Top Shot Episode 6: Wild Wild West

As usual, major Top Shot spoilers follow beneath the jump.  Although I’m no longer a contestant and don’t know what’s going to happen from week to week, I’m still going to provide an insider’s view on what went down.

Okay, so everyone gets back from my elimination, and quite frankly I’m glad to see that they’re trying to put the drama behind them.  I want Blue Team to be strong and I want them to keep winning, so Blake’s line at the beginning about moving forward but watching out for Adam just in case is a good thing.

Moving on to the practice.  Colt Single Action Army revolvers, aka “Peacemakers”.  I almost cried when I saw that was going to the be the gun, and here’s why.  This picture taken with my iPhone is of what I would call “my very favorite gun”.  This was my 21st birthday present from my father – in and of itself it’s nothing special, just a .22 Magnum single action revolver.  It’s a Euro knockoff of the Ruger Single Six.

And I love it.  This gun started a love affair with single action revolvers, and it’s also my “rehab” gun.  Whenever I feel like I need to practice the basics of sight alignment and trigger control, this is the gun that I take out of the bag.  So seeing single action revolvers in the team challenge made me very happy, but also disappointed that I missed a chance to shoot my very favorite style of firearm.  C’est la vie.

Back to the episode – the expert was the first one that made me actually go a little fanboy-ish, Spencer Hoglund, better known as jillion-time SASS Champion Lead Dispencer was an obvious choice for this challenge.  He worked with the shooters on the fundamentals of running a single action firearm efficiently, including loading and rapidly hammer/trigger movement.  This was the first challenge that involved the competitors directly loading the gun, and that became a key element in the challenge.

The actual challenge day looked miserable.  In a rare High Desert rainstorm, the temps had to be low with the rain coming down, and that can’t make shooting a lot of fun.  The teams had to shoot a “shooting gallery” full of glass bottles, wooden planks, lanterns, and other sundry fun things to blast.  Blue Team went first, and had very few misses on their entire run, with everyone except for JJ and Adam going 10 for 10 with their shots.  That’s awesome.  Red Team stepped up to the line and a had a lot of trouble getting it done.  My buddy Denny, the Mounted Shooting Champ had some issues with the Colt, Andre had issues getting his hits, and so did Kelly.  Only Brad and Pete were really successful with getting their hits on target.

The elimination challenge ended up as Andre vs. Kelly.  To be honest?  I thought this elimination challenge was kind of ridiculous.  Each guy had seven shots to hit five playing cards, the guy with the best hand wins.  Here’s the problem – neither Andre nor Kelly are poker players.  On the first run they both ended up with royal flushes, so when they shot the tiebreaker, Andre’s lack of poker knowledge, not his marksmanship was what did him in.  He actually shot better than Kelly in the elimination challenge, but because he wasn’t quite as quick on the uptake of poker rules as Kelly he got eliminated.  Honestly?  That challenge was pretty weak, if you ask me.  When you compare it to epic challenges like severing a rope with a bullet or shooting targets while coming down a zipline, it just doesn’t stack up.

That’s it for episode 6 – next week’s show looks pretty cool, with the teams replicating some of the greatest trick shots of all time!


  1. My favorite quote from the episode was what Pete said to Andre after the elimination challenge, “You can play poker with me any time.” Hahah, way to make him feel better Pete.

  2. Mental errors cost Andre big time. He shouldn’t even have been in the challenge. If he had shot Denny’s target instead of Kelly’s, it would’ve been Denny and Kelly in the elimination.

  3. Well, I wanted a certain gun nut named Caleb to win, but now I guess its hard to choose between Kelly and JJ.

    Are you ever going back on the show?

  4. I just watched on Hulu…missed it last night. I almost swore it off after last week’s kindergarten antics…this one brought me one step closer to swearing it off.

    The only reason I’m even considering watching again is because my wife likes reality shows and I got her into this one so she wants to keep watching to see how it turns out.

    I thought this was supposed to suss out the “top shot”, not the top poker player.

    Kelly missed twice, Andre never missed a shot in the challenge, and he lost because he didn’t understand the rules of poker.


    This show is a big loser for me. The drama llama is way too prevalent, too much intrigue and attempted suspense and not enough shooting, and they obviously aren’t really interested in who is truly the best shot.

    Whether I watch the rest of this season or not (and I’m leaning toward not), I definitely won’t be watching season two.

    What a disappointment.

  5. They should have had the wheel spinning for the final challenge.

    I also noticed Kelly palm a small sheet of paper to Andre when they shuck hands after the challenge.

  6. I am not as upset about the outcome of the challenge as some. Andre lost the challenge for the same reason that Team Red had issues in the main challenge – no plan. Both Andre and Kelly had similar levels of poker knowledge, and there was a big easel off to the side with the hand ranks on it.

    Those cards were, what, 3″ by 5″ or so, assuming the hole was .45″? If the wheel was at 25 ft/7 yards; there have been harder targets in the E-Postal series.
    This wasn’t a test of accuracy so much as a test of target discrimination. Kelly understood that by taking his blocking shot during the first round, and showed it again by taking his blocking shot in the second round. Andre had a plan in the first round; but lost focus in the second one.
    Which brings me to an observation (based on what I can see obviously); the teams are not balanced. On paper, they appear to be, both on shooting skills and social skills. But Team Blue has a noticeable edge in the planning dept. In both team leadership (Iain vs Brad, which makes me wonder what would have happened if Mike had not washed out on the first challenge) and at the individual level.

  7. Note, I don’t believe that Kelly losing in the first elimination would have helped Team Red, far from it considering his later performances.

  8. Team red it done there is no way that team is coming back to win.and Caleb is right about the challenge this week…top shot not top poker

  9. Those cards were, what, 3″ by 5″ or so, assuming the hole was .45″? If the wheel was at 25 ft/7 yards; there have been harder targets in the E-Postal series.
    This wasn’t a test of accuracy so much as a test of target discrimination. Kelly understood that by taking his blocking shot during the first round, and showed it again by taking his blocking shot in the second round. Andre had a plan in the first round; but lost focus in the second one.

    In other words, you agree that the game wasn’t about discovering the top shot, but the top strategist.

    So the show is misnamed at best.

    The bottom line is that Andre hit his intended target every time. Kelley missed twice, but won the contest because he was a bit quicker at coming up with a strategy at an unfamiliar game that has nothing to do with shooting.

    Perhaps you consider that a valid test of shooting prowess, but I do not.

  10. The show’s not been about pure marksmanship – the most obvious example of this was the AR-15 Team Challenge. The voiceover says “the skills of a true marksman” (or words to that effect, I forget the exact wording). This elimination challenge was, IMHO, a variation on the Memory stage.

    Ignore the poker insignia and look at the mechanics of the challenge – the contestants are given a target with scoring zones of various point values. The contestants got to pick their shoot/no-shoot targets. They are poker cards. They could easily have been zombie outlines or billiard balls. Yes, it’s gimmicky. But I don’t think the gimmick makes it an invalid challenge. All of the “pratical” shooting sports involve either live tqargets or gimmicks. Would you be as upset if it had been an IPSC stage that Andre outshot Kelly on, but lost because of procedurals? Assuming both have equal knowledge of the rules.

    You’re a practical shooter – I know I’ve seen you go on about how important having a plan is to beating a stage in competition, not to mention having skills other than shooting, such as reloading, etc. Would you say a pistol competitor who centerpunched every “badguy” target but shot through a “hostage” target was more accurate that one who missed one with one shot and was off center for another, but didn’t clip a hostage?

    One thing I didn’t like about the challenge was that there was *no* time pressure at all – each other challenge has had SOME aspect of time pressure. Accuracy vs time has been a factor in almost all the challenges so far. The poker challenge had none of that – the competing aspects were accuracy vs planning.

  11. Im commenting late because I just watched the episode.Red team should have put denny on the chopping block.When he picked up the SAA durring the practice period he rested it across the shooting bench.To me that means he isnt a revolver shooter he should have been concerned about offhand.Mounted shooters use black powder and cornmeal not lead.

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