Biggest gun of the year is 'Blast from the Past' on History Channel
Instead of comfortably sitting in front of my television on Tuesday night for the latest episode of History’s Top Shot, I was toiling away in the deserts of Arizona for a Law Enforcement Precision Rifle course. Thanks to History Channel’s online
episodes, I’m all caught up and (sans the assistance of NRA Certified Instructor Gabby Franco from Red Team and Terry Vaughan from Blue Team) ready for a recap.
After Team Blue turned the tide with two consecutive victories, it was time for Team Red to strike back Tuesday night on History's Top Shot. All they needed was right combination of teamwork and firepower. The producers, answering the call for firepower, rolled out a 19th Century Bag Gun for the challenge. You should have seen the smile in their eyes.
"The top two most bad ass things that have ever happened me," said Team Blue's Dylan Fletcher. "One of them was getting married. And that's only slightly ahead of shooting a damn cannon."
Competitors were soon faced with the prospect of cleaning, loading, priming, aiming and firing the Bag Gun. We're not talking about a simple aim and shoot scenario here, we're talking ramrods to clean while shooters stand twenty feet behind the canon, looking through the barrel while their teammates muscle the monster into alignment.
Once satisfied, yank the string to send the 4.6-pound aluminum projectile down range. WIth five tries at the Bag Gun, the team closest to the center of the bullseye wins.
First shots, understandably, weren't exactly close. One by one, teams slowly walked their shots closer and closer to the center. Considering that most are use to practice of controlling every aspect of firing a gun, this must have been maddening.
Second in line for Red was our very own Gabby Franco. Checking the sights for alignment, she called all is well and stepped up to fire the Bag.
"I was confident that I did a good job," said Franco. But it was still more than 22 inches away from center.
Back and forth and back they went. As Blue Team kept inching ahead, Red never appeared to come completely online. In the end, it was back to Blue for a third win in the row. Then came the drama.
The main problem for Team Red was how to determine the elimination nominations. You couldn't base it off the challenge because it was completely a team event. That meant going back to previous performances. That's when things hit the fan.
Team Red attempted to discuss elimination nominations in a civil manner, but as Chris Cheng focused on everyone's failures, his personal review included a number of his successes. That was all it took for Wyoming's Tim Trefren to set down a challenge — you and me in the elimination. After haggling back and forth, Police Commander Kyle Sumpter took it upon himself to make Tim's wish come true.
The elimination round brought out the most ancient of war implements — the Atlatl, or as Wikipedia describes it, "a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing." The dart, by the way, stood almost six feet tall.
During practice, both competitors seemed to find their way with the dart/spear thrower. While Chris was slow to start, Tim seemed to be muscling the atlatl rather than flicking it. A muscled atlatl usually results in an ill aimed atlatl. Something to consider with elimination on the line.
Elimination called for ten throws each at three separate targets — the further out the target, the more points for hitting it. While Chris experienced another slow start, Tim remained calm enough to build an early lead. But the muscle genie wouldn't go away.
Chris Cheng hits the bullseye with an Atlalt for an elimination round win on History Channel's Top Shot - photo courtesy of History
As Chris started to find his groove, Tim started to panic and flexed on every throw. Sailing shots high and wide, his lead soon developed into a deficit. Chris was rolling on every throw as Tim continued to push instead of flick. Up by eleven with two throws to go, Chris nailed a nine-pointer and solidified the win.
Teams are now tied at 5 competitors a piece. The change in momentum has been something to see. Blue Team was falling apart until Terry Vaughan's call for Blue brotherhood. After three straight losses, it's now Team Red who is slowly crumbling under pressure. If they don't find a way to make it all come together, there'll be no Red and all Blue when the final Top Shot gun sounds.