Archery Hall of Fame Opens With Fanfare

It was an atmosphere filled with spirited archers and bowhunters, in addition to the unmistakable spirits of archers and bowhunters from the past.

By J.R. Absher, The Archery Wire

There’s simply no more accurate depiction of last weekend’s official opening of the Archery Hall of Fame and induction of its new class at the Bass Pro Shops/Wonders of Wildlife Complex in Springfield, Mo.

Hall of Fame inductee Gail Martin (left), patriarch of Martin Archery, with Archery Hall of Fame president, M.R. James. (Photo: The Archery Wire)

Indeed, the bow-and-arrow spirits were everywhere.

The official opening of the museum located on the upper level of the Bass Pro Shops flagship building on Sept. 14 to the first visitors and special guests marked the end of a long journey for many persons – living and otherwise – who worked tirelessly for years to obtain a true “brick and mortar” home for the Hall of Fame, which installed it first members in 1972.

Among those first inductees were Fred Bear, Howard Hill, Ann Hoyt, Ben Pearson and Maurice Thompson, all icons in terms of their contributions to the sports of archery and bowhunting. Including the five new persons inducted during the Sept. 15 festivities, the Hall now includes 72 members.

For decades, those dedicated persons serving on the Hall of Fame Board sought to locate a building or a city suitable to function as a lifetime home for the museum, but the goal always seemed to be just beyond reach. In the end, it was the collaboration and friendship between the late Dave Staples (Hall of Fame Class of 2008) and the entrepreneurial leader behind the Bass Pro Shops empire, John L. “Johnny” Morris, that created the spark and energy to finally make the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum a physical reality.

And, not unlike other projects undertaken by Morris and his business associates, this latest endeavor is over-the-top with its grandeur, class and attention to the finest detail.

Simply, it does not disappoint.

The enthusiasm and excitement generated by the invitation-only event on Friday – highlighted by an official welcome called-in by Morris on his satellite phone from an undisclosed elk camp out West – spilled over to the following evening for the banquet and 2012 induction ceremonies.

Honored Saturday for his contributions to archery as well as for his bowhunting successes was Gail Martin. Martin, 89, is a World War II veteran and patriarch of Walla Walla, Wash.-based Martin Archery, which he started in 1951, along with his wife Eva, who was  in attendance.

Receiving posthumous induction was a Missouri native known as the “Father of the Compound Bow,” Holless Wilbur Allen. A tinkerer and avid hunter and angler, Allen’s first compound built in 1966 was comprised of wood eccentrics, a truss handle made of pine boards, limb cores of wood flooring laminated with fiberglass – all held together with epoxy, nails, a few bolts and a healthy supply of Elmer’s Glue.

Allen was granted a patent in 1969, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Also inducted were three archers known for their competition and shooting prowess, beginning in the 1960s and beyond:

– Frank Gandy, whose archery career spanned five decades, placed first in 150 major tournaments during his long shooting career, in four different shooting styles.

– Ann Butz, who stormed onto the competitive scene in 1966, eventually winning 18 national titles and 72 Professional Tour Event championships.

– Victoria Cook, whose significant accomplishments included qualifying for the 1961 World Team, later becoming World Champion in 1963, National Target Champion in 1964 and International Indoor Open Amateur Champion in 1966.

– J.R. Absher is editor of The Archery Wire, a source for “Archery and Bowhunting News You Can Use.” To submit ideas, suggestions, comments or to learn about advertising and Corporate Membership, contact him at