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
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
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
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
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
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
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.