This week on Top Shot Red team is coming off two consecutive wins and we are flying high! We are up two members to the blue team — seven of us and only five of them.  As I am walking up to the practice range, I can see Colby’s big smile and to his side is a flintlock pistol!  I’m thinking to myself, finally a gun that gives me, and thus my team, a distinct advantage over the Blue team.  I have a feeling few people in this crowd of experienced shooters have shot black powder firearms, let alone a flintlock.  However, I know that since we are up two members, Blue team gets to sit two of us out.

We learned last week with the crossbow that we should not show our hand at the practice range.  Tim raised his hand when Colby asked who had experience with a crossbow, and he was sat out of the challenge.  So the plan was made by the Red team that we would ALL raise our hands when asked if we had experience with whatever weapon system was presented to us.  Colby and the Blue team did not believe us and Dylan called me out as the only one with probable experience with a flintlock.  He was right!

I went first to demonstrate the precise process of loading and firing the complicated weapon so that my teammates could see the procedure.  I shot a few balls down range, but knew I was going to be riding the pine so I was eager to teach my teammates the skills they would need to be successful in this challenge.  We decided to use a key word cadence to keep everyone on track during the loading process.  I would be the only one to speak so that the shooter could hear me clearly. I would say the loading order as: measure (the powder), pour (the powder), ball (place the ball), ram (the ball), half cock, prime (the frizen pan), close (the frizen), and cock (full cock).  This would now make the gun ready to fire.  I would then remind them to keep the muzzle up to prevent the ball from rolling out of the end of the barrel.  Now our plan was set and everyone shot well, we were ready for the challenge.

As we approached the challenge we could see two tall pedestals with a rope suspended between them.  Colby announced that we were to swing from mast to mast like pirates boarding another ship and shoot gallon jugs hanging from ropes!  We are all excited to have a such a creative and interactive challenge.  Certainly this would get the blood pumping and be challenging!  The Blue team picks Kyle and I to sit on the sidelines.  However, this did not interfere with our plan for me to use key words to save time in the loading process.

Chee was selected to go first.  As a former Marine being well conditioned and an excellent shot, we were confident he would get us off to a great start; but we were wrong.  Chee tried to swing like a Marine would in basic training.  This set up would not allow it.  He missed the platform, not once but three times before making in across to shoot his jug.  This put us a full two shooters behind the blue team.  Gabby went next and easily made it to the platform and shattered her target with ease.  Then Chris made it look easy as well.  At this point we were catching up!

Greg on the Blue team was on the platform and trying with great force to get his pistol to shoot.  However, from my vantage point I was watching his loading process and knew he had forgot a key element.  He forgot to bring the gun to full cock! He was pulling against the internal safety sear of the firearm which is there to prevent the gun from going off during loading.  No matter how hard he pulled the trigger from this position, it could not go off.

We now were making up ground.  Iggy went sailing over to the other platform but missed his target.  Then Tim did the same. Greg was still on the platform squeezing the trigger with all his strength, but to no success.  Iggy went back over to try again to hit his target but missed.  I hear Augie ask Greg, “is it fully cocked?”  Greg hears this and pulls the gun to full cock but lowers the muzzle allowing the ball to roll out of the barrel. He quickly reloads a ball, fires and hits his target.  At the same time Iggy was on his way back to the starting platform from his second failed attempt but falls off!  Augie quickly swings over, loads and fires.  He hits his target and wins the challenge for the Blue team.

After a short debate back at the house the Red team chooses to nominate Tim and Iggy since both missed their targets which could have won us the challenge despite the time set back from Chee’s mistake on the rope.  The nomination range goes as planned and Tim and Iggy shoot off.

The elimination challenge was a more modern pirate scenario with them using an H&K USP .45 ACP tactical pistol in a more Navy SEAL type situation. Shooting through a porthole that is moving on a track each of them must break as many filled gallon glass jars as possible before the moving section comes to a stop.  Tim goes first and breaks eight. Then Iggy also breaks eight.  We were told that this is the first time in Top Shot history that both opponents tied in both score and rounds used, forcing a shoot off!  Tim goes first in a re-shoot of the same set up.  This time he learns from his mistakes and ends up hitting 18 out of the 20 jars! Iggy has more trouble adapting and only manages to break the same amount as his first attempt– eight.

It is a sad day having a friend and a teammate go home.  The reality segment of this competition proves to be the most challenging.  I would have never expected to get as close to everyone in the house as I have at this point.  Each time someone goes home it is hard on everyone, especially when it is a Red team member.  But, each person eliminated is one step close to claiming what we all came here for: the title TOP SHOT!