Top Shot Episode 4: Friend or Foe

As usual, major spoilers follow beneath the jump, so if you’ve not yet watched Episode 4 of Top Shot, then wait until it hits Hulu and watch it before you read this post.  Otherwise, hit the jump for my breakdown Top Shot: Friend or Foe.

Well, it had to happen.  We lost.  Blue team’s perfect record of 3-0 went to 3-1, and for the first time we faced elimination.  Red Team stepped up, and beat us fair and square in what was a really tough team challenge. In fact, the actual shooting in the team challenge wasn’t that hard – the plates were big and relatively close, the hard part was not getting lost on the grid. For my own performance, I shot 5 out of 7 plates, with the last two shots being intentional misses. After my first 5, I got lost on the grid, and rather than risk shooting a friendly plate, I dumped two rounds into “safe” sections of the grid. After Adam shot, we were only behind 13-10, which was still well within the margin for victory. But then the wheels fell off, and Pete Palma put the final nail in our coffin, hitting exactly the number of shots he needed to make to seal the win for Red Team. Congratulations to Red Team for getting their first win.

Of course, then we got to the whole elimination strategy. To be honest, when you watch the episode you’ll see that I wasn’t particularly fond of the strategy to send Iain vs. Jim. To me, the show was always a shooting competition, and you’re only as good as your last performance. If you’re not messing with the team dynamic, then the only reason you should be in the challenge is if you shot poorly. Needless to say, I was in the minority in that opinion as Jim only received two votes – one from me and one from JJ. That’s why I voted for Jim, and I felt justified in that vote. I understood the overall team strategy of pitting Iain against Jim, I just had quite a bit of personal reservation about said strategy. That said, it worked out for Iain in the end, as he won the challenge and lives to shoot another day.

On a personal note, I really enjoyed this episode…partly because I was ALL OVER IT. Seriously, they apparently decided to make up for my lack of screen time in the first three episodes by putting me all over this episode, which I’m totally okay with. Seeing “Caleb Giddings” right there on the screen was cool…although I’m not sure where “Collegiate Pistol Shooter” comes from as a currently appropriate title. The Academy was a LONG time ago, History Channel!

Next week’s episode looks pretty good – if you saw the teaser, you can bet that you’re going to see people saddle up and ride my good friend the dramallama in to town. There’s no episode next Sunday because of the 4th of July, but Top Shot will be back after that! Until next week, this is Caleb Giddings, Insurance Agent and (apparently) Collegiate Pistol Shooter.


  1. I am looking forward next week to some blue team dynamics that were previously absent. The previews for the ep 5 indicate that there might be some divisiveness starting to happen.

  2. Couple of questions;

    1. Why does virtually everyone haul a backpack everywhere?

    2. I’ll need to go back and watch the elimination challenge again, but it looks like the show switched the order of the plates. Jim had no shot at winning, as a blue plate was always behind the last red.

    I agree with your reservations so far. If the team thinks one person really needs to go, then deciding on who should face them in the elimination is a reasonable approach.

    The Red team really hurt themselves early with their choices.

    Episode 5 looks to be really interesting. Wonder if Brad is going to be complaining that it’s not a Glock? 🙂

  3. I am thinking the same as John. If the red and blue plates are moving together there was no way Jim could win.

  4. Jim could have made the shot – even if the plates were in sync, each plate had a 4 inch wide steel backer that if you hit it dead center, the bullet wouldn’t pass through to another plate. Jim’s plates were released the same sequence as Iain’s, so it was a fair challenge in terms of that.

  5. Super important question:
    Was that a camo kilt that Iain was packing? Seriously?
    Gotta know! Thanks!

  6. This was the first show that I watched where I could say I’d want to shoot both of the challenges myself. They looked like good, solid shooting drills applicable to most every shooting discipline.

  7. That looked like a fun challenge. I think I might have to pick up a box of clay pigeons. Fiestaware is too expensive.

    Nice shooting.

    Best regards,

  8. Caleb, did you get cut or something? Noticed it on your brow during some of the interview portions. Guessing you got in a fight with a wolverine.

  9. It wasn’t fair at all Caleb and you for sure know that.

    If you want I’ll reply back with the picture of it, but theres a clear bullet hole through the back plate which is actually wood, unless you are talking about the pendulum it self being steel, but still way unfair and Mr. Chivalry himself all high and mighty, when in fact he just wanted to eliminate Jim.

    Also, the order was too mechanical and should of been electronic and they did it very random on Iains because they dropped 2 on the right then did one by one but they had the timing better.

  10. The producers are playing with the camera speed throughout – you can’t judge how well the random drops go from out there in TVLand.

    Also, the release mechanism looked like it was one tug and then the plates dropped sequentially rather than each plate being manually dropped.

    Caleb mentioned earlier that there was a bevy of lawyers hanging around to ensure “fairness” (in re the first challenge and someone’s suggestion that Mike’s Springfield had been rigged). I doubt they dried up and blew away less than a week later.

    BTW – that was an amazing performance by Jim, given his struggling with the Beretta earlier.

  11. I don’t know, it certainly looked like the targets remained in-sync the whole time (even after they had been shot), and there was certainly a hole visible in the front target’s back-plate. I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that nobody noticed this at the time.

  12. At the risk of inappropriately discussing (non-shooting) gear, I’m pretty sure that Iain was folding up a Sport Kilt in digital camo.

    These are not and I say again NOT a traditional kilt, but in the heat and humidity of Houston I get a lot of use out of mine. It’s also one of the very few non-custom ways to get a USMC tartan.

    Loving the show, Caleb. Yeah, it’d be nice if it wasn’t all Survivor-fied, but I’ll take what I can get.

  13. How is a fair challenge when one contestant has to shoot what may or may not have been a steel back plate, because the two plates where in sync?

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