Episode one of Top Shot

I watched the first episode of Top Shot last night. Barb watched about 10 minutes and then got bored and went off to do something else.

I liked it far better than I expected to. I don’t care for reality shows. When I first heard about Survivor back in late 1999 I was about to become unemployed as my contract with Microsoft expired. I thought it might be something I could do well at and I got an application and looked into the show concept further. It was completely different than I expected and I was repulsed. I expected something about working together and making conditions better for everyone on the island. I envisioned the winner being the person who did the most to improve the small “society”. I contemplated the skills and innovation I could bring to the situation. What would I bring with me and what sort of things could be accomplished with the materials on hand. It wasn’t going to be anything like that. It was going to be about getting rid of other people not working together with people. What sort of life lesson is this? It’s total crap.

That said it did cross my mind that Top Shot might be something I could participate in–for about 500 mS. I’m not a “Top Shot”. I do okay in the local matches but I’m just a “B” class shooter. I shoot at a level of about 65% (my current USPSA classification is 65.94% with a high of 68.53%) of the worlds best shooters. I could not imagine that would be good enough and didn’t pursue it.

Then I found out Caleb was accepted. What? I’m on par with Caleb! Oh well, it was at a bad time with our current project (Windows Phone Seven) at Microsoft and I had an obligation to complete that work anyway.

I really should have listened to what Caleb said last night on Gun Nuts Radio about it before making the following comments but I have other commitments for tonight and don’t have the time.

After seeing the first episode I again thought I could have had a chance. Mike Seeklander and his spotter’s performance was pathetic. Yes, as Tam pointed out the 100 yard shot Seeklander failed on is not as straightforward as one might think. But assuming the problem was not with the shooter being incompetent then either the spotter and shooter could have solved the problem had they been thinking. Here is how.

One of the shots was on paper. Use the same point of aim and try it again. If it lands on paper in close to the same place then you know offset in both X and Y from point of aim. Use that offset to put the bullet on target. If it doesn’t then the one on paper was random and you need to find the offset. The spotter should have found a nearby spot of bare ground where the bullet strike could be easily seen and directed the shooter there to find the offsets. If no such bare ground was available then systematically try offset in increments of 1/2 the paper width/height. Get a bullet on paper and confirm the offsets! They may have tried that and it was edited before airing but I was extremely annoyed that I didn’t see it happening. I felt the other team members should have put both the spotter and shooter on the chopping block. They both failed.

This episode also confirmed my hypothesis that if someone brags about how good a shooter they are it is near certain proof they are crap. All the great shooters I have personally met are extremely modest or at least silent about how great they think they are.

If you take nothing more from this post remember this. You can do a quick and dirty zero of your gun with one shot. Aim at something and shoot. Then stabilize the gun while aiming at the same place. With the gun still pointed at the same exact spot adjust the sights until the sights point at the place where the bullet hit.


10 thoughts on “Episode one of Top Shot

  1. I rarely have a spotter. If I can’t get on the paper, here’s what I do: “shoot the corners”.

    1) Aim dead-center and fire three shots. If on paper, adjust sights. If not, continue.
    2) Aim at corner of paper. Fire two shots. If on paper, adjust. If not, shoot two at each corner.

    What this does is give you an effective target 9 times the size of the paper, by treating each corner in turn as if it were the center of a “virtual target”.

    If you can’t get on at 100 this way, shoot at 25. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time IMHO. If Mr. Seeklander and his spotter had gone after the target systematically (for a TARGET shooter, not a sniper), they’d have hit the darn thing. Also IMHO.

  2. I think the problem they had was that the shot that hit paper was before the spotter got glass on the target, and then he never hit it again.

    Almost certainly by round ten, Seeklander was good and scope-locked, doing the wrong thing only harder. (You’ve been there. I know I have. You’re sure you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing to hit and it’s not happening and so you keep doing it because the clock is running and you can’t just set the rifle down and step back for a minute…)

  3. Supposedly, they had a practice session with each rifle before the competition, which should have allowed them to vet out each individual rifle’s hold and general accuracy. Either that opportunity was wasted, they ended up shooting a different rifle from the one they each practiced on, or there was a mechanical problem with one or more rifles that didn’t manifest itself in practice. Last possibility is the guy choked, which I find the hardest to believe. (Was that an 8″ bull at 100 yards?) I don’t see the “how-do-I-get-on-paper-at-100-yards-if-I-don’t-know-this-rifle” question to be valid, given what we were shown about the practice opportunity.

    Bugei; I refer to your method as “bracketing”. I’ve used it a few times when I had plenty of ammo and didn’t want to get up and get closer to get on paper after mounting a new sight, but that’s mostly in product testing where we’re switching out components.

  4. I’m rooting for Kelly. He spoke at the Friends of the NRA banquet in Renton last weekend. Nice guy, but I understand why the he got the votes he did for the challenge. He did honor the embargo on revealing how the game turns out. I got no hint as to how far he got in the game.

  5. Lyle, a couple of things that you don’t see in the episode – first was the brevity of our practice session, which was 5-8 rounds per person per rifle. Also, Mike had a different spotter for his practice session than the actual match.

    Secondly, our shooter on Blue Team had similar troubles with his ’03 Springfield. It took Iain 15+ shots to get his 100 yard hit.

    As far as the rifles go, I have no doubt that we were shooting the same guns from practice in the actual competition, because my SVT-40 had multiple light primer hits in practice, and then did it again in the competition.

  6. @Lyle: yeah, that’s the common use for the technique. But in this case, he can’t switch range, he can’t switch spotter, he can’t switch components. This might have been the only thing he could have done. I think we’ll agree that it’s a darn shame, anyhow.

  7. Thanks, Caleb.
    “…15+ shots to get his 100 yard hit.” That was an 8″ bull, right? I am extremely curious as to why or how this happens. I can’t believe it’s all nerves, but I wasn’t there. Adrenaline can mess you up.

  8. Lyle, my thought is that the time taken to hit the target with the ’03s was a combo of pressure, unfamiliarity (5 round practice sessions, really?), and the weirdness of the ’03 Springers sight. What Blue Team had going for us was a better background to spot hits on – if you watch the first episode, you can hear Blake and I calling hits to Iain that are out of his spotter’s field of view.

  9. I liked what I saw of Kelly too. We didn’t see but a tiny bit of Caleb on that one show I have had more than enough personal contact with him that I’d be happy if he wins as well.

    But I suspect neither of them will win. Kelly has the rifle skills but my impression is that his pistol skills are not good enough to survive a serious challenge from the others. Caleb is moderately good with a pistol but his lack of long range rifle skills are going to put him at a extreme disadvantage if it comes down to that.

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