Her first biographer, Courtney Ryley Cooper, asked Oakley’s protégé, Johnny Baker, about it. Even though Baker was technically Annie’s rival, they were close friends. Here’s what he had to say:
The minute she picked up a rifle or a shotgun, it seemed that she made a machine of herself; every action went like clockwork. And how was a fellow to beat anybody like that?”
A few male sharpshooters should’ve been able to beat her, but they hardly ever managed it. They lost their nerve. Annie Oakley did not.
Tip: To perform under pressure, do what other sharpshooters do. Breathe deeply, take your mind off the situation (think about something else or make a joke), then just aim and shoot.
— Adapted from The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America, Larry McMurtry, Simon & Schuster.