New Season of Top Shot

Reality-type TV shows about guns and shooting can be a bit of a divisive subject for gunnies, and I’m personally not a fan of any of them – with one exception. The problem is that the shows are, as a general rule, manipulated to be all about drama instead of the nominal subject matter. They rely on being flashy and doing things that will look really impressive to people who don’t really understand what is involved. Many people are of the opinion that as a result, they give a pretty negative impression of shooters and gunnies to the general population who watches. At best, they are littered with technical errors and interesting only in the “train wreck; can’t not watch” vein.

The exception to my mind is the History Channel’s show “Top Shot“. If you haven’t ever watched it, the basic premise is a marksmanship competition between 16 shooters, eliminating one each week until a single winner remains. Pretty simple. What I really enjoy with Top Shot is that there is an extremely wide array of guns used, fantastic challenging shots, and genuinely outstanding shooters. Previous seasons have used guns from flintlocks to vintage Hotchkiss breechloading cannons to tactical black ARs and everything in between (the first episode this season used an SVT-40, FAL, and AR). The shooting has involved things like Annie Oakley’s over-the-shoulder mirror shooting, blindfolded shooting, wobbly platforms, moving targets, and much more. Thanks to the production budget of the show, they can set up really amazing shooting scenarios that would be hugely impractical to replicate on a private individual range.

Top Shot Season 5 Episode 1 screen shot

Anyway, lest I sound too giddy about the show, it always had some negative elements. The shooters were divided into teams, and there was always some TV-style sturm and drang over choosing who was to be eliminated from the running. But! Apparently they listened to some of the grumbling feedback, because this season that’s all gone. The setup is now that the bottom 50% of shooters in each episode (per time or accuracy, however the scenario is scored) are in danger of being eliminated. They each get a single shot at a bullseye, and the worst two shots on that target go to a head-to-head competition to determine who stays and who goes. All purely based on objective skill and performance. It looks like we’ll get the juicy fun shooting without the gum-on-the-shoe of the hyped-up drama!

This season was cast entirely from previous competitors, and I’m really looking forward to seeing new episodes each week. For the record, I’m rooting for Kelly Bachand, who has been my favorite personality on the show since I saw him in the very first season. He does a great job of demonstrating how formal bullseye competition can make a great foundation for all-around shooting. Good luck, Kelly!

(and no, I’m not writing this just as a brown-nosing attempt to get myself into the next season’s cast – unless that would actually work…)