Top Shot’s Mike Hughes: Dealing with Jake and Down Time


Top Shot runner up Michael Hughes met with the staff of NRA’s Education & Training Department about his company NextLevel Training and their SIRT Pistols. I sat down with Hughes after the meeting to hear more about Top Shot:

So what’s the first thing that people ask Mike Hughes about his experience on the History Channel’s Top Shot?

“Why didn’t you punch Jake in the face,” he said with a hearty laugh.

After watching every show of season number 3, I can understand why that that question might spring to mind. Playing the villain to a T, former Navy SEAL Jake Zweig truly embrace the bad boy role.

“At times it got really heated between us,” explained Hughes. “He went a little Machiavellian and decided not to be a team player as much as an individual. He was transparent about it, so I’ll hand him that.”

Drama proved to be a double edged sword during Top Shot season three. Twitter and Facebook echoed viewer disapproval, but tv ratings never seemed to falter. It’s an aspect of the competition that Hughes eventually came to appreciate.

“I thought it was crazy initially, but now I get it,” said Hughes. “We were in an environment where we’re forced to socially interact for very long durations of time, under some stress which causes these human dynamics which is a necessary ingredient to make it entertaining.”

What we did see on Top Shot, according to Hughes, was an accurate depiction of the events. Quite the accomplishment when considering that the entire 13 episode season was shot in a mere six weeks. Producers condensed three days of activity (one for training, one for competing and one for elimination) into one forty-minute episode. Which makes you wonder what ended up on the cutting room floor.

“There’s a tremendous amount of dead time,” said Hughes. “You can’t bring in a book, a computer … no outside material. That was the hardest part for me. Clinically unproductive for days and days, weeks and weeks. That was probably the most frustrating, uncomfortable element of the competition.”

Click here to go back to part two of NRAblog’s interview with Mike Hughes.

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