TV Review: Top Shot on HISTORY

Hi again!

When I first heard about Top Shot on the HISTORY Channel, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The show concept was pretty simple… Take 16 expert marksmen and women and put them through a Survivor-esque season to see who can adapt to various challenges.

The show is hosted by Survivor alum Colby Donaldson, a runner-up on Survivor: The Australian Outback and recently appearing on Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.. I didn’t realize he’d also been acting in recent years as well, appearing on shows such as Bones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Reba and others. He seems to provide a calm, strong, yet engaged presence as the host of Top Shot, which I think is probably a good thing around a bunch of folks with guns.

Watching the first episode, it became clear that the team aspects were much more important than had been emphasized in any of the previews I had seen. Though interested in the skill aspects, I honestly don’t have a lot of firearm experience beyond shooting a few pistols with a friend more than a decade ago. However, I was intrigued by the mix of people skilled with modern weapons dealing with weapons and physical challenges from different historical eras.

The sixteen shooters were split into two teams of eight – the Red and Blue teams. Based on personalities and how relaxed they were, I thought the Red team would smoke the Blues who were a bit more restrained and less comfortable with the situation.

It was immediately apparent that not only were the shooter’s skills as an individual important, but that the “spotter” who helped the shooter adjust aim to hit a target was just as important, if not more. In the first challenge between the Red and Blue teams, they would be dealing with four different long-range rifles from different historical periods.

Not only did each weapon behave differently, but the shooters would only have a little time to familiarize themselves with the weapon before attempting a team challenge.

And the team challenge itself was quite interesting. Taking a page out of the Survivor handbook, they merged long-range shooting with four separate obstacle courses. Each course used a different one of the four rifles they fired the day before. And each team was split into a pair, with each pair working through the obstacle course and then firing the weapon at two different targets – 50 and 100 yards away. Each shooter in the pair would take one of the two targets, which would explode on contact. When both targets were hit, the next team could start the next obstacle course, and so on.

I was shocked to see how easily the Blue team, who hadn’t seemed to work very well together in the practice, blew the Red team away. The Reds didn’t even get past the first station. Evidently there was something to be said for restraint vs. cockiness.

Once the team competition was complete, the losing team had to go through an elimination round. Unlike in Survivor where each contestant could cast an anonymous vote, the Red team watched as each shooter voted by shooting the target beneath the name of the person they wanted to vote for.

After all the votes were cast, the two contestants with the most votes competed head to head in a timed target shoot with a modern sniper rifle. The two shooters fired Remington 700 rifles, the sniper rifle currently being used by the U.S. Marine Corps.

The first elimination was Mike Seeklander vs. Kelly Bachand to see who was better with long-range targets. Seeklander is a former Marine, U.S. Federal Air Marshall, firearm instructor for the Federal Air Marshall training division, a police officer, and finally a senior instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Bachand is a college student on the USA National Rifle Team and is the youngest person and first American to win the Canadian Target Rifle Championship.

Seeklander and Bachand fired at three targets – at 200, 400, and 600 yard distances. The first shooter to hit all three targets would win and stay in the competition. In very little time, Bachand hit all three targets before Seeklander had hit the second, forcing the more experienced shooter out of the competition very early.

As with most competition-based reality television, though the challenges are interesting, the drama created by the competitors is often even more intriguing. In this episode for example, Brad Engmann on the Red team, an I.T. project manager for a financial data firm, also happens to be a USPSA Grand Master and evidently a heck of a competitive shooter. Unfortunately, he seems to be a bit of a complainer who likes to make excuses. I’ll be curious to see how long he lasts or if he annoys his teammates enough to get rid of him early.

Next week we’ll see how the Red and Blue teams do in the aftermath of the first Red team elimination. Will the Red team come together as a team or fall further behind their competition?

Tune into Top Shot Sunday nights at 10pm/9pm central on the HISTORY channel. I know I’ll be watching to see who survives to the end and what unique weapon challenges they throw at the contestants.


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Contest: Top Shot Prize Pack!

Win Big with Top Shot on HISTORY!

Series Premiere Sunday June 6th at 10/9c on HISTORY!

Sixteen of the nation’s most skilled marksmen have been carefully selected to compete in the new 10-episode series. Some have professional shooting experience, some are amateurs –all will showcase breathtaking timing, speed and accuracy in their quest to win the $100,000 prize package and title of “Top Shot.” The winner will ultimately have to be skilled in everything from muzzle-loading muskets and modern pistols to slingshots and throwing knives. The series is hosted by actor, adventurer and athlete Colby Donaldson, a born competitor whose experience as a contestant on Survivor brings a unique perspective to HISTORY’s first elimination series.

Click here to visit the official Top Shot site. You can also become a fan of the show on Facebookand enter right here to win a Top Shot prize pack.

The prize pack includes: a Top Shot Super Soaker Water Gun, a HISTORY duffle bag, and a HISTORY track jacket. (All prizes courtesy of HISTORY.)

What do you have to do to enter? It’s easy…

Leave me a comment that explains what weapon you would like to use to hit a target from a good range (more than 25 yards) and what that target would be (please keep it to animals you might hunt, tin cans on a fence, or actual bullseyes – not your ex-wife, ex-boss, or worst enemy). I’ll pick a random entry (using the random number generator at, notify the winner, and post the results on June 30, 2010. All entries must be in by June 29, 2010.

Thanks for reading and good luck to all the contestants! And be sure to tune into the series premiere of Top Shot on Sunday, June 6th at 10/9c on HISTORY!


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[TV News] Who’s the Top Shot! on the HISTORY Channel?

History (TV channel)
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It seems that June will be one heck of a month for television. Top Shot! brings together 16 of the greatest marksmen (and a markswoman) from around the world to recreate some of history’s most amazing feats of accuracy…

Here’s some info from a recent press release:

“HISTORY is tapping into these inspiring feats of sharp-shooting for it’s first-ever competition series – and one contestant will emerge with a $100,000 prize package and the title of “Top Shot.”

In each episode, contenders will face team and elimination challenges inspired by real events in history, from Wild West shootouts to modern-day sniper missions. Every challenge will reveal the weapons, technologies and tactics of a different era, while hi-speed HD cameras capture the skillful execution of each test with breathtaking precision in extreme slow-motion.”

And here’s a trailer to give you a taste…

Set your DVRs for June 6th at 10pm/9c on the HISTORY Channel!


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