August 16, 2010
In the days after video of their 200-foot shot from the top of a monument went viral earlier this month, members of the Alabama-based group The Legendary Shots sat around pondering a particularly pressing question.
"We were basically thinking, 'How can we top that?'" 17-year-old Carson Stalnaker said. "What can we possibly do next?"
It was with that in mind that Stalnaker and his friends hatched a crazy idea to call local amusement park Alabama Adventure to ask permission to shoot baskets off one of the rides on a day the park was closed. Much to their surprise, marketing-savvy park officials agreed and four days later Stalnaker filmed two other group members hoisting shots off "The Stratus Fear," a tower of terror-style ride that catapults folks 185 feet in the air and then back down again.
Although the group could only attempt two shots per ride and gusts of wind and the effects of free falling elevated the degree of difficulty, 17-year-old John Massey needed a mere 25 rides before he dropped the ball straight through the rim. Stalnaker estimates that Massey was approximately 130 feet off the ground when he shot it.
"I was screaming my lungs out it was so exciting," Stalnaker said. "When we first told people we were going to do it, a lot of people said they didn't think it was possible. But when we got up there, we realized it was basically a drop, but it just had to be a perfect drop. We knew we could do it, but we definitely were getting a little nervous after a while."
The free falling shot and a shot from the top of a stationary ferris wheel are sure to bring more attention to a group of Alabama teens who thought 50 clicks on YouTube were a big deal when they began trying shots in Stalnaker's driveway two years ago. Other trick shots The Legendary Shots have attempted have appeared on Birmingham newscasts, national websites and in a series of commercials for Hampton Inn.
Since Massey's shot came about two-thirds of the way up the tower, he and Stalnaker decided to ride another 25 times to see if they could hit from the very top. By the time they gave up, their stomachs were doing flip flops but they were still satisfied with the day's work.
"It didn't even get my stomach anymore after that many times," Stalnaker said. "We were immune to it. We were totally used to it after that many trips."
It will be difficult for members of The Legendary Shots to keep outdoing themselves, but Stalnaker already has a few ideas for how to top this shot.
They're trying to gain permission to shoot from the top of a 350-foot rocket at The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. They're also interested in shooting off a moving roller coaster if Alabama Adventures will have them back. And one of the group members recently came up with the idea of building a giant catapult.
"We'd need something that could launch a ball 300 feet," Stalnaker said. "If we get that, we can do some pretty good stuff."
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