Straight Talk Interview: Ann Clark – Part II

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Continued from Part I 

FA:  Was there an Ann Clark signature shot?

I was a pioneer for the development of ladies bows. Fred Bear designed a Fred Bear special for me but no signature bow was produced.

I was a pioneer and spokesperson in the industry to bring attention to the women. Not just women but also to youth who were unable to shoot the bows that were on the market. The first in the industry to cater to women and youth for bows designed for their size and weight, Hoyt Archery, Ben Pearson and Bear Archery were the first to develop a ladies youth bow. Today we have the Geneses by Matthews Archery and who have opened the market to a whole new generation.

FA:  What was the toughest shot you ever made in front of an audience?

Shooting left handed between 2 TV cameras to break a balloon. I am right handed but I hit the target.   Due to an accident, I was forced to shoot left handed performing at the St. Paul Minnesota Sports Show. A local TV station wanted me to break a balloon situated between two TV cameras mounted on bales in an audience participation program. It never entered my mind a negative thought. They wanted a picture of my shot coming into the camera. My shot was perfect. Mission accomplished.

Appearing on live TV in Chicago, the Bozo Show, a prop was lost. My assistant, Frank Delaney, from the Chicago Sports Show picked up a lighted birthday candle and held it in the palm of this hand. Frank never doubted that I could do it. So all I could do was show his confidence in me and shoot out the flame of the candle while he held it in his hand. Once again, mission accomplished. I was very proud of myself and of Frank Delaney.

FA:  During what years were you traveling doing shows?

1955 – 1988      

I began doing shows in 1955 at a local sports show in
Cincinnati. I did numerous local shows in my home town driving 6 penny nails into a target for the Kiwanis Clubs and various other associations.

I was contacted by a theatrical agent, William Schilling, from New York and also Barns and Carruthers from Chicago who had seen me shoot in Cincinnati. Soon I was a well sought after novelty act appearing in shows all over the US and in Canada. I retired in 1988 from show business.

I continue to do local shows and seminars that often included long time Hall of Famer George Helwig, now deceased and Olympic champion Darrel Pace both Cincinnatians. Darrel later moved to Hamilton Ohio a short distance away.

FA:  Who made your stage costumes?

I designed my stage costumes as I sat in a tree stand or ground blind waiting for my white tail to come in.

 

Another show and the costumes get more alluring

 

FA:  What are some of your awards, recognitions and achievements in archery?

I have received many awards and accolades but none to exceed my first National Target Championship in 1955 shooting with Ann Weber Corby, already a legend, who later became Ann Weber Hoyt.

We towed the mark in adverse weather, high winds, and rain, all that goes with it. A stop watch was put on me for taking too much time but not on Ann Corby. We both waited until the wind died down to make our shot. After four days of intense competition, I finally won the championship, a dark horse from Cincinnati. Both Ann Clark and Ann Hoyt were both fierce competitors and became life long friends.

Ann Clark with lifetime friend Ann Hoyt – 1979

 

My National Archery Association Dallon medals are among my most prized possessions, along with World and National and special presentation Medallions.

1957 had me shooting the first 1100 FITA round shot in competition. I was leader of the first team representing the US in world competition. We went to Prague Czechoslovakia. It was during the reign of Karusckik. The Czk’s held us on their shoulders and welcomed us to their country. Betty Schmidt was second member of the team and team manager. The US was unable to afford a team manager. Betty agreed to shoot and spent many hours taking notes and representing the US as manager and was still able to compete and Place 3rd in the World Competition.  

Our gentlemen were Joe Fries and Sylvester Chessman. Later two others joined our team with expenses paid by themselves, OK Smathers and Carol Meinhart. I started the 70 meters breaking the world record. It’s hard to say how or why but the US team lost ground to Carol Meinhart and OK Smathers. The leaders later arrived to the team, Ann Clark and Joe Fries, placed second. Our six person first world team won all events for both men and women, 1, 2, and 3 setting a record that has never been broken.

Due to the excessive time it took us to shoot our arrows, The National Archery Association set a time limit for each archer to shoot their arrows. The rule has been in effect since 1955.

Both Ann’s also set the beginning of dress code for contestants. The ladies were no longer permitted to shoot in Halter tops. All archers must wear shoes. No more bare feet.

FA:  Ever met Howard Hill?

I met Howard Hill so many years ago only in a casual greeting.  At the time he had just written “Hunting “The Hard Way.”  My husband Jack Clark and I were still in the business and owned The Archery Supply Center.  Howard’s book brought much notoriety to the sport, as did his film on “Timbo” to the general public, but hurt the sale of bows to legitimate dealers and potential archers.  

All beginners who came into the store wanted a 100 pound bow as suggested in the book Hunting the Hard Way. We kept a 65 pound Bear Grizzly strung for these potential “Howard Hills” to attempt to pull the bow only to realize they could not.  Many a customer was lost because of the heavy bow image, hence many sales were lost as well as a future archer.

It was Howard who put the bow and arrow on the screen and put on countless exhibitions and taught Dale Marcy to continue shooting coins out of the air.  Dale Marcy and Ben Pearson taught me Showmanship and the best way to present Archery to the Public.  Possibly Howard Hill showed them the errors that could be made being a public figure.  It taught me honesty and the legitimate love of the sport of Archery.

FA:  What did you think about Fred Bear?  

Fred Bear was my first real archery hero. He is forever my inspiration and constant companion on every hunt I have ever made even after his demise. He was a gentleman who knew how to treat a lady on and off the field, he was comfortable in any situation and he was a master story teller. I miss Fred, his wit, his knowledge, his expertise in the archery industry to this day.

Jim Dougherty, years later became my second hero and remains number one in my book of archery’s great hunters and knowledgeable writers of our sport. He is so special as a friend and helper in the business of Ben Pearson Archery promoting our sport and the Company we represented. I am forever grateful for his expertise and all the Retail shops he helped me to promote.

FA:  I heard you have some items displayed honoring “Women in Sports”. Tell us about this…..

My bows along with daughter Debbie’s were requested along with other paraphernalia to be on display at the Smithsonian’s new addition, “Professional Women in Sports”.

My daughter Debbie was the youngest person to represent the US in  World Competition, she was 15 years old. She traveled to Helsinki, Finland to compete. Later she did Sport Shows with me and on her own. We are the only mother – daughter team to represent the US in World Competition. Myself in 1957 to Prague and Debbie in 1963 to Helinski.

Ann with daughter Debbie



Debbie my daughter placed 7th in the World in 1963. I was unable to attend the tournament with Debbie as I was shooting a Professional Archers Association Tournament in California. It was the second of two tournaments where the sponsors did not have the money to pay the champions. The stress of both tournaments, Debbie in Helsinki and me in California put a lot of stress on us. Imagine having your 15 year old in a foreign country without the comfort of her mother. Thankfully George Helwig, our friend from Cincinnati, was the team Captain and acted as her guardian and confidant.

Ann’s first PAA Tournament



I was very pleased and honored also very humbled that the PAA, “Professional Archers Association” chose me as the Ultimate Professional to represent Archery in this prestigious museum. I have all the early correspondence from the Smithsonian. I trust this display will continue for the interest and future of our sport of Archery.

FA:  Was the Lady Diana’s your group? Tell us about how this group came about.

No just a big part of my life.

After the tournament at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas where I was a referee, we enjoyed a friendly dinner and get together. Marilyn Nicholas – Starlight Archery, mentioned to Bob Eastman of Game Tracker that he should consider an all ladies hunt. She was a proprietor of several archery lanes in the State of Michigan.

Many men hunters were invited to the Eastman camp for a week end of deer hunting for excellent sales and hunting achievements from their retail shops.

As promoter of his products, George Gardner, a very successful salesman and promoter of The Game Tracker, stepped up and saw the potential of an all ladies hunt and encouraged Bob to seriously consider this. At the time, 1987, I was a major promoter of the sport of archery and very much in demand as an exhibition shooter and knew many media, radio and TV personalities. I had hunted Bob’s Ten’s or Better Hunting Camp in West Branch, Michigan and encouraged him to try this adventure.

Bob and I did our morning walk in Las Vegas – shook hands if I would take charge of invitees, making sure all would be either writers or personalities to write about. In all 14 were invited – all expenses paid.

They are listed here & why!

 

The Diana’s – Women Bowhunters break the mould and Ann is first in line


Peggy Barcak, Outdoor writer, Pope & Young Trophy Bowhunter
Jan C Bobseine, Outdoor writer, Champion Turkey Caller & bowhunter
Carol Borg, friend of Bob Eastman and noted bowhunter
Patty Brady, new bowhunter representing Michigan Outdoor, Archery World Magazine
Cathy Beutler, Relatively new bowhunter representing Michigan Outdoors TV Series and associate producer Fred Troast
Loralei Delaney, International Dog Trainer, Sport Show Personality and member of Olympic Shooting Sports, Hall of Fame Trap Shooter and accomplished bowhunter and taxidermist
Jean Dunn (now Jean Richman) Outdoor writer accomplished hunter and tournament archer
Ann Hoyt, Archery Hall of Fame, most famous female archer of all time, a bowhunter with many species to her credit. Tournament archer has won many awards
Donna Klutz, Buyer JW Murchison. New hunter
Marilyn Nicholas, Owner/Operator Archery Pro Shops
Kay L. Richey, Outdoor writer, all round hunter
Vickie Snyder, Outdoor Magazine Owner/Writer
Betty Walker, Western Bowhunter Magazine, California Hall of Fame
Ann Clark, coordinator of hunt, Archery Hall of Fame, national coach and referee, world team record, sport show attractions, bowhunter.

FA:  Where have you hunted with the Diana’s?

Michigan, Ohio, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New York, Nebraska, Alabama, Texas, Florida and Illinois.

The Diana’s have hunted 13 states, Michigan more than once. We were accepted in every state and enjoyed many news, radio and media presentations  from the Department of Resources to local archery clubs and schools where we gave demonstrations for local TV programs teaching and answering questions which led to publicity for Archery and women in the field.

Game was harvested from 8 states. Most outstanding was Ann Hoyt’s Pope and Young Antelope in Wyoming and Ann Clark’s Wild Boar in Florida.

FA:  How long have you & Ann Hoyt been friends? What are the “two Anns” up to these days?

The Anns – Ann Hoyt & Ann Clark



We met as competitors at the 1955 Target Championship; I won as the dark horse and we have been friends ever since and more close since 1988 when Ann Hoyt was an invitee to our first Diana Hunt. Today we share a home in Cincinnati. We enjoy dancing, boating and many friends. My family has become her family. We enjoy good health. We are very happy as companions in our every day life.

We will be traveling to the Grand Opening of the National Archery Hall of Fame on September 20, 2006 for the celebration of the new inductees. Both Ann Clark and Ann Hoyt are members. We, The Ann’s, will personally induct Dr. Bert Grayson as a member. Ann Hoyt was one of the first inductees to the Hall of Fame in 1972. I became a member in 1985 at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. Jim Dougherty inducted me.

FA:  Who are some of the folks that stand out that made an impact on you or became close friends in the sport of archery?  

Fred Bear, Ben Pearson, Dale Marcy, Dave Staples, MR James, Ann Hoyt, Margaret & Dan Tillberry, George Helwig, Allan Martin, Chuck Saunders, Jim Dougherty, Frank Scott, Kay Richey, Cathy Beutler, George Meyer (Parabow Archery), Carol Meinhart, George Gardner, Joe Johnston, Charlie Pierson, and Jack Witt. Darrel Pace, the son I never had.

FA:  Did you ever design or help design any archery equipment?

The Saunders Bow Bird with Bob Weyman & Jack Clark.

FA:  You also were very involved in the JOAD program. You wrote a column for years in the US ARCHER magazine. Did you enjoy working with the JOAD program?

One of the most rewarding experiences of my life and continues to be. The JOAD program is the answer to the future of Archery Champions in the US and many countries. It’s such a joy to watch them progress.

I wrote and introduced youth to the adult world of competition. I introduced parents and other shooters to the youth who spent as much time and money on equipment as all adult champions. The youth deserved to be recognized. I complained to Bob Rhode about this and before I knew it, I was writing the JOAD column in the US Archer Magazine.

FA:  How has archery changed during your time in the sport? Where do you see it headed?

I see equipment-incentive-coaches who work together for the same cause and instructors for all classes.  

Years ago when I began shooting there were no qualified instructors, no professionals and no equipment available. I recall looking for lost arrows on a field course so I could peel the feathers off and use them on my 5/16 wooden shafts.

I have watched the organization of The Professional Archers Association during the period when there was a chance for Archery to become and Olympic Sport. I watched many of the top archers including myself become professional overnight because we had accepted some monetary gift. We were led to believe 25% of our income could come from Archery and we would still be considered amateurs. This took all the top archers out of contention and left the field open for those hopefuls who then became our champions. It was a bitter pill to swallow. We had no choice except to persevere. We were Archers and loved our sport. We started the PAA, Professional Archer’s Association.

The Professional Archers Association was formed in 1962. The group produced many champions, many now members of the National Archery Hall of Fame.

Isn’t it too bad, so little support was given to continue this first attempt at professionalism for Archery competitors, who could no longer compete in pure amateur competitions?

The last PAA tournament that I refereed was at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas.

I have seen many changes in bows and arrows and all archery tackle. I have shot most in my shows and seminars across the country.

It is good we now have qualified coaches teaching the same method. But let us not forget many archers have their own style and should not be changed, just guided. Incentive is the greatest achievement you can give a new archer and the goals they can reach.

The Compound Bow is here to stay. I’m sure it will not be long before it will be recognized in Olympic Games, perhaps along with the Recurve. I have often thought both bows should be shot in competition to show the true champion shooting both bows.

I believe the Cross Bow is getting a bum rap. Why the fighting? The Cross Bow has given many of us the opportunity to continue to hunt after age and handicaps have made us take a back seat from a sport we all love and enjoy. We are now able to participate in hunting or competition because of the Cross Bow. Both Ann Clark and Ann Hoyt continue to enjoy the hunt because Cross Bows have given us the opportunity to continue in the sport we love. An arrow is an arrow from Recurve, Compound or Cross Bow!

I believe we will once again become the leaders in the Sport of Archery through perseverance, continued good coaching and the desire to win.

FA:  Do you have a favorite bow?

My long relationship with Ben Pearson Archery Company and Jim Dougherty who first put my name in the Public Eye. Fred Bear who believed in me. Earl Hoyt who knew I had the making of a champion. George Meyer of Parabow Archery in the 1950’s paid me my first professional fee. I still have the bows he made for me. I continue to shoot a Hoyt.

Recently because of an injury, I shot Genesis. Darrel Pace set it up for me so I could shoot an exhibition at the Game Fair in Anoka Minnesota. The Game Fair is an outdoor show for hunters and fishermen and all breeds of hunting dogs. There is also a huge display of archery, a shooting course and many seminars by professional Archers. There are also programs for disabled hunters. The Sportsmens Warehouse presented daily seminars and did TV demonstrations.

FA:  OK Ann, we’re just about finished. This is your space to give any last words of advice, a quote, or anything that’s on your mind as we wind down this interview:

 

The Greatest Tribute of all. Ann is inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame


How does one wind down an interview? How does one person put their life on the line? How does one appreciate a family of three daughters who learned to sacrifice so many things so Mom could be a Champion and earn a living shooting her bow? How does one person receive a lifetime of love and recognition from a sport one loves but most of all from the people she has met and taught her so much and the respect given to just another person one meets along life’s way. I have indeed been very fortunate. I have met and became friends with the best there are. Archery has done this for me! It taught me to have confidence in myself. A quote from Jim Dougherty  once said “Ann is as comfortable in a buyer’s office as she is on the dance floor”. Words of advice, never give in no matter win or lose, have confidence in yourself and pursue the sport you love.

I am a Dedicated Archer & Bow Hunter.  Ann Clark