Top Shot

Common Sense Media says

Marksmen contest features ace gun skills, but little drama.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Expertise in anything, even the most esoteric skills, is admirable, and these contestants have mastered a very difficult art. Their ability to hit distant targets with a wide variety of weapons deserves praise, even though few people will ever need to use these abilities. The few real applications -- long-range military shooting or hunting -- aren't really discussed. Gun ownership is a controversial issue and this show might provide a good opportunity for discussion.

Positive role models

The 16 marksmen here have clearly put many long hours into honing their skills, and seem thrilled to have the chance to both demonstrate their competence and test themselves against their peers. Few people will ever be able to shoot at this level, but anyone can appreciate their ability.


There’s lots and lots of gunfire, but it’s all aimed at targets. There’s no combat and no fighting.

Not applicable

A few words are bleeped.


Many brands of pistols and rifles are mentioned by name, including Beretta, Remington, and others.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this reality competition features 16 skilled marksmen, all experts at shooting rifles, pistols, and other weapons, all vying to prove they are the best. It follows a standard, elimination-style competition with a variety of challenges to showcase their talents. There’s some bleeped swearing, usually when people miss their shots, but otherwise very little questionable material. And while there’s plenty of gunfire, it’s all within the context of a target-shooting contest, so there’s no violence. The issue of guns and gun ownership is sensitive to some families, so parents might want to be prepared to share their ideas on the topic.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Sixteen of the world’s best marksmen have been recruited for this reality competition series, where they compete in a series of challenges to see who is really the TOP SHOT. The tests involve a wide range of weapons, including pistols, World War II era guns, modern sniper rifles, and even slingshots and knives. The show follows a fairly standard format: Two teams face off in group event, with two members of the losing side nominated to go head-to-head to see who is sent packing, and who will remain for a chance at the $100,000 prize.

Is it any good?


These marksmen (and a single female contestant) are certainly talented; shooting a round through a plate-size target at 600 yards is no easy feat, but they make it look easy. And that’s the problem: There’s little drama involved in watching them carefully take aim and fire. It’s impossible not to admire their talent, but that doesn’t make it exciting television.

Host Colby Donaldson is a veteran of Survivor: The Australian Outback, which clearly serves as the model here. He narrates the competitions much like the hosts of other well-made reality competitions, but it’s hard to introduce excitement when his comments typically boil down to “Red team, missed another shot.”

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about guns. Parents: What are your beliefs around gun use and gun ownership? Where have these ideas come from? How important is it to you that your kids share the same beliefs?

  • While the marksmen's skills are impressive, are they practical? Besides snipers and hunters, how often does anyone need to make a shot at 200 yards? How do you feel about snipers and hunters?

  • How much time do you think the contestants put into developing their shooting skills. Do you think you could hit any of those targets, hundreds of yards in the distance? Would you want to try?

  • Why are almost all of the shooters men?

TV details

Cast:Colby Donaldson
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of Top Shot was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byElkfver April 2, 2012

Learned a lot

This has taught me much about gun safety and how fun shooting can be. With this knowlege has come a greater sense of confidence and knowing guns are not dangerous. Safety is all about the operator.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byjohnleipzig July 9, 2010
What other families should know
Great role models


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