New London resident competes on ‘Forged in Fire’ TV series
When the bladesmithing competition TV show “Forged in Fire” returns on Wednesday, it will feature New London resident Brandon Hyner as one of the four contestants.
In “Forged in Fire,” which airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on the History Channel, bladesmiths are given challenges to recreate historical edged weapons. The winner gets $10,000. In an Instagram post, Hyner says he'll be on the episode airing at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29.
Hyner, 23, has been making knives and blacksmithing as a hobby for a half-dozen years. He has his forge at the Noank Foundry.
As for his job, Hyner works as an engineer at Electric Boat, in a department that deals with moving submarine structures between Groton, Virginia, and Quonset Point, R.I.
He said filming “Forged in Fire” “was very nerve-racking at first, as it is for a lot of people. Everybody who has ever been on the show will absolutely say that, for sure. The first round of the show, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I knew what I needed to do, but I’m one of those people who needs to look at a list of things and kind of cross out — I’ve got to do that, then I’ve got to do this. We were not allowed any paper or any lists.”
“You’ve got to make changes on the fly and overcome and adapt,” he said.
Like all contestants on these types of TV series, Hyner couldn’t say what the challenges were on “Forged in Fire” or how far he made it in the competition. But he did say he enjoyed filming it a lot and would do it again “in a heartbeat."
"My competitors were absolutely amazing competitors. They were all awesome dudes," he said. "... I definitely learned a lot about myself. I also learned I can make a knife in five hours — which is a very hard thing to do, might I add.”
Hyner started applying to be on “Forged in Fire” two or three years ago, when he was a student at SUNY Maritime College in New York City. He graduated in January 2020 and started working at EB.
Hyner eventually went through the interview process for the show, which included a casting person looking at his application and then conducting phone and Skype interviews with him. The casting person made a casting video she forwarded to the producers, who decided to have Hyner on the series.
The problem then was Hyner was still in school and nearing graduation; he didn’t have available dates he could commit to. So the “Forged in Fire” folks kept him on a standby list in case someone, say, got sick or tested positive for COVID-19 and had to drop out at the last minute.
And this is how it happened: Hyner got the call from “Forged in Fire” six months ago at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. He had to be in Stamford, Conn., where the program is filmed, at 6 a.m. the next morning. That Tuesday was incredibly hectic, he recalled; he was called during work, and he had to get to New York City to get a coronavirus test and get back to get ready for the production.
A cold forge in the backyard
Hyner grew up in West Babylon, Long Island, and said he “was always interested in artsy stuff. When I was in high school, I was in AP studio art classes. I always enjoyed doing art-related things regardless of what they were. I was always into art, I always liked playing music — I play the guitar.”
But he said he couldn’t find something specific that he liked to do, was good at — and could finish. In high school, he had trouble finishing projects in his drawing and painting classes because he was so detail oriented. His teachers got frustrated and would tell him that the work he did was really good but he never completed it.
He had started watching “Forged in Fire” about five years ago, when he was graduating from high school.
Back then, the neighbor of a friend had built himself a cold forge — “your most basic, primitive kind of forge,” Hyner said. The neighbor invited the two teens to try out the forge.
“I loved doing it so much. At the time, I had made this junky piece of crap-looking thing-ama-what’s-it,” Hyner said with a laugh. “But I was so proud of it, and I was so excited. I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to keep doing this.’”
He got his father to help him make a cold forge in their own backyard, and he sourced tools from friends and family.
“Now, five or six years later, I have my own shop space, I have a lot of tools. It’s been a very cool journey,” he said.
Hyner said it’s amazing to see what his hands can create.
“My favorite part about the craft is seeing that I have been able to find that artsy side of me and I can make something that A, I can finish and B, that I’m very proud of at the end of the day," he said. "Aside from its being something that’s beautiful looking, it’s functional and it’s something that can be used and also something that can be passed down from generation to generation.”