The girl picked up the rifle, it was a Repeater that belonged to her dad. She pointed it in the general direction of the empty whiskey bottle that she had set on the fence post. She fired three times and the bottle, unscathed, mocked her. Setting the rifle down she snatched her daddy’s revolver and fired off three more shots. She could almost hear the bottle laughing at her now.
It wasn’t the bottle laughing though, it was Henry, standing behind her. Henry worked for her daddy and he was laughing at her.
“Henry Perkins, I’m gonna tell my daddy that you laughed at me and he’ll have your job. Is that what you want.”
“No Miss Ann, that’s not what I want at all. I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you. You just need a bit of instruction, that’s all.”
“And, you think you can instruct me how to shoot Henry? Is that what you think?”
“Yes ma’am, I do. Do you have more ammunition for those?” she nodded her head and kicked a bit of dust towards a couple boxes that sat on the ground near her. “Can I see that Winchester?”
She picked it up and handed it to him then stepped to the side. He raised the rifle, fired three shots and scarred the fence post directly below the bottle three times. He clucked his tongue and nodded his head before he handed the rifle back to her.
“The pistol?” he held out his hand and she gave it to him. He turned and faced the fence post holding the revolver loosely at his side. Shaking his shoulders he loosened up the raised the pistol and using the heel of his left hand he raked the hammer three times in rapid succession and put three additional scars on the post. They were neatly aligned in a row just below the ones he had made with the rifle. He spun the gun on his index finger and presented it back to her, butt first.
“Goddamn, Mr. Perkins,” she said as she took the proffered weapon from his hand, “that’s some fine shootin’! Can you teach me to do that?”
“I most certainly can, Miss Oakley. Anything can be taught to someone who wants to learn and is willing to practice. I reckon you want to learn.”
“I do, indeed, Mr. Perkins. I do indeed,” and that’ the story of how Miss Annie Oakley learned to shoot. She wasn’t always a sharpshooter. In fact, before Henry Perkins came along, she was aimless.