Federal Way Police Department Cmdr. Kyle Sumpter was on the hot seat in Episode 2 of The History Channel’s “Top Shot” this week.
After a difficult team challenge involving a WWI-era gun, Sumpter and teammate Keith Gibson faced off in an elimination challenge where they were tasked with hitting a series of targets using a Milkor M32-A1 grenade launcher.
Much like the Vaquero pistol from Episode 1, the Milkor was another firearm that Sumpter had never really encountered, although his police work has brought him into contact with similar devices.
“In law enforcement, you do have weapons that are similar, that are used to shoot tear gas. But we never launch grenades. That’s just something that’s not part of our inventory,” he said.
While the show’s Navy SEAL trainer Craig Sawyer said Sumpter had “sniper-like precision” with the Milkor during the Federal Way police commander’s training session, one important and unusual aspect of the Milkor came to the forefront during the actual elimination challenge. With the Milkor, the cylinder needs to be rotated before the rounds are loaded in order to cock the weapon and make it fire ready. That important fact was something that both Sumpter and Gibson forgot.
“You had to manually crank the cylinder to cock the weapon. We had to stick our fingers in there to do that,” Sumpter said. “I’m not aware of any other weapon like that, including handguns. We both forgot to do that in the middle of the challenge. It caught us both equally, and if he had remembered to do it, he would have won.”
In the elimination challenge, Sumpter and Gibson had to hit 18-inch targets with distances ranging from 50-75 yards. Each hit was met with a large explosion from the target itself, creating battlefield like conditions for the competition.
“One of the difficult parts was the smoke. You could see the wind blowing heavily from left to right. His smoke was blowing across my field of view and I couldn’t see my last target,” Sumpter said.
The smoke cleared just enough to allow Sumpter to zero in on his target and defend his spot on The History Channel’s popular marksman show.
Sumpter found himself facing off with Gibson after the team challenge for Episode 2, which involved the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), a WWI-era fully automatic machine gun. The blue and red teams had to crawl under 40 yards of barbed wire with various pyrotechnics going off around them, then into a trench with the BAR.
In the trench, they were tasked with hitting seven targets with distances ranging from 100-150 yards. Once the first shooter hit their target, the second team member went through the course, and so on.
The red team jumped to what looked like a significant lead at the beginning of the competition, while the blue team’s shooter struggled mightily to hit the first target. But, after the blue team’s first shooter finally found the target, they were off and running. Sumpter said the BARs added to the difficulty factor.
“The barrels were completely shot out, and that means no consistency at all. Augie (Malekovich), from the blue team… in the first episode he hit a half-inch from center at 200 yards, using the BAR at half the distance, and he was missing by 10 feet,” Sumpter said. “It was really a matter of who was going to get lucky first.”
During the episode, it was revealed that the nickname given to Sumpter by his teammates and the rest of the competitors was “Papa Bear,” a term he said was coined by the man he eliminated.
“I knew going in that I was going to be the oldest person in the cast, but what I didn’t anticipate was how quickly we would bond,” he said. “You heard Tim (Trefren) mention how we had become a ‘temporary family.’ Some of them adopted me as their temporary ‘Papa,’ and ‘Papa Bear’ was the name Keith gave me.”
While it’s a position he hoped to not be in, Sumpter said he enjoyed his first elimination challenge.
“It was a lot of fun, but I did really hate to see Keith go,” he said.
• For more on “Top Shot,” visit www.history.com.