The Top Shot Interview

History Channel’s hit TV show this summer is Top Shot,…

History Channel’s hit TV show this summer is Top Shot, a firearm related reality show that has pitted 16 contestants against each other in one hour episodes each Sunday night. Finalist Chris Cerino answered ten questions for about his background, training and experience in Top Shot and what he believes led him to be successful on the show.

Chris Cerino is a full-time law enforcement instructor. His background includes county and municipal law enforcement as well as experience as a SWAT operator. After 9/11 Chris began working for the Federal Air Marshals as a firearms instructor. For the past several years Cerino has worked for the State of Ohio. Chris is a friend of mine and fellow instructor. Over the past few years we have conducted countless firearms courses including pistol, subgun, shotgun and carbine as well as officer survival and SWAT related courses. Let Chris’s experience in training and on the show benefit you in your quest for competency. Chris when you came back from the competition you mentioned that being a good overall shooter helped you in Top Shot can you expand on that point?

Cerino: I can’t emphasize how important the fundamentals are. No advanced shooting here. Just advanced applications of the basics. Explain to readers how your belief that focusing on the basics and learning the fundamentals of shooting helped you in the competition and how they can help them as well.

Cerino: Fundamentals are what wins any game, challenge or gunfight. The ability to apply them at speed and under stress is what will make anyone victorious. In our training we try to teach officers how to shoot comfortably. Once you can shoot comfortably it builds confidence in the shooter. Soon they don’t care about their comfort levels because they know what it takes to get the hit required regardless of the situation. Prior to Top Shot you’ve done well in regional law enforcement competitions in the State of Ohio. What roll does competing have in a shooter’s preparation for a gunfight?

Cerino: Stress is stress and being able to control your emotions and your physiological responses to it is very important. We emphasize breathing and its importance in training. You breathe to reduce stress and focus on the task at hand. For us it’s not just scan and breathe, it’s breathe to break tension first then breathe to break tunnel vision. In competition you get performance anxiety and stressors that you just can’t duplicate in most training. Some people say that competitions can’t help you prepare for defending your life. Do you train your law enforcement students any differently than you’d train yourself for a competition?

Cerino: No. We can attempt to artificially inflate heart rates but, unless we start shooting at our students they don’t get the full effect. The SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System also known as fight or flight) response it what we need to prepare them for. In one segment you mentioned the effects of the Sympathetic Nervous System on shooter performance. How pumped up did you get in the competition and how did you control the effects?

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  • Harry Teare

    Chris is a good instructor. I have trained and instructed classes with him as well.

    I hope the best for him and his family.