After a long and grueling six weeks of shooting with both guns and cameras, the final four contestants of Season 3 of History's Top Shot faced off for the last time tonight. As you probably already know, the show has catapulted competitive shooting into the mainstream in its first three seasons and has become a staple of the History Channel lineup.
After the thrilling season finale of Top Shot, I'm proud to welcome Dustin Ellerman to the Top Shot Champion fraternity that now includes the new champ, myself and Season 2 winner Chris Reed. We now have a Christian camp counselor, country boy from down South and well, me, for whatever that's worth.
I got to talk with winner Dustin to get his take on events and the inside scoop on his showdown with eventual runner-up Mike Hughes.
Iain Harrison: Why did you apply for the show?
Dustin Ellerman: It looked like fun! Any time you can get to ride a zipline or a get hauled up on a crane while shooting guns, well I want to play.
IH: What's the first firearm you're going to get now that you've won?
DE: Actually there are two. That Larue OBR is such a sweet shooter, I had to have one and the 10/22 is one of my favorites, so I had to have one that Volquartsen perfected.
IH: What other plans do you have following the show?
DE: I'm going to be signing a lot of autographs! Seriously, though, I've had such great support from kids, that I'm going to be headed to a bunch of schools and churches to talk with the kids and have photos taken with them. I'm also planning on running a youth marksmanship camp in the Spring, once things have died down a little.
IH: Now, for the final episode, tell us about the dueling tree challenge - seems like they threw in a twist this time around.
DE: Yeah, the plates were a little bit bigger, but they were moving. That was the fourth time I'd shot a Glock, so that was cool, and I was kinda glad that Gary beat me because I want people to feel safe & it wouldn't look good if this DHS agent gets beaten by a nobody from east Texas.
IH: At the HORSE challenge, why did you pick the golf balls as your first target?
DE: At home, one of my favorite targets are golf balls; I'd set them at 100 yards & check zero my rifles with them. I'd mentioned this in the house, so when we walked up, Gary said, "Hey Dusty, there's your golf balls." When Mike chose the AK one handed we were like, "are you nuts?" I tried to take up the trigger to the end of the first stage, but I was totally unprepared when it went off, but that's what happens when you have an 8 lb. rifle on the end of your arm.
IH: The final shoot off wasn't even close. What happened?
DE: Yeah, we had go back and reshoot parts the next day because I left the cameras behind. I caught Mike on the rock throwing part of the course because I'd been practicing back at the house, throwing rocks for maybe an hour a day then it was on to the Benelli. I had to throw in maybe four or five extra shells and then took off. Going into it, I gave Mike an 80/20 chance of winning, but he told me later that buried the front sight in the bottom of the ghost ring on that Benelli instead of centering it and kept repeating his mistake.
IH: Planning on heading to SHOT Show?
DE: Yeah, I read about the party you guys had last year. While I'm not a big drinker, I'm not missing out on that!
Who watched the show this season? Let's talk Top Shot in the comments section.