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Gamesmanship helps Sumpter and ‘Top Shot’ teammates
Federal Way Police Department Cmdr. Kyle Sumpter and the red team successfully fended off the blue team again in this week’s episode of “Top Shot.”
While their marksmanship and teamwork were, as always, an important feature to their victory, Sumpter said a conversation the night before the team challenge made a difference.
“There were low-key conversations on the back deck the night before the challenge. I said to Gabby (Franco, Sumpter’s teammate and an Olympic shooter), you’re such a great handgun shooter. You are a handgun master. And she said, ‘Oh thank you.’ The thing is, the blue team members were out there, they heard me say that, and they assumed I was referring to the day’s practice, and they thought she was the master of the day’s challenge.”
That little bit of subterfuge led to the blue team picking Franco to sit out for the team competition. Franco had struggled mightily in being able to use this week’s weapon, the Webley Mark VI revolver. The Webley has a “double action” feature, which allows the gun to be cocked through either pulling the hammer back or using the trigger. When Franco attempted to use the trigger to cock the gun, she was completely unable to do so.
“They picked her to sit out, too bad, so sad,” Sumpter said.
The challenge itself consisted of contestants taking turns shooting at 30 jars 35 feet downrange. The targets were on a moving frame, which did make this competition difficult, Sumpter said.
“The hard part of it was trying to figure out how much lead to give it. The targets were moving fairly quickly, and the bullet for the gun moved fairly slow compared to modern firearms,” he said.
Another issue that arose for the red team during the competition was who they chose to lead out, which was Chee Kwan. Kwan had been forced to sit out in a couple of competitions previously, so the red team gave him the lead-off position. As part of his duties for being in that spot, he was supposed to report back to the team after his first round on how much lead to give the targets.
“When he came running back after shooting the Webley, he was totally oblivious, so I ran up there and had to rediscover what the hold is,” Sumpter said. “I held about a one-inch lead…I missed my first two shots trying that. For the third shot, I aimed right at the jar, that was a miss. For the fourth shot, I held on the leading edge and hit it. Then I had it figured out.”
Sumpter said Kwan’s hyper focus in the moment had been a liability previously, most notably in the competition where they had to swing across a gap on a rope. Regardless, Sumpter let his teammates know where to aim, and the red team easily handled the blue team in this week’s competition. For Sumpter, the blue team’s failure was once again compounded by their inability to be just that: a team.
“They simply refused to act as team. For instance, rather than make our shooter count the rounds when they were firing, we decided we would have the on-deck shooter count rounds, and as soon as the sixth shot was fired, the on-deck person would yell out ‘Reload!’ That way the shooter wouldn’t waste time on a seventh shot. For the blue team, that happened repeatedly. They weren’t counting for each other, they were not communicating.”
“Top Shot” airs 10 p.m. Tuesdays on The History Channel. For streaming episodes, visit www.history.com.