Annie Oakley once told Plinky Topperwein that Plinky was the best shooter of all time. Annie wasn't kidding. Plinky held many firsts and world records in shooting during her 40-year career.
Plinky was born Elizabeth Servanty in 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut. At 18, Plinky worked at the Winchester plant loading ammunition when she met Adolph P. Topperwein. "Ad", or "Top", as he was commonly called was a sponsored shooter by Winchester and was touring the plant when he met Plinky where they exchanged a few words. They later met at a park in New Haven and weeks later were married.
Even though she had worked at the Winchester factory, Plinky had never shot a gun in her life. Ad said, "Most women were scared of guns in those days…", so he felt lucky when Plinky agreed to shooting lessons. During these lessons, Plinky would shoot at tin cans thrown up in the air and when she hit one she would say, "I plinked it." And so her nickname was born. After just a week of shooting lessons with Ad, Plinky was splitting playing cards held edgewise at 25'. In 1904, Plinky made her first shooting depute at the St. Louis World Fair. She had been shooting for less than 3 months. It was that same year that she joined the Winchester Trap Shooting Touring Team.
1904 was the year of many firsts for Plinky. Her team broke the existing world's record in trapshooting by breaking 490 out of 500 clays, with Plinky doing 96 out of 100 herself. It was also in this year that Plinky became the first women ever to break 100 clays straight while shooting trap.
Those weren't her only firsts! Shooting a .30-06, Plinky was the first United States female to qualify as a National Marksman with a Military Rifle. Also, she broke an endurance record in 1916 by breaking 1,952 of 2,000 targets in 5 hours 20 minutes. Plinky, holding a 7-1/2 lb. gun, never took a break. It is said that Plinky's gun got so hot that ice water had to be poured over it.
Plinky and Ad also performed trick shooting. Plinky could shoot 1" pieces of chalk from Ad's hand and the pair liked to shoot standing on their heads and lying down.
Plinky retired from shooting professionally in 1920 when she gave birth to her only son. Plinky passed away in 1945 and is buried in the Mission Burial Park in San Antonio, Texas.
Plinky got her due respect in 1969 when she was inducted into the Trapshooting Hall of Fame. She was part of the very first group of inductees.
Plinky Topperwein clearly shot like a girl!