Poland's Brian Zins takes aim at History Channel show's $100,000 prize



One man from Poland is taking aim at a $100,000 prize package on the History Channel’s “Top Shot.”

Brian “Gunny” Zins, 41, is a contestant on the show, along with 15 other marksmen. Season two starts Tuesday at 10 p.m.

A weekly, hourlong show, “Top Shot” divides the group of 16 — which includes a few women — into two teams and pits them against each other in a variety of shooting competitions. One person is eliminated each week until a winner emerges.

The contestants will use a variety of rare and sometimes historic firearms and weapons this season, including a Tommy gun, .44 Magnum and a World War II sniper rifle. For variety, unusual or primitive weapons such as tomahawks and bows and arrows are mixed in.

One episode even sees the contestants take aim at each other with paintball guns — which, Zins notes, are not very accurate.

The challenges test speed and accuracy, and include a variety of twists, including shooting from the back of a moving vehicle.

“It was designed to get you out of your comfort zone,” said Zins, who admitted, “I’m more of a bull’s-eye shooter; I don’t run around and shoot.”

The key, he said, is to get to your position quickly but then calm down and fire accurately.

Zins, who grew up in Canfield, is a 10-time National Rifle Association pistol champion. “If you can shoot a pistol, you can shoot a rifle,” he told The Vindicator. “Rifles are easier.”

He was in the Marines for 20 years, where he was a rifle instructor. That’s where he became acquainted with a wide variety of guns.

“We taught the use of a lot of foreign weapons, because guys going into combat don’t know what they’re going to come across,” said Zins. “They might have to pick up a gun and go with it.”

After leaving the Marines, he worked as a national manager for pistol programs for the NRA. He now works with a private security contractor based in Virginia.

Zins actually was in the running to be on the first season of “Top Shot,” but had to back out because of a work commitment.

Shooting for season two was from mid-October to late November in the high desert of California. The contestants lived together in a large house in the wilderness.

“We had a very good dynamic in the house,” said Zins of his fellow contestants. “Every night we sat down to dinner as a group, not as teams or individuals, and we cooked dinner. Those who didn’t cook did the dishes. There were a lot of military guys, a good military presence. There were no issues ... I couldn’t have asked for a better group of strangers.”

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