Top Shot swings with a flintlock and shuffles with an HK
For this week’s recap of Top Shot on History, I reached out again to Red Team's NRA Certified Instructor and Top Shot Olympic pistol shooter Gabby Franco. Back from Team Blue is the UK's own Terry Vaughan.
Both are here to give us at look inside the action as teams Blue and Read fired flintlocks for the “Swing into Action” challenge.
Not only did History Channel return to firearms during last night's episode of Top Shot, they returned to the days of old with a Kentucky Flintlock pistol. Like an overwhelming percentage of you out there, most had little to no experience with the black powder beauty — except for Red Team's Gary Shank from Reno, Nevada.
"Having Gary was absolutely critical," said Red Team's Chris Cheng. "With so many steps involved, hearing (Gary calling) them is helpful. He kept up on track and avoided an potential log jams."
As a civil war re-enactor, Shank came to the challenge with years of blackpowder experience under his belt. Which proved more than helpful as Red Team took their turns with the ancient firearm.
"There were too many steps," said competitor Gabby Franco. "In practice I had a few “hand fire” which is a longer than normal wait after you pull the trigger, so I made sure that I would hold that pistol steady before, during and after I pulled the trigger."
Blue Team was in no better shape. Though victorious in the last challenge, throwing something as ancient and awkward as a flintlock pistol into the mix could have spelled disaster for the blue boys.
"Outside of Sunday afternoon black and white swashbuckling flicks on the BBC, that was the first time firing, holding or even seeing a flintlock for me," said Blue's Terry Vaughan. "The trigger was a bear, and shooting it any further than 30' would be a recipe for disaster! I can't imagine fighting with one."
Chee steps up to the plate for a swing and a miss
Although host Colby Donaldson proclaimed the challenge to be inspired from tales of seagoing pirates swinging from ship to ship with pistol in hand, it had more of a Tarzan feel for me. The platforms were stable, the pistols were not kept in hand and there were no buccaneers to be fend off after swinging from starting to firing platform.
After Donaldson explained the challenge (swing over a 20-foot gap and fire the flintlock at jugs 30 feet away), one would think the difficult part would be loading and shooting in a timely manner. Well, it was and it wasn't.
First for Red Team was California's Chee Kwan. He enjoyed the swinging sensation so much that he decided to do it over and over and over again. "Seeing Chee falling three times … I was just thinking this might not be as easy as I thought," said Franco.
After Vaughan demonstrated his pirate prowess, Chee was still swinging free. Three tries later and Chee was finally ready to shoot. Red Team only one shooter behind. That's when Franco flew with across with the greatest of ease and blasted the jug. She dropped the gun, grabbed the rope and swung home.
"when I had to return to the main platform I made sure the boys were ready to catch me and not letting me fall!! I was so happy, I started jumping"
Now it was time for Littlejohn.
A constant source of … let's just call it admiration … this season, Greg made it from platform to platform in one easy swing. What wasn't so easy was pulling the trigger. In fact, more than three members of Red Team shot before Littlejohn gave the trigger a pull.
"I swear I was ready to jump the gap and attack him like a spider-monkey," said Vaughan. "Most of us paced madly about the platform. After the first few minutes I couldn't even bring myself to verbally encourage Greg."
Although three members of Red Team got off a shot before Greg fired the flint, none of them found the jug connection. While Red swung back and forth, Blue finally figured out that Greg was trying to fire half-cocked … a no-no with flints. Re-adjusting to fully-cocked, Greg presented his pistol only to have the ball roll out the end. It was classic.
But Littlejohn recovered, hit his jug, swung back to the platform and watched as Blue Augie closed out the challenge. Red was headed back to the elimination round.
Eliminating shooters instead of swingers
Red Team decided it was those who failed with connect and not those who failed to swing that should face elimination. That meant the free-swinging Chee would sit on the sidelines while Tim Tefren and Eric 'Iggy' Keyes headed for the chopping block.
Using an HK USP Tactical .45, Tim and Iggy ran behind a moving portal while picking off up to 20 glass jars placed 25 to 45 feet away. Tim went first and nailed eight out of twenty. Iggy went second and nailed eight out of twenty. For the first time in my viewing history, it was time for a re-shoot.
As Tim said during practice, Iggy's favorite firearm is a semi-automatic handgun. In was Iggy's re-shoot to take. Only problem was that Tim forgot that the semi-auto was Iggy's favorite firearm.
Smoking a red hot 18 out of 20, Tim re-established himself as a quality shooter and headed back to the house. Iggy, on the other hand, headed back to Chicago.