Vacaville, Calif., farrier Kirk Adkins rose to the top in the History Channel’s popular smithing series Forged in Fire in the first round and had a chance to compete again for the grand prize of $50,000 according to The Reporter. The episode announcing the official winner has yet to be aired.

Adkins has worked as a farrier for more than 50 years. He was a farrier and instructor of Farrier Science at the University of California, Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital from 1986 to 2000. He also has his own website featuring his Equithotics sneakers and sandals.

After watching the show for 4 years, Adkins realized he was pointing out the contestants’ mistakes out loud as he watched the episodes.

“I was doing a lot of armchair quarterbacking,” he says. After some urging from his wife and a group of young farriers he mentors, Adkins entered his name into the competition. Two days later, he was selected for the show’s first tournament. 

Adkins flew to Stamford, Conn., and spent 3 days of filming of the preliminary round against colleagues. They included Riley Kirkpatrick of Salem, Ore., Chris Shook of Grenora, N.D., and Rae Lynn Vander Weide of Turlock, Calif.

Contestants were required to create knives using tools of their trade, which meant they had to use horseshoes and a farrier’s rasp. 

Adkins was able to forge ahead and move onto the next round. He discusses how he was able to do this. “I get really focused and get down to business,” he says.

After Shook and Vander Weide had been eliminated, Adkins and Kirkpatrick were sent home to complete the next phase of the competition in the comfort of their own shops. Their mission was to create a mortuary sword circa 17th century. It was a thrust-and-cut weapon used during the English Civil War. 

Adkins pulled four 10-hour-days of the 5 days given to forge the sword. Adkins’ is a simpler workshop with many handmade items and tools, including those he made specifically to reduce stress on his carpal tunnel. The large barbeque pit he used to forge his sword wasn’t quite big enough to fit the blade. However, he still enjoyed the process of weapon-making.

“It was fun, I had a good time from beginning to the end,” he says. “It was not about shoeing horses, it was about building blades, and it was fun, the whole thing.”

Adkins returned to Connecticut upon finishing his sword. His blade had to pass a series of strength and sharpness tests. His mortuary sword was the winner. 

In the end, Kirkpatrick placed second, Shook placed third and Vander Weide placed fourth.

In other episodes, the show pitted armorers, blacksmiths and metalworkers against each other. In the final competition, Adkins faced off against three other winners from the respected classes. The episode has been filmed but not yet aired, so Adkins couldn’t reveal the outcome at this time.