“On Friday the 19th Annie Oakley, the world-famous shot, will give one of her old-time exhibitions of trick shooting at the Gun Club. If you have the nerve to stand up to it, she might shoot an apple off the top of your head or shoot the ashes off the tip of your cigarette or shoot a nickel out of your fingers; and for her it is child’s play to smash five flying targets before they can touch the ground.”
These words appeared in the March 17, 1920 issue of the Pinehurst Outlook.
Annie Oakley had already made a name for herself as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show when she arrived in Pinehurst in 1916.
After she and husband Frank Butler joined the staff of the Carolina Hotel, she taught shooting lessons and hosted exhibitions. Butler managed the Pinehurst Gun Club.
A trailblazer, Oakley didn’t just teach men how to shoot, she encouraged women to take up the hobby.
“The four thousand or more ladies that have taken lessons in the art of shooting under the guidance of Annie Oakley will be glad to know that she is returning to Pinehurst this season,” wrote the Pinehurst Outlook on Dec. 8, 1917. “As usual, she will give instruction with rifle and pistol at the gun club every afternoon without any charge, and occasional exhibitions of the fancy gun work for which she is famous.”
Oakley is estimated to have helped thousands to nail the bric-a-brac pigeons flying around the gun club every winter through 1922. Her bird dog, Dave, was popular for his act of sniffing out money from exhibition spectators that would later be donated to the Red Cross.
In describing Pinehurst, Butler once wrote, “Haven’t seen any place we like better….”
Local residents will celebrate Oakley’s time in Pinehurst this weekend during the 5th annual Annie Oakley’s Boom Days Festival. The event will be held at the Pinehurst Fair Barn from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.