Phoebe Ann Moses was one. Born in a log cabin in Darke County, Ohio, she showed early talent with rifles when she started killing quail on the wing with a .22.
At a local turkey shoot she beat not just the local boys, but visiting sharpshooter Frank Butler. She was 15. Frank married her within the year.
She joined his traveling show under the stage name Annie Oakley, shooting tossed glass balls. Petite at 100 pounds, Annie had the endurance to hit 943 of 1,000. She’d cut one ragged hole in a playing card with 25 shots from a .22 rifle – in 25 seconds.
Once she shot a cigarette from the lips of a German crown prince. After he became Kaiser Wilhelm II and Europe entered the Great War, Annie allowed that with a flinch she might have altered world history.
Not long thereafter, a lanky Texan named Ad Topperwein began entertaining. He left audiences agape by shooting aerial targets as small as a steel washer. When the washer showed no reaction to a shot, Ad would turn to the crowd and deadpan that the bullet went through the hole.
Hecklers jeered – until Ad stuck a postage stamp over the washer, tossed it again and perforated the stamp with a .22 bullet. In 1894 he shattered 955 of 1,000 air-borne 2 ¼-inch disks.
Dissatisfied, he repeated, busting 987 and 989. It was said Ad could hit the bullet of a tossed .32-20 cartridge without tearing the case. In 1907 at San Antonio’s fairgrounds, he uncrated 10 Winchester 1903 self-loading .22s, tens of thousands of rounds of ammo and as many wooden blocks.
He endured 120 hours of firing before calling a halt. He’d fired at 72,500 blocks and missed nine. His longest run of hits: 14,500 straight!
The .22 Short once common at booths on the “midways” of state fairs is about gone. Winchester’s 1890 pump rifle, then a staple in shooting galleries, has become collectible. The mild BB and CB (Bullet Breech and Conical Bullet) Cap cartridges peddled as pest ammo in those days have faded away, too.
The .22 Long, with a 29-grain Short bullet in a Long Rifle case, never caught on. But the Long Rifle steams ahead, as popular as ever. The best target loads can deliver half-minute accuracy. High-velocity hunting bullets give you 90-yard point-blank range with a 75-yard zero. Bullets strike about an inch high at 50 and 3 inches low at 100.
I once shot a crow at a paced 145 yards. It must have been the bird’s day to die, as I was shooting a lightweight lever rifle with iron sights.
Sometimes a .22 is just shy of magic.
Customize the Ruger 10/22
The Ruger 10/22 is one of the most common firearms in use today. Now, you can learn budget-savvy tips for customizing your favorite little rifle with aftermarket add-ons.
Customize The Ruger 10/22 is the perfect guide for shooters with a do-it-yourself spirit.
Pages: 1 2
About the Author: Wayne van Zwoll is a regular contributor to the Gun Digest annual, and author of the Gun Digest Book of Sporting optics. He is a nationally-recognized expert on rifles, optics and western hunting.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.