Top Shot Thought

A lot of people have asked me what I think the big benefit of Top Shot is to the shooting community at large.  Honestly, Sebastian sums it up pretty well right here:

It presents shooting in an interesting and non-threatening way to new shooters. NSSF couldn’t buy shooting sports coverage this good!

People that have no interest in the shooting sports were watching last night, and enjoying it because 1) stuff blows up and 2) the people are compelling.  Sure, I’d love to have a show that shows people running USPSA courses, but that show already exists and it’s called Shooting USA.  As much as I enjoy the programming on Outdoor Channel, it doesn’t hit nearly as wide a target as Top Shot will.

That’s really why I’m trying to encourage people to embrace the show and use it as an opportunity to evangelize the shooting sports to their non-shooting friends.  Some people have used the phrase “Survivor with guns” in a derogatory fashion to describe Top Shot.  If you ask me, that’s a huge compliment!  Survivor is one of the longest running and most popular reality franchises on TV, and if we can attract 1/4 the viewing audience of Survivor then Top Shot will be a hit.  Think about that – people that have no interest whatsoever in the shooting sports are watching J.J. Racaza, one of the best Steel Challenge shooters in the galaxy on national TV and they’re enjoying it because it’s being presented in a familiar, non-threatening format.

You can watch all of the first episode of Top Shot on Hulu.


  1. Go blue! Great show and great shooting Caleb. Cant wait to next week!

  2. You’re absolutely right.

    I personally dislike the “reality show” format, but they are hugely popular in general society and having the shooting sports presented in this way should be an excellent advertising tool.

    My wife’s not really “into” shooting like I am but she likes reality shows so she really enjoyed watching it with me.

    Every time they pulled out a new gun, she’d ask “do we have one of those”? I think she might be up for a range trip soon.

  3. Not only does it show shooting in a non-threatening way, it highlights the skill required to be a good shot.

    It also shows the competitors having fun shooting. Who could ask for more than that?

  4. Cool, I didn’t realize it was gonna’ be on Hulu. I will watch it tonight. But even without seeing it, I’m in favor of the idea, for all the reasons you mentioned.

    The fact that we can argue over the details of the format is a huge step in the right direction. It’s a “rich people problem”. We live in a world where shooting is on the television, presented as a fun, competitive activity for relatively normal people from all walks of life. Any problems with presentation are problems I’m glad to have.

  5. I watched the episode last night with my girlfriend (who has expressed her discomfort with my gun hobby in the past) and she seemed to enjoy the show. At one point she even commented, “I don’t mind this, none of them are being total douche-bags!” I don’t think she has ever had a personal experience with a jerk on the range, but its the perception that she has of gun owners (granted I think she feels that way about Republicans too).

    Any opportunity to portray gun owners as just ordinary folk is a win.

    1. Pretty much, yeah. We have a great window to act with class and dignity and portray shooting as fun, safe, and in a positive light with this show.

  6. There is grumbling over on The High Road . org and other gun forums about the reality-TV side of things and how it detracts from the shooting. There’s also some grumblings about Mike’s meltdown with the M1903, but I chalk that up to nerves and the fact that anyone (even Rob Leatham) can have a bad day.

    Personally, I think the show will do more to bring new shooters into the sport than any TV ever has, because it makes the sport visual, personal and above all, entertaining to the casual viewer. Michael Bane’s shows and the other shows are all top-rate and I watch them every week, but they’re insider shows written and shot to appeal to the insider. Top Shot isn’t, and that’s why some insiders don’t like it. That’s a shame, because it really is an entertaining show.

  7. Got it in one, Kevin. I’ve seen the grumbling at the usual suspects, and I think that people need to realize that Top Shot is a shooting show for people who ARE NOT shooters.

    Hell, my wife liked it!

  8. One of the things that I’ve been pondering since I got into IPSC was how to make it entertaining for the non-shooter. It’s fun and exciting to shoot, but the fact remains that you really don’t know how well you did until 2-3 minutes after you finish a stage when all the targets are scored and your scoresheet is handed back to you.

    This makes for bad television, to put it mildly. It makes bowling on TV look thrilling.

    I think Top Shot has cracked that code for non-shooters, and I think the shooting community will be more inclined to embrace 3 Gun Nation when it debuts on Versus. In fact, I see 3 Gun Nation as the logical follow-up show to Top Shot. Fans who were brought into the shooting sports from Top Shot can get more info and more tips on how to shoot from that show, Shooting USA and Shooting Gallery, increasing the demand for those shows.


    But I’m in marketing, so I tend to think that way. 🙂

  9. There’s going to be some mighty disappointed new shooters when they find out that their local range doesn’t have the “targets like I saw on Top Shot”. This is a Good Thing from the show, though – it’ll bring the new shooters into the range. Some bright boy needs to come up with a reactive target that can be used indoors by casual types with .22lr. Shoot-n-sees are an OK substitute, but they don’t go “bang”. I also liked that the non-reactive targets were all shoot-n-see types (I know there are different brands, but that’s what I buy). One of the things I dislike about the e-postals is that the targets (by necessity) aren’t visible like that – though I’ve considered using a shoot-n-see as a backer…

  10. Short version – Shoot steel not paper.

    @Ian – I’m not a new shooter, but I didn’t really get into it until a friendly veteran at the range took me down to the pistol club with steel popper targets.

    My enjoyment of the sport and my proficiency with a pistol improved dramatically. When I hit steel I KNOW I hit it because the damn thing went PING and fell over. I was really pleased with myself when I learned that I could double tap the steel as it was falling over.

    For a .22LR I spent $20 on a steel spinner target set. Best money ever spent for plinking. The targets are resuable, resettable, and depending on how far away they are are suitable for both newbies and challenging for experienced shooters.

  11. True enough – all the ranges I have access to use overhead target carriers and are “hot” ranges. (There is an exception, but I’ve not shot at it, and I think it still requires paper targets – it’s only open some sunday afternoons; being the local county cops’ range during the week). So I forgot about steel plates.

  12. Caleb,

    While I complained (only a little) about the “reality show’ format over at Roberta X’s, I have to agree that for the non-shooting public who sit around the TV entranced by Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, etc. the Survivor type format will hold their attentionand it may bring a lot of new shooters into the fold who lack any other type of exposure. Colby Donaldson hosting doesn’t hurt either (he was one of my ex-wife’s favorites on Survivor).

  13. I didn’t like it much. I was disappointed to say the least. How can anyone, let alone ” experts ”
    miss 50 and 100 yd targets with those rifles ? Especially with a spotter w/spotting scope. I’m hoping future segments display better marksmanship.

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