that they are specifically designed to not cause permanent or lethal damage without and extraordinary amount of viciousness or violent intent, and even then it is not a guaranteed thing.
Basic Club: For the Hercules and Half Orc in all of us! The Basic Club is simply a large, heavy piece of wood used to smack something. Heroes have used them, Germanic tribes have beaten invading Romans with them, and zombies will prove to be no exception. The trap of the Basic Club is its size and weight. The Basic Club relies heavily on its mass to damage the target, and this tends to make to Basic Club both slow and unwieldy. It is, however, undeniably effective, and should do in a pinch should a better weapon fail you or not be to hand.
Throwing Sticks: Throwing Sticks have a long history of use throughout the word, perhaps even predating edged weapons. Why? Because they are effective, simple to make and simple to use. Throwing sticks will include African Throwing clubs, which are knobbed at one end, and the Boomerang, of Australian Outback fame. Throwing sticks are typically very light weight, usually below 1.5lbs, and usually weighted in some fashion on one end. They have the advantage of being both a hand to hand and a projectile weapon. Designed to crush small game to death, Throwing Sticks should prove to be a match for the undead, when wielded effectively.
Ball Headed War Club-Ball Headed War Clubs are wooden clubs with a large knob of some fashion carved out of one end, balanced for one handed combat use. Typically, Ball Headed War Clubs are crafted from the root and base of a small tree, the root being carved into a suitable handle and the tree section being carved to form a ball on one side of the handle. These weapons put a lot of mass and design behind a small striking area, allowing them to do an incredible amount of damage in a single blow. They are designed to crush bone, and as such find themselves perfectly suited to dealing with the undead menace.
Gunstock War Club: Resembling the stock of a European Musket, the Gunstock War Club is an indigenous weapon of the Eastern Woodlands Native American tribes. They can be had in both two handed and single handed versions, with the single hand version appearing to be a later adaptation by Plains Tribes copying the design. The Gunstock War Club was used in the same time period and area as the Ball Headed War Club and the Tomahawk.
At the point where the club would bend forward, reminisce of the butt stock of a firearm, the side away from the forward bend would often have one or more blades imbedded in the surface, adding to the mass and attack options of the weapon. The forward curve, in the same manner as the kukri/kopis style of blades, makes for a very focused striking surface. The main downside of the weapon is its larger size, typically in the 32-42 inch range, and its irregular shape, somewhat augmented by the fact that it weighs in between 2lbs and 3lbs, the same as a similarly sized sword. They would typically be fashioned of either a board or a limb and trunk section that had a desirable shaping. The Gunstock War Club is probably the most effective club on this list, as well as being one of the largest.
Improvised Clubs: Improvised Clubs are things commonly used as weapons that are not designed to be used as such. This includes baseball bats and crowbars, commonly held ideals for SHTF bludgeons, as well as things that fall into the category of Common Stick, mentioned above. The problem with Improvised clubs is that they as simply not designed to be used as clubs. They can be put to use as such in a pinch, but they will not be nearly as efficient or effective as a true weapon put to the same. In the case of the baseball bat, and the like, it can take several solid, heavy strikes to incapacitate a single target. This leaves the wielder open to other hazards and other forms of attack. Both wooden and metal versions have a tendency to break after an unknown number of strikes, not being designed to strike something the shape or density of a skull. Crowbars, why amazing for breaking into locked boxes, make indifferent thrusters in the best of times, and only reasonably effective bludgeons, relying primarily on weighing pounds more than any other bludgeon in their size range. Crowbars offer little traction for the hand, slipping easily and often ruining strikes that would have otherwise struck true. The hooked end can be used to effectively piece the skull, but has a habit of becoming stuck. Most crowbars are not properly tempered for clubbing, translating into a bent of broken tool in short order. To reiterate, while Improvised Clubs are not ideal striking instruments for dealing with the undead, they are still deadly when used in the right hands.
Some things to look for in a club. It needs to be able to do the job. If it cannot, move on to something else. You need to be able to use it. This includes carrying it to where you need it, being able to hit the target when you get there, and being able to hit the target repeatedly as needed. The weapon should not be destroyed in the process, within reason. Green wood is heavy, but dense, seasoned wood is light, but strong, and metal is strong and heavy, but unwieldy and hard to alter to task.
Conclusions? Draw your own, and let us know about it in the discussion below.