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Will a Sharkbite connector still work if I have only a half of an inch of copper that it will connect to instead of the recommended 1 inch?

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No. You will need about 1 inch. It will hit the stop at about 1 inch and slightly (very slightly) pull out after it hits the stop. This is something that you don't want to mess with because if you don't have the correct length the bite action won't take. Good thing is unlike a bad solder job on copper you will notice that you didn't hit the stop right away.

Instructions here.

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In a beautiful flood of water instead of an annoying bucket catchable drip... Right away, heh! – Fiasco Labs Jul 22 '14 at 14:35

No you need at least 1in to have it properly fit and seal.

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Although not directly answering about the sharkbite I have used compression fittings on 1/2 inch of exposed copper (actually from where our copper piping was stolen out of the walls) with success.

They aren't the best long term solution but they will get you by.

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