Female Shooters

Throwback Thursday: Five Important Women in Firearms History

Important Women in Firearm History

Firearms and shooting sports have been growing in popularity with women for some time, but they’ve always been an integral part of shooting culture, from the development of guns to the folklore of the Wild West and far beyond.

Here we will take a look at five women who, without their contributions, the world of shooting may not be the same.

1. Jane Frazier

women in firearms - jane frazier
Source: Wikipedia

A pioneer of early American gun-making, Jane Frazier has a story fit for the movie screen. In 1755, Frazier was kidnapped and taken by a band of Delaware Indians deep into the Ohio Valley. As she enjoyed shooting, she knew her way around guns. Eighteen months into her captivity, Jane stole a broken musket. After repairing it, she and two companions made their escape via a canoe packed with supplies and weaponry. After a rough trek, she made it home to her family.

2. Calamity Jane

women in firearms - calamity jane
Source: Wikipedia

A legendary figure of the American West, Martha “Calamity” Jane Canary was a gunslinger, frontierswoman, and scout known for being an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok. Though she was something of a rough figure, Calamity Jane was noted for her compassion for the sick and downtrodden. In her later years, she appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. She is one of the many renowned western personalities associated with Deadwood, South Dakota.

3. Annie Oakley

women in firearms - annie oakley
Source: Pixabay

Born Phoebe Ann Mosey in a log cabin in Darke County, Ohio, Annie Oakley needs little introduction. One of the most iconic sharpshooters and performance shooters in the history of shooting sports, Oakley became famous while touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Annie’s shooting skills were incredible, even by modern standards. She was known to split the edges of playing cards 30 paces, shot cigarettes held in her husband’s lips, shot coins tossed into the air, and much more.

Oakley has been recognized as a major influence on the image of the American cowgirl. Though she was comfortable with pretty much any rifle or shotgun, her most trusted trick rifle was a Stevens Tip Up.

4. Julie Golob

women in firearms - julie golob
Source: JuliGolob.com

One can’t think of decorated modern sport shooters and not think of Julie Golob. She’s won multiple world championships and is the only seven-division USPSA champion in shooting history. Golob is the captain of the Smith & Wesson shooting team and was formerly a part of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit. Aside from being a veteran and decorated competition shooter, Golob is also an accomplished author of both children’s books and a guide to competitive shooting.

5. Lyudmila Pavlichenko

women in firearms - lyudmila pavlichenko
Source: Wikipedia

Widely regarded as one of the greatest military snipers of all time, Lyudmila Pavlichenko served the Soviet army during World War II, where she accumulated 309 confirmed kills. After Germany commenced their Soviet invasion in 1941, Pavlichenko quickly volunteered for the Red Army, where she was assigned to the 25th Rifle Division.

Her first two kills were recorded using a Mosin-Nagant 1891 bolt-action rifle with a telescopic sight. Word of her incredible service spread far and wide. Iconic American folk singer Woody Guthrie even wrote a song titled “Miss Pavlichenko” in tribute to her.

Bonus: Kim Rhode

Kim Rhode with Medals
Source: beretta.com

Voted in by readers, Kim Rhode is a world-renown trap and skeet shotgun shooter for Team USA. She is a six-time Olympic medalist (three gold, one silver, two bronze) and has five World Championship medals (two gold, two silver, one bronze). By the age of 13, she had become the youngest Ladies World Champion in American Skeet and her Olympic career began at the mere age of 17. She is a proud member of Team Beretta and utilizes a Beretta DT11 over-under shotgun for her competitive shooting.

Rhode became the first individual American athlete to win a medal in five consecutive Olympic Games in 2012 and is an honorary lifetime member of the NRA. She even competed and won gold in the London Olympics in 2012 while pregnant with her son.

There you have it! What are some of your favorite notable women in the world of firearms and shooting sports? Let us know in the comments below!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February of 2020. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. Are you sure she’s a woman? Did you ask her her pronouns? Whoops! I think I was supposed to say “Did you ask ‘them’ ‘their’ pronouns?”. We cannot let this madness continue!!! Anyway, God bless Ms. Golob and Ms. Rhodes. They are patriots.

  2. If only the media in the USA would give shooting Olympian’s a little coverage, these lady’s would be known and adored for their skills. But no, the media refused to even mention either lady’s or men who distinguish themselves on this world wide Olympic stage. Only us who follow these athletes and their impressive dedication and skills ever know of their achievements.
    Thank you for highlighting each of them and a thanks to the many other readers who added comments an additional well deserved nominations to the article. Well done.

  3. The problem with women in the shooting sports these days (Julie Golob and Jessie Duff to name just two) is that they are so attractive that their presence on the range is VERY distracting. Now Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane I would not have a problem with because at a distance it would be difficult to identify them as female. Not so with today’s athletic women competitors. You go girls!

  4. Uh, hello, where was KIm Rhode! She has medaled in more consecutive Olympic Games than any other U.S. athlete in history!

  5. What about Kim Rhode? She has won shooting medals in the last 6 Summer Olympic Games, and she’s aiming for her 7th medal in Tokyo in 2020.

  6. You forgot Kim Rhode.

    Kimberly Susan Rhode is an American double trap and skeet shooter. A California native, she is a six-time Olympic medal winner, including three gold medals, and six-time national champion in double trap. She is the most successful female shooter at the Olympics as the only triple Olympic Champion and the only woman to have won two Olympic gold medals for Double Trap. She won a gold medal in skeet shooting at the 2012 Summer Olympics, equaling the world record of 99 out of 100 clays. Most recently, she won the bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics, making her the first Olympian to win a medal on five different continents, the first Summer Olympian to win an individual medal at six consecutive summer games, and the first woman to medal in six consecutive Olympics.

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