Some things run in families. Adolph Toepperwein's papa was among the best Schützen marksman in central Texas. So it was just natural that young 'Top' proved a prodigy with rifle and revolver.
His skill as a marksman and trickshooter caught the attention of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and he was soon contracted to perform shooting exhibitions across the country. He was lauded far and wide for his creativity as much as his accuracy.
But it's only natural to want the admiration of your home folks, so he planned something special for his homecoming in 1907.
In December of that year, Top rolled into the San Antonio Fair Grounds. His mules were hauling one wagon load of .22 cartridges and another full of lumber. A team of sawmen set to work turning the later into 2 1/2 inch blocks.
Top announced that for each of the next ten days, he would fire at 5000 blocks thrown into the air. 50,000 blocks in all.
Decembers in San Antonio can be cold, wet and miserable. December of 1907 was of that variety. The atmosphere soaks into your clothes and then sinks into your joints and bones. Not the weather he would have chosen, but it would have to do.
Then there was the rifle, a Winchester Model 1903. It weighed in at six pounds. That doesn't sound like much, but try raising it to your shoulder 5000 times over the course of a day. Now do it for nine more days. OSHA would surely frown.
Top wore out his original three assistants and had to plead for fresh throwers. These new fellas seemed bent on adding a fresh twist to the shooter's ordeal, throwing the blocks like baseballs and putting odd spins on them.
Still, after two days, Top was way ahead of his daily quota and announced that he would keep shooting as long as he had ammo to load and wood to shoot at.
Folks scoured the city to keep him supplied with both. By the time he had fired the last .22 Winchester Auto cartridge in San Antonio, Top no longer had to raise the rifle to fire each shot. His arms were stuck at shoulder height.
The final tally showed that Top had fired at 72,500 blocks. He missed nine. There were runs of 14,560, 13,920 and 13,450 without a miss.
But Top may not have been the best shot in the family.
His wife, 'Plinky', was also under contract with Winchester for several years. She set an endurance record for trap shooting: 1952 out of 2000 targets in five hours. Annie Oakley caller her, "The greatest shot I've ever seen."
Top & Plinky