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Relive Old West Gunplay and Period Dress, with Your Own Cowboy Alias

Female Shooter: Celebrated Lady Shooters and Gunslingers of the Old West

Many Americans are quite familiar with legendary Wild West characters like Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickock, and Jesse James? However, ask them to name a female shooter or two and most will hold back due to uncertainty.

Many women have carved their niche as notorious shooters and gunslingers of the Old West. Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, and other famous lady shooters broke through the barriers of a class dominated mainly by males.


Annie Oakley


female shooter annie oakley Born in 1860 in Darke County, Ohio, Phoebe Ann Oakley Moses would grow up to be the most famous woman of Old West. At 12 years of age, Annie Oakley got her gun and learned how to shoot professionally. She had to learn to shoot accurately at a tender age because her hunting skill was her family’s means of livelihood.

Annie achieved popularity after joining Buffalo Bill’s famous traveling Wild West Show where her amazing feats of marksmanship were seen by large audience everywhere. Although Annie became one of the most famous sharpshooters in U.S. history, she did not forget about her family’s poverty-ridden condition during her growing up years.

Throughout her life, Annie spent nearly her entire earnings giving to various charitable causes, provided support for young women, and did philanthropic work for women’s rights. Annie Oakley died of pernicious anemia in 1926 at the age of 66.


Calamity Jane


Another famous female shooter is Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Canary in 1852 in Missouri. A sharpshooter when she was still a young woman, she engaged in one of the Wild West’s most hazardous professions by becoming a frontier scout for the United States Army.

Many daring acts of bravery was attributed to Calamity Jane during the war against the Native Americans. One of them was rescuing an army captain after their camp was raided by Native Americans. It was also reported that she saved 6 stagecoach passengers from attacking Native Americans in 1876.

Calamity Jane performed and traveled with the Wild Bill Cody Show where she became a big crowd attraction. She became close friends with renowned lawman and gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok, and traveled with him in Deadwood, South Dakota, then considered one of the most unsafe places in the United States. Before her death in 1903, Jane requested to be buried alongside Wild Bill Hickock whom she claimed was her only true love.


Belle Starr


Belle Starr was born Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr in Carthage, Missouri in 1848. She slowly got snared into the life of crime when she was a young child after Frank and Jesse James’s gang made her family’s farm a temporary hideout. Belle’s close association with members of the gang influenced her to get involved with the outlaw life, where she learned how to counterfeit money and rob banks.

belle starr female shooter

Belle Starr led a life as an outlaw until she reached old age. Towards the end of her life, this elderly female shooter continued to steal cash, horses, and anything to keep her head above water. Her life of crime and violence was ended in Eufaula, Oklahoma by a bullet in her back as she came in on her horse.


Rose Dunn


Rose Dunn, known as The Rose of Cimarron, came from a family of felons, so it was no wonder at all before she was in the business herself. Rose met George Newcomb of the

Doolin Gang and joined him and his gang in robbing banks and stagecoaches. Her loyalty to the gang was proven when Rose nearly lost her life for Newcomb. In a deadly gunbattle, she supplied a wounded Newcomb with a gun and ammo to facilitate his escape. Rose died not as a fugitive, but as a respectable married woman in 1950 when she was in her seventies.


Charley Parkhurst


Ladies had a hard time during the Wild West period. In order to make ends meet, expert stagecoach driver Charley Parkhurst spent a large part of her life living as a man. She was born in 1812 and, despite being a dauntless, tobacco-chewing alcoholic who’s missing one eye, she is an incredible female shooter who survived into her sixties.

Charley fearlessly drove stagecoaches for the California Stage Company and Wells Fargo, a job many men of that time considered difficult and unsafe. She became a registered voter, thanks to her adopted “male” identity, and may be considered America’s first female voter long before women suffrage became an issue.

Charley spent her last years raising fowls and livestock. Only after she died in 1879 that light was shed into her real gender and identity, much to the surprise of her friends and neighbors.




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