Previous Post
Next Post


I stumbled upon Bikini Barbershop the other day. The reality show “babes” cutting hair in (you guessed it) bikinis are so foul-mouthed, booze-fueled, sex-crazed and fundamentally skanky they make Jersey Shore look like Leave it to Beaver. Speaking of which, the episode featured labia piercing. The embarrassment-deficient instigator explained the procedure’s biggest drawback: a high oscillation collision between the metal ring and her vibrator. Logically enough, the interaction creates a mechanical sound not unlike a polymer jackhammer on a linoleum floor (paraphrasing)—which alerted her parents to their daughter’s self-pleasuring. What does this have to do with guns and last night’s episode of Top Shot? Nothing at all, unfortunately . . .

Where Bikini Barbershop succeeds—daring us to look away—Top Shot fails—challenging us to care enough to stick around to see who wins.

As I pointed out in my first Season 4 blog post, there are way too many Top Shot competitors to contemplate. Although there were “only” ten contestants in last night’s episode, the “cast” still reminds me one of those multi-ethnic war movies. We’ve got an Asian, a women, a redneck, a foreigner (British sounding Yank, apparently), a black man, a giant, an old guy (a.k.a., the “grizzled veteran”) and . . . some other people.

None of Top Shot’s telegenically selected competitors are compelling characters. Not one. Kitting out the entire crew in identical jerseys both symbolizes and perpetuates the lack of personal differentiation. As does the show’s rigid format, with its military timetable and blanket ban on showing non-competition (or sex) related intercourse.

By thy deeds thy shall be known. But by thy backstory thy shall captivate thine viewer. Or in this case, not.

The point was driven home when Dylan went home. He repeatedly described himself as a knife-making dummy from Atlanta. All of a sudden—and for the first time—I wanted to know more about him. Show me the knives! If you cut him, does he not bleed? Show me the scars!

By the same token (no pun intended), as William Bethards packed his suitcase in preparation for the elimination challenge, his voice-over went all church deacon and grandkids. How and why did he leave the Virginia State Police for the joys of real estate (a fact unearthed via TS website)?

Heresy, I know. Top Shot‘s a shooting show! About shooting! And guns! And shooting guns! (OK, throwing stuff too, but don’t get picky.) Check out that slow mo bro! (The editor repeated the same slo mo paint can shooting shot three times but who’s counting?) We’re talking about gun porn par excellence!

I get it. A gun website complaining about a lack of drama is like a Greek professor complaining about a lack of gunplay in Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex. I fully admit and declare for the record that Top Shot Season 4 hasn’t lost its ballistic luster. If anything the shooting show’s kicked it up a notch; more guns, better guns, better challenges with guns. But Top Shot’s lost its soul. If, indeed, it ever had any.

The basic problem is easy enough to identify: the challenges are technically challenging and all, but they are not competitions to try men’s souls. Literally and figuratively Top Shot is as bloodless as a two-year-old cadaver.

In the beginning, novelty and idea candy were enough. By now, we want to see who these people are. More to the point, we want to see them suffer. Maybe not a penis or labia ring—although it would be interesting to see their post-procedural shooting abilities. But something.

Sure TS marksmen can shoot bowling pins so that they knock over other bowling pins. Or not. Now try doing that after six Red Bulls. Or do it while the competition is shooting Simunitions at you. Better yet get celebrities to do it. Or divide teams into convicted felons and law enforcement agents.

How about something historical? Never mind shooting an exploding target a thousand yards away with a .50 cal. Shoot at a pop-up target inside an abandoned factory half a mile away. With smoke bombs wafting across your field of vision. Or how about shooting that cannon off the deck of a moving ship at another moving ship? Or trying to load and fire a musket with a dozen people rushing towards you with (blunt) pikes?

Seriously. I could share my psychological insights into the Top Shot contestants based on the highly edited “reality” presented, but I’m past caring. Maybe next week. Meanwhile, I will try to avoid watching Bikini Barbershop. But I’m not making any promises.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Top Shot is like Survivor. They are struggling to keep the show relevant with new twists each week when I think they would be better off sticking to a format instead. Same type of events for each season with different guns maybe. I dunno, I’m not a TV producer and I don’t play one on TV.

  2. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’ve been dying to see something other than “stand at a table and shoot a few shots”. I’d love to see them mix it up with a USPSA stage or something. Maybe some 3 gun. Maybe some trap. They use some components of these, but that would be more exciting I think. Maybe they’re worried it would play into specific contestant’s wheelhouses too much. But the “stand here and shoot that” is a bit tedious. Still, having Top Shot on a mainline cable channel is better than no shooting shows, and my wife watches (and enjoys) it. She won’t watch the shooting shows on the outdoor channel which is mostly a bunch of OFWGs and survivalists.

  3. OK, I’m going to have to break the news to you gently, but firmly, Robert:

    You watch far too much TV.

    There are better ways to spend the limited time given to you than having your brain turned into mush by the idiot box.

    For example, you could get a GunPartsCorp book set and learn how to take apart and re-assemble quite a number of firearms from their diagrams and parts lists. You could learn how to make a gun from scratch, or cast lead bullets, or make your own jacketed bullets. You could take a machining course at your local vo-tech or community college, pick up a book on exterior ballistics, practice dry-firing or… just about anything.

    Watching Top Shot (or whatever) ain’t going to teach you a damn thing.

    • I still like to watch Top Shot but the theme is getting tired. Given Dyspeptic Gunsmith’s comments above, I have a question:

      Does anyone know where and how to learn how to make you own brass? What equipment is needed, skills etc. I am thinking of changing careers with some investments! And getting in the ammo making business. With export capabilities. Seriously!

      • It can certainly be done.

        What you need is a whole bunch of heavy equipment.

        First, NB that cartridge brass is “260 brass.” It is highly malleable brass. Most brass you might see in metal supply shops will be “360 brass” which is better for machining than drawing out into a cartridge.

        Next, most brass manufactures start from sheet 260 brass. A “slug” of brass is punch-cut in a circle. This is then fed into a series of drawing presses, with a progression of dies, to form the brass into a case, then put on a head, the primer pocket, then force more brass up the side of the case, put on a shoulder, then the neck (for bottleneck brass). You can eliminate the last two or three pressings for straight-walled cases.

        That’s a very general, 30,000 ASL view of making brass. Here’s a detailed list of equipment that is actually used to make ammo, broken down according to the stage of cartridge manufacturing:

        NB that these presses are big and heavy. If you’re serious about getting into this line of work, you WILL (as in, “it won’t be an option) need a shop with at least 480VAC, three-phase power, you’ll need a rebar/concrete floor of at least 8″ thick (12” would be better) and you’ll need ancillary machinery (such as cranes/hoists/forklifts, trollies, etc) for moving materials through the plant. Oh, and you’ll need an FFL for making ammunition or components.

        Skills: You’ll need to be a cross between a machinist, mechanic, gun nut/reloader and engineer.

        Here’s a book from 1916 on .22 rimfire and .30-06 cartridge manufacturing, including propellant and brass case manufacturing. The machines you see in the pictures can probably still be found in industry today, much as you still find Pratt & Whitney sine-bar rifling machines in the shops of custom barrel companies. The P&W sine bar machines pre-date WWI back into the 1890’s – and they’re still going strong today.

  4. Top Shot was a good idea for 1 or 2 runs. Now it is kinda bogging down in its own uninteresting minutia. Thank Yahweh for DVR.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here