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.

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