In a somewhat chronological order of importance, here are some of the "heavy hitters" in archery.
Modern bowhunting has a long and decorated history. Here are some of the hunters who deserve recognition.
1. Maurice Thompson
A large part of what archery is today stems from a handbook. Yes, we all cringe when instructions must be read but Maurice Thompson wrote an engaging and useful book called the Witchery of Archery in 1887. This book was a detailed book on the proper use and care of the weapon we enjoy today. It was the first English "how to" directive on the subject of archery. Thompson also helped form the National Archery Association (NAA) in 1879.
Ishi, who was the last Native American from the Yahi tribe, was kind enough to bestow his experience and philosophy of the bow and arrow to a lucky doctor, Dr. Saxton Pope. Around the turn of the 1900s, Pope and friend Art Young were given an understanding of archery from an individual who truly depended on bow and arrow for survival. Just before his death, Ishi showed no remorse or regret, no fear or uncertainty. He simply stated to Dr. Pope, "you stay, I go." The name Pope and Young might ring a bell.
3. Saxton Pope
Dr. Saxton Pope was a teacher, writer, medical doctor, and avid bowhunter. He shared what he learned as a student from Ishi and hunted big game nationwide.
4. Art Young
Arthur Young was a hunter. He, unlike Saxton Pope, didn't aspire to be well-read and attributed to bowhunting legacy, he just wanted to hunt. Young was responsible for some of the earliest hunting excursions put on film, and was an inspiration to other pioneers in this sport.
5. Fred Bear
Fred Bear, at the late age of 25, saw the film "Alaskan Adventure," featuring Art Young bowhunting, and the young man was hooked. Years after viewing the film, Fred met Art Young and his lifelong dedication to archery began. Fred crafted his first bow and began hunting in 1929. He did not kill a whitetail for six years. Fred Bear built bows, advanced the sport, founded the Pope & Young organization, aided in founding other bowhunting and archery related groups, and throughout it all, was a simple hunter at heart. The behind the scenes work and benefits we enjoy today were shouldered by Fred Bear.
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6. Howard Hill
Howard Hill was the poster boy of archery and hunting with bow and arrow. He was in countless films and made archery "mainstream." An accomplished hunter and amazing marksman, he sold as many bows to young people in this country as Michael Jordan did for basketball shoes. Hill was Hollywood material but also an accomplished hunter and skilled archer.
7. Roy Case
Roy Case promoted and pushed for bowhunting as a legitimate means of hunting in Wisconsin. He petitioned for an archery season in his home state in 1931 and succeeded. He was the only one to bag a deer, a spike. Ten years later, there were 2,000 registered bowhunters. Wisconsin had over 200,000 bowhunters in the year 2000. Roy Case left his mark on bowhunting.
8. Ben Pearson
Pearson archery equipment was in the hands of many young people over the years. Ben promoted and improved archery equipment over decades. Boy Scouts, summer camps, and schools nationwide used Pearson equipment and Ben impacted bowhunting greatly.
9. Rollin Bohning
Rollin Bohning was a "stickler" when it came to making things work; he developed cements that were used in arrow construction. This chemical engineer/bowhunter patented virtually all bonding agents used in properly constructing an aluminum arrow. He also developed a high-lysine type of corn that could grow in desert conditions and a non-medical diet to treat diabetes. Those are worldly contributions made by a bowhunting pioneer.
10. Chuck Adams
There is an ever-smiling face we still see in the bowhunting world that deserves mention. Why wouldn't Chuck Adams smile? He holds more big game records and has accomplished more than any other bowhunter in history. He has written and shared his insight in thousands of articles and is a true ambassador for our sport.
The people who have worked to promote and improve our sport are not forgotten. I truly respect all of the designers, innovators and those who have pushed for bowhunter rights. A bowhunter who does not know about his history is not a complete hunter.