History Channel’s gamble on a shooting show paid off, and high ratings seemed to get higher as the show progressed. The first season finished last night, with Iain the Top Shot with $100,000 as his reward for staying the course. We gun folks bemoaned the “reality show” drama at first, but it got us (and more important, non-shooters in the audience) interested. By mid-season we were referring to the contestants by first names, like old friends.
Congratulations to Iain, stolid Englishman Iain who reminded me of many Brits I trained when I used to teach over there every year, before the handgun ban. Never complaining, with a dry sense of humor you almost had to look for, he was straight up honest and never dissed anyone, but simply took each shooting event as a mission to accomplish with total focus. It was a winning strategy and a life lesson.
If you think about it, there were other life lessons that ran through the show. 22-year-old Kelly turned us older folks off with his ego when he described himself as a “rising star” at the beginning, and committed a major social gaffe…but we saw him grow up years in the space of the days of filming, and with his maturity came our ability to admire his skill and determination in more elimination tests than any other contestant. By the time he was eliminated, most of us were rooting for him, and sad to see him go. There was the one contestant who made himself the one we loved to hate. There was Caleb, who put honesty before winning strategy and became a role model for more than marksmanship. There was Tara, who left the contest to go to the side of her dying father, a reminder to all that family values trump glory. If there was any one contestant we’d all like to see return next season, it would have to be Tara. Personally, I’d consider it an honor to shoot against any of them.
I don’t know how many people applied for that first season, but I am certain that number will be dwarfed by the tsunami of applicants for the next one. Applications have already closed, but here’s one of my buddies who threw his hat in the ring, Jon Strayer, whom I think would be an excellent candidate for Top Shots, Season Two.