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‘Top Shot’ contestants take on crossbows
Federal Way Police Department Cmdr. Kyle Sumpter and his fellow contestants were faced with a crossbow challenge in this week’s episode of “Top Shot” on The History Channel.
The contestants were tasked with shooting a Bowtech Strykezone 350 at moving targets. For Sumpter, the Strykezone was another first in his weaponry career, although it only took a little while for the experienced shooter to get the hang of it.
“Prior to the show, I went out and bought a compound bow and practiced with that a little bit. But I had never fired a crossbow. Firing it is very much like firing a good quality firearm, but loading it is the tricky part,” he said.
For the team challenge, Sumpter and his fellow competitors had to fire the Strykezone at moving targets 20 yards downrange. The first shooter had one target to hit, with the second shooter having two targets to hit, and so on. The two previous shooters to Sumpter had left their red team in the hole, but Sumpter was able to pull the red team from the brink — and ultimately, lead them to a 16-14 win over their competition on the blue team.
Sumpter explained some of the challenges faced during this particular challenge. He noted that even though the Strykezone fires a bolt at 350 feet per second, that is nowhere near the velocity of an actual firearm, meaning Sumpter and his teammates had to adjust to that significant difference in velocity.
“We hadn’t fired a bullet that slow, so we didn’t know how much lead to give it,” Sumpter said.
Outside of figuring out that conundrum, Sumpter said there are two ways to hit a moving target. The first is what’s called “ambushing,” where the shooter picks a stationary point of reference and waits for the target to come within the field of view. The second is “tracking,” which is essentially moving with the target, and trying to determine the correct distance to lead the target.
For the crossbow challenge, Sumpter said both teams started out using the ambush technique. Sumpter’s decision to switch to tracking midway through his round was probably the deciding factor in their victory.
“I stepped up there, started using the same techniques, aiming at the post, and waiting to ambush the target,” he said. “Our rate of hits were about the same, and there came a time where we both had two out of three targets. The problem with ambushing, though, is you have to wait for the target to come around. It occurred to me that his disc might make it back around before mine, so I decided to change my technique and track the target. That was a big discovery because now it means we don’t have to ambush it. The lead on the target was the forward edge of it. And that’s where things changed for us.”
With no firearms in this week’s episode, “Top Shot” host Colby Donaldson was especially noticeable during the competition with his running commentary. Even though they are some cool customers, Sumpter said Donaldson can be very noticeable at times to the competitors.
“We definitely hear him. It sounds like he’s yelling. If you’re doing a good job, you don’t hear him as much. But, if you have a miss, you hear him loud and clear. It’s the only thing you hear,” Sumpter shared.
Check it out
“Top Shot” airs 10 p.m. Tuesdays on The History Channel. For more information and online extras, visit www.history.com.
Read last week's update on Sumpter’s progress by clicking here.