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Interview: Archery Icon Tom Jennings

Article by Frank Addington, Jr.


The last show I saw Tom at he graciously signed this photo for me. Rich Walton

FA: First question, when and where were you born?
I was was born July 17, 1924 in Arkansas but moved to California as an infant.

FA: I understand you went to high school with some famous people…like who?
I went to Van Nuys High School 1940-42 with Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. Both became famous actresses and movie stars. Maybe I should have asked one for a date!

FA: When were you first exposed to archery?
In 1935 I was 11 years old living in Van Nuys, CA. My buddy Bill had a bow that scout master Creed Kelly showed him how and helped him to build. We were both in the scouts. We went to a soccer field, where we shot the bow. Up until then I had been using a sling shot and the bow was a lot more impressive than the sling shot. I wanted one and I knew I was going to build one. The bow was made out of Lemonwood, which came from Cuba. Henry Bitzenburger, who was into archery and later became the inventor and designer of the Bitzenburger fletching jig, owned a lumber yard in Los Angeles. I went there and bought a stave to build my own long bow. It was a self bow, no laminates, with horn tips and turned out to be 38-40 pound pull.

The first thing I hunted with it was jack rabbits. I actually shot one! My mother prepared it, but it was not as good as the cottontails we ate before.

There was a better wood to make the bows from and I wanted a stave of it. I had a paper route. I saved $20 and again went back to Bitzenburger’s lumber yard and this time bought a yew stave out of Oregon. It was the ultimate bow material for self wood bows at that time. $20 was a lot of money in the late 1930’s, but I had to have that bow.

Tom with a mule deer in California circa 1950. The bow on his lap is an aluminum bow, one of only two bows he ever bought.He built all the rest of the bows he used.

FA: What did you do after high school?
I worked for Lockheed aircraft company for just a few months, then WWII came along in the end of 1941. I graduated from high school in 1942, worked for a while in an aircraft plant, and then joined the Army Air Corps. I was stationed in Calcutta, India for a long time and was part of a flight crew that flew the “Burma Hump”. I joined the Air Corps in 1943 and was honorably discharged in 1947.

As soon as I got home I got my yew bow out and tried to shoot it. It broke the first time I shot it, guess it dried out too much in 4 years. I then went to Hugh Rich’s archery shop in Glendale and bought one of the two bows I ever bought in my whole life. The second bow I bought was an aluminum limbed bow that kicked a lot and I soon made another bow to replace it. Later I married Hazel Coon, who became married to the same Hugh Rich a couple years after I got my first purchased bow.

In 1948 I joined the Valley West Archery Club in Chatsworth, CA. was shooting my bow very regularly by then.

FA: You got into flying after you left the military. How did that come about?
In 1955 I had a customer who was a pilot. He wanted a used bow that I had and I wanted flying lessons. I made a deal with him. I gave him a $35 bow if he would give me flying instructions/lessons to carry me through to solo so I could get my own license. I got my license and then joined the Burbank Flying club flying Bonanza’s. then I joined the Van Nuys flying club that flew Moonies. I have about 600 hours of logged flying time.

At one time I put together hunts to Catalina Island, about 26 miles west of the California mainland. We had sheep and goats to hunt there and I most always piloted myself over there to a small strip on top of the mountain. We would gather up interested bow shooters at S&J Archery shop and then on weekends we would go bow hunting on Catalina. I logged a lot of hours doing that. We shot a lot of animals on those trips, it was a great time. I also flew to archery events quite often. Mostly shoots I wanted to shoot in or see. We did a lot of flight shooting in those days. We wanted to see who could build the best bow to make the arrow fly the greatest distance. Harry Drake was the guy to beat. I flew myself to the dry lakes for those contests.

Tom held a pilots license for several decades. Here he is climbing out of a Piper Cherokee, circa 1962, that he had just piloted to Ivanpah dry Lakes for the national flight shooting championship.

FA: What was your first step in getting into the Archery Business?

In 1950 I heard about some overseas jobs that paid very good. I decided to go to Greenland on a work tour for a 9 month program. It took me only one day to decide after I got all the information on it. They transported us on commercial air to Minneapolis, where and Air Corps plane took us the rest of the way to Thule. I went to Greenland to help build Thule Air base. We worked 7 days a week, 10 hours a day, 70 hours a week. There was little to do there and not much chance to spend any money, so I had my pay sent home into a saving account. I came back from Greenland in 1951 with $10,000 in the bank. That became my next egg.

That $10,000 was what I used to buy a partnership with M. R. Smithwyck and we formed S&J Archery Sales, and opened our joint business at 10945 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood. In 1957 I bought Smitty out but kept the name and the location. We had been building bows and called them Smithwyck bows until then. After I bought the business, I immediately began making my Citation bows, named after the famous race horse, that only lost one race and that was to his stable mate. I was a horse race fan I thought that was the perfect name. During those years everyone knew who Citation was. He was the first race horse to ever win $1 million. It was a good name for my bows. I think names are important. They are important on bows as well as anything else. When I began building compound bows,one of the first compound bows I named was the Arrowstar. I got the name from the airplane Areostar, but adjusted the spelling. It was the best at the time, both the bow and the airplane.

And the Jennings era begins.

FA: Were you a pro shop/retailer first?
Smitty and I opened a retail archery store and named it S & J Archery Sales, at 10945 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA in 1952 the same time we started selling bows we built. We had a retail store front and a bow building area in the rear of the same building. We sold other bows too.

Tom taking aim.

FA: You were involved in Archers Magazine as a writer. How did that go for you?
In 1963 Bill Stump invited me to do Tackle Topics for Eastern Bowhunter Magazine. Bill owned the magazine and was its editor. Bill later sold his magazine to The Archers Magazine (TAM) and I moved with it. People would send in questions and I would answer them. We had a lot of fun with that. During one period I decided I was going to challenge lady bow hunters, just to see if they were reading my column. I made up an answer to a mythical letter saying I thought women belonged in the house, men only were the ones to go bow hunting. That created the largest subscriber response to anything else I ever wrote. I had a lot of fun with that for months?.but I guess some ladies thought I was serious and probably hated me. It was all done in jest though.

I continued with the magazine until shortly after Sherwood Schoch left as editor it in 1967. By then several archery magazines had been purchased by Boyertown Publishing Company. They consolidated the magazines under one label being Archery World. The magazine was also the official publication of the National Archery Association (NAA) at the time. Roy Hoff did Archery magazine, the official publication of the National Field Archery Association (NFAA). Besides my column I covered some shoots for Archery World. The Vegas shoot had started up and I covered that one several times, as well as an NAA tournament in Phoenix.

FA: The compound bow was in its infancy stage in the 60’s. How did you get interested in this new fangled bow?
In the mid 60’s as technical Editor for TAM, The Archery Magazine, later renamed Archery World. Hollis Allen, the man that patented the compound bow contacted the magazine asking for a technical report on his new bow design. He apparently had been shopping his design around the industry and was getting little favorable attention on it. The publisher and editor agreed with Allen to test the bow and then consider a report on it. The bow was sent to me by Sherwood Schoch, then editor of Archery World, for a test. I tested, saw great potential for the compound bow and so reported. The magazine then ran the article.

After I did the field test on Allen’s compound bow. I contacted Allen to discuss a license and to suggest some changes to the bow to improve its speed and efficiency. I did get a license, and I also made some limbs and risers for Allen, as he was also selling some bows at the time. Until then he offered no bows with laminated limbs.

I immediately stopped offering my Citation bow as soon as I got a license to build the compound bow. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind, the compound bow would surpass every bow ahead of it. It was a busy time, developing and innovating parts and pieces to make the compound bow more efficient. Change happened almost daily, as we recognized and solved each aspect of the bow. That was in 1966.

Tom Shooting his famous Arrowstar compound bow, at his Valencia, CA plant in 1975.

By 1974 we were selling more bows than we could produce in our multiple buildings around Burbank and we moved north 40 miles to Valencia to a building and property very well suited to our needs. The move was just on time to produce the Model T. Our business had really picked up by then with the four wheeled bows, but the two wheeled Model T was a bonanza. We sold 60,000 in the first year and half it was offered. The bow hunting world was ready for an economical, good shooting, relaxation bow with good velocity. The handle design, the ease of tuning, the simple maintenance, and the cost were all in place to inspire a market. I think the Model T grip design was the best ever developed. But the riser had to be made out of aluminum to stand the stress.

We were then working double shifts, and many were working 7 days a week. Rapid growth is very hard to keep up with and all of management was working untold hours, always 7 days a week. I was always an avid shooter and I always shot weekends and twice a week in evening until then. I had to cut that back to keep up with the work load. Going to the plant at 6 a.m. and leaving at 7 p.m. was pretty much standard schedule at the time. We hired inside promotional and advertising help to do catalogs and ads. We also had to put together a national sales force, train them and educate them, but Sherwood took care of most all of that for us. Ron Carlson from Minnesota was a very loyal supportive dealer during that time, and he came on board to do sales in the Midwest. By then we had all the big bow hunting states covered and sales continued to grow.

Tom and Sherwood shoot the range in Pasadena, CA, 1975.

FA: Did you have partners and patents in Jennings Compound Bow?
Yes I did. When I decided to stop building recurves, I almost immediately formed Jennings Compound Bow, Inc. I had a customer and friend by the name of John Williamson. John had been a ballet dancer, doing “heavy” work on stage. He caught other dancers during flying moves. He made a “catch” during a performance and severely damaged a knee during the catch. It was so damaged he could no longer dance. He had performers insurance and a check from the insurance company. He became my partner in JCB, Inc. That was in 1967. We were 50/50 owners. John also worked in the shop helping develop the bow. John was a very good competitive shooter as well. He remained a partner until we closed shop in 1982. We added a partner in 1971. Gary Booker had been doing our machine work on contract and we decided amongst us he would be a good addition to the company. He then became an equal partner. Gary was a machinist and a clever one too. He designed the tuner we used to tune the 4-wheel bows. Each of us owned 33 1/3% of JCB, Inc. We had a fourth person that was never a stock holding partner but spent many hours being part of the company developing sales plans, marketing strategy, customer education, advertising and gathering sales for our bows. Sherwood Schoch had left Archery World, went to work for Bear Archery Company in 1967 but had since formed his own sales/marketing company. Sherwood also came on board in 1971. With that team things took off.

We were equal share owners when the doors were shut down and all assets were turned over to the bank in 1982. Then Bear Archery Company bought the assets from the bank. Contrary to public opinion, Jennings compound bow never did file bankruptcy. There was no reason to.

The Jennings ‘Crew’- (l-r) Max Greiner (Adv, Catalog), Sherwood Schoch (Sales/Marketing), John Williamson (Partner), Midge Dandridge (Receptionist and lady bowhunter), Jean Farmer (Tom’s Personal Assistant) and Tom.

FA: How about patents? Seems every company wants them to protect their designs.
All together I had 7 compound bow related patents but failed to patent the biggest item of them all?.the cable guard. At the time some guy said he already applied for the patent, which we found out later to not be true, but we failed to patent it. Maybe because we were so busy making bows, we didn’t patent everything we came up with. The biggest things we did patent was the tri draw eccentric. We had patents on a quiver, narrow eccentric (which was permitted along with a cable guard), arrow rest, tuning box, and cable attachments. I always thought the best patent in the world was to stay out in front of the competition, and we worked that way to some extent. By the time our competition got to use our patent, we were already past that idea and on to a new one. Of course it doesn’t always work that way, but that was partially how we did it.

Tom putting his compound to use.

FA: What was the first clue that Jennings compound Bows were going to take off and be so successful?
I always had confidence the bow would eventually control the industry. Anything new takes lots of time to introduce. Between 1966 and 1971, we built and delivered 1,200 bows. Then with our new team, and the education program that Sherwood conducted throughout the east, we began gathering orders rapidly. Soon we were taking 500 bow orders a month. Most of them were hunting bows, contrary to some reports. We had successful tournament shooters, but bow sales have always been controlled by bow hunters, not tournament shooters. Within the first 18 months after the new team formed, we sold 8,500 bows. We were well on our way. The Model T, a two wheeler at an economy price followed in 1974 and we took orders for 60,000 within the first year they were on the market. We were the first, others followed, they had to catch us.

Tom and Sherwood at their first archery show as Jennings Compound Bow, Inc.

FA: The Model T was huge. Can you tell us about the development, how you got the handles cast and where the funding came from for this model?
When I first designed the bow riser, I designed it with a “T” look at each end where the limbs attached. Very soon we left that design and went to a pocket where the limb attached for easier limb installation. But, the name was already in use internally, plus I considered Henry Ford’s success with his model T and I decided to stick with the name. One of his slogans was ‘You can have any color you want so long as it is black”, and so it was with the Jennings Model T bow. We were a fledgling company and finances were often tight. We presold 100 bow lots to loyal and trusted customers at a discounted price for upfront order money. That expedited our market launch and it was very successful. (Note: the very first sand cast handle was of the original T design. There was only one. It was used as a sales sample, the only one in existence at the time. That bow now is on display at the Archery Hall of Fame in Springfield, MO.)

FA: The Jennings line has been impressive but if you had to pick your favorite, which bow would it be?

The Unistar is my favorite bow of all those I ever designed. It required no cable guard and had no recoil. Unfortunately it was heavy, which bow hunters did not seem to want. I still think the concept should have been developed further. Its still might be, because it has potential.

Tom, Kelly Cooper and Larry Wise at the bow press.

FA: Who are some of the standouts that you recall shooting your bows?
There were dozens of them. We pretty much controlled the tournaments. We had great performing bows. The best shooters quickly realized that and came to our product. I want to say this. We never, ever gave any shooter a bow until after he won a national event with a Jennings bow he bought. We had very loyal shooters. We did not “buy” our shooters. They had to prove themselves.

FA: What about big game bow hunters?
Again, there were dozens of them. We constantly received photos of trophy animals taken with our bows, by hunters we had never heard of before the photo arrived. We did have one very loyal customer, who was a serious bow hunter and has since become well known. He began using our bows when we began building them. Chuck Adams at one time bought and owned 12 Jennings Compound Bows. I have known Chuck for 35 years and he is the most serious, dedicated, hardworking bow hunter I have ever known.

Buddies, confidants and archery world movers and shakers.

FA: Reps can play a big part in a company’s success. People like Sherwood Schoch for example. Did they do more than just “sell” Jennings compound Bows.
Of course reps can be a valuable asset to any manufacturer if they do their job. In the case of Sherwood, all the stars seemed to line up for our association. He was an integral part of our company from 1971 forward. He was our sales manager at large, as he had a company in Pennsylvania at the same time. We had others too. Ron Carlson from Minnesota was very valuable. Both these guys had considerable back ground and experience in all facets of archery retailing, both having owned shops, and they had a grasp of tournament organization. Both formed sales groups and trained other persons to the needs and use of this new product. They were bow hunters too. They had the tools, we teamed up very well. Bow repair and maintenance was a big issue and we needed field reps that could and would handle the bows in the field, making field repairs when necessary. It was a package deal, and we were all lucky enough to put together a solid package.

Tom flanked by Frank Addington Sr and Jr.

FA: Around 1981 we were hosting the Bowhunter jamboree in West Virginia. I was only 12 years of age, but was pretty much running the guest speakers, company donations, door prizes, etc. I had it all lined up with your people and you were scheduled to attend. Two days before the event I called you personally for any last minute details and that was the first you had heard of this. Amazingly, for a 12 year old, you said you would be there. I have no idea how much that must have cost but true to your word, the next day you stepped off the plane. You were literally mobbed when we arrived at the Jamboree site for autographs and hand shakes. Rev. Stacy Groscup also gave a demo. Did you get that kind of response everywhere you went to?
Honestly, I don’t recall the exact time you mention, but, yes, I got very good, warm reception most everywhere I went. We had a very good fan base. I did often sign a lot of autographs. I was honored to do it.

Tom with his daughter Lisa.

FA: How many times did you have to move or build on to your facility to keep up with demand?
By late 1971 we were already bulging at 10945 Burbank, we needed to expand. Gary Booker’s machine shop was close by and we shared some of his space. Then we added more square footage near to his shop. Soon we were operating out of three locations, and still bulging at the seams. We needed a change. We needed to consolidate our work space. In 1974 we located a great facility about 35 miles north in Valencia, just off of I-5. While there we added space and improved operating conditions to continue servicing our growth. We remained there until the company closed in 1982 following a long litigation concerning the patent on the bow. (side note: the plant in Valencia was located within sight of the location where M.A.S.H. series with Alan Alda was filmed?the helicopter used in the series could often be seen moving about, from the Valencia plant)

Tom and Hazel at their wedding 1989.

FA: I remember meeting your wife Hazel a time or two. Can you tell me how you met and when you were married? Wasn’t she an archer too?
Hazel was an archer and at one time was married to a good friend of mine, Hugh Rich. Hugh was a retailer and an arrow manufacturer in Glendale during the 50’s and 60’s. Later, I reconnected with Hazel at an archery event in northern California. We married September 30, 1989. She passed away in 2004.

Three powers in archery, Tom, Fred and Sherwood.

FA: What was your impression of Fred Bear?
Fred was a friend and a business associate. No one has ever done more for the sport than Fred.

FA: What did you do for Jennings compound Bows once Bear had the name?

I continued to do promotions, worked with their development department and Gary Simonds a great deal. I developed perhaps the best shooting compound crossbow ever, the Devastator. After they bought JCB Inc. I spent about a week a month in Gainesville working with my line.

(l-r) Gen. Joe Engle, Tom, Fred Bear, Gen. Chuck Yeager, Sherwood Schoch.

FA: Bear developed the Delta V Bow. Did you have any input into the design of this bow? Was it the fastest bow around up until that time?
I was not yet involved with Bear when the Delta V came around. It was the fastest bow I ever tested. I think its failure to catch on in the market was that it was considered too complicated and too heavy. My earliest bows were heavier than present bows, and that always seemed to be an objection, although I personally never understood why.

FA: Bow Design certainly has changed in recent years. What do you think of the single cam designs?
The single cam is one of the things that was sure to come with refined development of the compound bow. It stays in true balance. One cam is lighter than two; one cam costs less than two; and it is easier to build in production. It is a very good concept.

Tom with his Alaskan Caribou.

FA: When did you officially retire from Archery?
I have not yet officially retired. I just don’t have a job in archery at this time. No one has asked me to do anything for a long time. My last official appearance was in 2006 at the Pennsylvania Bowhunters Festival. I guess I still have a following as I used up a pack of felt tip permanent markers signing autographs at the festival. I must have signed 500 bow limbs.

Before the ‘Hat’, a dapper Tom.

FA: Ok, the hat! Tell me about the famous hat. I’ve heard some stories and I want to know the truth. How many have you had and when did you get the first one?
Well, I am glad it is “famous”. My plan must have worked. Back in 1971 I went to a marketing seminar. The speaker advised everyone in business to establish an identity of their own. He said it was not important if you remembered everyone, but it was important that everyone remembered you. So, I decided to wear a Mississippi Gambler hat as one of my trademarks to go with a bush jacket, which I also always wore. Sherwood was spending about a week each month in California working with us, away from his PA business, and he stayed with me at my home. We went to Nudie’s famous cowboy store near Hollywood. Nudie’s did hats and outfits for western movie stars. We each bought a similar hat. That was my first hat. It didn’t last long. We went to Vegas for the archery show. Someone must have liked the feather band on mine because my hat was stolen. So that I could stay in “uniform” Sherwood passed his along to me as he decided he wanted a different style. That hat lasted about 20 years, but finally wore out when holes showed up where I gripped it to put it off and on. In the early 90’s I went back to Nudies and had the third one made. To date there have been three, but one only lasted a couple weeks, so I guess there is really only two. I still have them both.

Three long time stalwarts in the archery industry, 1993. Chuck Saunders, Tom Jennings, Earl Hoyt.

FA: Who are some of the top bow design people you met during your many years in archery?
Of course I pretty much met all of them. There were many. Each decade seemed to have it’s own best bows and designers. Bigger companies were able to hire better educated engineers, and I think that talent has shown up in compound bow development. We all learned from each other, in many ways. It’s an ongoing evolution.

FA: Anyone in the industry you did not get along with?
There were many fabulous persons in the industry and I got along with all of them, unless they didn’t’ tell me otherwise (chuckle).

FA: If you could pick one time, what would you say your proudest moment was?
I don’t know if it was my proudest, but the most memorable was when I tested the compound bow the first time. I knew the world of archery was in for a big change. It was 20 fps faster than my own Citation recurve bow which was one of the best performers in the industry. The compound was 15% faster?.a big gain. And I instantly saw many ways to improve that performance. The first Allen Compound bow I tested was a developmental product and almost every facet had room for improvement. That was truly a special moment for me. I became so overwhelmed with its potential.

FA: If you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently?
I did 100% of my best at all times. With that in mind, I am satisfied. However, having said that, if I had known sooner what I learned later, I would have changed many, many things, as would most people. Someone said the trouble with learning by experience; you always get the test before the lesson, and that is a hard way to pass the test. I am satisfied with my life in archery.

FA: I have a few more questions as to how you feel about:

Favorite Hunt: Back in 1953 I was still trying to figure it all out. I went deer hunting in Nevada. Stalking was normal for mulies. I saw a 2X3 mule buck at quite a distance. I let fly an arrow and saw the sparks fly from the stones where the broadhead hit. He stayed standing. That gave me the ranging I needed. The next arrow found its mark?.it was probably 65 yards because I was point on at about that distance at the time and I held point on the buck. It was my first buck with the bow and I felt pretty good about it. That remains my favorite hunt. Tournament archery: I think we need it. New shooters must learn somewhere. It is great fellowship and you get contact at clubs with other people with the same interests. That is where I learned about equipment and shooting form. I am sorry to see so few clubs any more. There were lots more at one time. IBO: Not sure if this helped archery at all. I think tournament shooters should shoot at least 100 shots in a round. They need to stay warmed up and the more they shoot the more they learn about equipment and using it. And shooting should be entertainment. The more arrows you shoot, the more entertainment. I also think the demise of many local archery clubs was due to the cost of 3-d targets and not being able to set them out and let them out all the time for practice by members. When I was an avid shooter, our ranges were always set up ready to shoot. We had a practice area to warm up where we shot 20 or 30 warm up shots, then we went on the course and shot 14 or 28 targets, four arrows at each target. That was fun and entertaining. Further I think unmarked distances is a mistake. It encourages shooting too heavy a bow and too light an arrow. Equipment failure is caused by arrows too light for the strain system. When the NFAA was formed, they started with all unmarked distances. Soon they learned that was not the way to go. To get all persons to shoot, they needed marked distances. Everyone has the physical capability to shoot accurately at marked distances., but not at unmarked distances. I want everyone to be able to play archery, not just a few. First time archers: People that want to learn archery or want to shoot should absolutely go to a qualified archery shop or retailer that has qualified persons to help the new archer. Help yourself stores are not the place for beginning archers to buy equipment. The wrong equipment will discourage the person and they will give it up. But put the correct equipment in their hands and you will probably make a bow shooter. Arrows: Most persons are shooting too light an arrow. A heavier arrow will stabilize in flight sooner and in most cases will penetrate better because it is flying truer. I think Carbon is the ultimate material for arrows but the lightness of them bothers me. I think they should be heavier to protect the bow and to make them group better for the average archer. Feathers or vanes? I have always preferred feathers. I see them in flight a lot better and feathers provide maximum steerage for an airborne arrow. I understand why some tournament archers need to shoot vanes and there is definitely a place for them. But most back yard shooters and occasional bow hunters would be better served with feathers. Feathers are more forgiving of arrows rest contact than vanes. The newer drop away rests might sold that problem, I am not sure as I seldom shoot any more and haven’t really tried them; Favorite broadhead? Any broadhead that is sharp is a good broadhead. But it must be true to spin and it must fly consistently accurate. Higher profile blades will always be more difficult to tune to the bow, as they have more side air resistance. Every hunter should absolutely prove his flight is good before he goes hunting. Archery – Hobby, sport or both? I believe archery as a hobby are mostly days gone by. A hobbyist made their own arrows; they did their own bowstrings, and often their own rests and sights. They made almost everything, including their arm guards, tabs and quivers. Now, they purchase everything ready to shoot. I guess it is the “fast food” mentality. Don’t cook at home, buy it done and eat it! Most archers today don’t seem to want to build things. They want it handed to them built and they don’t want to have to alter it, they simply want to use it. So I think the days of Hobby archery are gone. Increase in bowhunter numbers: I am convinced the advent of the compound bow caused the spurt in bow hunting license sales across the country in the past 30 years. Faster flying arrows penetrate better. They do not require the same distance judgment for a good hit. The combination provides a higher kill ratio. Almost every state with statistics shows the bow hunter kill ration has improved many fold since the compound bow came into use. Of course better designed broad heads with better cutting capability go with the package. Equipment innovation has made the difference. I doubt the hunters taking to the hunting grounds are better hunters now than in days gone past, in fact it maybe just the opposite. The difference is the equipment they are using to take the game. The compound bow leads that parade. Back in 1970’s I copyrighted the “Depth of Field” ads, which illustrates that a faster (flatter) flying arrows do not arc in flight as much as a slower flying arrows and therefore, judging distance is less critical.

Recent photo of Tom with Sherwood from a recent trip to Roatan Island.

FA: So exactly what are you up to these days?
I have a home in Columbia, Missouri, but I am spending most of my time on Roatan Island, a Honduras Bay Island, about 35 miles off the mainland of Honduras. My step son and his wife, Matt Cavanaugh and Corinne, hand built a beautiful, rustic diving resort on Roatan, named Royal Playa Roatan. Many consider this area the deep sea diving capital of the world. I swim in the bay water early in the morning each day. The annual temperate climate is 78-82 degrees. Matt and Corinne gave me a grandson in December 07, so he entertains me every day. His name is Archer!

Tom shares a show moment with young Wesley Stahl. Maybe already passing on some thoughts on archery’s future.

FA: What advice would you like to share with those trying to continue in the sport or the industry?
Work hard for our cause. Continue to educate anyone and everyone who might be opposed to hunting with a bow and arrow, as well as all those who want to use a bow and arrow. Continuing education is very important. I feel so long as the bow is hand drawn, hand held, and hand released, it is and should be a viable instrument for bow hunting. But all hunters should be a family, no matter what weapon they choose to do it. United we are strong, divided we are weak. We need to stay united.

From Frank, Rich, Robert and all of archery, thank you Tom for giving so much to this sport. Your influence and desire for perfection will always remain a lasting part of our sport. You were never satisfied with status quo and were always trying to stay ahead of the game. Thanks for your friendship too, we miss you in the sport old friend.

And a very special THANK YOU! to our friend Sherwood Schoch whom without his tenacious help and love for Tom, this interview could have never been accomplished.


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