10 Unknown Facts From the Life and Times of the Annie Oakley, the Famous Sharp Shooter of the Wild West

By THP Team


10 Unknown Facts From the Life and Times of the Annie Oakley, the Famous Sharp Shooter of the Wild West

The Wild West was one of the most adventurous and mysterious times in the history of the USA, and even today it is a hot topic for all kinds of popular culture items. Movies, books, articles, magazines, still feature a lot of the things that happened during the era of the Wild West.

In the late 1800’s, a man by the name of Buffalo Bill went on to create a show that would immortalize the Wild West in popular culture. He called it the Wild West show, and traveled throughout the US and Europe conducting hundreds of live shows. He featured a number of people that would reenact the scenes of the Wild West and many more such events. He became a legend in his own way.

It is in this show, that a young girl by the name of Annie Oakley became a legend. Her shooting skills were put to excellent use, as she mesmerized hundreds and thousands with her skilled shots.

Born as Phoebe Anne Moses in the state of Ohio, she lost her father at an early age and lived with her mother ever since. She developed her shooting skills throughout her childhood and also would earn money through it. She later met and married Frank E. Butler and the two went on to conquer audiences around the world.

History All Day skims through the dusty files of the Wild West to bring to you 10 unknown facts about Annie Oakley.

10) She Shot For the First Time at 8

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Annie was a born marksman and shot her first bullet when she was 8. She picked up a loaded gun and killed a squirrel outside of her house. Her mother was terrified and grounded her for 8 months for using a gun.

9) She Paid off Her Mom’s Mortgage through Shooting


Oakley’s mother found it difficult to make ends meet and had a lot of debt and mortgage over her head. This is when Annie picked up the gun and decided to make a difference. She shot game for a grocery store and paid off her mom’s mortgage.

8) She was Shorter than You Imagine Her to Be


Oakley was only five feet tall in height. Her short stature did not necessarily complement her shooting talent but it sure did earn her the name, the Little Sure Shot.

7) She was Staunch Feminist

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Being in a predominantly male profession, Oakley never thought of her womanhood to be a hurdle. Instead she embraced her femininity with pride and wore her homemade costumes on stage. She considered herself a proud female shooter.

6) She Beat Her Future Husband at Shooting


Another amazing feat to her name, Oakley beat Frank Butler, an Irish-American shooter in a competiton. She later on went on to marry him. The two joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show where Oakley was the star performer and Frank became her manager assisting her and training her.

5) She Performed for Royalty As Well

Annie Oakley Festival

The Wild West show travelled to Europe for shows and it is common for such shows to perform for the royals of a country as well. Annie showed her shooting prowess in front of Queen Victoria herself. She also did a show for the Kaiser of Germany and shot a cigar out of his mouth.

4) She Vouched to Become a Soldier

Center of the West

She wrote to the then president of the USA, to allow her to take 50 sharpshooters of her own into the Spanish American war but never received a reply. She also vouched to train soldiers for the World War I but again to no avail. So she travelled to camps herself and instead began charity work for the Red Cross.

3) She became a Film Actress As Well Thanks to Edison

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In the year 1889, Oakley met Buffalo Bill’s friend and inventor, Thomas Alva Edison. He was shocked at her skill. In the year 1894, Oakley went to New Jersey to shoot for a small clip. Edison used a Kinetoscope and created a film called The Little Sure Shot of the Wild West. That was her one and only film.

2) She Had to Stop Shooting Because of Two Accidents

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Missing her targets was not something in Oakley’s dictionary and so getting injured while shooting is just out of the equation. Oakley got injured, first time, while on train and the second time in a car. The resulting injuries from both accidents forced her to put a stop to her career.

1) Her name inspired an Idiomatic Expression


One of the major attractions in the show was Oakley shooting holes through cards before the card landed on the floor. This act of her was immortalized in the idiom “Annie Oakley” which means punching holes through tickets at a free event.


Annie Oakley died in the year 1903 but her acts and her skill immortalized this shooting legend till the end of time. None like her have ever come up in the show business, we at History All Day pay tribute to this great show-woman and hope someone someday might carry her legacy forward.

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