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“Billy Hill, The Man Who Outshot Annie Oakley” now at OSHM

Billy Hill, the man who outshot Annie Oakley.

OQUOSSOC - On Saturday June 16 the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum premiered a new exhibit entitled, “Billy Hill, The Man Who Outshot Annie Oakley”.

The once bell hop at the Rangeley Lake House was a self-taught trick shot artist who went on to national fame after besting the then world-famous Annie Oakley in an impromptu competition held in Rangeley. Billy was working as a bellman at Rangeley Lake House and his friends after learning that the famous Annie would was in town while touring Maine for Remington Arms and arranged a contest. The two shot glass target balls thrown into the air using a .22 rifle, not shotguns. At the end of the day Oakley had busted 88 out of 100, but local boy Hill…had broken 99.

It is odd that the then famous scribe Cornelia Fly Rod Crosby, who was covering her friend Annie’s visit, failed to share the news of her defeat in her column in the Phillips Phonograph? Maybe this was done intentionally to help her famous friend save a little face, but word of Hill’s triumph got out anyway. Oakley however was very impressed with Hill’s marksmanship and told her bosses at Remington that they should hire him, which they did on her recommendation. Hill went on to a long career with the company and was a star attraction traveled putting on shooting exhibitions for large crowds. Hills other talents included wildlife and decoy carving, taxidermy as well as painting landscapes in watercolors and oils. Examples of his Art, trophies, firearms and personal items will be on display in the new exhibit that will run through the remainder of the 2018 season.

The Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Oquossoc opened earlier this spring and its clear to see the winter season was not spent watching the snow fall. Just since May 2nd opening, the staff has opened three new exhibits, added several interesting artifacts to existing displays and they seem to plan on slowing down anytime soon. The new Billy Hill exhibit joins the recently opened exhibits; “Treasures of Upper Dam House”, “Vintage Maine Lures” and “19th Century Rangeley in 3D” which features a sampling of vintage 19th century stereo-view photographs projected on a large screen TV and viewed with 3D glasses. The popular museum was included in Downeast Magazine’s Maine Scavenger Hunt this summer.

“We are having a lot of fun presenting these new exhibits and we are excited about the other projects we are putting together both here, and at our Rangeley History Museum in downtown’, shared Historical Society Executive Director, Bill Pierce. “Every weekend through July there is either a new exhibit opening or a roster of fun events in store,"added Pierce.

The Rangeley Lakes Historical Society is a 501c3 Non-profit operating the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Oquossoc and the Rangeley History Museum in downtown Rangeley preserving and sharing the region’s iconic history. The Society’s programs and exhibits celebrate the region’s unique character and heritage through the dedication of its volunteers, generosity of its membership and private foundations, without tax-payer support. For more information, please call: 864-3091

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3 Responses »

  1. I would ask you do a little more research on the photo. I believe the man holding the shotgun is not Billy Hill, but my grandfather, Walter W Woodbury of Brunswick. Billy and my grandfather put on shows all over New England for Remington, Billy with a .22 and my grandfather with the shotgun with a very similar outline as the one shown in this photo. I have a photo of him holding that same model shotgun. I don't believe they infringed on each other's specialty.

    When I was about 8-9 years old, at the end of WW2, Billy and my grandfather put on an exhibition in Bowdoinham. This is very near the end of their retirements. My grandfather had told me about a trick shot Billy used to do and I asked him to ask Billy to do the shot. At the end of their demonstration, Billy said Walter's grandson had asked him to do a trick shot he hadn't attempted in years. He said he would try it, with no guarantees. He put a .22 rifle on his hip, ejector side up. My grandfather threw up a 2-inch wooden cube. Billy fired from the hip, hit it, pivoted, fired again, and hit the empty shell ejected from the first shot. The only other person I ever found who also witnessed that shot was Bud Leavitt, former sports editor of the Bangor Daily News.

    Billy's brother, who owned the Ford car dealership in Waterville prior to urban renewal and whose first name I forget (c'mon-I'm 80) gave me one of Billy's trophies. I would be happy to donate it to the Rangeley Museum if it would like to have it.

  2. Wow, what a story Bob!! Very thoughtful of you to donate Billy's Trophy.

  3. Hi Mr. Woodbury,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful comments on Billy and your grandfather. The photo in question came from Remington's official archive of their Trick Shot Specialists and was labeled as Billy Hill , so your info is a revelation to many. I will have to contact Remington to see if we can clear it up. If you have a photo of your grandfather and some background info on him thet would help as well. Your account of the two working together was great as well. We do know that Billy also did exhibitions of shotgun trick shooting as well. We have a large company promo shot of Billy in his official Remington finery holding a 12 Ga. O/U that is also in the exhibit so his mastery of their products and his demos did include trick shots with shotguns. But we will make sure of the proper ID. They must have looked very much a like indeed.
    Regarding the trophy, ABSOLUTELY YES PLEASE. and we wpuld also like to add a printed account of the ahot you witnessed as well.
    Please email me at wapierce1@gmail.com or call 864-3091.
    Thank you,
    Bill Pierce, Ex. Dir. RLRHS

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