Let me point out the obvious, I lost in elimination to the guy who won the whole competition. I have been waiting months to be able to make that announcement. Whew! Do I feel bad about being beat in elimination by the guy that no one else could beat? Hell, no!
Truthfully … on the day I was eliminated by Dustin Ellermann, I didn’t feel bad about losing to Dustin. I only felt bad that Dustin and I were the ones sent to elimination. As I sat in my hotel room “celebrating” my 38th birthday (alone), I secretly wished that Dustin (or Alex) would win the whole competition. I wanted some vindication and Dustin was the only one that could achieve that for me. I have since figured out that we were both sent to elimination for the same reasons, we are nice and we were perceived as physically weak.
The first Blue Team elimination was because we lost the second competition (due to a malfunctioning AK-47 — which was subsequently edited out). Mike Hughes and I were able to recover from our malfunctions, and get our shots off. We had partners that were able to make up the lost time because their AK-47s were functioning. Jake Zweig, however, was unable to get the AK-47 functioning in time to get his rounds downrange, and didn’t have a partner to help him make up the time. The fact that the Blue Team had to go to elimination was a hard pill for us all swallow. Initially as a team we decided to shoot each other’s target and let Colby make the determination who would go to elimination. This proved to be too chancy for some teammates, and Jake announced that he would be voting for me. Suddenly everyone decided that this would mess up the initial plan, so now everyone had to vote for someone. At one point it was mentioned that if Colby were to select the contestants to go to elimination the Blue Team “might lose a good shooter.” (I find this funny that less than a week into the competition with under three dozen rounds fired, anyone could determine who was a “good shooter” and who was a “bad shooter.” ) Obviously, since Dustin was sent to elimination, there were some misjudgments about skills.
The main reason I think Dustin and I were sent to elimination is because we are nice people. I think a couple competitors on the Blue Team interpreted “nice” for “weak.” I think in the awkward elimination meeting it was easier for my teammates to latch onto Jake’s suggestion than it was to chance being sent to elimination themselves. I don’t feel any resentment over the fact that I was sent, only that Jake wasn’t. He definitely earned his spot in elimination by that point based on his poor performance in the first two competitions, which were the result of mental breakdowns. Additionally, his attitude earned him a spot.
The second reason Dustin and I were sent to elimination was because we were perceived as physically weaker. I will give Jake some love on this one, he never doubted my physical abilities. Based on interviews, it seemed that at least one of my teammates doubted my physical abilities. (No matter that in the 11 years in the Army I always maxed out on my physical agility scores and that I passed the physical agility test for my SWAT team – yes the same test the men take, and better than some of them.) I think I was actually more offended that my physical abilities were in question than my shooting abilities. Nevertheless, there was a perception that big, strong men were needed to win Top Shot. Wrong again and Dustin is proof. One thing I understand from my years on a SWAT team, is that sometimes you need small agile people too — it’s not always about your strength if you can’t get to or into your destination. When I was younger, I would make critical remarks about other people’s decisions and abilities. My very wise mother would remind me that, “It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round.” She was right and I don’t dismiss people based on initial impressions.
So as Season 3 wraps up, I had to give a shout out to my brother from another mother, Dustin Ellerman. A man that is truly blessed and gifted. I am SO glad that he won, because believe it or not (even with my potty mouth) I am working on being a more Christ-centered individual. I had hoped to win Top Shot in order to pay some bills, which would allow me to give more to my church and give some of the winnings to my church. Turns out that the winnings are only about $53,000 after taxes, so my giving wouldn’t have been as generous as I had imagined, lol. I now see that God had an even better plan. By Dustin winning Top Shot, doors have opened for him to speak at various churches giving him the opportunity to spread the glory of God. I really believe that Dustin’s win will allow him to use the gifts God gave him to spread His word. I realize now this was all part of God’s plan, and I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to meet and compete against Dustin.
Congratulations Dustin, you deserved it!
Visit Camp His Way, where Dustin Ellermann is the camp director.
Sara Ahren’s Offbeat is sponsored by Otis Technology.