By Iain Harrison
This week's finale opened with the competitors returning to the house to be welcomed by a pretty lavish spread. Up till this point, people cook for themselves or their team mates, but the final four get treated to a meal that's put together by the set caterers and a celebratory bottle of booze makes its way into the house.
Another tradition is the dueling tree shoot off, which makes up the first challenge of the day, where Chris Cheng managed to create an early lead over Auggie, which he managed to maintain all the way to the finish line.
Gary bested Greg Littlejohn in the second heat after showing his mental strength by shooting a well-disciplined game after being forced into a reshoot, leaving Auggie and Greg to battle it out for the remaining place in the next challenge.
After a nail biting finish, Auggie proved that you can't miss fast enough to win and had to walk off into the sunset.
The game of HORSE took an interesting turn this time with each of the competitors trying to outdo each other with shot difficulty. Of the three, Chris' offhand shot with the Benelli was probably the most ridiculous, as the best group that can be expected at 75 yards with conventional slugs exceeds the size of the chosen target, which made a hit a matter of luck more than skill. I was, however, glad to see the Lee Enfield make it into the competition, where Chris used it to good effect to put a point on the board and establish a lead over his peers. All three shooters were more than capable of making the next shot, a glass at 35 feet, but Chris once again managed to calm his nerves and drill it, earning his spot in the final competition. With only one target left, Gary picked up the FN FiveSeven and blew his chances of making it through to the next round.
I was somewhat surprised at the choice of the producers to use the flintlock pistol as the first firearm of the shoot off. If either competitor had missed, there was no way he could have recovered his pace as the reload time would have put his opponent halfway down the field. As it was, both men connected with both shots and were pretty evenly matched all the way down the line. I lost count of how many times Colby used the phrase, "We're all tied up," but in this case, he was entirely correct as, unlike the Dustin/Mike contest last season, this one came down to the final target. Chris Cheng, a self-taught, everyman shooter and self-described IT geek took the well-deserved victory.
The day before the Season 4 finale this week, Colby and I broke bread in a Texas hunting camp and discussion naturally turned to the show and the difference it has made in the firearms industry, not to mention the wide spectrum of changes that it's wrought in the lives of the individuals who participated. I hope that this season's winner will gain as much from the experience as Chris Reed, Dustin Ellerman and I did. Check back in a day or so to read Chris Cheng's story and get the inside skinny on Season 4.