There are a lot of extreme sports out there that will get you killed right dead if you mess up, but only a few are on TV. Almost all of us can understand what’s involved in a sport like downhill skiing, because due to our fear of and experience with falling down, we know that controlling yourself while plummeting down a mountain at forty miles an hour is an extraordinary thing to do.
However, not all extraordinary accomplishments make for good TV. Climbing a 200 foot high frozen waterfall is challenging and extremely dangerous, but you won’t find it on ESPN anytime soon because there are no “Oh wow!” moments where the showmanship of the sport can shine. Skateboarding, on the other hand, is comparatively safe, but has opportunities aplenty for showmanship, and therefore makes for great TV. Somewhere in between those two sports is BASE jumping, which is both extremely dangerous and makes for great visuals, but not great broadcast TV.
Practical shooting, as it stand right now, is behind the curve in both those accounts. Most people don’t understand how difficult it is to pull off a clean six second El Presidenté drill, and watching someone else shoot a match makes for boring TV because there is no opportunities for showmanship in a typical USPSA match.
One of the reasons why Top Shot succeeded so well was because it had difficult tasks filled with “Oh wow!” moments that almost anyone could relate to. Shooting a target a mile away is tough. Splitting a hangman’s rope with a rifle bullet is tough. Blasting away at exploding targets with a .30 cal from back of a half-track might not be tough, but man, was it ever an “Oh, wow!” moment.
I’ve shot a fair amount of matches, and while I’ve seen some extraordinary feats of shooting, there hasn’t been any that I can talk about as an “Oh wow!” moment to people outside the sport, and until that sort of thing becomes commonplace, practical shooting will remain a sport that’s focused on it’s competitors, not on it’s audience.