Through professional affiliations, firearm manufacturers and women sharpshooters marketed shooting sports as appropriate, healthful, and fashionable pastimes for Progressive-era white women. In pursuit of this burgeoning consumer group, competing gun companies capitalized on their sharpshooters’ skills, appearances, and marketing acumen to sell not just guns, but the notion of an American markswoman. This essay seeks to define the performance modes and conditions by which women shooting promoters endorsed trapshooting, and by extension gun ownership, to other white women, as part of a comprehensive push by the early 1900s firearm industry to sell guns to civilians. Further, the essay will contend that gun companies ensured that their promotional efforts targeted the “right” consumers by affiliating with white, married shooters. As such, racial whiteness and normative femininity operated as non-negotiable conditions for women shooting promoters. To illustrate these assertions, the essay considers the careers of two sharpshooters whose professional affiliations with gun and ammunition manufacturers were enduring or well-documented: Mrs. Saxon of Ithaca fame, and Mrs. Adolph Topperwein, who for decades promoted Winchester firearms and Dead Shot smokeless powder.


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pp. 511-532
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