Top Shot’s Mike Hughes on Ziplines and Artillery Rounds


We continue our look at Top Shot runner up Michael Hughes, founder of NextLevel Training, during his visit with the staff of NRA’s Education & Training Department.

It’s hard to find fault with a great program like Top Shot. With this show, History Channel discovered how to gracefully introduce firearms to millions of un-armed homes across the United States.

But with season number three, there were viewers who carped about the elimination rounds being more entertaining then the competition rounds. And that’s exactly why Top Shot runner-up Mike Hughes decided to join Jarod there in the early rounds.

“That’s why Jarod and I volunteered for elimination,” said Hughes. “You do cool things in elimination. There’s only one winner anyway so let’s sort it out.”

That elimination round was on the heels of one of the more controversial Top Shot competitions … primitive weapons. Titled “Throwdown Showdown,” the episode focused on throwing tomahawks, knives and rocks. That’s right, rocks. But the producers saved the day by bringing out the Hotchkiss Mountain Gun for the elimination round.

During the practice session, he discovered that there was more to worry about then speed and loading.

“I pulled the lanyard and saw the whole gun shift,” said Hughes. “Then it dawned on me that we were shooting at a moving target. During elimination, I sent a round over the target at 12 o’clock and knew how to adjust. It worked out.”

Another popular elimination round for Hughes was the reverse zipline challenge. Competitors were fitted with a Steyr SPP and sent backwards down a zipline at 15 miles an hour. As always, the professor in Mike took over.

“The zip line was probably the most fun because it taxed the fundamentals.,” said Hughes. “The Fundamentals of grip, effective stance, a lot of trigger control, a lot of sight alignment, a lot of the more advanced elements of decelerating the gun, prepping the trigger, a lot of follow through, driving the gun, snapping your eyes from target back to sights.”

After we return from SHOT Show in Las Vegas, we’ll wrap up our interview with Hughes by talking about the finals and his company NEXTLevel Training.

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