Skip to main content

Ken Beegle - A Fast & Fancy Shooting Artist

Ken Beegle - A Fast & Fancy Shooting Artist
The major gunmakers employed sharp-shooters for marketing purposes during the hey-day of exhibition shooting. One of those extraordinary shooters was Ken Beegle. Ken and his wife, Blanche, performed shooting shows all over the United States, primarily for Remington. Ken was best known for his bullet portraits, which he “drew” using a .22 rimfire rifle. I have one.
Being born in 1960, I never saw Ken per-form in person; however, I have watched a video clip of him on Fast and Fancy Shooters, a DVD I purchased years ago. Ken started exhibition shooting in 1925 and carried on for 35 years, retiring in 1960. He was an expert with rifles and shotguns. He taught Blanche to shoot, and she joined him in his shooting shows, often doing some shooting of her own. Her primary role, though, was to hold objects that Ken would shoot. She retired in 1958.

Like other famous exhibition shooters, the Beegles often travelled to military bases during the World War II era, inspiring and instructing the servicemen. After World War II, they continued to tour through-out the United States.

This excerpt from an article in the News-Chronicle of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, on September 28, 1954, gives a good description of their act.

“Ken Beegle, internationally famous marksman, drew a good crowd to the Shippensburg Fish and Game farm Saturday afternoon as he displayed the skill with rifle and shotgun that has made him so well known in shooting circles.

“Mr. Beegle left a little memento of his skill behind, shooting out a perfect Indian head with a .22 rifle that will be displayed in the window of Parr’s Sporting Goods store on South Earl Street. The Parr store sponsored the exhibition by Mr. and Mrs. Beegle, a husband-wife shooting team working for Remington Arms.

“Mrs. Beegle did only a little shooting herself, although that was enough to prove her skill at pop-ping off moving clay targets, but she showed her trust in her husband’s shooting ability by holding potatoes and bars of soap in her hand for him to shoot apart.

“Mr. Beegle showed the operation of every rifle and shotgun in the Remington line and amazed the spectators with his ability to shoot eggs, oranges, and other small objects down after they were thrown into the air. He called for baseball players to toss eggs high into the air, then hit them at the top of the throw.

“A heavy wind interfered at times with the exhibition, but not enough to spoil the show. Mr. Beegle accompanied the shooting with remarks on safe handling and operating of weapons that was designed to help both youngsters just starting to shoot and the experienced hunter.”

The bullet portrait I own was given to me by my old boss, Gil Hebard. It is the head of an Indian chief, and it was made by Ken at a shooting club not far from my hometown of Knoxville, Illinois, in the early 1950s. Reportedly, Ken would make these portraits at a distance of about 20 feet, and they were fired freehand, meaning no lines were drawn on the tin sheet. My portrait has 200 perfectly placed bullet holes in it.

Author and exhibition shooter Ernie Lind described how exhibition shooters made the bullet art. Here’s how it was done.

After setting the tin for the bullet drawing in place, the shooter, usually using a low stool anywhere from 10 to 20 feet in front of the tin, would sit with the rifle mounted and supported by the elbows resting on the knees. Normally, two or more rifles would be used. The shooter begins shooting, and as the bullet holes appear, an outline forms, and the shooting continues until the design is completed. The shooter makes informative and interesting comments, sometimes comical in nature, as the empty gun is passed to the assistant and exchanged for a loaded gun. The firing rate was normally one shot per 0.75 second or less.

According to some historians, Ken could draw a portrait such as this in less than two minutes. That sure is some fast and fancy shooting.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

James Tarr runs through the 3-Second Headshot drill.

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

We're taking a look at what the Army's Elite Units are using for service rifles and what the future of SOCOM sniping looks like.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Big bore semiauto or a lever gun? We look at the futuristic .450 Bushmaster and how it compares to the tried and true .45-70. ISS Prop House gives us the rundown on the guns used in Enemy at the Gate. We ping steel with a .300 WinMag at over a mile.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Cutting-edge projectiles provide unprecedented performance in the venerable old workhorse, the .30-06.Get the Most Out of the .30-06 Ammo

Get the Most Out of the .30-06

Joseph von Benedikt - April 01, 2019

Cutting-edge projectiles provide unprecedented performance in the venerable old workhorse, the...

Shooting Times editor Joel Hutchcroft provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day gifts.Shooting Times Father's Day 2019 Gift Guide Accessories

Shooting Times Father's Day 2019 Gift Guide

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 07, 2019

Shooting Times editor Joel Hutchcroft provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day...

While the 6mm-caliber cartridges that can be considered “great” are few in number, some have long and storied histories.12 Great 6mm Cartridges Ammo

12 Great 6mm Cartridges

Steve Gash - August 20, 2020

While the 6mm-caliber cartridges that can be considered “great” are few in number, some have...

Harvey A. Donaldson may be best known for his .219 Donaldson Wasp wildcat cartridge, but during his lifetime he was popularly called the “pioneer benchrester.”  Harvey Donaldson: Pioneer Benchrester Gunsmithing

Harvey Donaldson: Pioneer Benchrester

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 07, 2019

Harvey A. Donaldson may be best known for his .219 Donaldson Wasp wildcat cartridge, but...

See More Trending Articles

More Rifles

The new minimalist bolt-action rimfire rifles from Savage Arms are fun guns indeed.Savage Arms Minimalist Bolt-Action Rimfire Rifles Review Rifles

Savage Arms Minimalist Bolt-Action Rimfire Rifles Review

Steve Gash - September 29, 2020

The new minimalist bolt-action rimfire rifles from Savage Arms are fun guns indeed.

The Husqvarna AB. Mauser Series 1100 Deluxe features a European walnut stock, a non-military action, and a two-position  wing-type safety.Husqvarna AB. Mauser Series 1100 Deluxe Rifle Review Rifles

Husqvarna AB. Mauser Series 1100 Deluxe Rifle Review

Joseph von Benedikt - August 19, 2020

The Husqvarna AB. Mauser Series 1100 Deluxe features a European walnut stock, a non-military...

The Sako S20 hybrid rifle evolves with the owner, and it combines best-in-class versatility with superb accuracy.Sako S20 Hybrid Rifle Review Rifles

Sako S20 Hybrid Rifle Review

Joseph von Benedikt - September 04, 2020

The Sako S20 hybrid rifle evolves with the owner, and it combines best-in-class versatility...

Most shooters like a rifle with character, some history, and, to add spice, a little mystery. Lucile – for that is her name – has all three.Stevens Model 52 – Happy to Meet You, Lucile Rifles

Stevens Model 52 – Happy to Meet You, Lucile

Terry Wielan - August 10, 2020

Most shooters like a rifle with character, some history, and, to add spice, a little mystery....

See More Rifles

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Shooting Times App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Shooting Times subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now