Like an athlete today, Annie Oakley's competence gave her the opportunity to entertain, become famous and even tour the world. She used the shotgun to wow audiences around the world for 20 years.
Born to a poor family, she taught herself how to shoot her grandfather's gun after her father's death and began hunting for food. She could shoot the animals without ruining the important parts of the meat, and she then sold them to the people in her town. When she was fifteen years old, she had made enough money to pay for her family's farm.
At sixteen years old, she was invited to a shooting contest with a famous marksman. Frank Butler claimed that he could shoot better than anyone else. Annie surprised everyone when she won the competition by shooting all twenty-five targets, while her competitor was only able to shoot twenty-four of them. Perhaps their shooting abilities attracted them to one another, because Annie and Frank married in 1876.
In 1885, they joined "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" where Annie starred and Frank acted as her assistant for 16 years. In 1887, Buffalo Bill took the whole Wild West show to Europe. Amongst their many appearances, they performed in England for Queen Victoria. Annie Oakley received a lot of attention. The newspapers wrote stories about her and she took part in many shooting contests where she drew huge crowds with her remarkable skills.
The Wild West show returned to Europe two years later. By this time, Annie Oakley had become even more famous. The Wild West show performed in Paris, France, for six months. Then the performers traveled to Germany, Italy and Spain. In Germany, the Crown Prince asked Oakley to shoot the ashes off of a cigarette that he held in his mouth, as she famously had done with her husband. She asked the Prince to hold the cigarette in his hand instead and did the trick easily.
Her skill, born of necessity and forged with determination made Annie Oakley a worldwide household name. Others might curse the trials that plague them, but it takes strength of character to rise above hardship and burn a brand on the hide of the world.
Or have the honor of being featured on a stamp.