Monday, June 7, 2010

Top Shot Review

Top Shot is a show on the History Channel that is a competition of 16 shooters for the title of "Top Shot." After one episode I am rather disappointed.

Quick Run Down: Survivor without the bug eating, naked fat guys, and 25-30 yr old girls wearing loin clothes and pretending they aren't using their sexuality to try and win. That being said, I am glad that I have the DVR and can pare the show down to about 10 minutes of shooting, thereby getting rid of the rest.

One of the bloggers I read, Caleb, is a competitor on the show. It was nice to see that he made the only competitive shot he was suppose to. Also, they didn't show him talking smack in the house (of course he is on the team that won the challenge). In any case, it sounds like the competition is going to start out as a semi-contest in one's proficiency with firearms and gradually devolve into throwing rocks (maybe it would be better if they ate bugs, had naked fat men, and scantily clad 25-30 yr old girls).

The first team competition was billed as a long range rifle competition with some of the rifles used in the 20th century. During the practice, I couldn't tell how far away the targets were, but they couldn't have been that far. And they had some one spotting for them. All of the rifles used iron sights only, and when the competition happened you found out that this was just a timed event at 50 yards and 100 yards.

50 and 100 yards is only a long distance when you are down by 6 and there are 30 seconds left in the game. But that sport doesn't involve rifles. Back to the competition. The 1903 Springfield rifle was the first one mentioned and the History channel made a big deal of it being the longest rifle in service. Well from its initial service in 1905 to the end of the Vietnam war (which is being generous since only a few were still in use as sniper rifles), is about 70 years. That is a pretty long time. It was billed as a rifle from WWI.

The next rifle was the Russian SVT-40. This was billed as the WWII rifle. It was first built in 1940 and was one of the first semi-automatic rifles. The third rifle was a Mosin Nagant. It was billed as a Korean War era rifle. Huh? This is the History Channel right? The Mosin-Nagant was a Korean War rifle? Technically, yes, but wouldn't it be more appropriate to say a WWII, WWI, Russian Revolution, Russo-Japanese War, and Boxer Rebellion Rifle? This is a rifle that was built in 1891 and saw widespread continuous service in the Russian army (far more than the 1903 in the US army) until 1960 (ohmygosh - that is 70 years like the 1903). It has been issued to a limited extent in Eastern block countries for another couple of decades and was one of the main battle rifles of all sorts of countries, including the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, which are still using it today. So, 2010 - 1891 = 120 years of service in wars throughout the world. Look, I am as proud to be an American as the next guy, we make better rifles than Russians, but come on now. Don't try to pretend that because we make better rifles, then they have been in service longer than any other. The Mosin-Nagant has been in service longer than any other because it is cheap to make and goes BANG every time (I have never had a dud in the hundreds of rounds of 40-60 year old ammo that I have shot).

The last rifle was the M14. The Vietnam era rifle. When the team competition time came, there was some crawling under barbed wire, jumping through mud puddles, etc. Since these were all military rifles, that sort of added to it. And they got to shoot at the targets (50 and 100 yards). They were exploding targets so all you needed to do was nick the edge. This was another disappointment. It turns the competition into a speed competition. Fastest bangs wins, with no regards to accuracy. No MOA groupings.

The blue team won without a hitch when the red team's second shooter couldn't hit the target. Place all of the blame you want on the spotter, but this was from 100 yards! You shouldn't need a spotter from 100 yards. I don't know how big the exploding circle was, but it looked to be at least 4 inches in diameter and possibly as large as 8 inches in diameter. 30 shots and you can't even hit 4 inches. At 100 yards.

So there is a shoot off for elimination. Frankly, I like Andre (the red team shooter who did hit his target). Lots of people were trying to make excuses for Mike (the guy who couldn't hit his target), so Andre was thinking that he would be eliminated. He is the first one to vote for who he thinks should be eliminated and shoots the target dead center. Only one other person hit the bullseye on theirs, that is icing the competition. I would want Andre on my team.

With the shootoff, it was Mike against the long range shooter Kelly, doing guess what? Long range shooting. 200, 400, and 600 yards. OK, that is long range shooting. This was with a Remington 700 (in .308 Winchester I assume), with a scope that was probably a 15X - 50mm. Naturally, Kelly cleaned Mike's clock and Mike was sent home. Kelly didn't really need the help of the spotter and during practice he made a smiley face on his target. My kind of guy.

As I said, next week I'll boil it down to just shooting in 10 minutes.


  1. It was pretty much exactly what I was expecting from the aHistory channel.

    THC used to be my favorite channel, but in recent years, they've gotten wrapped around the axle with shows about lumberjacks, cold weather truck drivers and pawn brokers (not to mention monster and ghost hunting).

    They are interesting shows that I watch on occasion when I've got absolutely nothing else to do (not the monster and ghost shows, those are just stupid), and apparently they do pretty well in the ratings for them...but what the heck do those things have to do with history?

    Also, THC has seemingly bought into the Global Warming Hysterics hook line and sinker and have a few other politically charged subjects that really just make me sigh and turn off the TV.

    But I digress.

    I'm not a fan of reality shows so I wasn't expecting this to be a slam dunk. It was pretty much what I was expecting so I wasn't disappointed. I'm watching because I know a contestant, that the subject matter is fairly interesting to me is a bonus.

    I wasn't expecting them to duplicate the National Matches at Camp Perry...otherwise, why not just air coverage of the National Matches at Camp Perry?

    I actually like the contests and methods they chose, but I do agree with you that 50 and 100 yards are hardly challenging distances.

    I guess the idea is they don't want to eliminate the historical weapons experts right out of the gate by expecting precision accuracy with weapons they are unfamiliar with. I also have to wonder if they started out "easy" and are progressing to "you've gotta be kidding me" hard.

    As far as this show: I wanted to see Mike (the guy who was eliminated) gone before they even started the contest.

    I can't stand arrogant b@#$%^&s who find it necessary to tell the world how great and deserving they are. I was raised to be humble both in victory and defeat and let my performance do the talking.

    I had a feeling the guy was all talk from the get-go and he proved it in the contest.

    I loved the fact that they played some audio of him right after shooting and the first thing out of his mouth was something to the effect of "I don't think my spotter knew what he was doing, he didn't seem to know where the bullets were hitting".

    Duh. It's hard for a spotter to tell you exactly where in the dirt your rounds are going when they're no-where near the target.

    But then later on he got all magnanimous and stoically accepted the blame for his crappy shooting. How big of him.

    As soon as he chose the kid from the US Rifle Team to compete against in the elimination challenge, I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew that he was gone.

    Not smart.

    One final thought: What was up with the "Brad" character defending Mike like they were bosom buddies or something? I agree with the two that chose him for the elimination round. If he's so eager to get eliminated that he'd volunteer to go in someone else's place, he doesn't really want to be there and he's a liability. Get rid of him.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the show and am glad Caleb didn't get eliminated.

    I have to admit, the fact that they never really introduced him at the beginning had me thinking that he was going to be eliminated early. I was glad to see him take out his target with ease, and to see his team win the challenge.

  2. The high-speed cameras gave some nice pr0n, though :)

    I had calibrated my expectations relatively low on this one, esp after they did the female chicago cop a disservice by showing her asking "where are all the girls" in the preview (in fact, the editing of that preview could have been better). The show has gone just enough higher than them to keep me interested. And, to tell the truth, an hour a week is little enough out of my schedule.

    As far as the Mosin goes, they did mention a couple of times how long it was in service; I have no idea why they slotted it as a "korean era" gun in the info blurb for the challenge, other than to explain why they had it in the 3rd slot instead of the 1st - by doing that the sequence was chronological.

    I did have a problem with the team challenge as laid out. Because of the one rifle at a time pacing, the first team bottlenecked the rest of the group.

    Also, Kelley (the kid) is going to have a rough time of it socially if his comment about his spotter in the elimination round is indicative of his attitude. So far his skills are up to supporting his attitude; but that will only carry him so far.

  3. I don't have much time to post my whole opinion here but I have to agree with you (Sailorcurt) concerning the guy who was eliminated. I know why he chose to go 1 on 1 with the best long range shooter. It's so he wouldn't have had to make 10 - 20 shots before he was eliminated and thus make himself even look worse on national TV. Smart move on his behalf. I would have liked to have seen him have to have gone up against his human shield buddy, just to see how good that other guy wasn't seeing how he was so eager to throw himself in front of the bus.

    I don't really like the whole reality elimination style of the show because we didn't get to see any of the other teams shooters in action, and the fact that you really don't get to see who really is the "TOP SHOT" if they all don' get to do all of the challenges and let the targets fall where they may.

  4. Chris,

    Agreed, if you want to bill it as "Top Shot", then let everyone take a crack at all of the shots. Add up the points and you have a winner. Oh wait. That is how a real competition works. Wouldn't want to confuse reality TV with reality.

  5. Like any other TV show, Reality TV needs a plot (and preferably a metaplot) and some inter-character drama. The producers can't (easily and subtly - pick one) script the events ahead of time, so they have to mold them by editing. So far it looks like Kelly is going to be Red Team's designated victim and the chicago cop for blue team's (witness the clip of her getting pissed about not getting on-target when spotting for her teammate).

  6. I didn't get the "attitude" from Kelly about his spotter during the elimination round.

    During the clip, they played the actual footage where you can hear the spotter saying, "no hit, no idea" and then showed Kelly afterword repeating almost the same thing. How was that "an attitude"?

    If there was any attitude shown by Kelly it was after the practice session where he was bragging about the smiley face. That was a little much for me, but I gave him a break because he's a kid and doesn't know any better...and it occurred to me that it may not have been intended to come across as braggadocio as much as pride in accomplishment.

    Overall, I was pretty impressed by him. He held up well under pressure.

    BTW: There's at least one thing positive to say about Mike: he handled defeat graciously in the end and congratulated Kelly for his good shooting...and seemed sincere about it. I was glad to see that.

  7. Ian's exactly right.

    If it were just a straight competition, no one would be interested in watching each episode, they'd just wait till the end and get the results.

    Shooting is fun, but most people don't consider it much of a spectator sport.

    The conflict created by the elimination thing, and their selective editing to frame the personalities, get people rooting for and against players, creates drama and makes viewers want to watch every episode to see what's going to happen.

    All of those things are exactly what I don't like about reality shows in general, but again, since I know a contestant, I find it much more entertaining than I normally would.

    I'm pretty sure that if Caleb gets eliminated, the show will quickly become less interesting for me.

  8. It was the "getting nothing from my spotter" combined with "I adjusted on my own". It was true, but I would have just put in the "I adjusted". Perhaps hypersensitive of me - on further mental review of the whole thing it looks like the producers are setting up Kelly to be the "designated victim" of Team Red. Whether this is to make him the underdog, or to have his departure cheered I can't tell yet. (They appear to be doing the same thing for the female cop; probably because she is the only female).

    I didn't mean to come off as implying that Kelley was wrong in saying that (he wasn't, as the voiceover showed). I would like to say I was mislead by the producers, but, really, I was mislead by my own prejudices (young prodigy is arrogant about his skill is an old trope). The producers helped there, no doubt, but because they were playing to my expectations.

    All of the participants have been MUCH more polite, etc than the "typical" reality-show contestant; enough so that I think the producers are going to have some challenges playing up the personality conflicts

  9. I found the first episode to be disappointing despite my low expectations. The show is titled "Top Shot" but the only real piece of shooting we got to see was in the elimination round when Kelly knocked out Mike, which I think we were all glad to see. First thing I didn't like is that not everyone got to shoot, I may have been less disappointed with this if the competition had been remotely close. The next thing I didn't like was the difficulty level of the first challenge. 100 yards, really? If you're gonna bill something as "Top Shot" please have challenges that not everyone and their grandmother, with the exception of Mike of course, can do. I will most likely flip in and out of future episodes, but I don't have high hopes. Based on the range of skills this show is suppose to cover and what we have seen in the first episode, I doubt the difficulty level will reach anything that would warrant deeming someone "Top Shot".

  10. I watched the first episode last night, not bad. I would've liked more specifics as well but it was better than I expected. I'll be downloading the remainder of season 1 and will probably finish it next fall/winter.

  11. Good show even though I didn't like the arrogance and favoritism that the military guys were showing towards each other (with the exception of the Navy guy, Jamie). They carried Joe and kept him in when he had no business continuing.

    The military is supposed to be about performance, not who's buddies with who. These guys were acting like high school girls. George was the worst offender. It's pretty funny to see an Air Force guy hanging with Marines like he's one of them, and they were stupid enough to buy his act. Air Force people live softer than the Coast Guard and bitch if they only have 36 channels on the cable TV. They don't call it the Chair Force for nothing (Motto: in the rear with the gear. Only the pilots see combat).

    The winner is a nice guy even though he followed the clique too much. I'll give Jamie props for hanging in there when the whole house was against him, the rest of the military guys can go suck it. Ashley is a straight-up ass and I'm glad that loser got eliminated before Jamie. He like calling out Jamie and talking trash about him but he couldn't hang with Jamie. Who's the fool now?

    I expected more from military guys. And this is coming from a guy who served 6 years and has been forward-deployed in a war zone.