Interview with Travis Marsh, first eliminated Top Shot contestant

posted on February 11, 2011

SI: How do feel about being the first to leave the Top Shot house? We know you were expecting to stay a little longer.

Travis Marsh: Well I was definitely expecting to stay a little longer, but I was stoked to be there. Ever since I was 13 years old I've been shooting competitively, you know, international shooting and stuff like that. I used to get so mad because I was too good for my own good. I got a big head because I was pretty much unstoppable.

I would go to the Olympic festival and ESPN would be sitting there filming the swimming, filming the track and field and talking to all these people and I was like, "What the hell? What about shooting?" Shooting was an Olympic sport and we've been the first medal almost every year and yet they didn't show anything about Olympic shooting. It used to frustrate me. I always wanted shooting to get and chance on TV, and when this show happened I was like, "Holy crap! this is great!" Just to go there and compete against some good folks and walk in to that house was awesome. You never know what to expect when you are going on TV. Typically, when you go to a shooting match it's a whole different ballgame. You get in the same mindset of the shooting match, but you have to ask what the twist is going to be. The twist is that you are living in a house with 15 other type-A personalities and there's no TV, no radio or anything. It was just crazy.

SI: How many days were you there in total?

TM: I was out there for a little over a week. The first part of it is getting things situated, and we had a couple of bad days because of weather and stuff like that. I never knew what it took to create a TV show, and I found out the biggest joke out there is "TV magic." They re-filmed different things, especially the opening scenarios, not the shooting part of it and being in the house, there is so much more involved that we spent three days just doing interviews and just filming us walking across a field. That field was ragged, but once 16 people walked back and forth over that field, we flattened it out and made it a big road. It was insane. I felt like I was in the military marching up and back all that time….it was intense and  pretty cool.

SI: Did you have any experience in with the .44 Mag. before the final competition?

TM: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I have a .44 Mag. rifle, which was my first hunting rifle. It was a Ruger .44 Mag. It was funny because I was all excited to get to shoot Dirty Harry's pistols. I've always wanted a Smith & Wesson .44 Mag. Getting to shoot it was great but, absolutely not, I had not shot it before that….In practice it took me about two or three shots to feel the trigger, to feel how to shoot that weapon, and after that I felt like I was unstoppable because I was on target. But then you turn around and go from stationary targets at 50 feet to little plates moving at you and dropping, it was like "OK, this is cool." Then they told me that Chris Tilley hit five, you have to beat five. Now, I've got to hit five, I got six shots and I'm going to have to reload here if I miss one shot, and all these things start clicking in your head. It's a mental game. Being out of competitive shooting for so long, I knew what I needed to do and I just failed to do that. I failed to get my head where it needed to be. I let my emotions get way too ahead of me.

SI: Do you think that not being in the shooting game over the last few years hurt your reputation going into the competition? Did that factor in being picked for the elimination challenge?

TM: Absolutely, that was 100 percent as to why I was picked. I can't see into Chris, Maggie and Kyle's minds. But, think about it, we were talking and we said "other guys hit the balls but me, Chris, Maggie and Kyle didn't hit any solid balls" during our roundtable meeting. I opened my mouth during that, which didn't help me. I said "Chris and Maggie, you guys are pistol shooters, you do nothing but shoot pistols and you guys couldn't his the easiest ball as a target. You two need to go up for elimination, it's just unacceptable." I'm not a pistol shooter, Kyle's not a pistol shooter and we didn't hit the solid balls like we should have, absolutely. Could you pick us? Sure you could. But who should you pick? The two people who are professional pistol shooters who didn't perform in this game. The blue team should have faired so much better and we didn't. I think me saying that didn't help, plus the fact that Chris, Maggie and Kyle had to pick who they wanted to go against. They probably said "I want to go against a guy who isn't a pistol shooter and hasn't shot recently." The thing is, I am a better shooter than that and I'm disappointed in myself. I didn't perform well in the challenge, Chris outperformed me.

SI: The trailer for next week's episode sort of foreshadows some personality conflicts. Did you see any of that while you were there?

TM: Not really but you can see that it can happen. Again, 16 type-A personalities in a house is a lot to deal with because you've got different people with different attitudes. I'd say about 98 percent of the time everyone got along well and it was perfect. After a while people can rub on each other and rub on each other the wrong way….I didn't want to be dramatic. Believe me I could have walked back in that house after the elimination challenge and I could have went crazy on half the people in the house. I couldn't do it because I didn't want people to go "here we go, another drama-filled Top Shot." Shooters don't want that, they want to see shooting. I want this TV show to succeed beyond belief, and the fact that people who don't shoot watch this show and see a shooting in a positive light is awesome. 

SI: Final question, from your experience in that week, who do you think is going to win?

TM: I think everyone will be surprised with who wins. It's hard to pick after just seeing one show because you don't really know people's background and what they specialize in. I like Jermaine, he's a really calm, cool and collected type of guy and a class act. He could be a force to reckon with in this competition. Who do I think is going to win? I think everybody has a pretty good shot but I'll throw in my hat for Jermaine. I'll give him a head up.


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