Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Top Shot Recap: S4 E3 "Shotgun Showdown"

Everybody loves the shotgun. It's a big powerful weapon that says I'm here to kick ass and take names. It also seems to be one that can be tricky as hell to shoot precisely.

Last night's episode started with a short soliloquy to fallen red team member Keith Gibson, but the action quickly shifted to the practice range, where the contestants found out thy would be shooting two kinds of shotguns. First, they would be shooting slugs with the Benelli M4, a badass looking gun, that's all business. Then they would practice with the Benelli Vinci, shooting shot.

The real treat came when Colby announced the expert for this challenge would be season two winner, Chris Reed. Reed looked happy to be back and had a good time joking around with Colby. Red team seeemed to get a handle on the Benellis pretty quick, and while blue seemed to struggle. There was no expert pick in this episode but Reed gave the edge to red team for the team challenge.

Kyle Sumpter was quick to point out that what the red team had that blue lacked was cohesion, something I was ready to scoff at, until the screen cut to blue team member William Bethards backing up Sumpter's presumtion.

The team challenge was straighforward. Contestants would go up two at a time, one to shoot the M4 loaded with slugs, the other would shoot the Vinci loaded with shot. The shooter with the M4  had to shoot a moving target which would trigger the launch of two clay pigeons that the other shooter would have to shoot. The contestants would then go to the back of line of the gun they had not shot. This would continue for four minutes. The twist was that the team would only get points for the clay targets that were hit.

Red team was first, and it was pretty obvious they had a good handle on these weapons. They shouted encouragment and reminders about safetys without becoming obnxious. They were amped up, and focused on the challenge. Their shooting process was smooth and methodical, and helped them take down 17 targets.

For blue team, it was a whole other story. They took thirty seconds just to get through their first round of shooting. There was miscommunication, little hustle, and a fairly sour disposition on everyone's face. Their poor attitudes affected their shooting, only managing to hit nine targets, meaning they were headed back to elimination.

At the house the discussion on who to nominate took an odd turn. The episode started with Gregory Littlejohn, like a kid at camp, expressing what good friends he had made so far in the competition among the blue team. However this initial profession of love set up the theme for blue teamin this episode, a team that was sorely fractured. Littlejohn flat out said he wouldn't nominate one of his friends, regardless of how they performed. This set up some bad feelings among the rest of his teammates who thought that this wasn't the best way to go about nomination.

Terry Vaughan fell on the sword, saying flat out he had not performed (indeed, Vaughan failed to hit any of his clay targets), which seemed to satisfy most of the group, but left the second nominee questionable.

At the range Vaughan knew he was going to the range within the first four shooters. Littlejohn made his decision look like it was life or death, shooting Vaughan's target even though he was already locked into elimination. In the end it was Michelle Viscusi, nominated with two votes, who ended up with Vaughan in the elimination challenge.

At the elimination practice, both contestants were less than thrilled to learn they would be shooting another Benelli, this time, the Nova. Michelle revealed that the last two days of shooting had taken a toll on her shoulder, and she was in danger of becoming fatigued in the challenge, despite performing well in practice. Vaughan was simply inexperienced with using shotguns, and took a little longer getting a handle on the weapon than Viscusi.

The elimination challenge had a nice carnival feel to it. Viscusi and Vaughan would shoot side by side at a wheel on a track. The wheel had three targets that, when hit, would propel the wheel down the track. They would start with shot, but once they got past a certain point they could switch to slugs, the idea being a slug woud pack more of a punch, but make it harder to be shoot precisely. The practice session emphasized timing their hits, and it was critical in this challenge. If the wheel was hit while rocking forward, a direct hit would stop it dead in its track.

It was this aspect that Viscusi had trouble with. She just couldn't seem to get it down. Vaighan on the other hand was rocking it. He got his wheel past the marker and made the decision to switch to slugs, propelling his wheel off the track just as Viscusi seemed to find her rhythm.

So we say goodbye to Ms. Vuscusi and Top Shot's first real piece of eye candy.

Blue team has some serious work to do if they want to pull themselves back into the competition, but I'll discuss more of that tomorrow in my analysis.

What did you think of episode three? Hit the comments and let me know.

Follow me on Twitter @cswiets

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top Tweets Vol. 3: Attack of the Tweets

Full Metal Jousting.

Full Metal Jousting.

Full Metal Jousting.

Are you kidding me? I rush back from work to catch the encore of episode three and I'm greeted with modern day knights on horseback. Sigh. So instead of watching the latest episode, I'm watching The Daily Show, and trying to figure out if I should stay up to catch the encore at 1 a.m. or wake up early and try and catch it online.

I was a little worried about this weeks edition of Top Tweets, because Colby didn't seem to be dropping too many tidbits that he hasn't dropped before (I get it, filming for each episode takes place over the course of three days). But during the second-half of the episode it got a little better. Unfortunately, there are some things I simply did not understand because I have not seen the episode. So here's my best effort.

  • Colby had a lot to say tonight about the camera and editing work. I like how he really goes the extra mile to give credit to everyone involved in the production of this show.
  • Top Guns is filmed on separate ranch than Top Shot, which begs the question: Why are ranches so desperate to have people shoot on their property?
  • There is no mercy rule on Top Shot, to which we can all say, "Thank God."
  • The wood deck in the backyard covers a pool, which begs the questions: Why do we trust these contestants to shoot firearms, but not to swim without a lifeguard? 
  • A casita is a small house. The women stay in it separate from the men, but share all the other amenities of the main house.
  • Apparently the reason we have not seen any nighttime challenges is because they are incredibly difficult to film. (This might be something to discuss in a future post)
  • The bulls-eye where the eliminated contestants targets are hung was put up because the owners got tired of patching the holes in the wall.

I should also mention I have completely broken down and followed every Season 4 cast member I can find on Twitter. I've realized that in an effort to promote this blog, the people who are going to care most are the people currently on the show (no offense to past contestants, I'd love their support as well).  And so far it seems to be paying off slowly, but surely. In addition to previously mentioned Terry Vaughan, Tim Trefren started following me today, as did Season 2 competitor Jay Lim (but he seems to follow anyone who follows him). I'm gunning for (get it?) Season 3 champion Dustin Ellermann next (if anyone can help me out with this I'd appreciate it).

However, my major fear was that this would spoil the competition for me, and unfortunately I was kind of right. I've been following Colby's live tweets during the show, but most of his tweets are spoiler free, or at least vague enough to keep it interesting. The contestants, on the other hand, are a chaotic jumble of tweets congratulating contestants and teams for winning challenges. Now, that's not their fault, it's mine or working during Top Shot, but man, it is difficult to focus solely on Colby when so many other tweets are clogging my feed. (I eventually solved this problem by simply clicking on Colby's profile, simple solutions to simple problems.)

Post schedule for the rest of the week is as follows:
Wednesday afternoon: Recap of Episode 3
Thursday afternoon/evening: Analysis of Episode 3
Friday afternoon/evening: Surprise mystery post (get excited, there's a hint hidden in this post)

See you tomorrow.

Follow me on Twitter @cswiets

A Quick Word on the Tragedy in Chardon

I wanted to take a moment to quickly discuss the tragedy that happened in Chardon on Monday.

There has been a lot of talk with the upcoming election and recent state laws about gun control, conceal and carry, and other issues concerning the Second Amendment. I don't mean to use this blog as place to spout political diatribes, as I've mentioned I'm analyzing this first and foremost as a television program meant to entertain an audience, and how well it succeeds at doing that. However, while I do not like to hold myself to any particular political party, I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment. I think what many people do not realize is that there is more to this amendment than simply "the right to bear arms." The full text reads "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It this complete idea that I fully stand behind. It doesn't say anything about having kids bringing those arms to school. I would hope that all of my readers would agree, that that is no place for firearms of any kind.

It might seem crass or insensitive to continue to blog about a show that seemingly glorifies the use of firearms so soon after this incident. What happened in Chardon was another grim reminder of the troubled, violent world we live in.

However Top Shot has never been an outlet for promoting gun violence. In fact I would argue it doesn't promote any violence. Take last season, where it was strongly implied that part of the contestants agreement to participate in the competition includes not engaging in physical confrontation with each other (see the confrontation between Mike Hughes and Jake Zwieg). 

Top Shot always has its contestants using their firearms in a proper location, a gun range. It has a disclaimer before every show to remind viewers that these are professions shooting under the supervision of other professionals. The contestants practice with experts to ensure they are using the guns properly and safely. Sure, there is a lot of shooting going on, and all the camera angles and slow-mo shots make it look pretty damn cool, but the contestants are never shooting at each other, and rarely do that shoot at anything other than a target (Season 2's trick shot episode where they had to shoot a corncob pipe is the only instance I can remember where they ever shot at anything remotely resembling a human, Season 2's paintball competition notwithstanding). 

If anything Top Shot is a shining example of responsible firearm use.

I don't expect anyone to take up a torch against the show following this incident, mostly for the reasons I've already stated and the show's audience size, but I still felt there was an opportunity here to say something that might need to be said.

Monday, February 27, 2012

In Defense of the Expert Pick

There's been something on my mind today.

Last week I made some comments about how the experts picking a contestant who did the best in the practice session doesn't serve much of purpose. The contestant isn't granted immunity from elimination. The contestant doesn't receive any advantage in the team challenge. They don't even get a Bass Pro Shops gift card. What they get is a pat on the back from an expert who doesn't really seem to see the point of choosing someone either.

For a long time Colby has been an outspoken opponent of this part of the show. He often takes time to comment on Twitter during his live tweeting of episodes to point out he too does not see the point. At face value it doesn't really seem to add anything to competition.

And for the past two seasons, I've agreed with him.

Then, during last week's episode, things continued as normal. The first practice session of the season showed the contestants shooting with the help of an expert. The expert picked his best shooters, and the contestants went back to the house. At the house...nothing happened. No one really talked the practice session.

So it got me thinking, what really was the point of the expert picks?

In season's past teams have often openly discussed how their practice sessions went and even who their expert pick was. Then, either in Season 2 or Season 3 (sorry, can't remember exactly when, if you know hit the comments) teams started to clam up.


Teams started to realize that revealing their best shooters might give the other team an unfair advantage in the team challenge, particularly if a team had the opportunity to sit a player from an opposing team. Teams didn;t want their strongest assest denied from shooting in a challenge. Last week, there was no discussion about the practice session (at least from what was shown, who knows what ended up on the editing room floor) and blue team ended up way off base by sitting red team member Chee Kwan.

Let's consider this though, while the expert picks don't give any obvious advantage to either team for a challenge, it does have a huge impact on how the team strategizes for the challenge. Almost every challenge involves shooters going head to head, competing to beat a member from the opposing team. Teams often try to front load their lineup with good shooters in the hopes that they will give their team a significant time advantage when the less skilled shooters come up to shoot and potentially take longer to hit their targets. The expert pick helps teams determine that order. Plus, the expert pick is only an opinion, and it's not unusual to see team's go for shooter experience over the opinion of the expert.

I mentioned earlier that there is no direct reward for being the expert's pick, but that's not a bad thing. The real reason I'm glad that there isn't a reward aspect to the practice sessions is that the show doesn't need to add another competitive aspect to it. The lack of reward helps keep the contestants focused on learning the weapon in the practice session, which is as it should be. Many times these are weapons the contestants have little or no experience with. it's important they stay focused not only on how to use the weapon and shoot it effectively, but how to use it safely.

While there may not seem to be a point to the expert pick, there is less of a point of having a team compete against itself. The way this is set up, it keeps the expert in a position of power, they have nothing to give but their opinion. It keeps the teams working cohesively instead of divisively.

More importantly, it gives the team members a point of reference. I know we made it through one season without this part of the show, but think about what would happen if they got rid of it. Egos might get out of control and teams could crumble. Too many people claiming to be the best can destroy a team's ability to work together.

It's just another thing that separates Top Shot from other reality shows. Other shows strive to create as much drama among the people involve as possible, but not Top Shot. Top Shot wants to maintain the integrity of its competition, and the expert pick helps it do that.

Agree? Disagree? Hit the comments and let me know

Follow me on Twitter @cswiets

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Talkin' 'bout Terry

Hello, all, it's Oscar Sunday, so I have some other priorities at the moment. However, I thought I'd take a minute this afternoon to throw up a quick post about Season 4 blue team contestant, Terry Vaughan. As I've mentioned Terry and his wife started following me on Twitter this past week, and have offered some words of encouragement and retweeted the link to this blog for me. I'm a big believer in "what goes around, comes around" or "one good turn deserves another" whichever you prefer. So in a way to pay back their kindness, here are some links to let help you get to know Terry Vaughan a little better.

First off, you can follow him on Twitter @terry_empowers

Next stop by Terry's website to get a better idea of the line of work he's in.

While you're there, be sure to check out his blog, which provides additional insight into Season 4.

Also, to get a taste of what his writing is like, I highly recommend reading this post reflecting on Top Shot and what it says about America.‘top-shot’/

Finally, make sure to like his Facebook his page here:

There you go, hopefully if I can get some further interaction with contestants both present and past, I can do some more posts like this.

Continue to check back as we gear up for Episode 3 later this week.

Follow me on Twitter @cswiets

Friday, February 24, 2012

Toppest Shot: Imagining an All-Star Season

There has been a lot of talk on Twitter lately about doing an all-star season of Top Shot. While the idea is certainly appealing, it also raises a lot of questions. What would an all-star season look like? Is the show to young to pull this off? And most importantly, who gets to come back for another (and please pardon the phrasing) shot? I'll do a little theorizing and make some wild speculations, sprinkled with my own opinion of what I would like to see. 

So where to begin? 

Colby has seemed to imply that the all-star season is an idea that is being actively discussed, but for a show that only has four seasons under its belt, is it too soon?

This being Top Shot, the answer is yes and no. An all-star season of Top Shot would not be the same as an all-star season of Survivor. Survivor strives not only to bring back contestants that make it far in the competition, but also those with the most memorable personalities. (fact: I haven't watched a full season of Survivor since Season 2, which ironically is when Colby was playing). Top Shot is all about being able to beat the best, but while Survivor waited until Season 8 to do its first all-star season, giving it a large pool of contestants to choose from, doing an all-star season after only four or (more likely) five seasons might not be large enough to satisfy the Top Shot audience. Going under the assumption that the all-star season would only have 16 contestants, and that it would take place after Season 4, it would make sense to bring back four shooters from each season. 

While I enjoy the contestants from these seasons, I think they would be too familiar to the audience, and familiarity hurts the diversity of the cast, which is one of Top Shot's strong suits. 

I also wonder whether or not it would make sense to break them up into teams. I assume they would, but I can't imagine one of the winners being happy about going back to the team format after making it all the way to the end of the competition. It would be interesting to see everyone wearing a green jersey and have a completely individual competition season. However, this would also be clumsy and a bit of a slog to watch in the early episodes I imagine. 

The challenges could also be interesting. Now, it wouldn't make sense to have them compete in a best of style grab bag of the best challenges of the first four seasons, that would come off as lazy. It might make sense to bring the fans into the decision making process a little though. I'm talking about the weapons. The difficulty with Top Shot is that there is such a long time between filming and airing the episodes. This often prevents audience interaction. But imagine if each week, while they were filming the all-star season, History posted a poll with the choice of three weapons from past season, with the fans encouraged to pick the one they would most like to see the contestants compete with. The contestants wouldn't know the challenge or the results until the episode actually aired. Honestly, I really think the fans want to be involved in this show as much as possible, and it's a better avenue than the "text who should go home" option they are currently using. There should definitely be new weapons involved in this season, it needs to continue to be a challenge to show that these contestants to have the ability to master and overcome any screwball thrown in their path. It would also be better than just bringing back the best weapons from past seasons, because if you get a contestant that has proven themselves a pro with that weapon, it's dissolves the tension when they compete in a challenge. 

I think that covers most of what I wanted to discuss about teams and challenges and the like. I do, however, want to pick the contestants I'd love to see have another run at the title. I'm only picking from the first three seasons, and only picking four contestants from each season (the assumption being a all-star season taking place after the current season would include four contestants from each season). I'll pick three givens and one wild card, just to keep it interesting

Season 1
Iain Harrison - The first, and still one of the best. It would be hard for anyone to claim themselves Top Shot in an all-star season if they didn't go head to head with this man.

JJ Racaza - Third overall, but first in our hearts. Racaza's got amazing speed shooting skills, and a likeable personality that would make him a welcome addition to this all-star cast.

Kelly Bachand - One of Top Shot's youngest contestants at the time, he showed he could hold his own against experienced shooters. A few more yeasr shooting experience have undoubtedly expanded this kid's skillset.

Wild Card:
Tara Poremba - Now I can't take full credit for this, I stole this idea from a fan who tweeted Colby about it. Poremba was forced to leave the competition to go see her ailing father, but I would argue she would have made it to the individual portion of the competition had she remained. I'd love to see her come back for a fair run at the title.

Season 2
Chris Reed - Again you have to go with the champ. Not to mention Reed is one of the easiest going and earnest people that's ever participated in this competition.

George Reinas - If you're a fan of the show, you know Reinas pulled off one of the most unprecedented moves in reality-show history, seeming to throw away his chance of winning the competition to ensure Reed made it to the final challenge. Reinas grated on me for most of the season, he's got a big ego, but he's proved there's a lot more to him than what's on the surface.

Jamie Franks - For some reason Franks became Season 2's whipping boy. Reinas turned the other contestants against him by hyping up that he was dishonest about his background. I'd love to see these two get back under the same roof going head to head.

Wild Card:
Jay Lim - Not exactly the wildest card, but Lim proved himself a competitor. His amateur status meant he had to fight for respect the whole way, especially when the competition got down to almost all army personnel. But this all-star competition needs some amateur representation, so it might as well be Lim.

Season 3
Dustin Ellermann - Why break a good pattern? Ellermann smoked his competition proving adept with every weapon that was put in his hands, but I'd love to see how he fares against some of the pro's from Seasons 1 and 2.

Gary Quesenberry - Undoubtedly my favorite Top Shot contestant of all time. I wish I could tell you why, maybe it's his name, maybe it's his "I'm here having a ball" personality. Whatever the reason, third overall in this competition is nothing to be scoffed at, and I'd love to see him have another go around.

Phil Morden - I wasn't a huge fan of the rule Colby put into place after Jake Zweig left. I have nothing aginst Mike Hughes, I liked him from the minute he started shooting, but in this competition, I believe if you're out, you're out. Morden should have been able to advance, winning by forfeit, but unfortunately he was bested by Hughes in the elimination challenge. Morden deserves another chance where extenuating circumstances don't determine his fate.

Wild Card:
Jarrett Grimes - Pretty much just because he's Quesenberry's buddy, and I want Quesenberry to be happy.

There you go, four people from three seasons of Top Shot, I might come back and update this once season four is over. I know it's not the best cast in terms of diversity, but hopefully Michelle Viscusi or Gabby Franco can make a name for themselves this season and at least get the token two women in this all-star season.

Thoughts? Ideas? Other opinions that might not be generally positive? Hit the comments.

Follow me on Twitter @ cswiets

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Top Shot Analysis: S4 E2 "Into the Trenches"

Last week I spent a fair amount of words breaking down the challenges, and touched briefly on my first impressions of the contestants.

(Sidenote: I keep wanting to write characters instead of contestants, mostly because I'm trying to analyze this first and foremost as a television program.)

This time around I think it is going to go the other way, but we'll see. That's half the fun. At this point, I don't even know how much I'm going to say.

The Challenges
The first challenge was the first one of the season to feature a physical component, and also the first to feature Top Shot's second favorite set piece (the first being exploding targets) barbed-wire. I liked this challenge because it shows the gradual complexity that Top Shot employs in its challenges. Week one, we stand and shoot at targets with a revolver. Week two, we run, crawl under barbed-wire and shoot an automatic rifle.

The other thing I enjoyed about this challenge, especially coming right after Episode One, was how different it is to shoot an automatic weapon. Several contestants mentioned they were unfamiliar or had never even shot an automatic weapon before. The difference really shone through in the practice range. Taking one shot at a time and aiming each shot, is not the same as setting up a shot and letting loose a spray of bullets, and it showed on the practice targets.

When the challenges get more physical it can put extra strain on the contestants. This was evident in one of the first episodes of Season 2 where contestants were forced to run to a shooting platform and shoot around pool balls. This led to several injuries by the more out of shape contestants. Since then, the physical aspect of the challenges have helped to add extra tension by creating potential confusion among the contestants on what their next step was supposed to be.

In this challenge however (and I really should start paying more attention to the clever names that appear on the title cards, my goal for next weeks posts) the real anxiety was not getting to where the gun was, but what happened once you got there. The challenge featured typical Top Shot fare, exploding targets placed down range. However with the B.A.R. you needed someone to help spot your shot, which isn't a problem until you're whole team is shouting advice in the trench with you.

Again this episode helped highlight another aspect I have never thought about for this show. These early team challenges must be awful for the contestants. Not only are you often pitted against someone shooting nearby, not only do you have Colby yelling about every hit, miss or close call, but you also have your entire team shouting advice to you. I can't imagine trying to decipher what they were saying, much less putting that advice to use. (I'll talk about this aspect of the challenge more down in Contestant portion.)

The only issue I had with this challenge is that not every member of red team had an opportunity to actually shoot. It didn't seem to be an issue this time around for elimination, but I would hate to see someone thrown under the bus because they didn't have an opportunity to shoot because another team member wasn't fast enough completing their portion of the challenge.

There isn't much to say about the elimination challenge, except, oh wait, EFFing GRENADE LAUNCHERS! This season is really bringing the heat in terms of weapons. It was a fairly straightforward challenge, but I liked the fact that they were forced to load the weapon before they could begin the challenge. This seemed to be a key point emphasized in the practice and it really did determine who stayed and who went home. Top Shot is more than just hitting targets, its making sure the contestant with the best understanding of the weapon comes out on top.

Outside of that, I'd say the audience got exactly what they wanted. Cool weapons and some seriously sick explosions. (I mean really, was it just me, or were those some of the best explosions we've seen on Top Shot?)

Before the episode started, Colby tweeted a question asking if anyone thought one team really looked stronger than the other. Right now, I think it's too soon to tell. Both teams seem pretty evenly matched. They each have a few standouts, a couple in the middle, and as these first two episodes proved, they don't have anyone who is immune to choking.

The Contestants
I'm going to more firmly establish a format for this section of the post, but will try and follow how I talked about contestants last week. Here are my Top and Not-so-Top-Shots

Let's get the ugly out of the way first.


Let's start with Colin Gallagher, whose personality is already rubbing his teammates the wrong way. The little screen time he had did not do much to improve his imagine. That being said, he has two things going for him. One, he hasn't tried to be a leader, which hurt Jay Lim in Season 2. Two, the guy can clearly shoot, which can often (though not always) offset a disagreeable personality in this competition.

Gun Fauxeri (Dylan Fletcher) and Michelle Viscusi showed some weird flirtation that just didn't seem to belong in the house. This isn't Survivor, where contestants are roaming around in their underwear. This is Top Shot, people came to play. You can make friends, in fact I'd say it's almost expected in this competition, but you didn't come to fall in love. Not to mention the creepy nine year age difference (and the fact that I may have just developed a small crush on Viscusi).

Gregory Littlejohn continued to show of his cocky side from the minute he reentered the house after elimination last night.

Finally, I'm still not a huge fan of Kyle "Papa Bear" Sumpter. He still dominated most of the one-on-one camera time for some reason, and part of that is because he was in the elimination, but really this guy just doesn't have too much to say that I'm interested in.

On a more positive note...


I want to start with William Bethards. If you read last week's edition of this post you'll know I wasn't the deacon's biggest fan. This week though he seemed like a different person, more toned down and focused. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and blame his personality in the first episode on jitters due to starting the competition.

Chee Kwan gave perhaps one of the most honest and funniest reactions to being benched we've ever seen on Top Shot. He was clearly upset about not being in the team challenge, but still managed to keep it light-hearted. Reactions like that really let the audience know who came to play, and who just wants to get the money, and Chee came to play.

I'm also liking Tim Trefren. Trefren didn't get a lot of screen time, and while Sumpter has declared himself red team leader, Trefren has made it clear that he's ready to fill those shoes should he be asked to do so.

And last, but not least, the Toppest of Shots goes to Terry Vaughan. Vaughan had his entire team yelling in his ear about where he should be shooting, he kept cool under pressure and brought home the win for Blue. In addition his one-on-one reaction was great, displaying all the traits that make Top Shot contestants so different from any other reality show contestants. He was honest about what happened but was also able to laugh it off.

However, I also must disclose this is not my only reason for choosing him. In my Top Tweets post form earlier in the week I stated I would not be following any of the current contestants, a rule I had to break. Yesterday, Vaughan's wife followed me, and Vaughan himself soon after. I had a very nice exchange with Vaughan over twitter, and can say he is exactly the standup guy he has thus far presented himself as on the show. I really appreciate the supporting words he and his wife gave me about this blog, and their help in promoting it to their own followers.

That's a wrap on episode 2, hit the comments to let me know what you thought of this week's episode. Remember you can catch up on History's website or Hulu anytime.

I'll try and post my ideas about what an all-star season of Top Shot would look like in the next day or two, and will post a little more about Terry Vaughan over the weekend.

Follow me on Twitter: @cswiets

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Top Shot Recap S4 E2 "Into the Trenches"

On Top Shot, bigger is almost always better, and idea proven once again by last night’s explosive episode.

Blue team came back from elimination and Littlejohn had the honor of nailing the first bull’s-eye to the wall, and continued to reveal himself as this season’s cocky s.o.b.

The first time out on the practice range, the contestants learned they would be shooting a weapon that changed the course of WWI, the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.).

This season continued to utilize the somewhat pointless expert pick, with Bethards getting the honors for blue team, and Cheng, who claimed he had never shot an automatic weapon before, for red.

The team challenge threw in this season’s first physical component. Each contestant would have to crawl under twenty yards of barbed wire, while explosions went off around them (of course) and dive into a trench where a loaded B.A.R. was waiting for them. There were seven targets each at a progressively farther distance that had to be shot in order. When the first person made their shot, the next teammate ran through the course, and so on to completition.

Blue team was down one member so they decided to sit Chee Kwan, which I will discuss more in my analysis of this episode. After getting out to an early lead, red team quickly fell behind. Terry Vaughan, despite having the pressure of having to contend with the competing advice of each of his teammates, locked up a win for the blue team.

At the house the red team’s pity party was fairly cut and dry, Keith and Kyle nominated themselves, and that how it went down on the range.

However, Keith and Kyle were treated to perhaps one of the best surprises Colby could possibly give them. Last week, the contestants faced a rotation of rifles and pistols, a not uncommon pattern on Top Shot. However another pattern that pops up on Top Shot is shooting an older weapon and throwing the contestants off-balance by forcing them to shoot an incredibly modern one. Enter the Milkor M32A1 grenade launcher.

Keith and Kyle shot what looked to be either paint or powder capsules, not actual exploding grenades. There was no clear advantage in the practice session, but both seemed to have a good handle on the weapon, especially after expert Craig Sawyer (who by now is a familiar face to the Top Shot scene) told them they should think of it like a revolver.

A brief trip back to the house clued the other contestants into what they would be missing out on, and the reactions were priceless.

The elimination challenge consisted of four targets, with each again placed at a progressively further distance. Kyle and Keith were forced to load the grenade launcher and then begin shooting. Again they were not shooting live rounds, something I was relieved by when I saw Keith aiming his weapon at his feet, but rather they were shooting at targets that would explode in a way that mimicked the grenade when hit. After an even start, it all came down to who had a better reload. Keith made a critical error, allowing Kyle to finish him off.

Old Papa Bear is proving that he can keep up with the young guns, but we’ll have to see what happens next week when the contest welcomes back our old friends the Benelli shotgun and Season 2 winner, Chris Reed.

Follow me on Twitter: @ cswiets

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top Tweets: Week 2

I'm in the middle of watching the second episode as I type this post, my full recap will be up tomorrow. I work from 8-10 p.m. on Tuesdays and need to rush home to watch the repeat. However I can follow along with Colby's live tweeting while I am at work, so each week, I'll recap the best bits he throws out there.

  • The practice sessions always take place in the same location, but the challenges are always in a different area
  • Colby seems to suggest that the producers are thinking of what an all-star season would look like, I'm all for it although I think its a little early in the show's life, look for a full post on the subject later this week
  • The guns used in the team challenge are authentic B.A.R.s, not replicas
  • Colby jokes (probably) that they find the experts on Craigslist
  • Colby still isn't a fan of the expert's top pick, neither am I nor can I imagine many other people are
  • Shortly after commenting on the romantic tension between Viscusi and Fauxeri may be a first on Top Shot, a fan mentioned to Colby that he was forgetting about the tension between Mike and Jake in Season 3
  • Colby lays down the rules for the Top Shot drinking game: One drink for every time Colby has his hands on his hips, and each time he says "It's all tied up!" Double drinks for each time he says "It's neck and neck."
  • Colby says there will another "Good Morning Men" this season, does anyone know what the hell this means?
  • The gun used on the nomination range is a 1911 Kimber and comes from Colby's personal safe, which is awesome
  • Colby, in response to a tweet, mentions he wouldn't mind moving filming off the ranch and down to the Caribbean

Just a little not at the end here, I know there are Season 4 contestants who also have twitter pages that I did not list in my last Top Tweet. I am going to refrain from mentioning them here because I'd like to judge them solely on what is shown on each episode.

You can follow me on Twitter: @cswiets

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top Shot Analysis: S4 E1 "Sweating Bullets"

I already gave my recap of the first episode of Season 4 which can be viewed below. In the Analysis of the episode, I'll break down two things: How successful the challenges were at providing entertainment and tension, and the contestants and their motivations.

The Challenges
The first episode of season four started out more or less how we might have expected it to. There were not any guns that were terribly exciting, there were too many cast members in the competition to really get a feel for their personalities, and Colby was still Colby in all of his glory.

Let's look at the challenges first.

The opening target test to play your way into the competition was a fun diversion from the norm. Being in Season 4 and not Season 20, Top Shot still has some room to play around to find out what works and what doesn't without seeming gimmicky.

While I enjoyed the ranking system that was then divided by even and odds, I am still torn about sending two contestants home right off the bat. On the one hand it is a way to keep the game interesting, and weed out the weak links early. These early challenges on Top Shot work on the basic skill level of the contestants, testing their ability to perform with a basic weapon in a straightforward challenge. Shooting a rifle at a target X amount of yards away is about as basic as it gets in Top Shot. Forrest and Buckland proved not only could they not perform with the M14 but also that they could not withstand the pressure of the competition.

However,  I was kind of hoping to see the contestant field expanded this season. One, it would probably give us more episodes of Top Shot, and who doesn't want that. More so though, I would be interested to see what happens when they add a few more bodies to that house, I bet tensions would rise a little more quickly and personalities would clash a bit sooner.

As I mentioned in my recap, I liked the fluidity of this opening challenge as well. With Season 2, we didn't know who we're going to be the captains, but once we did the teams formed quickly. In Season 3 we saw the teams unfold in each head to head matchup. But here we saw the teams continue to change based on the performance of each contestant.

(Sidenote: does anyone else think its a little silly for the first two guys to go through and shake very ones hand after losing? I'm all about good sportsmanship, but there certainly seems something hollow about doing this after only knowing each other for one challenge. Not to mention the fact they don't have the camaraderie that comes from doing the team challenges.)

The team challenge was maybe the most frustrating challenge to ever appear on the show. There have often been challenges where a single contestant chokes and simply cannot make the shot. However, I don't think that there has ever been a challenge that has been so difficult for every contestant.

This may have been the first challenge where contestants were forced to make a perfect run on multiple shots to complete the challenge. In the past, the challenge has been that contestants have a clip only loaded with enough bullets to make a perfect run before they are forced to reload by hand, but never where they had to make a perfect run or the targets would be reset.

This being Top Shot, if we start the competition with rifle shooting, we move on to pistol shooting. Again I think this is smart in terms of keeping the competition interesting and fair.

The progressively smaller targets also forced the teams to strategize immediately and pick out each others strengths and weaknesses based solely on their reputations as shooters. To me this is the most interesting aspect of the early episodes because the contestants make assumptions about each other that often turn out to be wrong. Usually this involves the amateur contestants being sent to elimination challenges simply for their amateur status and forced to prove themselves to their teammates.

For the most part, I think the teams are pretty fairly matched, this challenge was by no means a blowout, but I'll be interested to see how the teams fare when the challenges get more physically demanding, like in next weeks obstacle course.

The elimination challenge took an interesting turn that followed in Season 3's footsteps. I was surprised last season when the first elimination challenged involved shooting from a moving stagecoach. Season 2 waited until the contestants made it to the green jersey phase before allowing them to shoot from the back of a Humvee. And here I was surprised again when the contestants were asked to shoot from a sidecar of a WWII motorcycle.

I enjoyed Colby's explanation of the challenge, stating that in the elimination challenge at least, they try and recreate the conditions under which the the weapon was being used. While an old dirt road on a cattle ranch is not the same as the narrow roads of Europe, the terrain could not have made the shooting easy.

It also shows the skill of the contestants that they were so evenly matched, with Littlejohn only winning because he used fewer bullets. This is a fair way to play, but man I wish Melloni had sent him home.

Overall I would say this first episode brought basic yet fun challenges that brought together everything I love about Top Shot, lots of shooting, lots of slo-mo, exploding targets, and a whole lot of Colby.

The Contestants
Now it would be unreasonable to go through each contestant this early in the competition, besides I already did an initial breakdown before episode one premiered. So instead I'll just go through some observations from the first episode.

There are several contestants who didn't make the best first impression with me. Number one being William Bethards, who didn't get a lot of screen time, but what time he did get was spent mugging and trying to come up with catch phrases.

Next up we got Kyle Sumpter, who for some reason dominated the first half of the program with his one on one interviews. The guy is trying to be the Quesenberry of this season, but his energy is off-putting.

As I couldn't hold back from mentioning in the recap, I also am not a fan of Gun Fauxeri (Dylan Fletcher). You never want to be in an elimination. Period. You can ooh and aah at the challenge all you want, but you never outright say you would rather have the potential of going home than staying in the competition.

Finally, on my not-so-top-shot list is Gregory Littlejohn, who took his camera time to inform the audience that his name was ironic because he's a big guy. But I can forgive him for that, we've heard a lot worse come out of some the contestants mouths. No, what I didn't like was how he got progressively...let's say nastier, as the episode went on. He started out fairly likable but got too defensive when he was on the chopping block and was too quick to pounce on Frank Melloni. Credit where credit is due, he did nominate himself due to his poor performance, and he said he would go in and shoot his way out, which he did.
But he's got some work to do to win me back.

As for those I liked, well, it was a tough episode to gauge the rest of the contestants because the ones I mentioned were most prominently featured. However, I will go ahead and pick out two.

First, for general likability, let's go with Brit Terry Vaughan, who seemed easy going, intrigued, and ready to play the game. I'll leave it at that.

Second, let's take a closer look at female contestant Michelle Viscusi. She's the youngest contestant now that Forrest is out, but she may have pulled off the smartest move in Top Shot with nobody noticing. At the nomination range Littlejohn was already pretty clearly in the challenge, but Melloni only had one vote. The women on Top Shot on almost automatically in danger of being nominated in the early episodes simply based on their gender, which is unfortunate, but the way the game works. I think Viscusi recognized this and decided instead of wasting her vote by putting another bullet in Littlejohn's target, she'd make sure she was protected in case anyone of her teammates was feeling particularly sexist. It was a smart move and as I said, rather unannounced. I'm excited to see what she brings in the weeks ahead.

That's a wrap on episode one, I'll try and get a quick History Lesson post up about last weeks guns sometime tomorrow. Remember new episode at 10/9 central and repeated immediately afterwards.

Follow the man himself @Colby_Donaldson, and myself @cswiets.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top Shot Recap: S4 E1 "Sweating Bullets"

[Note: Recaps will let you know what happened in each episode, come back tomorrow for my analysis where I will break down my thoughts on the challenges and the contestants.]

Season 4 of Top Shot got off to a exciting if slightly predictable start last night. After the initial obligatory montage explaining the stakes of the game and the "Oh hey look how diverse our contestants are!" rollcall, Colby brought us right into the action.

The season's first twist came in the form of this season's prize. Instead of playing for the title of "Top Shot" and the $100,000 prize, the contestants would also win a shooting contract sponsored by who else, but Bass Pro Shops.

But the surprises didn't end there. This season brought in two extra contestants to compete, but while some may have thought we were in store for two teams of nine this season, what we got was another opening challenge surprise.

In season two, the two marksmen closest to the bulls-eye were selected as red and blue team captains. In season three, two contestants faced off head to head, the losers ended up on one team, the winners on the other.

This season Top Shot brought a fun twist. The contestants shot a M14 rifle at a metal target 200 yards away. The sixteen contestants closest to the center would be in the competition, the two contestants furthest from center were sent packing immediately. The two contestants who fired their first and last shots were Mr. Prep himself, Forrest McCord, the youngest contest, who in my initial contestant post, suspected might  have trouble in the competition, and Craig Buckland the 47 year old chemist.

The contestants who made it into the competition were ranked based on their distance from the center. The odd numbers were assigned to the blue team and the even numbers were assigned red. The ranking system kept it interesting because the teams were in flux until the last shooter was settled.

Back at the house Dylan Fletcher, who looks like Guy Fieri's brother, and who I will from here on out refer to as Fauxeri, proposed a toast to all the contestants before team allegiance and challenge performance inevitably raises tensions in the house.

The first team challenge involved the Ruger Vaquero revolver. (In these early episodes Top Shot likes to give the contestants something they can pick up and shoot instead of wasting time with the experts.) The contestants would shoot at eight rows of progressively smaller targets. Each contestant was assigned to a specific row with six targets that the contestant would need to make a perfect run on. If they missed they had to give up their turn and wait until they went through the rotation again.

There was serious skill in this competition, but as it often does in Top Shot, it came down to who cracked and who performed under pressure. For the blue team, the biggest crack, was in their biggest teammate, Greg Littlejohn.

While the teams were tied up with one row apiece, Littlejohn couldn't best Chris Cheng from the Red Team.

At the house for the traditional post challenge pity fest, I mean team meeting, Littlejohn owned up to his mistakes, but pounced on Frank Melloni for his poor performance as well.

On their first trip to the nomination range, the Blue Team voted Littlejohn (four votes) and Melloni (3 votes) into the elimination challenge, with Terry Vaughan forced to sit on the bench by Colby since his vote was unnecessary.

Littlejohn and Melloni practiced with expert Garry James, shooting the M1 carbine from the sitting position. Melloni looked good in practice, speaking confidently about his comfort level with the rifle. Littlejohn had never shot the weapon before and his practice session showed it.

At the challenge though it was a different story. The shooter had to practice from the sitting position because they would be emulating a WWII sidecar gunman. (After the reveal Fauxeri foolishly claimed he didn't care if he could be eliminated, he wanted into the challenge) Melloni, just the challenge to enter the competition had to go first. He hit 6 our of 10 targets. Littlejohn did the same in his run, but in Top Shot, the tie always goes to the marksmen who did it with the fewest bullets. Mellloni spent his entire clip. Littlejohn only fired 10 bullets.

In the end it was the experienced marksmen who won over the self-taught amateur.

Top Tweets

First of all I want to give big thanks to the man himself, Colby Donaldson, for retweeting the link to this blog before last night's premiere. That guy is awesome.

Second I am working on my first recap, it should be up later this evening, or early tomorrow morning.

In the meantime I thought it would be a good idea to see what some of the past contestants are up to, and so below I have made a list of active twitter accounts for past contestants if you feel inclined to follow them.

I also thought I would do a quick recap of some tidbits Colby let drop during his livetweet of last nights episode:
  • No surprise, but this season will also feature past contestants, any thoughts on who will pop up?
  • There will be more WWII weapons featured this season.
  • The glasses this blog is looking through are apparently Ray-Bans
  • This season was film between August and September of last year and had some blistering heat to contend with
  • The show is filmed on a large cattle ranch where the cattle are apparently very good at dodging bullets.
  • The first episode used 1276 bullets

[Note: I have only included contestants that seem to tweet regularly, there are other contestants with accounts, but they have used them infrequently.Let me know if you would like those as well.]

The Man Behind the Glasses

Colby Donaldson: @Colby_Donaldson

Season 1 Contestants

Caleb Giddings: @radicaleb

Denny Chapman: @ChapmanDenny

J.J. Racaza: @JJRacaza

Season 2 Contestants

Athena Lee: @athena_lee

Jay Lim: @jaylimgolf

Season 3 Contestants

Sara Ahrens: @SaraAhrens

Jake Zweig: @JakeZweig

Dustin Ellerman: @TopShotDustin

And don't forget you can always follow me @cswiets. I will try and do more updates on past contestants throughout this season.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top Shot Premieres Tonight 10/9 Central

Just a few reminders.

Top Shot returns tonight with its Season 4 premiere at 10 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central on History Channel.  Make sure to tune in. Also note that unlike seasons past, there will not be a replay of the premiere after the initial episode airs. Because of this and circumstances beyond my control, I will not be able to watch the premiere until it is available online tomorrow. This means my first recap will not up until late tomorrow, or early Thursday.

Also don't forget to follow Colby on Twitter @Colby_Donaldson to read along as he live tweets the show.

Enjoy the show tonight and here is the tentative schedule for the rest of the week:

Recap (Late Wed. or Thurs.)
Analysis (Thurs./Fri.)
History Lesson (Fri./Sat.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Top 3 Reasons You Should be Watching Top Shot

I figured it would be a good idea, if you are going to continue reading this blog, why you should be watching this show. I wrote this post for another blog after the end of Season 2, and thought I would repost it here. This way you get an idea for why I love this show, and feel free to add your own reason's in the comments, I'd love to hear them.

1. Guns
Imagine your favorite reality-competition show, and imagine the one thing that would make that show even better. For me, I'm thinking Survivor, and I'm thinking guns. Guns make everything more interesting, and it's a wonder that no other reality-competition show has exercised their 2nd Amendment rights to spice up the competition. But it's not just the guns, its' the explosions. What's that you ask? This show has guns and explosions? Why yes, yes it does. See instead of simply shooting at wood, or paper targets, contestants often are shooting at long range targets that explode the minute a bullet hits them. This combined with the wide variety of weapons, both new and historical (it is the History Channel after all) gives the show much of its punch, and sets it apart from the more common fare of reality-competition shows.

2. Colby
Suck it Probst
Every great reality-competition show needs a great host. Enter Colby Donaldson, man, myth, Survivor: Australian Outback runner-up. To put it plainly the guy simply owns the show. He tells the contestants what they need to do and how they need to do it, with minimal small talk. But the real sell comes from the fact that Colby actually seems to enjoy what he's doing. He's not a Donald Trump or a Tyra Banks who are doing a show for their ego, and he's not a Jeff Probst (although I like to imagine Jeff gave Colby some tips at a secret reality-competition hosting school, I want to go there someday) who's been doing the gig so long the thrill has worn off. He's fresh and he's loving it, and he gets to play with guns too, so who can blame him.

3. It's so simple, it's stupid
The contestants are divided into two team: Red and Blue. That's it, no silly tribe names, no funky bandannas, just people in plainly colored polo shirts. The show is divided into two parts, first the team competition. This usually involves the introduction of a new weapon and some type of target style shootout with a twist to increase the difficulty of the challenge. Whatever team does the best wins, the other team has to vote for two members to be eliminated. The losing team goes to the Nomination range, unlike Survivor where votes are secretly cast, the losing team goes to range where the find each of there names attached to a bulls-eye. Each team member takes a pistol and shoots the target of the person they think should be eliminated. Right in front of them! It's Awesome! Plus the best part is that these contestants are so impersonal, almost everything is about performance to them, there are rarely secret alliances, you know if you've sucked in the competition you're being nominated. The two contestants with the most votes then face off in a head to head elimination challenge. And that's it, the person who does the best gets to stay, the person who loses goes home.

Top Shot Season 4 premieres 9:00 p.m Central this Tuesday on History Channel, and is usually available for viewing the next day on Hulu or on

Breaking Down the Contests - Part 1

Season 4 begins on Tuesday, but History has already released profiles of the 16 contestants vying for this season's top prize. I want to break down the contestants in two parts. Part One will profile the contestants based solely on the descriptions on the Top Shot website, Part Two will be published after the first episode airs and we get a real feel for the contestant's personalities.

Top Shot has followed the age-old adage of it if ain't broke, don't fix it. Its contest formula is tried and true and so we see a very similar mix in Season 4.

Two women (likely to be eliminated early). Check.

Two black guys. Check.

Two Asians (yeah two). Check.

And a bunch of white dudes of varying ages and backgrounds. Check.

Let's go a little deeper:

Augie Malekovich - Male, 34, works for Homeland Security. Homeland Security has brought some strong contestants to the field but they tend to fizzle out. He is the winner of the Triple Nickel shooter award, but the Wikipedia page says that any standard issue firearm can be used, so unfortunately I can't assign him a specialty at this time.

Chee Kwan - Male, 23, works at a shooting range, with possibly the coolest title of any job I have heard of, Range Master. Being a range master implies a familiarity with a variety of arms, and having that title at such a young age means he must know his way around weapons. He is also a Marine, and apparently a bit of a mama's boy. He wants to win the competition for his mother, which may be putting his priorities in the wrong place. Contestant's who have put their families first in the past, often see that come back to bite them in the ass. (See Season 1 Contestant Tara Poremba or Season 3 contestant Billy Rogers).

Chris Cheng - Male, 31, IT guy. Our first amateur, but one who has been raised with a weapon in his hand. He is familiar with pistols, rifles, and shotguns, which covers him in the basics of shooting guns, but I suspect this guy is going to stumble when Colby starts throwing the curve balls. (Early prediction: This is the first guy to complain about the possibility of being eliminated by a tomahawk challenge.)

Colin Gallagher - Male, 35, Police Sergeant. His profile doesn't offer much about his shooting skills, except to say he is good, which at this point should be a given (although aren't we all waiting for that season where they just hand over some high powered weapons to people who have never even touched a gun?). His profile seems to suggest his personality is going to set him up as this season's Jake Zweig or George Reinas.

Craig Buckland - Male, 47, and get this, he's a chemist. From his profile, Craig seems to be this season's big threat in terms of competitive experience, having won a national title for the last four years running. However, Top Shot has shown us time and again that titles can mean nothing out on the range.

Dylan Fletcher - Male, 30, Knife Maker, that's right, a guy who makes knives. Dylan seems to be an all around solid competitor. Comfortable shooting guns, familiar with a bow, and an entrepreneur who makes his own knives, and knows how to throw them. Versatility is key in this game, and Fletcher seems to have it.

Eric "Iggy" Keyes - Male, 39, Chicago Police Office. Keyes has had his fair share of experience in the Chicago police force, working homicide, narcotics, and SWAT. He seems skilled in pistols and rifles. Based on his description he also seems like a guy with a gruff exterior, who is really just a big softy on the inside.

Forrest McCord - Male, 21, Student. This guy looks like his name sounds. Preppy as hell. However that doesn't mean he isn't a world class shooter, winning a world title. The most interesting part of his bio is that one if his instructors was Season 3 contestant, Athena Lee, which based on her performance in the competition, may do him more harm then good.

Frank Melloni - Male, 29, Custodian and Firearms Instructor. Unfortunately the double L in his last name means he is of no relation to famed special victims unit officer and summer camp cafeteria worker Chris Meloni. Melloni is another amateur whose skill seems to be in his ability to reload his weapon quickly which can be the deciding factor in a challenge.

Gabby Franco - Female, 30, Firearms Instructor and Business Owner. One of two women in the competition, Franco is a Venezuelan who participated on her country's Olympic team during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. However, it doesn't say she won anything. She found success at other competitions around South America and has competed recently in the United States.

Gary Shank - Male, 28, Firearms Instructor. Another potential winner for most well rounded in this competition, Shank is familiar with a variety of older weapons, being an appraiser and collector on the side. He is a Civil War instructor (that's right ladies) and also has experience with primitive weapons. His wide knowledge may keep him out of elimination if his teammates believe he can help them.

Gregory Littlejohn - Male, 31 Federal Police Officer. His bio offers no information on whether he is a descendant of the Little John, or whether he is proficient with a bow. It does mention he is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and has skill with a Beretta, a weapon that always turns up in some form in this competition.

Keith Gibson - Male, 28, Cattle Farmer. Boy, you have to love these occupation descriptions. Clearly a man worthy of this competition Kieth has worked in the National Guard and the army. He has won a rifle competition, beating 400 other competitors, and is skilled with a bow. The guy is also a clear fan of the show, describing his prep work by using weapons he is unfamiliar with and trying to duplicate the conditions the shooters have faced in past challenges.

Kyle Sumpter - Male, 50, Police Commander. Surprisingly at 50 he is the oldest contest ever to participate in Top Shot, but with age comes experience, having served 12 years on a SWAT team. We'll have to see if his age makes or breaks him in a competition that as gotten progressively physical and focused on speed.

Michelle Viscusi - Female, 21, MP. Tied for being one of the youngest contestants of the competition, Viscusi, she also seems to be on of the less experienced. She joined the National Guard and became an MP protecting the border. Her weapons training has come exclusively from her military experience, which may leave her deficient when the competition breaks out from more traditional fare.

Terry Vaughan - Male, 40, Professional Speaker. Another foreigner, this time from England. Oh, and a member of the British Royal Marines. Season 1 winner Iain Harrison hailed from the British Army, so we'll see of the Brits can keep churning our winners. This guy may have the most intriguing background, at one point being a dancer, the man now works as a speaker educating people on their rights and safety. He's a curious character, and I can't wait to see what he brings to the table.

Tim Trefren - Male, 34, Big Game Guide. Trefren has been around guns and hunting all his life. He knows how to hit his mark, but Top Shot can bring the most skilled marksmen to their knees. It's about being able to adapt and react, and Trefren better have that in him if he wants to succeed.

Willaim Bathards - Male, 47, FBI (there's a longer title, but I didn't feel like typing it). Here are three things you might expect from this guy, being a Top Shot contestant: FBI firearms instructor, 3-gun champion, former Marine. Here are three things you might not expect: church deacon, Corvette restorer, and real-estate agent. That's the great thing about this show, you need to expect the unexpected.

So there we have a good mix or military and civilians, men, women, ethnicities, and ages. Top Shot is one of my favorite shows, and when one season ends I can't wait for the next one to start.  It's been a long wait but Season 4 is just around the corner.

Welcome to Through Colby's Glasses

Welcome to Through Colby's Glasses, your new source for everything Top Shot. We'll be breaking down episodes, doing recaps, making predictions, and catching up with past contestants. This is one of History's best programs, and maybe one of the best reality competition shows on the air right now. However, it doesn't get the coverage it deserves, so I've decided to correct that.

Season 4 begins on Tuesday. Look for the first recap on Wednesday. From their on out check back periodically as I continue to grow this blog. Let me know what you want to hear about by hitting the comments.

History has profiles up on the Season 4 marksmen, so I'll try and break down what we can expect from the newest contestants before the first episode airs.

Shooters ready? Go!