FA: Ann, first of all give us snapshot of your life pre-archery.
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 2, 1925 as one of 5 siblings. I married at the young age of 19 with no knowledge of the outdoors. My mother and father were champion roller skaters. My father, Frank Knierim was a speed skater and Ohio Champion in 1916. He met and married my mother, Aleen Dunlap, a dance specialist, at a local skating arena. My dad was known as the “Masked Marvel” and my Mom, “The Beauty of the Rink” on the dance floor. They were married July 4, 1921.
Before Archery, I was a housewife and mother of three. I owned quarter horses. I enjoyed trail rides and jumping. Summer weekends were spent at Lake Cumberland boating, water skiing and swimming.
FA: When did you first have a bow in your hand?
1952 I was employed at the McGregor Company in the accounting department. Prior to shooting the bow, I learned to hunt and fish. We used shot guns and rifles. My husband Jack was an avid hunter and wanted to learn to hunt with the bow. I bought him a Ben Pearson archery set for $10.00. He shot off the wrong side of the bow, tore an expensive leather jacket and made many trips to town to replace lost arrows. Jack didn’t know anymore about shooting the bow than I did. A friend at work had some knowledge and stopped by the house to show him the correct way to shoot. The year was 1952. Jack soon found a local bowyer E. Bud Pearson & Son. He ordered a special made bow for himself at the cost of $55.00. Jack insisted that I learn so that we could hunt together. He took his $10 lemon wood bow and cut 2 inches off both ends. He thought that because of my petite size, I needed a shorter bow. It was like shooting a broom stick. How I stayed in archery after my trial and error start, I’ll never know.
FA: Who introduced you to archery?
My husband, Jack Clark taught me to shoot through trial and error, books and listening to other archers. The best thing that happened in those earlier years was meeting Earl Hoyt at a mid western tournament at Winton Woods in Cincinnati, Ohio. Earl told Jack that I was over-bowed. Jack had previously purchased a 55 pound Bear Grizzly for me. At my 24″ draw, I was holding 47 pounds, entirely too much for this less than 5 foot 90 pound lady. Jack then made a trip to St. Louis to the Hoyt plant and purchased a 24 pound bow for me for target and field shooting.
FA: Were you a natural? Or did you have to work at it?
I worked hard. I doubt anyone is really a natural. It just comes easier for a few. Mental attitude will win or lose a tournament. I practiced concentration every chance I could. I listened to Earl Hoyt and his expert advice, read TAM magazine and gained knowledge from the top archers and advice from Jack Witt of Ben Pearson Archery.
FA: Tell us about your early days in archery. Did you hunt or did you just compete?
I started as a hunter and remain a hunter today. I harvested a doe white tailed deer in Mio Michigan where I met Fred Bear, we became life long friends. I visited the Bear Plant in Grayling. I continue to hunt after 53 years. I spent many hours and miles listening to Fred’s advice on hunting.
Later, Jim Dougherty became my mentor at Ben Pearson Archery in all aspects of the sport from Business Management to bow hunting and how to greet the public at trade shows. He taught me how to be a lady of knowledge and match wits with bow hunters and Marketing personnel along with Retail representatives. I became a success in my trade as a representative and exhibition personality for Ben Pearson Archery thanks to Jim Dougherty.
FA: who were some of the folks you competed with in those early days?
Ann Hoyt, Ann Marston, Clara Hoyt, Carole Meinhart, Margaret Tillberry, Mildred Pierson, Vicki Cook, Nancy Vonderheide, Betty Schmidt, Artic Palkowski, Betsy Hibbard, Jane Waite. They were all worthy and tough competitors.
FA: What were some of your achievements as a field and target archer?
Started as an instinctive field archer – won Ohio State, City and Regional tournaments- Participated in all phases of sport including Clout & Archery Golf along with Target and Rover shoots. I won many Ohio State Titles in both field and target archery. I won my first national target title in 1955 shooting against Ann Hoyt. One of my greatest achievements!
In 1957 I shot the first 1100 FITA round ever shot by a woman. I was the #1 woman representing the US world team that competed in Prague Czechoslovakia. We set records that have not been broken to this day. We broke them at all distances. The United States won all events for both men and women. I placed 2nd in the world after breaking the 70 meter record. In 1960 I won my second National Target Championship. Also in 1960, I won the National Field Title, and the International Indoor Championship sponsored by the Ben Pearson Archery Company. I shot both indoors and outdoors. I became a much sought after exhibition shooter.
FA: When did you start bow hunting?
I started bow hunting my first year in archery. The year was 1952. It was a learning experience. We hunted the Ohio woods with many missed shots. Trees would suddenly spring up to catch my arrows. I also got lost and panicked. Seems I should have stayed where I was and also wait until the compass settled down. Jack found me less than 100 yards from the road where I went in. As I said, it was a learning experience.
FA: Where are some of the places you have bow hunted?
In addition to the Diana Hunts, Indiana – Kentucky – South Africa. I have hunted in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Arizona, New York and Pennsylvania.
FA: Where is your favorite place to hunt and what’s been your best hunt?
Every place I hunt is my favorite. Each animal and state offer many challenges – be it shot gun, rifle in early years and now bows & arrows and crossbows. One of my best hunts was at a bow hunting festival in Sullivan County New York using a Recurve. Many a doubting Thomas soon stopped snickering when this tiny bow hunter entered camp dressed to the nines in Stiletto heels and looked anything but a bow hunter. All were awed as Bill Purcell, who was the coordinator of the hunt and picked me up for the morning hunt in full camo clothing and camo face.
All were amazed as I was the first to harvest my white tail deer, much to the chagrin of a local wild life butcher who gave me such a hard time the first day. He had to fulfill his promise if I downed an animal that he would field dress and butcher my animal as the camp watched.
My shot was witnessed by Bill Purcell. It was a neck shot and one of the cleanest harvests I ever made. The animal jumped straight up in the air and fell where I shot him 20 yards away. I used a Ben Pearson 40 pound take down bow.I used Easton aluminum shafts with 2 bladed Black Diamond Heads.
That evening dressed in my show costume, I did my show program at a local school. Never missing a shot with a packed house filled with bow hunters. It was very gratifying to gain their respect as a bow hunter and expert shot.
My best compound hunt was in Montrose Colorado hunting with Jim Jarvis outfitter recommended by Jim Dougherty. My one shot harvest on a beautiful mule deer was awesome. I used a Hoyt 45 pound bow with Rocky Mountain heads. He went about 70 yards. I heard him crash and it sounded like the forest caved in. I was so excited I almost shook myself out of my tree stand. He was an outstanding trophy.
With a crossbow, the excitement of my trip to South Africa was another awesome trip. To see so many animals, I could write an entire chapter on that hunt. Early on in the hunt, I learned that my 47 pound Hoyt bow and an arrow were not heavy enough to penetrate the thick hide of the wilde beast, the first game I shot. I switched to the Horton Crossbow and made a beautiful one shot harvest on a Blesbuc. Talk about excitement, this was a powerful experience. This beautiful mount, on my wall continues to remind me of the thrill of that hunt.
Again with a Crossbow, this time a 10 Point Crossbow. It was a Diana hunt. President George Gardner, of 10 Point Archery, furnished all the bows for the Lady Diana’s. He set up all the bows to shoot accurately. We were hunting Florida wild boar at the Palmer Ranch in La Belle, Florida. It was my first experience to hunt boar. You cannot imagine the excitement to see everything from turkey, deer, small game and the ugliest wild boar I had ever seen. I was always afraid to hunt the beast because of their fierce appearance and the many bad experiences other hunters told me about. It was one of the most exciting hunts with the Diana’s. My boar hanging next to Ann Hoyt’s was a thrilling experience and another trophy I’m very proud of.
Our guide and representative of Bear Archery Company also furnished cross bows, Craig Dougherty, taught me a world of knowledge as he accompanied me in my blind. An experience I shall never forget.
The Crossbow has allowed me to continue to hunt in a sport I love. I am unable to shoot a conventional bow because of an injury and advancing years. Without the aid of a Crossbow, I would be another memory hunter reliving days gone by in the field. I am very pleased and happy that there is a Crossbow to keep hunters such as myself active and enjoying the hunt. Every place I hunt is my favorite. Each animal and state offer many challenges.
FA: Were you in the retail archery business too? When and where?
Yes – Clark’s Archery & Sports Center, Cincinnati, OH.
Shortly after learning to shoot, my husband Jack and I opened Clark’s Archery and Sports Center. At that time there were no archery specialty shops. Soon all sporting goods stores were recommending our shop to those interested in archery. We also sold guns and ammunition, fishing tackle and boats. We stayed in business from 1952 to 1963. When Jack’s hunting and my travel to sport shows kept the shop closed, we had to make a decision, so we closed the shop.
FA: When did you do your first exhibition?
My first exhibition was after my first Ohio State Title as an instinctive shooter 1953. My first public exhibition was at the Cincinnati Sports Show in 1955. I had just won the National Target Championship. We were exhibitors at the show.
I was appalled at the stage show performance of an Indian act shooting an arrow elongated from his daughter’s kneeling profile. I complained to the management of the danger. He hired me on the spot.
They had me dressed in a strapless evening gown shooting my bow. I was scared to death with full band and spot lights. I was so nervous I almost hit my husband who was assisting me in practice at 30 yards. I started crying and shaking. For me to miss a target at that time at 30 yards was unheard of.
Fortunately an Army Chaplain was near by. He calmed me, put the bow back in my hand and said all soldiers were afraid too. He told me to visualize everyone in the audience sitting in their underwear. To this day, shooting on stage, I do this. It helped a lot.
FA: What got you started as an exhibition shooter? Were you the first woman to travel the county as an exhibition shooter?
No, Ann Marston was the first. After my divorce from Jack Clark, I did not want to go back to an office. Archery was my greatest talent. The opportunity for travel and shows offered the best incentive.
FA: Give us some highlights of your career as an exhibition shooter? Places you’ve been, folks you’ve met…..
I have shot in most states also Canadian Providences. I remember well all the many friends I have met but most of all, my archery friends including all the Presidents of the National Archery Association since 1955.
Sports shows introduced me to such stars as Michael Ansara, Cochise of Broken Arrow TV series, John Bromfield, Jimmy Griffith of Sheriff of Cochise TV series, Mitch Vogel of Bonanza fame, another TV series. I have shot in most states excluding Vermont, Alaska and Maine and also all provinces in Canada. Working with the Delaney family, Chuck, Frank and Lorelei who produced shows in Chicago, Detroit, Ft. Worth, Indianapolis and Minnesota. I have worked with them for over 50 years. I have just completed the Game Fair in Anoka, Minnesota working with celebrities such as Kim Rhode, twice Olympic Trap Shooting Gold medalist.
In the 1970’s, Jack Sharkey, former heavy weight champion of the world, turned sport show fly caster in the early 70’s.We were doing a skit with a live audience and I was the last person he put his gloves on with. I have great pictures of this performance, a real trooper and a wonderful personality to work with. I will never forget Jack Sharkey.
I worked with Michael Ansara star of television Cochise of Broken Arrow. I taught him how to shoot and presented him with a Ben Pearson Lord Mercury Bow. I also worked with John Bromfield of the television series “Sheriff of Cochise”. He was the MC of all the Chicago Sport Shows called “Golden Eagle Productions”. Jimmy Griffith played along side John on the series and participated in many movies for many years. I also worked with Ted Williams a Ball Player Hall of Famer turned Show Fly Caster in Boston and Johnny Mize, another Baseball Personalty.
I enjoyed doing What’s My Line? with my daughter Debbie on national TV. Romper Room was another national television show that was fun to work. Emmet Kelly never to be forgotten clown of all clowns.
The Bozo Show and a host of others too many to recall. Numerous radio and TV shows in all towns that I worked with so many wonderful people who taught me show business and stage presence.
I have many friends that I am still in contact with. It is hard to mention all the many friends, celebrities and just ordinary people who have shared their lives with me.
I have shot from 10 – 70 yards from high balconies, diving boards, atop telephone poles and arenas. My bouncing ping pong ball is an all time favorite. But all close shots are forgotten when I did my long shot.
Tomorrow: Part II