Kent appears to be a hot bed of eagle-eyed marksmen. Two of them a police officer who can out-shoot all his peers in blue, and one of the countrys foremost experts on wind reading will go head to head on a History Channel reality show starting next week.
Federal Way police commander Kyle Sumpter, 51, and aerospace engineer Kelly Bachand, 25, are both competitors on the reality TV show Top Shot. The fifth season premieres at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The 12-episode show features 16 competitors who are put through a series of challenges involving marksmanship. During the taping last summer in Los Angeles County, the competitors all bunked together in a house without TVs, phones or any other contact with the outside world. Think Survivor with ammo.
This season features the best competitors from previous years. Thats where Sumpter and Bachand come in.
Kent resident Sumpter is a two-time Washington State action pistol (IDPA) champion who has won several law enforcement shooting tournaments using his service pistol, a Glock .45. I always enjoyed shooting. Im one of those kids whose dads taught them how to shoot on a Daisy BB gun, Sumpter said.
But it wasnt until Sumpter received the top scores for marksmanship at his police academy that he realized he had a talent for shooting. I never took it seriously until I was hired as a police officer, he said.
Sumpter competed in last seasons Top Shot but was eliminated just before the finale.
In past seasons, the show involved team challenges an aspect that has been eliminated in the new season. I was a little disappointed that there wasnt any team structure but I knew right away how to go about my business and jump right in, Sumpter said.
But Sumpter almost didnt make it to last summers taping after he injured his hip in a workout.
It was so severe that I could not bend over to put on a shoe, Sumpter said. His doctor told him he had to cancel. Sumpters reaction: Heck no, Im not canceling. I am going.
Sumpter just hoped there was no running, jumping, climbing or crawling in the competition.
Just watch the first show. All of that stuff was in it. And I was sweating bullets going into it.
And like a wounded animal, Sumpter tried to conceal his injury from his competitors and the shows producers, he said.
Kent native Bachand is an electrical engineer at Aerojet. He uses a .308 Winchester rifle in long-range, prone rifle competitions and shoots using slings and iron (non-telescopic) sights. Bachand was on the Under 21 USA National Rifle Team when it won a team gold in 2007. In 2009 he was the first American to win the Canadian Target Rifle Championship. As a member of a US Palma team, Bachand traveled to Australia in 2011 for the world long-range championships, where his team placed third and he placed second in the individual under-25 division.
Bachand is considered to be one of the countrys top wind readers, a person who can accurately judge the direction and speed of wind currents that affect target accuracy.
Over 1,000 yards, a 3-4 mph wind can push a bullet (traveling at 2,800 feet per second) 3 to 5 feet off target, Bachand said. And thats why wind reading is so important. If youre not paying attention, you might not even notice its there, he said.
Bachand competed in the first season of the show but, like Sumpter, was eliminated just before the finale.
It made me look cooler than I really am, Bachand said of the show. He was brought back last season to serve as a wind coach.
A lot of the skill boils down to being able to see the wind. Youre looking at dust being kicked up. Youre looking at leaves or grass, Bachand said. On hot days he is even able to read the effects of wind on mirages.
The second battle is deciding what the wind is worth and then you need to decide which wind is important, Bachand said. A bullet may encounter several different currents along its path.
Bachand attributes his expertise to his engineering mind but adds, Essentially it all comes down to a guess. Bachand is opening an online gun store soon and hopes to have a physical location in Tukwilla or Kent this year, he said.
Wednesdays episode involves a variety of weapons, including a Soviet semi-automatic rifle used in the 1941 Nazi invasion, a tactical optimized battle rifle, a grenade launcher and a self-loading selective fire battle rifle all in an obstacle course. The competitors also had to navigate a mortar-rigged barbed wire fence and shoot from an unstable platform.
There was a giant explosion from a mortar and I got showered in dirt. That was pretty intense, Bachand said. But it was the final obstacle course that got his full attention. There was a fireball as I was scurrying under the barbed wire. I was concerned I was going to rip my back. I dont have a military background.
Prizes are given out to challenge winners, but all the competitors are vying for the grand prize: $100,000 and a Tahoe Q5i speedboat.
So did youth or experience win on Top Shot? Sumpter and Bachand arent saying. But Sumpter is an advocate for his AARP age group, with a little reservation.
I will take experience any day with one exception, Sumpter said. Eyesight.
Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541