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.
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.
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|
|Gary||6 / 17 rounds||5|
|Brian||6 / 19 rounds||6|
|Chris||6 / 16 rounds||4|
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!
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.