As just about everyone who enjoys the shooting sports agrees, the key to the survival of our heritage is sparking-and keeping-the interest of youths. Crosman, manufacturer of air guns, Airsoft equipment and optics, is acutely aware of this urgent need. Towards that end, each year the company honors an outstanding leader in the field of shooting sports. This Champion of Youth Marksmanship Award is given to someone who has devoted his or her life to encouraging kids to take up shooting and hone their skills safely. This year, the recipient of the well-earned award is Major Bill Barker.
Major Barker, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was raised by a Marine and served in the Marines until 1990. The steadfast determination developed during those years served him for the next 20, as he led teams of young men and women to over 30 state and regional championships while becoming a leader in JROTC airgun competitions.
Phil Dolci, CEO of Crosman, presented Major Barker with a bronzed Pumpmaster 760, a favorite among young shooters since its introduction 50 years ago, during an event in Las Vegas on January 21.
"Major Barker's leadership in youth marksmanship goes far beyond coaching kids the skills and discipline necessary to win championships," said Dolci. "He grew the program at La Cueva High School into a national title contender by teaching the value of perseverance and what it means to truly focus on a goal. And because Major Barker relies on the precept that 'you don't get better until someone else does', he shared his knowledge with other programs and provided more young people an opportunity to excel."
During Major Barker's 13 years of coaching his teams recorded 13 consecutive New Mexico State Sporter Class Championships, 12 of 13 state Precision Champions and 15 Western Region Cup Champions. Nationally, he has two American Legion national championships, two JROTC National Championships and 12 Marine Corps championships. "More importantly, Major Barker has over 60 cadets attending service academies, with none having quit or failed to move on. That is the truest testament to his impact," added Dolci.
Many of Major Barker's students return each year to conduct camps and clinics for New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Today, Major Barker operates clinics across the country and is a member of the NRA's National Coach Development Staff, serves on two National Airgun Councils, is the New Mexico State Director for the Civilian Marksmanship Program, and is the New Mexico Junior Shooting Sports Chairman for the American Legion, as well as the Match Director for major competitions within the state.
Says Dolci, "Major Barker has been a tremendous force for the shooting sports not only in the state of New Mexico but throughout the country by way of his clinics and his own cadets, who have championed his teachings in their personal endeavors."