Top Shot Competitor and Navy Rescue Swimmer Jamie Franks

By CTD Blogger published on in Competitive Shooting, General

Jamie Franks grew up in a rural area outside or Raleigh North Carolina with a family of hunters and shooters. He spent his childhood exploring, hunting, and roaming the backwoods of the Southeast United States and, even as a child, aspired to a career in the military. Seeking to further his skills with firearms, Jamie sought out training, initially as an Operations Specialist within the Navy, and later applied to and was accepted into the Navy SEAL’s BUD/S program where he unfortunately washed out due to medical reasons. Now he continues to work as an Operations Specialist and Navy Rescue Swimmer attached to an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) team.

Jamie is not a fan of reality TV in general, but the History Channel’s reality TV series caught his eye and he began looking into the application process. One thing led to another, and soon he found that he had been selected as one of the 16 contestants for Season 2.

While on the show, Jamie’s shooting abilities quickly became apparent, and he made it through 3 elimination challenges until he was finally taken out during the shotgun elimination challenge with Chris Reed in this week’s episode.

Jamie joined us on this week’s Cheaper Than Dirt podcast and we had the chance to discuss his experience in the Navy and talk in detail about what happened during his run for the $100,000 grand prize on Top Shot.

Listen to the podcast live using the player below, download the entire .mp3 file here, or you can read the entire transcript below.

Cheaper Than Dirt Jamie, welcome to the Cheaper Than Dirt podcast.

Jamie Franks Well thank you, thanks for having me.

Cheaper Than Dirt You have had quite a notable experience on Top Shot. It’s been quite a rough road that you’ve fought hard down to get to this point on Top Shot.

Jamie Franks Yeah, I would say so. That’s one way to put it.

Cheaper Than Dirt You went to a total of 4 elimination challenges, is that right?

Jamie Franks That is correct, I went to 4 and brought home 3 of them.

Cheaper Than Dirt That last one just wasn’t going to happen though.

Jamie Franks No, by that point in the competition I think that I was really starting to feel the strain and starting to wear thin. The way the luck played out, I don’t think that any of us would have ever guessed that any of us were going to walk into a shotgun challenge. I might have voted a little differently going into that elimination challenge, instead of deciding to face off against Chris Reed with a shotgun.

Nonetheless, I feel like I could have shot a little bit better because I do have a background in trap and skeet. But yeah, that last elimination challenge really was a difficult challenge.

Cheaper Than Dirt Let’s back up a bit, we’ll come back to that, but let’s get a little bit of background on how you got started in firearms. You grew up with a family out in a rural area where you had the opportunity to shoot, hunt, and generally just run around in the woods. Tell us a bit about that background.

Jamie Franks Yeah, I grew up pretty much in the middle of nowhere near a small town in North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh, that was about 30 miles southeast of Raleigh. I grew up on my family’s tobacco farm.

From a real early age, my dad would let me shoot all of his guns and stuff, once I was old enough to kinda handle them. When I was about 6 years old I got my first BB gun and, where we lived, I was just free to roam the area and go off into the woods by myself and shoot stuff with my BB gun. A couple of years later I got my first .410 shotgun and then a .22 rifles, and then up and up from there.

Living where I used to live at that time, I used to tell people that you could stand on the roof of my dad’s house and shoot a high powered rifle in any direction and not have to worry about hitting anything. There was nothing out there except forest and tobacco fields.

Cheaper Than Dirt Did you have any experience in competition shooting? I think we heard somebody mention that you had shot trap or skeet at some time prior to your military experience.

Jamie Franks Yeah, I have, not prior to my military experience, just since I’ve been in the Navy, here in San Diego there used to be an amateur trap and skeet league here in San Diego and I would shoot in that competitively. That wasn’t any part of any official circuit. It was just an amateur local sorta thing, but that was the only formal competition shooting that I’d ever done, if you even want to call that formal, prior to going on Top Shot.

Cheaper Than Dirt Well, a little competition goes a long way I think, especially when it comes to having that ability to get down and focus on a show like Top Shot.

Jamie Franks I’m a competitive person anyway, no matter what it is. I look at just about everything in life like it’s a competition, so that didn’t take much adjusting on Top Shot.

Cheaper Than Dirt Right. Now, what prompted your decision to join the Navy? you obviously had a background in firearms and an interest in that, but there are a lot of other branches of the military, such as the Marines and the Army, that might have seemed better suited for someone who was adept with small arms.

Jamie Franks I grew up, I was a kid of the ’80s, I’m 31 years old, and I grew up watching all of the great ’80s action movies and action heroes. Literally from as far back as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was to be in the military. Once I was actually starting to get to the age where I had to start thinking about what I was actually going to do in the military, growing up and playing war or playing army as a kid, I always wanted to be Special Forces, I always wanted to be a sniper. I wanted to be like they were in the movies.

Once I was actually a teenager and actually had to start considering my options, the high school I went to had a Navy Junior ROTC and I was the commanding officer of my JROTC detachment in high school. That kinda started steering me towards the Navy, and once I started to find out more about Special Forces and stuff like that, the Navy SEALS were in my opinion the best of the best and the elite of the elite. That’s what I wanted to do.

When I was 17, 18, and 19 years old, there was nobody in the world who could have told me that I couldn’t do it or that I wasn’t going to make it or anything. That right then and there, I made the decision that if I was going to be a Navy SEAL I had to be in the NAVY, so I joined the Navy.

Cheaper Than Dirt In 1998 you did just that and started along your career path, a 13 year career path in the Navy if I’m not mistaken-

Jamie Franks That is correct.

Cheaper Than Dirt This has been a point of contention online in the forums, and on the TV show among some of the other competitors: we saw Ashley and some of the other guys get upset at your apparent reluctance to disclose what your actual job duty actually was. What did you do in the Navy, and what do you do right now in the Navy?


Jamie Franks while on deployment to Afghanistan

Jamie Franks What was seen as reluctance, at least on my part, I would like to say it was a misunderstanding. I’ve seen a million guys in the Navy that never shut up about how “On one deployment I did this, and on my last ship I did this,” and I just didn’t want to be that guy. I didn’t want to be that guy who was aggravating everybody with my sea stories every 5 seconds.

For the longest time I never knew that there was any contention about what I did in the military. I honestly didn’t think it mattered, and I really didn’t think anybody cared. I could be seen wearing United States Navy Rescue Swimmer T-shirts all through the competition.

I joined the Navy in 1998, and like I said, I joined with the intention of trying to be a SEAL. Back then, only certain job fields could apply for SEAL training, so I had to look at all of these jobs and pick which one I wanted because, hey, it didn’t matter anyway because I was going to be a Navy SEAL.

My uncle was an Operations Specialist in the Navy, and he made being an Operations Specialist sound like the best thing since beer in a can. So, I joined to be an Operations Specialist, went through Navy boot camp in 1998, went through OSA school and became an Operations Specialist, went to my first ship and immediately on my first ship began trying to get my hands dirty and into anything I could that had a gun involved.

I got involved with the ship security team, we call it SAT and BAF teams, Security Alert Teams Backup Alert Force. I started doing VBSS which is Visit, Board, Search and Seizure. That’s like boarding merchant ships, searching them for contraband, stuff like that. Immediately I started applying for BUD/S training over and over again until I finally got accepted.

I was detached from my ship and actually got to go work with the SEALS here at SEAL Team 3 here in San Diego for about 6 months when I was getting ready to go to BUD/S. I went to BUD/S and made it a few weeks through training. I started failing my timed runs in training and we couldn’t figure out why my times were getting worse instead of better, so I went to medical and found out that I had stress fractures in my leg and got dropped from training and went back to the fleet.

My second ship, they saw in my orders that I was coming from SEAL training. I guess they needed a rescue swimmer because they said “Hey, you’re probably in pretty good shape. You can probably swim pretty good. Do you want to be a Rescue Swimmer?”

I said “Heck yes!”

So, they sent me to Rescue Swimmer School enroute to my second ship. I got there to Rescue Swimmer School and I was blowing it away and I really loved everything about it. I really kinda felt like that was my niche or my calling.

But, in the Navy, it’s not like the Coast Guard. If you’re a Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard, that is 100% of your job. In the Navy, it’s more like a collateral duty. I’m still an Operations Specialist, but I’m also a Rescue Swimmer.

Cheaper Than Dirt So that might have lead to some of the confusion where someone might say, I believe it was George who said “Well, what is it? What are you? Are you EOD or are you a Rescue Swimmer?”

So, you have a primary job and a secondary job.

Jamie Franks Right. Currently I work with an EOD unit, and I’ve deployed twice with an EOD unit, but I am not an EOD guy. I do support for an EOD unit as an Operations Specialist. But, that’s exactly the point, exactly what you just said. There is no one word or one phrase or one sentence that I could tell somebody who is not familiar with the Navy, what I do in the Navy.

If I were to tell you “I’m Military Police,” you would understand what that was. If I were tell you “I’m a diver,” the average person would know what that was. But, if I tell the average person “I’m an Operations Specialist and a Rescue Swimmer, and I work with EOD, it doesn’t make sense if you’re not in the Navy.

Cheaper Than Dirt Apparently that led to the confusion that was on the show.

Now, while you’re in the Navy, how did you discover Top Shot, and at what point did you go ahead and make the decision that “Hey, let me see if I can take some leave, I want to apply to be on the show.” Walk us through that process, how did you got through that?

Jamie Franks That’s actually a cool story in my opinion. I was just a Top Shot fan, just like the other millions of people who watched Top Shot because it was on TV. I like guns, and it was a show about guns with real shooters, shooting real guns, which is something you hardly ever see on TV. Everything is so Hollywood, so I was immediately drawn to Top Shot just as a fan.

I was watching Season 1, and Season 1 was great. I don’t mean to take anything away from the Season 1 competitors, but I’m sitting there on my couch watching Top Shot and I’m like “What’s the big deal? I can do this. I can do that challenge better than that guy, I can shoot that better than this guy.”

I’m involved with a program called Project Appleseed, and I was at a Project Appleseed function and a bunch of us had been watching Top Shot and talking about it and couple of my friends told me “Hey, you’re a good shot, you should try out.” Then on one of the online forums I saw a guy basically recruiting for Top Shot and he said “Hey, if you’d be interested, send me an email,” so I sent the guy an email with just a quick little paragraph, honestly never expecting to hear anything back from it. then I get an email back and they wanted a little more information.

Then as it goes on it was just a little more, and a little more, and it started getting to the point where I’m signing non-disclosure agreements, I’m sending in videos, I’m sending in essay questions and doing background checks, and I’m like “OK, this must be pretty serious. They can’t be doing this with everybody.” It was at that point that I clued in my command. Once I got a bit further along in the process and found out what the filming dates were, the filming dates backed right up to my deployment to Afghanistan.

It was at that point that I needed to let my command know, so I said “Hey, I’ve got kind of a problem. It’s kind of a cool problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless. I don’t know if you’ve seen the show Top Shot on the History Channel, but I’m starting to get the feeling that they’re seriously interested in me. If I were to get selected for the show, the dates are going to back right up to the deployment. Would you guys be willing to support that?”

They gave me the OK to keep pursuing it and just keep them in the loop. If I got selected, we’d cross that bridge when we got to it, and I didn’t I would carry on like normal. I’ve got to tell you, I’ve always known I was a pretty good marksman, but I would never have considered myself anything extraordinary. As I got past the next phase and the next phase of the Top Shot selection, I was always amazed. I was as amazed as anybody else would have been to find out that I was making it through all of these, as they say in football tryouts, I was making it through all of the cuts.

It got down to it that I was in the final 50 and they were going to bring me out for the final tryouts, so then I had to sit down again with my command and say “Now it’s getting pretty serious. They’ve narrowed it down to 50, and they’re going to select 16 out of these 50, so I’ve got a pretty decent shot at this. What’s it going to be?”

My command ran it up the flagpole, and it was that same time that I was selected as my command’s EOD Mobile Unit 3 Senior Sailor of the Year for 2010. So, they said “Yeah, we know you’re our Sailor of the Year. We know you’re square guy, you’re a good shooter, so go with it. See what happens. If you get selected, we’re going to support you,” and that’s the way it worked out.

I was in complete disbelief the night I got the phone call after we had come back from finals tryouts that they had selected me as one of the 16 for the cast.

Cheaper Than Dirt It sounds like quite the journey, and quite an arduous process that you’ve got to go through. You’ve been quoted as saying that you “hate reality TV.” Did you find yourself unprepared for the social dynamic aspect of the show?

Jamie Franks Yeah, I absolutely do hate reality TV. I don’t really watch any other reality shows. In my opinion, Top Shot was kind of a borderline reality show, but it is, it’s a reality show. It’s kinda like Survivor with guns I guess or Big Brother with guns or whatever.

I don’t watch any of those other shows, but I went to public school. I grew up with thick skin, I have an older sister. I’ve been through the Navy, been through all kinds of stuff in the Navy. I assumed that had completely prepared me for the social dynamic. I’m usually a pretty social person, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself a social butterfly. I’m the kind of guy that has one or two good friends and I’m just kinda friendly with everybody else. I just assumed going into it that I wouldn’t need a game plan, that I wouldn’t need a strategy, that the social aspect of the show would be no big deal compared to the stresses and situations I’ve been in in the military.

I have to tell you, I was wrong. I should have spent a little bit more time preparing myself for that aspect of the show.

Cheaper Than Dirt What about weapons-wise. A lot of people like Daryl went out and practiced with all of these exotic weapons: throwing knives, shooting a bow and arrow, throwing a tomahawk. Did you practice with anything like that or did you do any type of preparation to familiarize yourself with foreign weapons for the show?

Jamie Franks I’m in Southern California, and aside from driving 2 or 3 hours out into the middle of the desert, it would be really difficult for me to practice with any of those odd weapons. I pretty much had to stick to the weapons that I had immediate access to and immediate places to shoot them, which was basically rifles, pistols, and shotguns.

Through the course of my life, and through my experience in the military, I’ve been fortunate enough. Like I said, I was stationed at a SEAL team for a while, I work with an EOD team right now, I did VBSS stuff on a ship, so I’ve had the chance to shoot and hold and become familiar with a wide range of weapons. I’m just one of these people that just believes that if your shooting fundamentals are good, and you really know what you’re doing, it really doesn’t matter what kind of weapon is in my hand. That’s the way I thought about it.

When we went to the final tryouts we had to shoot, we had to do a shooting trial and, assuming that all the rest of these people had spent the last few months at the range every single day, number one, I can’t afford to go to the range every day. I can’t afford to buy that much ammo. I just kinda went into it like I was either a good enough shot, or I’m not. They’re either going to select me, or they’re not. I really didn’t have the time or the money to put into recreating the first season’s Top Shot challenges in my backyard or doing anything crazy. So, I just kinda kept my goings to the range about the same as it would have been anyway.

Actually, towards the end there, right before we went to the show, I had to make myself stop going to the range, because I was becoming so critical of myself. Every time I would take a shot and not hit a bullseye I would just beat myself up about it. The last couple of weeks before we went, I just had to make myself not go to the range at all.

Cheaper Than Dirt You pretty much just walked into this entire situation cold. No real plan, not a whole lot of time to practice, not really knowing what to expect except maybe what you’ve seen on Season 1.

Jamie Franks Right. I walked into the situation thinking “If I’m not good enough, a couple of weeks of extra practice isn’t going to help me.”

Cheaper Than Dirt And you did remarkably well given that. You know, after the team selection process, we saw pretty early on that certain people got along OK and certain people didn’t. We saw on the Blue Team that Jay tended to rub certain people the wrong way. We didn’t see quite that same dynamic on the Red Team, but at the same time, you didn’t seem to be quite “in the group” as much as other Red Team members. Would you say that was just the nature of your personality, just being a little bit more of a quiet guy?

Jamie Franks I think so. You know, *laughs* anyone who knows me well, I don’t think “quiet” would be one of the words they would use to describe me as. But in a situation where I’m with people I don’t know, it’s kind of my nature to just kinda hang back and see what everbody’s about and just jump in where I can.

No way could I even now after I’ve been on Top Shot, I couldn’t jump back into a house with 15 other strangers and just immediately jump in and start being social and start being part of the group and start making close friends.

In fact, the night before we started the show we had a meeting with the Top Shot producers and directors and one of the guys made the comment that people on the first season made the comment that “Oh, I can’t vote for him, he’s my friend,” and he was like “I don’t know about you guys, but I take 5 years before I call somebody my friend.”

That’s really how I am. It takes me a long time to make good friends. I really went in there thinking that I didn’t want to play the political game at all. I wanted to go to Top Shot and think that my shooting and my personality, and just being up front and honest with everybody would be enough. In retrospect, maybe I should have played the game a little sooner and a little more and been a little bit more political from the start and tried to make some closer ties from the start. Who’s to say that would have changed anything?

Cheaper Than Dirt Your raw natural talent definitely held out for you quite a bit, but of course getting sent to challenge after challenge, and every time having to pack up… You know, it’s hard enough to go out there and deal with the cameras and deal with the stress of knowing that your every move could be televised on national TV, and that you want to look good on the range and prove that you really do deserve to be on the show. But on top of that, having to go through the stress of packing up every time in anticipation of possibly being sent home… It’s got to get into your mind, to creep into your mindset when you’re out there trying to do your best and shoot.

How much concentration, how difficult is it to get into the proper frame of mind to perform on the range, every time, on command?

Jamie Franks I think that exact thing was my problem in the first couple of challenges. Obviously there were nerves, and I think I was putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect, to perform perfect, to hit that bullseye every time, that I ended up shooting myself in the foot and falling flat on my face. It really took me going to that first elimination challenge with Athena to really kinda pull my head out, shake it off, and relax in front of the cameras in front of these 15 other marksmen critiquing my every move and trying to find a weakness and trying to find a reason to keep themselves around and find somebody else to send up for nomination.

It did get to the point a little bit where the competition was starting not to be fun any more because it was, no matter how well I shoot, it’s not going to matter at a certain point.

Cheaper Than Dirt This most recent episode, I almost laughed along with you as we were watching you at the nomination range, it was a situation where you almost just have to laugh. You’re at the point where, “OK, yeah, they’re going to send me again.” What else are you going to do?

Jamie Franks Right. Exactly, and people have asked me if I could go back and do things over again, what would I do? If I could go back again knowing what I know now, knowing that I would get sent to every elimination challenge anyway, I probably would have shot better than I did because I could just completely relax and consequently shot better because there wouldn’t be any pressure.

I thought that at some point that everybody would wake up and go “Hey, this dude is a solid shooter, we need to stop sending him to the elimination.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that once I had been marked as “that guy” after the first couple of challenges, there wasn’t any way I was going to win them back.

Cheaper Than Dirt There have been some suggestions that perhaps you were sandbagging, trying to get sent to elimination challenges so that you could pick up a couple of extra gift cards.

Jamie Franks No, that is not accurate at all. The gift cards are nice, but I would have definitely traded in the gift cards in order to be one of the guys sitting on the bench watching the elimination challenge.

Cheaper Than Dirt The producers changed things up this season. Last season, when the two teams combined, and everybody put on the green jerseys, we saw the nomination range go away. When that didn’t happen, how did that change your strategy?

Jamie Franks When we first found out that we made it to the green shirts, I was ecstatic. Now, my shooting is going to speak for itself. My skill is going to speak for itself. It doesn’t matter what everybody else’s opinion is. I’m going to have a score, and that’s going to be it.

Then, when we found out that it wasn’t the worst person going home, it was the best person just got immunity and we still had to do nominations, honestly the first couple of times I was completely deflated. Every time we kept going back to the next practice or the next challenge I was hoping they would tell us that “Hey, that last nomination was the last one.” But, for me, that never happened.

It’s funny that you should mention how they did it in the first season, because unless my math is incorrect, at the point that I left the show in the individual phase of the competition, I think I had the best shooting record of any of the shooters who were left. I placed 2nd in the .50 cal challenge, I placed 1st in the unstable platform challenge, and then I tied for second in the challenge we saw last night falling from the crane. I had two 2nd place finishes and a 1st place finish, and none of the other shooters there had a better record with that.

If they did the elimination like they did in the first season, I’d still be in the competition and I think I’d have gone a lot farther than where I landed.

Cheaper Than Dirt Do you think that your shooting skills might have spoken too loudly for you, that maybe some of the guys looked at your performance on the .50 cal, and you know you really upset their plans by getting immunity on the unstable platform challenge. How did that make you feel?

Jamie Franks That unstable platform challenge was my perfect storm of a Top Shot challenge. Everything that I happened to be good at fell right in my lap for that challenge. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me. If any challenge in both seasons of Top Shot were meant for me, it was that one. Those are the kinds of weapons I am familiar with. Those are the kinds of weapons I’m good with. That kind of challenge is right up my alley, and I went in there and smoked it.

Do I think that my shooting ability started to speak too loud and started to intimidate people? I really don’t think so. Joe’s an honest guy, and last night on the show you saw him, even after everything, he still didn’t consider me one of the best shots in the house. I think it was a case of, if you look hard enough to find something wrong, you’re going to find something wrong every time.

Cheaper Than Dirt And, when you’ve got everybody going for $100,000, you’re on the show and obviously think you’re there for a reason. If you didn’t think you had a chance, why be there? Obviously you’re going to see all of the flaws in all of the other shooters and identify ways in which you’re going to beat them.

Jamie Franks Right. Exactly.

Cheaper Than Dirt You mentioned earlier about the friendships on the show and how you didn’t think it was possible to make such good friends in such a short period of time. Yet, everybody we’ve talked to who came off the show has said the same thing. They came out of that experience with powerful and long lasting friendships. Your experience on the show obviously was a little bit different, but even Ashley said that he considered you a good friend, despite the on air incidents that we saw. Was your experience the same? Are these guys all your good friends now?

Jamie Franks Yeah, absolutely. Pretty much all of us have kept in touch. There are a few people from the cast that don’t speak up as often as others, but there is a core group of us who communicate pretty often. Jay, Ashley, and Maggie are the ones I’ve communicated the most. Probably Jay the most and then Ashley because he and I were both over in Afghanistan immediately after the show finished taping so he and I were talking to each other over there.

The weekend before last I actually met up with Maggie and shot my very first ever 3-gun match with her. Everything you saw on TV, everything that happened, whatever may have happened behind the scenes, absolutely every single person on the show I look forward to the day when I see them again and we can sit down and have a beer together. I have absolutely no hard feelings for anybody on the show.

A lot of people have said “How can you stand George and why didn’t you give him a piece of mind?” and a lot has been said about what has been left on the cutting room floor, and what was one of the things left on the cutting room floor was that me and George actually got along well most of the time.

Cheaper Than Dirt What did we miss out on? What one scene or what couple of scenes did we miss out on that you really wish would have made it to the air?

Jamie Franks I can’t think of any one big thing. I just think overall the producers or the editors or whoever missed out on capturing the camaraderie that actually was there. Every single night there were big card games going on and jokes going on. Jokes being played, and conversations that would still keep me in stitches now thinking back on it. It’s that kind of stuff that got kinda skipped over in favor of focusing in a little bit more on the drama.

It was just that kind of stuff overall. The guys who would interview us, more than once, more than twice, they made comments about how we were about to make them all puke because we were all getting along so well. That was really the reality of the reality show was that 99.9% of the time we all got along really well and it was a really positive environment in the house with everyone joking around and telling stories and playing games. I’m sorry that didn’t get shown more.

Cheaper Than Dirt Did the producers or crew members do anything on purpose to try and provoke drama?

Jamie Franks No. Some people think that certain things were scripted or that certain things were provoked by the producers, and I can honestly say that no, that didn’t happen. There were maybe a couple of times where they would ask you a loaded question, that maybe they wanted a certain response with maybe a certain slant to it, but at the end of the day it was up to you whether you played into that or not. I never did.

But no, nothing was scripted and I would say that they didn’t provoke any events. There was enough that happened on its own that they didn’t have to.

Cheaper Than Dirt You know, it is a stressful situation just being in the house away from everybody. Was it worth it? I mean, I know you mentioned that if you did it again you’d do it differently, but given everything you’ve learned, everything you know now, would you actually go out and do it again?

Jamie Franks If I could go out and do this experience over again, yes I would. Would I at this point go out of my way to apply for Dancing With The Stars, no I would not. The application process is ridiculously long and arduous. It keeps you guessing about whether or not you’ve made it with all the uncertainty and all of the hoops you have to jump through. It was absolutely worth it, knowing that I was one of the fortunate ones who made it.

So, yes. This specific instance, I would go back and do it again. Would I do it again now, probably not. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I think it’s best to leave it at that. We had a great cast. The casting people did a great job picking us all out and throwing us in there. I don’t know how it could be any better if I went out and tried to do this again.

But, if Top Shot in the future wanted to do a Top Shot All Stars or Top Shot Heroes and Villains, I would absolutely be up for that.

Cheaper Than Dirt Would you be a Hero or a Villain?

Jamie Franks Oh man… I don’t know. If you ask me, I’d say I’m always going to be a hero, but I don’t know. I guess that would be up to the good people at the History Channel to decide that.

Cheaper Than Dirt You mentioned getting back together with some of the other cast members like Maggie and Chris Tilley. A couple of guys, based on their experience, have decided to start picking up some other disciplines and some other sports. Have you taken that step and started to shoot a little 3-Gun or some USPSA or something like that?

Jamie Franks Yes, doing 3-gun is something that I’ve always wanted to do even before I ever got onto Top Shot, or ever knew there was a show called Top Shot. The one thing, and hopefully there’s someone from the 3-Gun community listening, the information is just not out there. For a long time I would just search on the internet for 3-gun competitions that were near me here in California and I could never find the information. I just assumed that 3-gun was predominantly an East Coast thing or a South Eastern thing, because I know they do a lot of 3-gun events in Texas and Arizona. I just assumed there were none near me, so I stopped pursuing it.

Then I met Maggie on the show, who is one of the biggest 3-gun champions in the country, and I mentioned that “Yeah, it just sucks that there are no 3-gun near me in California,” and I thought she was going to slap me when I said that. Fortunately I met her and she has steered me in the right direction to find some 3-gun matches in Southern California, and like I said I just shot my first one 2 weeks ago. I’ve definitely been bitten by the bug and I definitely can not wait to shoot 3-gun some more.

Cheaper Than Dirt It’s been an explosive sport coming up. We recently picked up sponsorship of 3-Gun Nation and we’ve got Patrick Kelley, another well known 3-gun shooter on Team Cheaper Than Dirt! and Team Benelli now. The opportunities for 3-gun are definitely out there, and we’re trying to help our customers and other shooters like yourself get involved in the sports.

Jamie Franks My biggest recommendation would be to get the information out there on the internet about the matches. That would be great because I could never find it. I could never find anything where I didn’t have to drive across the country to see if I liked it.

Cheaper Than Dirt You know, for those of our listeners and readers online, go to 3-GunNation.com. They’ve got all the major matches listed there, and we’ve got even more listed on our website.

Jamie Franks Yup, that was actually the first resource that Maggie steered me towards was 3-GunNation.com.

Cheaper Than Dirt It’s a great resource. You know, Top Shot has done a lot to bring sports like 3-gun into the forefront of our national consciousness, to bring it back into the mainstream. You mentioned earlier that you’ve been doing some work with the Appleseed Project, and you know we’ve done some work in the past with Project Appleseed, and that’s a great method to bring in new shooters. Tell our listeners and our readers a bit about Project Appleseed.

Jamie Franks Appleseed, first and foremost if I were to tell someone about Project Appleseed, is non-partisan, it’s not Democrat, it’s not Republican, it’s not officially affiliated with the NRA. We keep politics out of it. The goal is to teach every American responsible gun ownership, rifle marksmanship, and we tie it in with American History and the events of April 19th 1775 and the battles of Lexington and Concord and tie it in with the political climate of the United States at that time, as it relates to today, and as it relates to the importance of being a responsible gun owner.

We take anybody from any walk of life. If you’ve got a rifle, bring it out. Most of the courses are a 2 day Saturday and Sunday program, but you can either come out for just Saturday or Sunday. We’ll teach you how to shoot your rifle and I’ve never seen anybody not get better. I’ve seen people on the range from 8 year old kids to 80 year old men, and 80 year old women. They bring their wives out. I’ve seen entire families on the shooting range.

I think the last time I was an instructor at an Appleseed event, we had a family of 8 all on the firing line right beside each other. It’s a great environment, it’s a great learning environment, and you’ve never met so many people who are so anxious to share their knowledge and share the history of the United States, and teach you how to shoot.

Cheaper Than Dirt That website is AppleseedInfo.org for any of our readers or listeners who want to go online and check that out.

You know, it’s a great project. We’ve had some down here in our area and, just speaking from personal experience I’m not that great of a shot, but going out there and trying to earn that marksmanship patch I saw this smiling 8-year old little girl came up with her own marksmanship patch, but I just couldn’t do it that day.

Jamie Franks Yeah, it’s amazing. Like I said, it’s for everybody. I’d been shooting for most of my life before I ever heard about Appleseed, and I really believe that no matter who you are, and no matter how good you think you are, you can’t attend a course like Appleseed and not learn something and not get a little bit better.

Cheaper Than Dirt It’s a great course. I’ve been shooting all my life and never shot a course like that and went out there and thought that I would just walk out there and earn the marksmanship patch, but there is a lot to learn. There is a lot that they can teach you out there.

Jamie Franks There is a lot to learn. A lot of people never realize how much of the mechanics they are doing wrong. The Rifleman patch as you referenced, earning that Rifleman patch is like dangling the carrot in front of the mule. You see that 12 year old girl get her Rifleman patch and that kinda lights a fire a fire under you and then you want it. People come back over and over and get better and better and eventually earn their Rifleman patch.

Cheaper Than Dirt It is a great way to spend a day with the family and learn firearm safety as you mentioned.

Listen, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. It’s been very enlightening, and it’s been great to clear up some of the drama. A lot of people see what happens on Top Shot and they see the drama and don’t realize that, as firearm enthusiasts and as sportsmen, we’re really a friendly bunch. I think that’s one thing that Season 1 really showed that I kinda miss on Season 2.

Jamie Franks Yup. Agreed.

Cheaper Than Dirt Alright, well I know you’ve got some more upcoming interviews, it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate. Caleb Giddings on Gun Nuts Radio has an interview scheduled later. We’ll be listening to that. Caleb is one of our resident Gun Nuts here at Cheaper Than Dirt! so we encourage all of our listeners to check out that interview as well.

Jamie Franks, it’s been a pleasure talking with you and I appreciate your time.

Jamie Franks Alright, well thank you. Thanks for having me.

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (7)

  • Tim Petersen

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    Hi Jamie.

    A word to you from Denmark.

    Just watched all episodes of Top Shot season 2 in a straight row.

    All I can say to your conduct is: Gentleman and model restraint… and, of course, hell of a shooter. Had it not been for girlie-games I think you would have gone all the way.

    I would’ve liked to see you demolish George in an elimination challenge though, had he not been too chicken and too cunning to go up against you.

    He (and the other buddies) were all about “integrity” and “best performers”. Happily, they do not represent the spine of the US armed forces. Better people do.

    A note on the competition:
    I actually believe you made a mistake, by winning the challenge with the moving platforms. Loosing, you would have been sure to meet Joe… just a thought :-)
    On the other hand, you are straight forward and didn’t do all the scheming stuff. But at some point they should’ve tasted their own medicine.

    You represent, what I perceive the US military to be: Hard ass gentlemen!

    By the way: I am following you on season five. Go all the way man!

    Regards
    Tim

    Reply

  • david

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    Sorry, but behavior like defending ‘Un-sportsman like conduct’ just doesn’t cut it, Zan. Frankly I don’t know who is worse, one who can’t be a sportsman, or someone trying to justify the deed.

    Not only did you defend the deed, you vilified Jaime who was the recipient of such deplorable action.

    I would understand it if you weren’t raised well enough to know what goes on in a competition, but since you know all about calling someone ‘two-faced’ on a tv interview, it tells me you are educated, but apparently, lacking where it counts.

    Reply

  • Zan

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    Sorry but behavior like refusing to shake hands during competition and negative comments when other people aren’t around speak volumes versus what goes on when everyone in a group is together in public acting nice.

    It’s called being two-faced, and several competitors on the show proved they were just that with their words and more importantly, their actions, many times over.

    Reply

  • Steve

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    Bravo Zulu, Fair winds following seas my friend.

    Reply

  • Philip Wylie

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    Jamie, I case you did not see this video regarding the WATERMAN 300 check this out for your consideration.
    You will have opportunity to meet instructors from all over America at the big event on Patriots Day.
    Thanks for your service for all that you do good sir.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCU8lei7s2g

    Best regards,

    Castle Mountain

    Reply

  • Philip Wylie

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    Jamie you do us proud son. You personify American exceptionalism. What a marksman, what a rifeman.
    I hope you will consider our invitation for attending the WATERMAN 300-II this Patriot’s Day weekend
    at the 600 yard range at the AURORA SPORTSMAN COMPLEX in Waterman, Illinois. 300 fellow Americans will be commemorating
    the anniversary of 911 and be on the firing line with our fellow instructors. This is will again be one of the
    biggest shoots in America. Firing line will be broken up into ten platoons. Your instruction on the line would be most coveted.
    Please let us know. We would be proud to have America’s top shot Son at this great PROJECT APPLESEED EVENT this September 10th and 11

    Castle Mountain
    Illinois RWVA- PROJECT APPLESEED Instructor.

    Reply

  • Bo

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    Thank you Jamie for your service to our country. Thank you for supporting Appleseed. You are a true patriot and the kind of man that represent our armed forces well.

    Reply

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