Monday, June 07, 2010

To the producers of Top Shot...

Anyone who sees a video like this one:

Is going to understand that it is highly unlikely for you to have had the result you showed us in yesterdays episode, without either a major gear malfunction, or without rigging it.

The chances that a shooter like Mike Seeklander, at 100 yards in relatively calm weather, with a properly function weapon and ammunition, missed 30 shots into an 8" 6" or so (actually I'm not sure if it was 6" but it looked like it to me. Update from Caleb in comments, it was 8") circle... Is it possible? Yeah, Ok, it can happen. As I said in my previous post, we've all had those days...

Do I believe it in this case? No... Honestly I don't.

People have said "Oh well, maybe he got nerves under the competition"...

Mike Seeklander trains people to compete, as well as in defensive shooting; and is himself an experienced competitor.

Others have said, "Ok, well maybe he isn't familiar with shooting an '03 Springfield"...

I direct your attention to the video above, wherein he refers to it as his favorite rifle, and demonstrates his proficiency with it.

Can I call his shots there? No I can't, the quality is too poor. But I would have to believe he was deliberately lying in creating and posting this video, and I don't. The video was posted several months ago; though it may have been after Top Shot wrapped filming, and there is no indication of when the video was actually made (update: it was made after Top Shot wrapped, but off the cuff, not after a great deal of practice. Commenters did point out however that the rfile Mike used was an '03a3 with a peep sight, which is MUCH easier to shoot accurately).

Really, it's a matter of whether I trust a well respected and experienced competitor and instructor, or do I trust "reality" TV producers.

On the one hand, Seeklander could just be trying to assuage his pride in being the first eliminated. On the other hand, "reality" TV producers are well known for creating less than real situations to improve the "drama" of their TV shows.

Which do you think is more likely?

I think over the next few weeks, anyone who has videos of Mike Seeklander shooting rifles will be posting them. Given that he was a highpower competitor, I'm betting there's more than one or two out there.

Certainly I expect we'll be seeing all of his old match results posted; especially if he ever competed with an '03 springfield.

You can already see on the gun message boards and forums and web sites, serious calls of fraud; or at the very least strong expressions of doubt, and questions about the integrity of the gear, and of the process.

Not only that, but I'm pretty sure his team mates thought it was either fraud or malfunction as well. Look at how they (mostly) defended Mike, without actually saying so.

We in the gun community are pretty damn quick to jump all over BS, and that's what this looks like to us.

: There is one other point I didn't speak to above, but it's entirely possible the things weren't rigged, but just that the reactive target malfunctioned.

As someone who has spent a lot of time shooting the things, sometimes they just don't go boom, no matter how good you hit them.

I can't tell you the number of times I've blown a reactive target in half, and had it not detonate.

If that was the case, what would the producers have done? It's not like there were really formal, organized competition rules, or independent judging. It would have made very bad TV to have declared the blue team the winners, then gone back and had them reshoot the stage because of a target malfunction.

Also I'd like to be clear, I don't think the final elimination was rigged in any way. I expected Kelly Bachand to seriously outshoot Mike Seeklander in long distance rifle (and frankly, I think it's clear, so did Mike), and that's exactly what happened.

UPDATE 2: Here's a blog post from Mike Seeklander, talking about his experience. His comment was basically "I don't know what the hell happened, but I know I don't suck that bad".

UPDATE 3: Caleb has commented that he is absolutely certain there was no funny business going on.