Carroll County native Gary Quesenberry will return home July 31st to host a viewing party for Top Shot All-Stars, the popular reality competitive shooting show on The History Channel.
Bethel Brethren in Christ Church will host the Top Shot All-Stars viewing party on Weds., July 31 from 7-11 p.m. Everyone is welcome to the free event. The evening’s festivities begin at 7 p.m. with a hotdog sale to raise money for the Bethel Youth Group. Quesenberry will also give free autographs and there will be marksmanship challenges for kids, done in a Top Shot type of format. At 10 p.m., Quesenberry will then host a viewing party to watch an all-new episode of Top Shot All-Stars at the church, located at 585 Deer Ridge Road in Hillsville.
Quesenberry, who advanced to the finals of Top Shot before finishing third in season three, hosted a viewing party at Rio Grande in Hillsville two seasons ago.
“Like I told dad, it was a good time when we came out there and went to the Mexican restaurant, but if we can do something like that with a bigger venue to get more people in, we wanted to try to do that,” said Quesenberry, a 1988 graduate of Carroll County High School. “It is great to have fun, but it’s also great to give back to the community and youth. So I figured if there was any way for me to come back and raise money to give back to the kids, let’s have at it.”
Quesenberry said he talked to his father, Ronald, about doing marksmanship challenges for kids as part of the event. Their thought was events such as a tomahawk throwing station would be great, but not dangerous, stations for kids that would also allow the parents to participate. Prizes such as Top Shot trophies will be awarded, and kids will be broken up into different age groups.
“It is going to be a lot of fun. We wanted to do it in a way to allow the parents to be involved. That is what got me started, my dad taking me out,” Quesenberry said. “My idea was to have certain stages with the kids, and the parents would be there to help them practice. And me and dad will be around to give tips, and then we will have competitions. I told him you could have it set up after practice stations, like a relay, where you have them running through some tires, something fun, something they could go home and have a memory of that. It’s something they can be proud of, especially if they win and get a Top Shot trophy. That would be fantastic.”
Of course, during the July 17 episode it looked like Quesenberry might not be on the show for the July 31 viewing party. Typically one of the top marksmen on the show, Quesenberry struggled with a challenge that had contestants firing shots from a Ruger Security Six revolver upside down, sideways and other angles from a vertical wheel. Quesenberry then finished in the bottom two of a four-person Proving Ground challenge with a Colt Peacemaker revolver, leaving him in the elimination round with fellow competitor Jamie Franks.
The elimination round looked ominous for Quesenberry as the challenge featured a Beretta 92F pistol, a weapon Franks bragged about having 15 years of experience with, including work as a Beretta instructor. Quesenberry came out rocking, however, shooting from 25 feet through separate sets of seven tubes, ranging in diameter from 4 inches to 1.5 inches. While Franks eventually caught up to tie Quesenberry after six successful targets hit, the Carroll native was the first to seven, keeping him in the competition and winning him a second $2,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card.
Quesenberry also went to the elimination round on the first episode of the All-Star season before winning an elimination challenge with a grenade launcher against contestant Gregory Littlejohn, the runner-up from season four.
“I just got off the phone with a guy from the local newspaper here in Ohio and I told him it was different this time because if you end up going home, you know you went home against someone that could really shoot. I went to the elimination round the first time this season. I was almost the first person to leave and that was a wake-up call that helped me become more focused about what I was doing,” Quesenberry said. “But that doesn’t make the competition any easier. The further along you get, the tougher they are to beat. It’s just a totally different ballgame this time.”
In Season 3, he only went to the elimination round once en route to reaching the finals.
“I would like to formally apologize to anybody in Carroll County I have caused any undue stress from watching me to go these elimination challenges,” Quesenberry joked. “This time the competition is a little tougher. The people there, they didn’t win their season, but they came close. Just like with me, they came in a whole lot more serious than the first season. They did training, corrected deficiencies from the first season, and came back with nothing in mind but winning.”
Quesenberry certainly improved on what he calls his most embarrassing moment from Season 3. In Episode Nine, contestants were given a McMillan tac-50 rifle and charged with shooting at a moving 30-inch target from 500 yards, in wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour. In the All-Star season, Quesenberry showed much-improved sniper skills, finishing in the top half of the field on “The Mile Shot,” using a Barrett MRAD rifle to shoot a 40-inch target one mile down range.
“When I left Season 3, I knew when it aired on TV that was going to be embarrassing to watch around people. It was a horrible performance. I don’t like to be embarrassed, especially with marksmanship, so for me to perform like that was a little disappointing,” Quesenberry said. “When I found out about All-Stars, I knew they would have a sniper challenge. They always do. A buddy of mine hooked me up with Special Forces snipers in West Virginia. They sent me there for a full day and they drilled me on every possible gun and every possible optic you could run across. That one day of training with those guys teaching me what I needed to know did wonders for me and helped me with my confidence.”
Top Shot All-Stars has lived up to the show’s tradition of throwing twists and turns at competitors in every episode. Most challenges, such as the atlatl challenge, are so unique and challenging they keep most of the contestants on an even playing field.
“In my opinion it is a good thing. I think part of being a good marksman is being adaptable. Anybody can be specialized in one weapon, can pick one gun and practice with it all their life and be the best in world,” Quesenberry said. “But can you pick up 10 to 15 guns and learn them, like an atlatl, and be competitive? To me that is what makes Top Shot interesting. They didn’t get just good shooters, but good shooters that can learn and adapt. That is a big part of how far you go in the competition.”
Hopefully, Quesenberry will continue to impress as much in Top Shot All-Stars and he did in Season 3. Regardless, he is excited about the chance to come back home and meet up with friends and loved ones, just like he did his previous season on the show.
“I am really excited about it. When I came for the gun show and the viewing party, there was a lot of local support. I saw a lot of people I haven’t seen in years,” Quesenberry said. “That does a lot for me and cements my connection with home and old friends. It’s something you can’t put a price tag on, being around people I love - family and friends. That is the real prize in my opinion.”