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Sykesville man returning to History Channel reality show

THURMONT - Sykesville resident Adam Benson is about to be shown in his second round on reality television; a round he said is all about redemption and "showing that the old guy may still have a little game left."

Benson, 48, was selected for the History Channel's "All-Star" season of "Top Shots," a competition show in which 16 participants have various shooting challenges using weapons with historical significance. The winner receives $100,000 and a speed boat.

The All-Star season premieres at 10 p.m. today, and involves past contestants evenly divided from the show's past four seasons.

Benson, who works in construction management, competed in the first season of the show in 2010. He ultimately came in sixth place after missing a target.

"It was an unfortunate mistake and nerves got me," Benson said. "I needed to be perfect and I wasn't, so off I went into the sunset."

Though the first season included challenges such as shooting upside-down and shooting to move a guillotine rope, Benson said "politics" among the 16 competitors, who initially had to vote each other off a la "Survivor," played a major role in his portrayal.

"You don't take six weeks off from your home and family to hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya,'" said Benson, a husband and father of a 13-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter.

Benson said he drew criticism for suggesting his team vote off the better shooters and for verbally attacking a fellow competitor whom he thought double crossed him.

"This time I expected a higher caliber of people since it's All-Stars," Benson said. "I'm a Marine; I'm either your best friend or your worst enemy. First season, someone became my worst enemy."

Nonetheless, Benson said he also approached this season with "a little less competition and a little more heart."

The All-Star season was filmed last fall in Santa Clarita, Calif. Since the season has yet to start, Benson said he could not reveal much, but described this season's premise as: "No voting, no games, no politics, all skill."

"That's all anyone wanted in the first place," he said.

The first episode - which Benson was allowed to discuss because it is already being previewed - involves the competitors shooting World War I rifles while going across a rope bridge with various distractions.

"They had things going off and fire ... I got up and patted myself because I didn't know if I was on fire," Benson said.

He said all of the competitors lived in a mansion without phones, TVs or computers, allowing for no outside distractions. The show's host is former "Survivor" runner up Colby Donaldson.

Benson said he learned to shoot as a Marine, which he said would have been his career were it not for a motorcycle accident. When it comes to gun shooting, Benson said he did not have one gun in which he specializes.

"I'm kind of good at everything but I'm not the best at anything," he said. "To be the best, you have to do nothing but this. I don't choose to do nothing but this."

Benson's true passion: Hunting with a bow and arrow.

"Bow hunting is more of a lifestyle. You spend a lot of time in the woods and it's very personal," he said.

Benson also testified last March before the Gun Control Task Force from the Maryland House of Delegates in Annapolis regarding gun control in Maryland.

"Guns in the hands of law-abiding people is not the problem. Instead of trying to ban everyone and everything to try to stop one problem, try to stop the problem by going to the problem," Benson said.

He said he also resented the fact that as a Marine he could use a weapon to protect his country, but he couldn't use the same weapon to protect his family.

The same thick skin Benson used to testify in Annapolis has also come in handy when he has seen some harsh online criticism regarding his portrayal in the first season of "Top Shots."

"No one who actually matters or who actually knows me had anything but the highest regard for the first season and they're all looking forward to this season," Benson said.

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