Well, we've waited all season for this episode. It's always nice when it's finally about the shooting instead of the social BS. Our final four shooters were Augie Malekovich, Gary Shank, Chris Cheng, and Greg Littlejohn. Naturally, the intro was blah blah, yadda yadda about them. And then it got interesting, when Colby told us what lay in store.
We were to witness a series of three challenges. The losers of the first two challenges would go away immediately. Then, Colby said, "The remaining two marksmen will face off in one of the most colossal final challenges we have ever put together."
Challenge 1: Dueling Post
The gun: Winchester Model 1873. Simple dueling post shoot-out - flip the steel targets so that your color is showing. Most often on this show, when one shooter gets a lead in the dueling posts, he wins by a large margin. And that's exactly what happened in the first round, when Chris beat Augie by a wide margin.
Gary went on to shoot against Greg, and it was extremely close. Their first try ended in a tie, and they went again. Before they went again, we got to hear Greg tell us, "I was so geeked up." Whut? Gary won that one - barely - and was thus safe.
Then Greg and Augie shot it out. They were pretty much tied up, then Greg took a lead while Augie reloaded. Then Greg had to load while Augie fired. If Augie had hit his targets, he probably would have won, but instead he missed multiple times and allowed Greg to ooze by once again. Ack!
Challenge 2: Pick Your Poison
For the second challenge, we saw a familiar setup: shooters selected a gun, a target, a range, and a shooting position, and then all three shooters had a chance to try that shot. The person with the fewest points at the end would be sent packing.
Greg went first, and chose the M14 rifle, shooting at a large jar in the prone position at 200 yards. Everyone missed.
Chris chose the Benelli M4, with slugs, standing, at 75 yards. The target was a mason jar. Gary came close, but they all missed.
Gary decided to stick with the low-percentage shots, and selected the 1911 pistol, standing offhand at 75 yards, shooting at a glass carafe of orange juice. They all missed! Greg then chose the Lee Enfield rifle, shooting in the prone position at a jar of cheese balls 100 yards away. Chris hit, while the two Gs missed.
Chris then opted for the Browning Buckmark pistol at a goblet, range 35 feet, standing, offhand. Chris made the hit, while Gary and Greg both missed.
By this time, Chris was safe. Gary's gun was to be the FN Five Seven (it was the only one left), and he chose a jar of cherries at a range of 35 feet. Again, he decided to shoot offhand, standing. He missed and Gary hit, so Greg moved on while Gary got the boot.
Back at the house, they talked about how they were both seen as weak links on the first episode, when both of them had the toughest time shooting the Ruger Vaquero single action revolver. Chris won that one, and I was hoping that meant he would come out on top this time, too.
For the final challenge, they had an audience. Some of their former competitors were there - including Gabby. I thought she had a thing for Chee, as we saw back on Episode 9, but the video editing made it look as if there was some kind of spark between Chris and Gabby. Hmmm. Anyhow, Bass Pro Shops' pro shooter Alan Treadwell was also in attendance.
A series of shoot-outs were arranged. The first shooter to complete them was to be the winner.
1) Flintlock pistol; break two jugs. Chris won that one.
2) 1860 Henry rifle; knock down two three-part steel bullseyes (total of 6 targets). Chris won again. I was feeling pretty good.
3) Webley Mark VI revolver; break nine jars in a moving frame. Chris barely eked out a win that time, and I started to get nervous.
4) Colt single action revolver; make two perfect runs (hit two series of six targets - without missing). Chris won, but not by much.
5) Stryker 350 crossbow; hit three moving targets. Greg just squeaked out a victory here, and I fought off an urge to gnaw my fingernails.
6) Browning BAR machinegun; hit two exploding targets at 125 and 150 yards. They hit their first targets simultaneously but then DAMN IT, Greg won! If I'd had enough hair on my head I might have started pulling it out.
7) M32A1 grenade launcher; hit two exploding targets at 50 and 75 yards. Greg started out in the lead and then Chris won! Whew. It was so close. And as detached as I often am during these episodes, I even whooped when he won!
So - Chris wins the title of Top Shot, a hundred thousand dollars, and a professional marksman contract with Bass Pro Shops. Congrats, Chris Cheng! Ya done good.
However, I do have a complaint. At the end of the episode (or the beginning of the recap episode), Chris said something like, "I applied for Top Shot because you can't do that stuff anywhere else." Well, I guess Chris hasn't been reading my blog (go figure), because if he had then he would have known that former Top Shot competitor Daryl Parker offers "A Shooting Experience" at his Marksman's Challenge range in Texas, where he mimicks Top Shot-style challenges and lets folks shoot it out head to head. Heck, I just mentioned it in last week's blog post.
Big question: Will there be a season 5 of Top Shot? I think there should be, if they get some real experts on board, get their facts straight, and dispense with the social BS part of the show. But right now that seems to be up in the air. Unlike in previous seasons, there has been no casting call put forth at the end of recent episodes. Even the Top Shot casting page at History.com is noncommittal, stating, "Currently there is no deadline for submissions or schedule for the final casting process and production of the next season. Still, we’d like to hear from you!"
If season 5 ever does roll around, I'll be here. In the meantime, keep your powder dry - and for goodness' sake, use patches with your round balls.
- Russ Chastain
Be sure to vote in this week's Top Shot poll!
Other Top Shot Season 4 Episode Reviews
- Season 4, Episode 1: Motorcycle Sidecar Shootout
- Season 4, Episode 2: Browning BAR and Grenade Launchers
- Season 4, Episode 3: Benelli Shotguns Galore; Season 2 Winner Chris Reed
- Season 4, Episode 4: Crossbows, Moving Targets, and Love
- Season 4, Episode 5: Flintlocks, Unpatched Balls, and Half-Cocks
- Season 4, Episode 6: From Cannons to Atlatls - and Beyond
- Season 4, Episode 7: Trick Shots and Cocky Teammates
- Season 4, Episode 8: Old British Guns
- Season 4, Episode 9: It's all About Rifles
- Season 4, Episode 10: SWAT Stuff
- Season 4, Episode 11: Machinegunning and Memory