December 03, 2013
By Keith Wood
From the traveling Wild West shows of the 1800s to YouTube, trick shooters have dazzled the public with their feats of marksmanship. From fast-draw revolver artists to aerial block breakers, these experts have combined phenomenal coordination, disciplined practice and a healthy dose of showmanship to entertain audiences for well over a century. Check out our picks for the best exhibition shooters of all time, and be sure to vote for your favorite.
Made famous as part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, 'Little Sure Shot ' performed her exhibitions worldwide. Annie's best-known shot was knocking the ash from Kaiser Willhelm II's cigarette. Small in stature but large in sprit — despite a devastating train accident and a later automobile accident — Oakley continued to set shooting records into her sixties.
'The Fastest Gun Who Ever Lived ', Munden's speed and accuracy border on the supernatural. At the opening of a Guinness Book of World Records promotion at the Empire State Building, Bob drew, cocked and fired his tuned single-action Colt in less than two-hundredths of a second. As a regular feature on the American Shooter television show, Bob became a household name to shooters who tuned in weekly to see him shoot aspirin tablets off nails, split thrown playing cards and make impossibly long-range shots with handguns. Bob held 18 world records in various fast-draw events.
Whereas most trick shooters where known for their feats on the range, D.A. 'Jelly ' Bryce became famous for his fancy shooting on the streets, killing several armed criminals with his blinding fast draw and accurate shooting. In one incident, Bryce entered a hotel room to find himself staring down the barrel of a known cop-killer's handgun. Before the bad guy could pull the trigger, Jelly drew and fired, hitting the armed man five times in the head. When his law enforcement career was over, Jelly had killed a reported 19 men. In nearly every instance, the criminals had drawn or fired first.
Bryce's exhibition shooting was nearly as impressive as his martial exploits. Life magazine did a photo essay of Bryce drawing and shooting a coin that he'd dropped from shoulder height, hitting it at his waist in 2/5 of a second. He was not only skilled with a revolver, but performed aerial shooting tricks with rifles, shotguns and even submachine guns. He was known to write his name ("D.A. Bryce ') in the air with tracer fire from a Thompson.
Elmer Keith called McGivern, 'the fastest and finest double-action revolver shot that ever lived and probably ever will. ' Though McGivern is best known for his speed shooting, he was capable of various other feats, such as hitting multiple aerial targets using a revolver in each hand, and progressively shooting 'moon phase ' chunks out of dime-sized lead discs thrown into the air. On Jan. 23, 1934, McGivern set a seemingly insurmountable record for speed when he shot five rounds double-action into a playing card at 18 feet in just 2/5 of a second. On another occasion, Ed shot five rounds into a group the size of a half dollar at 50 feet in less than half a second.
The husband and wife team of Adolf and Elizabeth Toepperwein worked as exhibition shooters for Winchester for more than 40 years. Among his shooting accolades, Adolf hit 14,540 straight hand-thrown 2 ½-inch blocks without a miss. Elizabeth broke 967 out of 1000 aerial clay targets — with a .22 rifle. She was also the first woman to shoot at the Grand American trap tournament, shooting 100 straight targets more than 200 times in her career.
Probably the best all-around shooter alive, Jerry Miculek
holds five world records for revolver shooting: six shots from 10 different revolvers in 17.12 seconds; fire six shots, reload, fire six shots in 2.99 seconds; fire eight shots into a single target in 1 second; fire eight shots from a revolver onto four targets in 1.06 seconds. Jerry's list of championships and shooting accolades is far too extensive to mention, but he remains the man to beat in any competition he enters.
An expert in aerial rifle shooting and one of the world's best with a slingshot, Huffer used a stack of Ruger 10/22 rifles to hit 40,060 straight 2 ½-inch hand-thrown wooden blocks. This amazing feat took eight days to complete.
'The Shooting Star ' was the best-known shotgun exhibition shooter in recent history — perhaps ever. Tom held three world records: throwing nine clays in the air and shooting them individually before they hit the ground; throwing and hitting eight clay targets with a pump-action shotgun in 1.87 seconds; and in 2004, throwing and hitting 10 clay targets in the air in 2.2 seconds. Tom's personality, showmanship, and amazing shooting ability made him a fan favorite.
As a Winchester-sponsored exhibition shooter for more than 30 years, Herb "The Showman Shooter" Parsons was one of the greats of the exhibition shooting world. The Tennessee native was an outstanding aerial shot as well as an award winning duck caller, a Hollywood consultant, and even a WWII gunnery instructor. Parsons' career was inspired by none other than Ad Topperwein and he went on to become Ad's protege in later years. The consummate showman as well as a serious competitor, Herb won the Grand American trap shoot and would commonly break seven hand-thrown clays before they hit the ground. One of Herb's most impressive show shots was putting a rifle bullet through a washer thrown in the air- he would put a postage stamp over the hole to prove he'd threaded the hole successfully. Herb was truly an exhibition shooter and not a "trick" shooter, there was nothing fake about his feats of marksmanship.
Photo credit: Showman Shooter