Firearm design started to really improve in the late 1800s and gun enthusiasts will debate for eternity what model of gun was the "gun that won the west." True West Magazine wrote a great piece that covers twenty-two of the most influential rifles and pistols that helped shape early pioneer history. In those wild days, guns were a vital tool for acquiring food and for protection.  Oftentimes, firearms were your first, last, and/or only form of justice.

Men weren't the only characters in US history that were well-versed in firearm use. There are some notable women that knew how to shoot very well, too. Some would argue they could outshoot most men.

1. Annie Oakley. Annie had a rough early childhood, first losing her dad then her step-dad to illnesses. Not exactly uncommon in those days. Womenshistory.org says that Annie started shooting game at the age of 8 which she sold to area restaurants to help provide money for her family. Her sharpshooting skills were discovered when she competed against a gentleman named Frank Butler and won. Frank became her husband and they soon were traveling the country together showing off their shooting skills in the popular Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

2. Calamity Jane. Many historians doubt large portions of Calamity Jane's self-proclaimed exploits, but this western icon certainly knew how to use a firearm. Jane spent a short time living in Montana, as we covered in this story written on her birthday this year.

3. Mary Fields. Aka "Stagecoach Mary" was an original Montana badass. Born a slave, she was emancipated at age 30 and ended up living and working in Montana. Her reputation for toughness is legendary and you can bet that Stagecoach Mary certainly knew how to use her weapons. History.com said,

Would-be mail thieves didn’t stand a chance against Stagecoach Mary. The hard-drinking, quick-shooting mail carrier sported two guns and men’s clothing.

4. Bonnie Parker. If you don't recognize the name, try saying "Bonnie and Clyde." Bonnie met Clyde in 1930 when she was 19 and he was 21. Their crime spree began a couple of years later and it was a real doozy. The FBI says they were responsible for at least 13 murders and several robberies and burglaries. We all know how their story ends... in a car full of bullet holes.

5. Captain Linda Bray. In 1989, Linda became the first woman to command US troops into battle, leading the 988th Military Police Company in Panama. Army Times called her leadership,

A trailblazing role that launched a reflection about women in the military.

Enter our Girls with Guns Contest! One lucky Hawk lady could win a Traeger Tailgator Grill and a $500 Gift Card at Black Butte Range. You must have the Hawk Mobile app to enter. Full details HERE.

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