_We can say that we knew Chris Reed before he was famous. In 2009, Reed competed in the Total Outdoorsman Challenge finals for the first time, and made a name for himself with a second-place finish. He returned to the TOC in 2010, and looked like the favorite to win for a while…only to finish second again, barely losing to champ Chad Weatherford.
But, if we learned anything about Reed after both of his near-victories in the TOC, it’s that he doesn’t quit and the guy can flat out shoot–attributes that were on display last night when Reed fired his way to fame and first place (and $100,000) during the finale of the History Channel’s_ Top Shot_. We spoke with the marksman of the minute this morning to talk about his big win–and his chances at continuing his winning streak in the 2011 Total Outdoorsman Challenge._
F&S: Congrats! How’s it feel to be the Top Shot?
Chris Reed: Indescribable, man. At this point, it truly is. It’s a blessing just to be in the position I was in and to hold out all the way until the end against some of the best shooters in the world. It’s an honor.
F&S: How long has it been since the taping of the show ended?
CR: Since Thanksgiving of last year.
F&S: Must’ve been tough to keep the results a secret for so long…
CR: Extremely! But the longer it went on, the more fun I had with it. I would build up the anticipation for each challenge. Friends would ask, “How’d you do?” And I’d say, “I don’t know, man. You’re probably gonna have to watch this one.” I kinda led everyone along the entire season–never alluding that I made it to the finals, let alone won. My kids didn’t even know I won–they had me picked for third place!
F&S:** Not even your kids thought you could win?
CR: Well, their thinking was, when I brought home my target that was hanging in the Top Shot house, there was a hole right in the middle of it where it was nailed up on the wall. My kids saw the hole in the center of the target and they said, “We know you didn’t win because you have a hole in your target.” I said, “How do you know that wasn’t the hole to hang it up?” My daughter just said, “No, George and Joe beat you! Just go on and tell us.”
F&S:** How much fun was it to watch the finale last night?
CR: We had a big party last night here in Franklin, Tenn., and probably had 300 people. It took me probably an hour to get from the parking lot to the front door because so many people wanted autographs. I spent the remainder of the night signing autographs and thanking people. It was just overwhelming. We had another party going on in Mississippi, where I’m from, and we were filming everyone there. And got a reaction shot of the crowd when I won, and they just erupted. It was an awesome, awesome feeling.
F&S: Going in, what did you think your chances were to win it all?
CR: Very slim. These guys were experts in different fields and skill sets. I knew I was kind of the jack-of-all-trades with most of the weapons. But going up against a 10-time champion pistol shooter, I knew that’d be next to impossible. There’s no way to prepare for something like that. Either you have it or you don’t. It was purely instincts.
F&S: What was the toughest challenge?
CR: The two revolvers. It was a trick-shot challenge, shooting in opposite directions. Double action. Both guns had different trigger pulls. It was cold, so my hands were freezing–I could hardly feel the tips of my fingers and I’m trying to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. And I’m trying to maintain sight alignment, and of course one goes off before the other and the recoil totally throws your shot off on the other hand. Yeah, that was the most difficult shot by far.
F&S: How much fun was it to have the chance to shoot all of these cool guns?
CR: They were awesome. I had to handle a lot of guns that I probably never would have. And we had some of the best experts in the country come out, and we learned a lot from one another. I lived in a house with some of the best marksmen in the world.
F&S: How did your experience from the Total Outdoorsman Challenge help you on Top Shot?
CR: Well, the Total Outdoorsman Challenge opened up the door for me to even be eligible for this competition. That was my claim to fame to get involved with Top Shot, and I’m grateful for it. And I knew from the TOC that when the cameras come on, you’re really gonna see some people fold under pressure. Knowing every move you make is being recorded for national television, there’s not a lot of ways to practice under that kind of pressure. So for me to compete in the TOC under those stressful situations prepared me for it, and a lot of the others were not as prepared.
F&S: You’ve come so close to winning the TOC the last two years. Do you think your Top Shot victory will help take some of the pressure off for this year’s TOC?
CR: I go into every year, man, “no harm, no foul.” I’m gonna do my best every time. If you beat me, you’re gonna know that I played to win and you’re gonna deserve it. I try not to put any pressure on myself to win the whole thing–of course, I’d like to. But there are so many variables, so many events. If you have one bad showing, that’s it. So, I’m gonna go out there and have a good time and enjoy the people around me.
F&S: What’s been the best part of your experience on Top Shot?
CR: The kids. I never expected it, but my largest fan base has been 5- to 15-year-olds. I can’t tell you how many kids are using me as a role model. I just hope I can live up to their expectations and encourage them that there are other sports. You might not be the best at basketball or football, but hey man, you could do something with a bow or rifle. There are endless opportunities.
F&S:** You’re becoming something of a reality competition TV star now. What are the odds we’ll see you next on the Celebrity Apprentice?
CR: [laughs] Or maybe Dancing with the Stars! Honestly, it’s all a blessing at this point. With my background–after my brain surgery–everything since then has been a gift from God. I sincerely mean that. Just being able to compete and be out there with people is good enough for me–win, lose, or draw.