Crossbows, Smith & Wesson and a "friendship" bandana take center stage for History Channel
During this week’s recap of History’s Top Shot, I once again reached out to NRA Certified Instructor and Top Shot Olympic pistol shooter Gabby Franco. And for the thoughts of Team Blue, we've were lucky enough to be catch a glimpse from the very versatile Terry Vaughan.
Both provided at look inside the action as teams Blue and Read suited up for the “Crossbow Crossfire.”
Most Top Shot fans were probably a bit skeptical last night with History Channel’s airing of the Crossbow Crossfire. Groans of, “great, another rock throwing contest” were tossed around after hearing hints of a gun powder free show. But those groans were soon replaced with oohs and aaahs once the crossfire competition broke out.
The evening's episode opened with North Carolina’s own (via the UK) Terry Vaughan demanding more from Team Blue. Constantly bickering over performance and elimination round voting, Terry laid down the law to get things in order.
“Our energy had been low and I saw my returning from the elimination challenge as a golden opportunity to try and lift the energy of the Blue Team,” said Vaughan. “Although we lost the challenge it still helped our camaraderie.”
With tempers tempered, Blue and Red met with crossbow expert Chris Brackett at to learn the finer points about firing a BowTech StrykeZone 350. For some, like Red Team’s Gabby Franco, shooting a crossbow would be another brand new experience.
practicing Crossbow on Top Shot - photo courtesy of History Channel
“I felt very comfortable shooting the crossbow,” said Franco. “The most difficult part for me was the loading.”
After both team took their turns on the field of practice, it was time to hit the challenge. Standing side by side, competitors raced to hit an ever increasing number of rotating targets with the StrykeZone. The first group of shooters shot at one target, the second group two, the third group three and so on. Once a shooter hits all available targets, the round ends and the points are scored. First team to 16 wins.
Gabby shot at the first spinner for Red Team while Big Bill Bethards stepped up for Blue Team. This is where the loading came into play.
“I had the strength to pull the 150 pounds of pressure back,” explained Franco. "But William is a little bigger and he did it much quicker — giving him the advantage to shoot first. He’s a great shooter and didn't miss.”
Blue Team grabbed the lead and built a bigger one. By the time Vaughan got to the line, Blue was up by a score of 3 to 0. That’s when disaster stuck … almost.
“I thought we were going for tight groups,” Vaughan laughed.
Placing two arrows in the same target, Vaughan was hitting what he was aiming at, but rules mandated that you only score one point per target.
“At one point during the reload the crossbow fell forward onto the straw bale resulting in just enough straw on my site to obscure the target,” said Vaughan. “My team saw this happen and luckily my grief was minimal.”
Teams were tied after round 4. That’s when Red Team’s IT
professional Chris Cheng strapped on his Robin Hood cloak and went five for five.
“We call him Van Helsing now (because) he shot it so good,” said Red Team’s Eric 'Iggy' Keyes.
It came down to the final shot on the final round. Red Team took home the win and Blue was back in the elimination hot seat. That’s when they were once again surrounded by the familiar
aroma of gun powder.
Using a Smith & Wesson M&P .40, Greg Littlejohn and Colin Gallagher were nominated for the purge. And then a little Bianchi Cup came into play.
Serving as expert for the M&P .40 was our very own Julie Golob. When Julie’s involved, you know
there’s going to be more to the challenge then just a pistol and a target. Julie did her best to explain the intricacies of hitting moving target, using your sites and tracking instead of aiming.
After receiving their training, Colin and Greg found themselves standing before a swinging self-launching target. Fire once to release the target and fire again to hit one of the ten balloons set in the swinging pendulum.
Littlejohn jumped out to an early lead. But that wouldn’t hold as his nerves seemed to stiffen and Colin found his aim. Almost as fast as Littlejohn jumped ahead he fell back into a 9-9 tie. Using what he called a “spray and pray” technique, Littlejohn nailed number 10 and earned his way back into the house.
Then something odd happened. Instead of shaking hands, Littlejohn removed a bandana from his wrist and presented it to Gallagher. It was a symbol friendship … or so he said.
“A thirty one year old man gave a thirty six year old man a friendship bracelet,” said Blue Team’s Augie Malekovich.
Vaughan went on to explain further.
“I didn't want to have to answer a bunch of questions from Colby so I stayed very still and avoided eye contact with anyone for fear I would lose it in a fit of laughter. You might say that my speech inspired Greg to try being a gentler nicer version of himself (with the ‘bandana incident’) and what he did came from a good place.”
With that Blue Team slinked back to the house with more questions then answers. Was Greg’s gesture a heartfelt move that was taken the wrong way under the scrutiny of critical eyes or was it a power move that, well, went the wrong way under the scrutiny of critical eyes? It’s hard to say — but that’s Top Shot.
Next week History Channel goes a little old school. No, no, not rocks again. This time we’re talking flintlock pistols. A little ball and powder to bring it all back together. And Gabby, of course, comes into the competition with no experience shooting this firearm either. Like that’s going to slow her down.
“Yes, Flintlock is next week. We’re jumping with a rope from one platform to another... you cannot miss it. It is going to be another wild challenge.”