The Rifleman (1958–1963)
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The Sharpshooter 

Lucas is ordered by a murderous town owner to loose a public shooting match, or he will kill his sharpshooting opponent and possibly harm his son Mark.




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Episode complete credited cast:
Mickey Simpson ...
Carl Lamprey
Kathleen Mulqueen ...
Nancy Hanavan
Virginia Aldridge ...


Lucas and Mark McCain ride into the town of Northfork with the hope of buying a ranch and settling down. A shooting match is being held and the prize money could help pay for the ranch...but Jim Lewis, the man who 'runs' Northfork, doesn't want Lucas to win. Written by tomtrekp

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Family | Western




Release Date:

30 September 1958 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of only three episodes that Paul Fix appears in the show, but is not listed in the credits: In Smoke Screen (1960) & Eight Hours to Die (1958) he appears as Marshal Micah Torrance. He also appears in the Sharpshooter (1958) as the "Doctor" and is uncredited. See more »


Lucas is wearing the hat that he wears throughout the series in the opening scene of Sharpshooter. However, in the other scenes, he has a different hat on. See more »


[first lines]
Wes Tippert: Keep your mouth shut. I'll do the talkin'.
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Crazy Credits

Chuck Connors breaks the 4th wall in the opening credits after he shoots his riffle and then stares into the camera. See more »

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User Reviews

Fine First Episode of a Fine, Fine TV Series
6 June 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Yesterday, I happened to flick on my TV and ran across a re-play of this episode of The Rifleman. After a few minutes, I realized, to my astonishment, and serendipitous pleasure, that I had just walked in within the first few minutes of the very first episode of this wonderful series. I watched the rest of the 1/2 hour show and was wholly delighted.

And then just had to look this up on IMDb. The synopsis was accurate, and the comment of my predecessor, theseekerhp, was "right on". I feel honored and grateful to add my own homage to that of my predecessor.

I was born in 1954, and watched the series when I was probably about 7 or 8 years old. I loved it, and Lucas McCain, and Mark, became etched into my memory. That opening logo, with the sparse scenery, enormous boulder and Luke taking an aggressive stance with that amazing adapted Winchester rifle, have become part of my mind's eye view of the great Tales of the American West.

All of the key features of The Rifleman are present in that very first episode. That includes, pace theseekerhp, the relationship between Lucas and Mark. Their father - son relationship is of course a core feature of the series. It is the fundamental distinctive of The Rifleman's place in the lore of the Western story.

Each episode of The Rifleman was, as it had to be, a fast glimpse of a very strongly etched story line. You only got the very briefest glimpse of the story; but there were surprising complexities that suggested much more reaching beyond the horizon of the 1/2 hour quick-n-dirty script. The first episode is no different in that regard. I can remember sometimes coming away from a Rifleman show feeling like something was missing. No wonder: there were things not said, things not shown, things "over there" beyond the craggy horizon. I frankly didn't know that Sam Peckinpah was the creator of The Rifleman; but now that I know, that sure explains so much in this regard.

One thing about Lucas and Mark. Their relationship was in some ways much "tougher" than that of other classic father-son relationships: compare Andy Griffith and Opie, or Father Knows Best. Lucas, we know from the series, had a rough past; and he retained in his present some very, very rough features. The tough guy with a heart-of-gold is a classic figure, perfected in the Western by John Wayne. But this wasn't really Lucas McCain. Lucas is a Peckinpah male, an American Western man's man, and although we see in this very first episode his open love for his son, we also see a very rough man perfectly capable of naming names and kicking butt. This side of Lucas was never far from the surface and we see it again and again in the series. And it's a part of the kind of man that Lucas is seeking to help rear in Mark. Lucan McCain is not Mr Mom. Yet the father-son relationship that he brings us has truly become a classic and remains classic to my memory as well.

Thanks, Sam Peckinpah, for bringing Lucas McCain and his son to the town of Northfork in this very first episode; and for allowing us to be their guests at Northfork over the years.

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