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The last few days have seen great heartbreak in the archery community as longstanding legends Ann Clark and Tom Barker passed away. USA Archery is grateful for the incredible contributions Clark and Barker made to growing and promoting the sport of archery and celebrates their achievements. Our hearts and deepest condolences are with all who knew or shared the archery passions of Ann and Tom.
Ann Clark began her impressive archery career in 1955 and was a natural. She enjoyed shooting with her husband and decided to compete at the National Archery Association (now USA Archery) Championship and won first place that year. After placing third in 1957, Clark qualified for the U.S. team for the World Championships in Prague, where she won silver. Until that year, no other team had ever won full podium sweeps in both the men's and women's events. Clark again won the National Champion title in 1960 and was National Field Champion in the freestyle division in 1961.
Clark dedicated much of her life to growing and promoting the sport of archery and was instrumental in the creation of USA Archery's Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) Program. In 1987, she was awarded USA Archery's second ever JOAD award for her contributions and tireless efforts to increase and improve youth archery opportunities.
Executive Director of the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum Diane Miller was a longtime friend and colleague of Clark. Miller shared: "I met Ann back in 1969. I knew then she was a very special lady. She was fun to be around, she wasn't afraid to speak her mind and if she thought she was right she would go to the ends of the earth to prove it."
Miller added: "Ann spent her lifetime promoting the sport she loved so deeply. No one had more passion for the sport than she and it showed every day of her life. Probably the only thing she loved more than archery was her family. I am sure right now she is busy greeting old friends and catching up on a lot of stories."
Tom Barker was also a recipient of the JOAD award in 2016. Barker began his archery adventure when his son was 8 years old and showed an interest in the sport. Like any supportive father, Barker read and learned everything he could about the sport and a year later his daughter joined them in shooting. They did well competitively, but Barker shared that what was most meaningful to him was that "archery was the perfect conduit for teaching life skills to my children and eventually to other children."
Barker founded the South Texas JOAD club and coached archers to 36 international podium finishes, 50 National Championship events, 17 USAT teams and 10 world records. Instrumental in the Texas State Archery Association, Barker was also honored as USA Archery's Volunteer Coach of the Year in 2006.
Skip Trafford, the father of a very successful archery family and best friend of Barker shared: "Tom Barker - like Earl Hoyt - was the epitome of the best in us all. Son of a decorated fighter pilot, he was a devout Christian family man who lived his life by example; highly successful chemical engineer, NCAA champion pitcher, JOAD coach extraordinaire and innovative inventor/thinker for kids with physical and mentally challenging opportunities were just a few of his many attributes. If ever a man was the model for Rudyard Kipling's "IF", it was Tom. I never met a finer man. He always saw the good in everyone he met and those of us who knew Tom were the better for it. All of archery is saddened for losing him so soon but heaven is surely a better place with Tom in it."
USA Archery also sends our regrets across the pond as the archery world said goodbye this past week to Italian archer, coach and famed bow maker, Gianni Bernardini.
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