Kyle D. Sumpter (’91) became interested in police work after hearing an uncle describe his law enforcement experiences at family gatherings. Initially wanting to be a film major at BYU, he switched to English and contemplated being a lawyer before joining a police academy. There he excelled and discovered a talent for marksmanship.
As a patrol officer in the Seattle area, he responded to 911 calls—often putting him in perilous situations—and applied for a SWAT team. “The position required three years’ experience and I had one, but when I outshot everyone who applied and got the top rating in physical fitness, they hired me,” Sumpter says. Over the years he advanced with both the SWAT team and the police department, eventually becoming a police commander for the city of Federal Way, Wash.
At age 50, he began looking for a new challenge and applied to compete on the History Channel’s Top Shot, a show about marksmanship. On his application he indicated that he was an early-morning seminary teacher, a returned LDS missionary, and a police officer.
“I was driving to a homicide scene and received a call from a casting director,” says Sumpter. “He asked me about seminary, church, work and expressed interest in me.” After a three-month elimination process, Sumpter was selected for the early 2012 season of the show; he was one of 18 contestants from 3,000 applicants.
The show’s 12 episodes were shot in six weeks, and Sumpter bonded with his team and was selected as team leader. “My attitude changed from wanting to show these young guys how it’s done to wanting everyone to succeed,” says Sumpter, the season’s oldest contestant. As one of five contestants remaining, Sumpter was eliminated the week before the finale.