This Sharpshooter Became a Legendary Superstar in a Male-Dominated Sport


Who: Annie Oakley, international sensation known for her sharpshooter performances in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show; August 13, 1860–November 3, 1926

Why She Dazzles: Annie rose to stardom after outgunning traveling-show sharpshooter (and future husband) Frank E. Butler when she was only 15 years old, and then she joined him as a vaudeville performer. Her stunning displays of marksmanship wowed audiences, especially when she shot off the ashes of cigarettes from participants’ lips and punched holes in playing cards in the air before they hit the ground. She traveled across the world and even performed for crowned leaders including Queen Victoria, German Emperor and King of Prussia Kaiser Wilhelm II, and King Umberto I of Italy.

Why You Need to Know Her Today: Annie earned more than any other performer in Buffalo Bill’s show except for Buffalo Bill himself. She was America’s first female star, known internationally for her shooting tricks in a profession dominated by men. Frank and many other men were amazed by Annie's skills and viewed her as an equal. However, when Annie volunteered to organize a regiment of female sharpshooters during World War I, they ignored her. Instead she raised money for the Red Cross by providing shooting demonstrations, eventually teaching thousands of women how to use a gun to defend themselves by the end of her career. She was an inspirational role model with a rare talent that made her a legend in American history.

What She Would Say—Because She Said It Then: “Aim for the high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time, and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally, you'll hit the bull's-eye of success.”

What the Ladies Rocked Then: Discovery of new gemstones and metals in the U.S. boomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Miners found sapphires in Montana, tourmaline (pink and red) deposits in California, and turquoise in Colorado. Plus the famous Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 resulted in the obvious trend—pure gold.

How You Can Rock It Now: Many consider Montana the Wild West of the U.S., and it’s also known as the Treasure State because it’s rich in gemstones and minerals. Check out where to find gems in the Sapphire Mine in Gem Mountain.

Where She Would Instagram: Greenville, Ohio, where Annie learned how to shoot game in the woods when she was only eight years old. She quickly established her reputation as an excellent markswoman, which captured the attention of the community, particularly a local merchant who sold her game to businesses. Greenville is also home to the National Annie Oakley Center, which exhibits artifacts from her adventurous life.

Shop the Sparkle: Shots of Sapphire

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Annie Oakley: Beautiful. Bold. Brilliant.