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Earlier this month, National and World Champion Hardy Ward passed away. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him, especially his archery family.
Ward, born in Texas in 1949, represented the U.S. at the 1967 and 1969 World Championships after winning his first National Champion title at age 16 in 1966. At his World Championship debut, Ward won individual bronze and team gold. In '69, Ward shot the world's first 1220 FITA and took individual and team gold.
That same year, Sports Illustrated created a beautiful profile on the talented young archer, saying: "Hardy Ward shoots with some of the crookedest fingers and straightest arrows in the world of archery."
Hardy first picked up archer at age 5 when his parents bought him a $6 bow for his birthday. Until age 12, he only practiced in his backyard, shooting milk cartons and small animals in local fields. His father recalled to SI: "'We didn't have any idea how good he was, so we all piled into the car and took him to a tournament in Arkansas to find out.'" Ward shot a new national record and quickly joined the competition circuit.
Earl Hoyt had recalled Ward was the first archer to win a national title with a clicker on his bow. He was always ahead of the game in archery technology. He was a pioneer in creating materials for the tennis and archery industries. At one time, his company "Waco" produced the majority of all archery metal products used globally, including products for Easton and Bemen.
When modern archery was added back to the Olympic program in 1972, Ward missed making the U.S. team following injuries before and during the Trials. Ward was part of the Army's gifted athlete training program along with his teammates who went on to compete at the Games - Ed Eliason and John Williams.
Ward eventually got into coaching archery and developing revolutionary coaching methodology. He dedicated so much of his life to growing archery at the grassroots level and developing incredible archers that shared his passion for the sport.
One of Ward's best friends, Skip Trafford, commented: "Hardy Ward was without a doubt America's most talented all round archer. His experience touched on every point of the archery compass. He reminds me of the proverbial blind men and the elephant. He had Jay's turn-on-a-dime switch from humor to the X zone, Ed's never-say-die competitiveness, Darrel's no nonsense focus on success, Earl's bowyer & engineering knowledge, Rob's business savvy, Ann's determination, Vic's competitive longevity, Dick's coaching eye, Tom's float all boats determination and Don's attention to detail.
"Hardy was my dear friend of almost 50 years. He was not only my Best Man but my son's namesake. He was an Eagle Scout, a proud member of our nation's honor guard in Arlington Cemetery and a devout patriot. I was in touch with Hardy right up to the final hours of his passing. My family and I loved him like the brother and godfather he was to my wife and I and our four kids. The global archery community lost a huge pioneer with his passing."
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