The gloves are coming off, and we are not playing favorites! Here are the best bow companies EVER!
Having just attended my 29th archery trade show (now ATA, used to be AMMO), I’ve become quite nostalgic about our community’s history and roots. Long gone are the days of flinging cedar or aluminum arrows into single hay bales with nary a care of losing them. The simpler days were fun, no doubt, but technology has been our friend in the whitetail woods.
Still, it’s fun to think about what’s old and new … and how bow companies compare in the context of history. So … with a little help from my friends, we’ve compiled this list. It’s not in order, because none of us could agree on who’s #1, much less who’s #5 and so on. I won’t reveal the voters names, but I will tell you this: the voters are 10 highly seasoned archers and bowhunters. All of them have been in the hunting industry for more than 25 years each (some much more than that), and several are members of the Archery Hall of Fame.
So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 Greatest Bow Companies of All Time!
Listed in alphabetical order. *Denotes unanimous selection among the voters.
Founded by Holless Wilbur Allen, this was the first compound bow. He filed for a patent on June 23, 1966. It wasn’t granted until three years later but by then the archery and bowhunting worlds were on notice. By the mid-1970s, there were more than 50 compound bow manufacturers, and by the late 1970s, more than two-thirds of all new bows sold in America were these new-fangled “compounds.” Allen had a lot of help along the way, including an important partnership with archery great Tom Jennings. (Panel vote: 9/10)
Any list of the greatest bows of all time would not be complete without the Father of Modern Bowhunting, Papa Bear. Fred Bear founded Bear Archery in 1939 in Michigan. His goal for his entire life was to bring archery and bowhunting to the masses. He embraced change like none other. The company changed hands several times, but it still produces quality bows and accessories. (Panel vote: 10/10)
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Oregon, BOWTECH serves the archery and outdoor industries and manufactures and distributes the high-tech compound bows and archery related equipment. (Panel vote: 8/10)
A very humble beginning in 1950, in a simpler time, Darton Archery started making leather archery accessories. Darton expanded its growth through its early years making traditional recurve bows. With the introduction of the compound bow, Darton Archery and Rex Darlington became one of the few companies to produce compound bows. In the 1990s, Darton purchased Proline, another compound bow giant from the 1970s and 1980s. (Panel vote: (Panel vote: 6/10)
A powerhouse in the archery industry, Hoyt Archery was founded in 1931 in St. Louis, with Earl Hoyt Sr. and his son producing handmade cedar arrows and wooden bows. In 1983, Hoyt was purchased by California-based sporting goods equipment manufacturer Jas D. Easton Inc., and its headquarters moved to Salt Lake City. Hoyt is currently a division of the Easton-family owned Jas. D. Easton, Inc. which also owns Easton Technical Products, manufacturers of arrows, tent tubing and medical tubing. (Panel vote: 10/10)
Tom Jennings was quick to adopt Allen’s compound bow idea in the 1960s and add fiberglass limbs. It was a complete game-changer. The company sold millions of bows and attracted millions more hunters to the newfound lifestyle of bowhunting. (Panel vote: 9/10)
Founded in 1951 by Gail and Eva Martin in their home state of Washington, Martin Archery has remained a force in the archery industry even today. From tournament archers to bowhunters, the company has produced products that have stood the test of time. (Panel vote: 10/10)
Arguably the leader of the pack when it comes to modern archery equipment, technologies and efficiencies. Matt McPherson was no stranger to compound bow manufacturing when he founded Mathews Inc. in 1992, but he set the archery world on its ear when he unveiled his ingenious SoloCam. Mathews’ contributions to the sport have been many, and every aspect of the company’s bows are devised and built in its Sparta, Wisconsin, location. (Panel vote: 10/10)
A family-owned business from the start, the story of Prime begins in 1966. Louis “Leo” Grace Sr. started Grace Engineering in Memphis, Michigan. Over the years, the company grew and became known for developing innovative manufacturing practices and quality products. The Grace family’s homestead in Memphis and the original building that housed Grace Engineering was once an old flour mill that had been built in the 1860’s. (Panel vote: (Panel vote: 6/10)
An industry giant! PSE Archery has developed, designed, and manufactured bows, arrows, and other equipment since 1971. The company was founded by Pete Shepley in Mahomet, Illinois, and has its corporate headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. PSE’s contributions to competitive archery and bowhunting are among the most significant in the archery industry. (Panel vote: 10/10)
The following companies were listed among the Top 10 lists of at least one voter: Ben Pearson Archery, Oneida, Proline (now part of Darton), Golden Eagle, High Country, Elite, and Genesis.
Do you agree with the Top 10 list? Which companies would you have included? Go over to the Deer & Deer Hunting Facebook post and add your comments!