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Terry Schappert has been to many places, seen and done many difficult things.
And that’s an understatement.
But he says nothing was as heart wrenching as his job at the end of each episode of Elite Tactical Unit, a new show that premieres on Outdoor Channel on Jan. 9 at 9 p.m. ET
The reality series is a competition featuring members of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams from around the nation. Over the 13-week series, each episode ends with Schappert, a U.S. military special operations veteran, selecting a person to be eliminated from the competition.
“I hated it,” he said. “Each one of those guys performed so well and was so dedicated and so hard working. I would have to pick someone to send home for just the most nitpicky of reasons. I hated it every freaking time. I did not like doing that at all.”
Schappert began his military career 18 years ago in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. After completing Ranger School and serving in the Persian Gulf War, he became a Green Beret.
After nine years of active duty, Schappert left the Army in June 1997 and moved to New York City to pursue an acting career. He was working toward a masters of fine arts degree to go with his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
But then came the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“After 9/11, I had to go back in,” Schappert said. “I had stayed in shape, so I just reenlisted in the Army. By October 2001, I was back in.”
He is now a team sergeant in the United States Army Special Forces based in Rhode Island and since his return has served three tours since.
At 47, Schappert has maintained his fitness in order to remain sharp on his job.
“This past summer, I participated in a sniper training course, and I was the oldest dude there by far,” he said. “I’ve always told myself that if I ever find that I’m holding anyone back, I’m out, I’m done. But so far I’m still in.”
Schappert previously hosted Warriors in 2009 on the History Channel and was a host on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
On Elite Tactical Unit, Schappert is a team leader opposite of Adam Hamon, a native of New Zealand who is a veteran of Special Air Service, the Special Ops division for both his home country and Great Britain. He has since established Regiment Security in Milford, Conn., which provides security for a variety of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. and internationally.
Schappert and Hamon are each in charge of an eight-man team of SWAT veterans from around the country, leading them through a variety of team competitions in each episode of Elite Tactical Unit and an individual elimination challenge at the conclusion of each episode.
The military experience of Schappert and Hamon weaved well with the law enforcement knowledge of the competitors, Schappert said.
“There’s a lot of crossover in the tactics from the military to public law enforcement, and vice versa,” Schappert said. “The techniques and tactics are quite similar. The SWAT guys are actually more adept in some of the methods of non-lethal force.
“The competition was a lot of fun. These are all Type-A personality guys, all very competitive. I think it makes for an interesting series.”
Filming took place over a month this summer in rural Arkansas, St. Louis and on a buffalo farm in Potosi, Mo.
“I’ve been to a lot of places. I’ve been to the Middle East many times,” Schappert said. “But let me tell you, it is hot in Arkansas in August.”
Schappert said for those involved, the competition was about more than any earnings on the line.
“There’s some money involved, but not a terrible amount,” he said. “For these guys, it was about pride in their departments and themselves.
“This is what they do, and for them to come for a month of filming, that meant they had to get permission from their bosses and take personal leave time. Most of them were burning up their vacation time, just to come and represent themselves and their departments.”
The show will stick to the original premise and not stray, Schappert said. In other words, there are no pies in the face or worm-eating on the agenda.
“But there are some surprises,” Schappert said. “They bring in some different people and things. There’s some world class shooters on the show, lots of different targets. There’s a lot of variety. I think everyone will enjoy it.”
Elite Tactical Unit is hosted by Mykel Hawke, a former special forces officer and the host of One Man’s Army and Man, Woman, Wild on the Discovery Channel.
For more information about Elite Tactical Unit, visit OutdoorChannel.com.