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Over the course of their relationship, Elvis Presley introduced Priscilla Presley to a number of his hobbies. He took her to the roller rink, bought them horses to ride, and taught her to fire a gun. Elvis had a collection of firearms and wanted Priscilla to learn to use them. Her first lesson went so poorly that the crowd of onlookers worried a stray bullet would hit someone.

Elvis Presley wanted Priscilla to know how to shoot a gun

Elvis and his entourage had a makeshift shooting range in the back of Graceland. The musician decided to use it to teach Priscilla to fire a gun.

“Then there was the time that Elvis decided Priscilla needed to learn how to shoot a gun,” Graceland maid Nancy Rooks wrote in her book Inside Graceland: Elvis’ Maid Remembers. “I don’t think she had ever fired one before, but that didn’t matter to Elvis. When he decided something needed to be done, it needed to be done right then and there.”

Rooks joined a crowd of people outside to watch Priscilla shoot. Upon reflection, she said she should have realized the lesson would go poorly.

“After deciding on the right one, a long barreled .45, he handed it to Priscilla, who almost dropped it due to its weight in her hand,” Rooks wrote. “We should have known then to move back a little.”

A black and white picture of Elvis Presley holding a gun. He sits in a car with the window rolled down.
Elvis Presley | Bettmann/Contributor via Getty

Elvis got Priscilla a smaller gun. She took it, closed her eyes, and took a shot that missed the mark by about three feet.

“It would not have been too bad if she had only fired one shot,” Rooks explained. “But she must have gone into a panic because she kept pulling the trigger, spraying the entire wall area, and again showering anyone within about thirty feet of where she was with brick particles. It was like a mass stampede as everyone scrambled back toward the house, trying to get out of the way of any future surprises.”

Everyone celebrated when they realized nobody was hurt

Elvis quickly took the gun from Priscilla, to the immense relief of the onlookers.

“Elvis immediately grabbed Priscilla’s hand and took the gun from her,” Rooks wrote. “A brief minute of dazed silence then erupted into a round of applause and hooting after we realized no one had been hit.”

Though this first lesson did not go over well, Rooks said that Priscilla eventually learned to shoot.

“To her credit, Priscilla did eventually conquer the art of the handgun, but not after ripping quite a few bullet holes in the old well house,” she wrote. “I can still see Priscilla firing and Red West standing behind her yelling, ‘Ten feet to the right!’ You can still see some of the missing chunks of brick and concrete that have long been painted over, as you exit the well house on the tour. Just turn around and look above the doorway as you exit the building.”

Priscilla Presley worried Elvis was too obsessed with guns

According to Rooks, Priscilla seemed nervous around guns even though she agreed to learn how to use them. Priscilla herself admitted that she found Elvis’ obsession with firearms concerning, particularly toward the end of his life.

A black and white picture of Elvis Presley sitting in a chair and holding a gun in one hand.
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“In the absence of any significant professional challenge, Elvis created his own real-life dramas,” she wrote in her book Elvis and Me. “His fascination with guns was now an obsession. He became paranoid over death threats, and from his association with the Memphis local police, he had access to a list of drug pushers. He felt he personally should get them off the streets.”

She was right to be concerned. Elvis once fired bullets into the TV, his toilet, and the headboard of the bed where his fiancée, Ginger Alden, was sleeping.