Why ‘Top Shot’ Is Important

Among the various gun forums, there have been a lot of discussions about Top Shot, with a lot of people yammering on about how they dislike the show because there’s too much drama, or the contestants suck (undoubtedly compared to the complaintant’s marksmanship skills via keyboard), or that it’s a reality show, or game show, or that the contestants are all jerks, or whatever.

I don’t consider Top Shot to be some of the greatest television ever made (right now, that would be Arrested Development, Firefly, or Deadwood), but it is, week after week, an engaging and entertaining skill-based reality show that caters to my interest in competitive shooting, and has some pretty boss slow-motion footage, too.

Myself and others have spent time defending Top Shot not because it’s brilliant story telling, but because it’s the first shooting-oriented tv show that actually has appeal to people other than shooters and gun owners.

So why this essay now?

Here’s why:
The AV Club Review of Top Shot

On the off chance that you aren’t familiar with The AV Club, it’s a spinoff website from The Onion that reviews and discusses pop culture, including film, music, and television shows. Demographically, the site skews heavily towards artsy urbanite twenty-something hipsters.

Still, and all, despite this, in reading the AV Club review of Top Shot, as well as the ensuing comments, there’s a fairly positive overall tone to the whole thing, along the lines of “hey, it’s neat to see a game show based on marksmanship competitions.”

This is the most important thing about Top Shot. It’s packaging and presenting shooting competitions in a way that is palatable to people who’ve never even shot a gun, and they’re coming away from the show with a positive impression of guns, competition, and the people on the show.

Consider it one small sign that this show is helping to break down the preconceived notions that all gun owners are a bunch of psychotic, backwards primitives. Hopefully at least a few viewers will have their political views changed by a show that isn’t political in the least.

Edited to add: Parts of this blog entry were inspired by a similar one written by Caleb Giddings of Gunnuts Media, which can be found on the Cheaper than Dirt website. I thought it was pretty cool to see validation of the points he made in wider media outside of shooting culture circles.


4 thoughts on “Why ‘Top Shot’ Is Important

  1. I couldn’t have said it better. It IS a reality TV show. But hating on reality shows just because they manufacture drama is far beside the point in Top Shot’s case. They’re showcasing shooters and the sport in a respectful way and that’s pretty hard to beat. Tell non-shooters to watch the show, even if you don’t like it. We need more people to realize their second amendment rights are worth keeping and defending in the media and political realm.

  2. You know, I would probably agree with everything “they” say about Top Shot, except I find myself tuning in every week, and watching to see what kind of shooting that I get to be jealous over next. While I wouldn’t try out because I don’t want to be on National TV showing how bad I suck or what a jerk I really am, I would love the ability to shoot 1000 yards, or any of the other relays, skill shots, they get to do.

    My choice is currently, 25 yd, 50 yd, 100 yd, public range with no drawing from the holster, no double taps or fast shooting, etc. You get the idea. So yes.. I drool over their opportunity.

    And to keep the comment as on topic as possible, you are right. They have packaged this very well. My wife is even watching it with me and she has yet to shoot a gun.

  3. When they play Surviver instead of a shooting competition
    they fear the one they try to eliminate…the 3 remaining that
    voted together can never be winners, just second class…

  4. I’m not a Top Shot hater, but I have written about it.

    The A.V. Club review was good and that is positive PR to a demographic that likely has zero firearms interest/experience.

    I go into detail here:

    … but I’ll spare you with all that and cut to the chase.

    I’m more disturbed that the courses of fire are just goofy and have little resemblance to anything typically used in organized shoots. What’s worse, the shooting challenges would be incredibly difficult to duplicate on a home range making it nearly impossible to test your skills against what the show’s competitors are doing.

    While I’m not a fan of the manufactured drama, this is a good show and good for gun owners.

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