Thursday, June 10, 2010

Top Shot

I'm not a fan of "reality" shows. I could not care less who gets kicked off the island, though I confess I kind of like the cooking shows where it is chef versus chef -- it's fun to watch people cook under pressure.

But, it seems, they have made a show for me -- Top Shot, on the History Channel.

The set-up: Sixteen shooters, from various disciplines -- rifle, pistol, archery, etc. -- are brought together in one of those big honkin' houses, divided into teams -- a blue and a red -- and then given a challenge (after a practice session.)

Winning team is safe, losing team has to pick two members for a shoot-off, and loser of that goes home.

The first challenge was a series of token obstacle courses -- under barbed wire; through a stick maze; along a rope; slogging through a water pit; one obstacle each team, at the end of which the pair had to fire rifles at targets set up at fifty and a hundred yards.

The first three weapons were "historical," a 1903 Springfield, Mosin-Nagant Tokarev SVT-40, and an M14. Each shooter had one exploding target. Soon as both were hit, the next two-person squad tag-teamed in. First team to bust all the targets won.

There is the usual rainbow coalition of contestants -- mostly white guys, mostly cops or ex-military, some gun buffs, several professional shooters. One black guy, one woman, one asian, one kid, one old guy (48 is supposed to be old here).

In the first contest, Mike, the red team leader, went on in a V.O. about how his team had the advantage and how they were gonna smoke the blue team, yadda, yadda, which brag is always a bad idea.

Mike was first up, paired with Andre. One guy shot, the other was the spotter. Andre hit the fifty yard target after a couple shots. Mike set up on the 100-yard target. Shot and missed. Shot and missed. And missed and missed and missed and ...

Meanwhile, the blue team went through the whole course and took the match.

Mike never did hit the target. With a weapon he supposedly dialed-in the day before, and picked because he thought he was the best choice.

Selection of the two for the shoot-off was hokie but fun -- there were targets with each contestant's name on one and the way they chose the two was to fire one round each into the name of the guy they wanted.

Wound up, to nobody's surprise, that Mike, the guy who couldn't hit his target was selected. The other was the kid, Kelly. The shoot-off was with a modern scoped rifle, three targets, two hundred, four hundred, six hundred yards. Each had a spotter, first to hit 'em all won.

There was a pretty good wind blowing the flags by the targets.

Unfortunately for Mike, Kelly the kid is on the U.S. National Rifle Team, knows all about long-distance rifle work, and can shoot smiley faces on his targets, so Mike went home. And rightly so. Twenty-odd rounds with a 1903 Springfield at a hundred yards and most of them weren't even on the board. Sheeit.

Next up, pistols, with the 9mm Beretta ...


Michael Bourgon said...

Watched the first episode. Liked the shooting parts, but there was too much manufactured drama "oh, this guy has a reputation" "I'm the new guy and I have to show my chops" (etc etc).

Please: More shooting, less drama. And I had to laugh at their voting system. Really? I mean, really?
And the cynic in me thought that was a perfect match up - set the kid that you KNOW can make those shots, up against the guy you want to get rid of.

Dave Huss said...

I'm with Mike on this. I thought the idea was cool, but I would like to go on the show and shoot the assholes that decided that they had to be a low rent Survivor with guns. You have some of the best shots from the area there, shut up and let them shoot. If I wanted to see a bunch of guys pontificate, I'd watch Dr. Phil.

Steve Perry said...

Nah, if I want to see people shoot, I watch gun night on the outdoor channel. Or Impossible Shots. This is hokey -- that's the deal -- no reality expected -- that would be, well, unreal ...

jks9199 said...

I didn't think it was bad. Not great, but not bad... and better background noise than a lot of stuff.

The former SEAL sniper host/coach didn't need as much face time as he got, I don't think. More time on the guns and their history would have seemed, oh, appropriate, no?

And I'd like to see them dump the whole elimination competition. Give the shooters the 30 days to shoot in the various scenarios, and, in the end, give whoever was most successful across the board the bragging rights or prize. This elimination set up means that someone who has a single bad day, but might be best overall, is gone right off the bat.

Steve Perry said...

"This elimination set up means that someone who has a single bad day, but might be best overall, is gone right off the bat."

Yep, but that's the same principle they apply at a track meet, a poker tourney -- or the Olympics. You have a bad day, you go home. Unlike ice skating or gymnastics, there's no subjectivity -- either you hit the target first or you don't.

What I find interesting is how the politics and primary goal come into play. If you win, you get bragging rights and a big prize. So you have to be a help to your team -- until you become a threat to the members on it.

It's very much the underlying theme of HIghlander -- you are a team player because it is in your best interests, but there can be only one.

A suspicious mind might take it that Andre was worried that MIke was going to be the eventual winner from listening to him blow his own horn, so when it came time to spot for Mike, Andre had him send all his shots into the trees.

Easy enough to get in somebody's way and cause them to do bad, but the trick is to pull it off without it looking like that's what you did. Otherwise, your team might worry you'd shoot them in the back and get rid of you.

These shows are all edited after the fact, so once you know who is eliminated, you can tweak who said what during the episode, to offer clues, or to set up somebody. That's how you add the drama -- or melodrama -- so that the audiences nods along.

Ah, yeah, Mike. I knew they were gonna get rid of him -- he was bragging too much. And of course they picked the kid to shoot off with him because everybody knew the kid was on the U.S. Rifle Team and anything past a hundred meters? Come on, give me a break, he's gonna smoke anybody else on the team with a long gun at six hundred yards. But wait until we get to pistols or bows or throwing knives and see what happens to him ...