Now that we’re four episodes into the season, let me comment again on the new format. My wife says it’s not the same show, that it’s lost a lot of the excitement. I agree with her; it’s not the same show, but from my perspective that’s a good thing! True, the tension between personalities is gone, which drove much of the drama. I suspect Top Shot may lose a significant section of viewers who liked the Survivor-style format of voting, but for people who care about shooting, which is the premise of the show, the new format is the way to go. To me, it’s like the difference between eating a salad and a ball of bacon lard. One is fresh and good for you, and while the other may taste better, it makes you feel greasy and sick. Let me know what you think.
Back to the action. For this episode, they chose a primitive weapon, the longbow. I love primitive weapon challenges on Top Shot, because they prove a shooter’s versatility, and level the playing field. Upon seeing the longbow, Chris Cerino called it “the great equalizer,” and it definitely was. For anyone not familiar with shooting bows, and particularly primitive bows, there is an art to it, and it takes a lot of practice to be really good. The aiming process is one of body mechanics and consistency; selecting an anchor point for your hold, and gauging your elevation relative to distance.
Everyone did reasonably well during practice, except for Gary Quesenberry and Gabby Franco. Gary was fumbling like an amateur, with five or six arrows flipping off the string before the draw, while Gabby gasped and winced as the bowstring thwacked her forearm. This is how they edited the video, so of course I knew what was coming.
For the challenge, the competitors had 45-seconds to shoot as many arrows as possible at a burlap tarp on the ground one hundred yards away—a target painted on the tarp with concentric rings going from 50 points (bullseye) out to 20. There were also two smaller 100-point circles in the upper corners of the tarp, the whole thing resembling a skee-ball game. The shooter with the most points won a beautiful compound bow, while the four lowest scoring would go to the range to see who would face off in elimination.
As I suspected, Gary crushed everyone with 240 points, and Gabby finished a respectable fifth. Kelly Bachand, who won the last two challenges, finished second. That boy is on a roll, and looking very dangerous. I know Joe Serafini, who is a world-ranked, and national-champion archer was disappointed with his paltry 60 points, but the losers of the day were Jamie Franks (50), Alex Charvat (20), William Bethards (0), and Kyle Sumpter (0). Wow, goose eggs at this level of competition are rarely forgiven.
At the range, shooters used a scoped rifle on a bipod to see who could shoot closest to center. Both Alex and William had outstanding shots, within .5 inches of center, sending Jamie and Kyle to elimination.
Here was another opportunity I would love—Jamie and Kyle faced off in a head-to-head challenge with Gatling guns! I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t enjoy cranking off a few thousand rounds with these tripod-mounted monsters! From their practice, I suspected Jamie had the upper hand, as he was able to hold a tighter group, and handled the reloading a bit better than Kyle.
Their challenge was to be the first one to cut down three 4-inch telegraph poles. Jamie, veteran of numerous elimination challenges, got off to a quick start, while Kyle struggled with reloading. Jamie cut his first two poles down and working on his third before Kyle downed his first. Kyle started to pick the pace up though, and caught up to Jamie, but it was too little, too late. Jamie destroyed his third pole, eliminating Kyle from the competition.
Kyle is a great person, a great competitor, and a good shooter—but not the best among this group, and so his elimination was appropriate. Ah, doesn’t it feel good when a competition is fairly fought and fairly won? Congratulations to Jamie, who, once again, proved his determination to stray in this competition.