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The Shoot skills specifies

Attack: This skill makes physical attacks. You can make them from up to two zones away, unlike with Fight. (Sometimes the range will change with the weapon.)

The Zones chapter specifies

Two to four is probably sufficient, save for really big conflicts. This isn’t a miniatures board game—zones should give a tactile sense of the environment, but at the point where you need something more than a cocktail napkin to lay it out, you’re getting too complicated.
• If you can describe the area as bigger than a house, you can probably divide it into two or more zones—think of a cathedral or a shopping center parking lot.
• If it’s separated by stairs, a ladder, a fence, or a wall, it could be divided zones, like two floors of a house.
• “Above X” and “below X” can be different zones, especially if moving between them takes some doing—think of the airspace around something large, like a blimp.

Using the parking lot exemple, with a horde of zombies running toward Billy the kid with a magnum each side at the opposite of the parking. Does it make sense to shoot at the zombies across the parking? yeah, even tho it bypasses the 2 zones requirements.

But what if the parking is crazy humongous (like one of those huge shopping centers)? How far is "too far" ?

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"Too far" is more than two zones. Worrying about "real" ranges is contrary to the game's design purpose—it even says: "This isn’t a miniatures board game".

Lay out the zones according to the guidance for laying out the zones, and don't overthink it.

A very large parking lot, like a Wal-Mart lot, is probably three zones: near, middle, and far. The store itself and the street on the other side of the lot would be additional zones. If there are large obstructions (a bunch of parked lorries, maybe), those probably define another zone boundary. So Billy can shoot at zombies in the lot near the street from within the lot near the store, but not at zombies on the street, nor at distant zombies in the lot if he's shooting from inside the store entrance.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ yes, but how can you realistically explain that regular, off-the-mill hollywood zombies can cover the entire parking in a few seconds? even more jarring is the fact that it can do it in the same time as Joe Average... \$\endgroup\$ – Mouhgouda Feb 18 '15 at 17:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mouhgouda Your question is about shooting, not zombie movement speed. That's a different issue. If you want slow zombies, you'd give them a special Aspect or a "bad" stunt that alters how they cross zone boundaries. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 18 '15 at 17:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you can describe the area as bigger than a house, you can probably divide it into two or more zones. If a house is more or less 2 zones depending on sizes, i highly doubt a parking space should be 2-3 zones. \$\endgroup\$ – Mouhgouda Feb 18 '15 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ okay, never mind the zombies, then... but the entire parking lot shouldnt be crossed in a single exchange \$\endgroup\$ – Mouhgouda Feb 18 '15 at 17:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Meh. It's about obstructions less than distance. Make it four then. Your judgement that says it should be more is exactly what the rules say you're supposed to use to figure this out. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 18 '15 at 19:16
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Depends on What's Narratively Appropriate

Mechanics used are supposed to be based on what makes sense in the narrative. The narrative events of a combat are split into Exchange-long bits during a conflict scene, but the temporal length of such bits is deliberately kept flexible, and it may be adjusted to fit the narrative.

Things to keep in mind when examining a described zone size and exchange length:

  • On a timescale of one exchange, you can't usefully shoot a target three zones away. It doesn't need to be because of absolute cutoff range of a weapon. It may well be just that the time needed to aim a shot is too long compared to the time the fast zombies will need to charge the heroes. Or that the chance of hitting in the time given becomes low enough to be negligible, so the attacks have no mechanical power (but you can still describe shooters as firing wildly but ineffectively).
  • On a timescale of one exchange, a character can cross 1-2 zones and do something else useful, or can cross 2-6 zones by focusing solely on movement (assuming no obstacles).

How you adjust the two dials gives the scene a different feel:

  • Smaller zones and exchanges give a feeling of a frantic combat at short ranges, perhaps in the dark, and emphasising the 21-foot rule and the low hit percentages of real shootouts.
  • Bigger zones and exchanges give your combat scene a feeling of being more leisurely for the shooters, either with significant aiming time between shots, or a lot of A-team firing.
  • If zones are big but exchange lengths short, this gives a feeling of the lone monsters making huge leaps, sudden sprints, and sharp turns, and/or of running hordes having the combination of speed and numbers to reach (and possibly overwhelm!) the shooter before being mowed down.
  • If zones are small and exchanges long, that gives a feeling of a slowly advancing monster or mob that just won't stop, and can only be significantly wounded by emptying a whole magazine from an assault rifle at near-point-blank, hitting a tiny weak spot, or some other attack that can only be done at close range. Like the Terminator. It also creates an uncanny impression that running away from such a slowly-advancing enemy is not all that effective for some reason. Like the off-screen teleporters (but that only works well if there are enough corners to hide behind, and not all zones are visible).
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Think on this :

  • Zone 1 is near the shooter, as near as needed to someone to hit people with punches/katana/whatever,
  • Zone 2 is far enough you can't hit via close range weapons/techniques, but you can hit by either shoot or throw something to it,
  • 3+ are too far, locations that you would only hit by using weapons specially prepared like sniper rifles
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