Competitive Shooting

Top Shot All-Stars — Zip or Ship

Top Shot All-Star Gary Quesenberry

I can’t help pointing out how proud I am of my fellow leathernecks; four of the remaining seven All-Stars are Marines, but as a group, we’ll call them the Magnificent Seven—for now.

Top Shot All-Star William Bethards
William Bethards on the Wheel of Fire as it turns 180 degrees.

In this episode, they brought back the Wheel of Fire challenge from TS3. Strapped to a 16-foot arm that spins in a 33-foot vertical circle, shooters use a Heckler & Koch SP-89 semi-automatic pistol to engage 20 12-inch targets 35 feet away. The wheel moves pretty fast, traveling at about 15 miles per hour, so shooters won’t have time to make many adjustments.

Top Shot All-Star Adam Benson
Adam Benson was first up on the Wheel of Fire.

The rules changed for this challenge also. The last place shooter was going home, with no chance to save themselves at either the Proving Grounds, or an elimination challenge. But wait, there’s more—the next five lowest-scoring shooters would go to the Proving Grounds to shoot for elimination, so there was a lot riding on this challenge.

Adam Benson went first, which is never a good spot to be in, and after his run, he knew his three hits put him in danger. The other six shooters took their turns, with Chris Cerino, Brian Zins, and Gary Quesenberry all hitting 6, Phil Morden with 9, Peter Palma with 10, and William Bethards winning his first challenge with an impressive 13. So just like that, in the first automatic elimination of this competition, Adam went home. He was a versatile and skilled shooter, and did a great job this season.

Wheel of Fire Results
All-Star Score Place
Adam 3 Last
Phil 9 3
William 13 1
Gary 6 / 17 rounds 5
Brian 6 / 19 rounds 6
Chris 6 / 16 rounds 4
Peter 10 2


Top Shot All-Stars Proving Ground Target
Tight shots on the Proving Ground target

At the Proving Grounds, the marksmen shot an M1A1 at a bullseye target 200 yards away. The big surprise in this one was Brian aka “Gunny,” who has a lot of experience with this rifle, actually had the worst shot that sent him up against Peter in the elimination challenge.

The elimination challenge was the zip line from TS1. Peter had done this once before, and it looked like a blast, no pun intended. Each shooter would travel down a zip line, and using the Browning Highpower 9mm with 14 rounds, engage 10 targets, five on the left, and five on the right. Just like the Wheel of Fire, this was a fast challenge, over before you know it, so the competitors had to be quick on the trigger!

Top Shot All-Stars Brian Zins
Top Shot All-Star Brian Zins takes a ride on the zip line.

Peter went first, and turned in an impressive run, hitting 9 out of 10 targets. At that point, I thought Brian was going home. He’s more of a static bullseye shooter, and I thought he might pull a couple of rounds off target. I was wrong—he zipped down that line and smoked the course, hitting all ten targets! After Brian collected his Bass Pro Shop gift card, the only thing left to do was watch Peter walk off into the setting sun.

This was a good display of skilled shooting, in challenging conditions, and now that only five remain (two of which were in my top four picks), it really is coming down to the wire. Watch next week when they bring back a machine gun challenge from the back of an armored vehicle! I’m proud and gratified that four of the remaining All-Stars are Marines.

Are you watching this season of the Top Shot All-Stars? Who do you pick to go home next?

About the Author:

Daryl Parker

Daryl Parker is a combat veteran and retired U.S. Marine. He is also a 2002 Rifle Gold Medalist, Texas Peace Officer, firearms and law enforcement instructor, and standout marksman from History Channel's Top Shot (Season 2). Parker is the author of Sacrifice of the Season, The Death of More and Journey of Fear.
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!

1 Comment;

  1. The only problem I have with Top Shot (and it does not stop me from watching) is that they spend so much time recapping and teasing. The show could be about half as long if they just got on with it. I am at the point where I will DVR it and FF through a lot instead of watching it live…I love seeing all the rarely seen weapons in action. I would also like to see more than just the one token woman each season. I know a lot of women who are crack shots.

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