Bowmaker, Industry Icon Gail Martin (1923-2013)

Bowmaker, Industry Icon Gail Martin (1923-2013)
Gail Martin's induction into the Archery Hall of Fame posing with Ken Watkins in 2012. Courtesy Martin Archery

Gail Martin, patriarch of the oldest one-owner archery company in the country who played an active part in its day-to-day operations until just a few months ago, died Sunday, July 21, at the age of 93.

On September 15, 2012, Mr. Martin, flanked by his wife, Eva, and son Dan, was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame for "Excellence in Design and Manufacture of Archery Equipment" during ceremonies held at Bass Pro Shop headquarters in Springfield, Mo.

At the age of 14, Gail Martin first shot an old hickory longbow he borrowed from his elder brother, Glenn. The year was 1937, and he was instantly hooked on archery, though it would be several years before he became fully involved with the sport.

After serving three years in Europe with the Army during World War II, Gail returned to the states in 1946 and married Eva. That same year he began a deeper involvement with archery, bowhunting with his brother Clint and shooting one of his spare recurve bows. He joined the local archery club, Blue Mountain Archers in 1947, where he remained a member and frequent 3-D tournament participant until his death.


Gail Martin

Gail Martin


Mr. Martin often said his very first "new" bow was purchased from Damon Howatt in 1949. Since that time, a lifetime of hunting provided him with a wealth of great experiences, stories, successes and wonderful memories.


Gail and Eva - and later with sons Dan and Terry and other family members - operated Martin Archery in Walla Walla, Washington since 1951.

In his 2007 book, Unforgettable Bowhunters, M.R. James wrote that the story of Gail and Eva Martin and archery began in 1948 with a single fletching jig and the desire to produce quality custom arrows.

"The superior wooden arrows crafted by Gail and Eva eventually gained a faithful following among area archers. The couple became a familiar sight at archery gatherings, selling custom shafts and various accessories. Although money was tight, the Martins made do and worked hard at establishing themselves as suppliers of quality archery products.


"Arrows and accessories continued to account for the bulk of sales, but in time bowstrings became the product that proved most profitable. Really, it was the string-making machine Gail developed that solved the stretching and unraveling problems so common with stickbow-era bowstrings...A sample Gail sent to Fred Bear landed a long-term contract supplying Bear Archery with bowstrings in the 1960s and 1970s. During this same period Martin also built strings for Browning, Wing, Jennings and Allen bows, producing more than 7,000 bowstrings daily during peak production periods.

"In the early 1970s, working with his sons Terry and Dan, Gail focused on creating the first Martin compound bow. In 1975 Martin unveiled the industry's first one-cam bow featuring a full string system and draw stop. A year later Gail purchased Damon Howatt Archery and expanded its compound and recurve bow designs."

Gail Martin:


  • Founded Martin Archery in 1951 and maintained the position of President until early 2013.

  • Was personally involved with the design and development of archery equipment since founding Martin Archery.

  • Holder of 24 patents.

  • Received U.S. Small Business Administration's Small Business Person of the Year Award for the Inland Empire in 1984.

  • Awarded the Kore T. Duryee Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington State Bowhunters in 2003.

  • Awarded the Safari Club International Hall of Honor Award in 1998.

  • Inducted into the National Bowhunter Hall of Fame in 1995.

  • Took numerous big game animals with both recurve and compound bows, including deer, elk, moose, bear, caribou, antelope, javelina, gemsbok, warthog, kudu, and many others.

  • Appointed to the Washington Generals, a goodwill ambassador and trade association.

  • Senior Member of Pope and Young Club

  • Official Measurer for both Pope and Young and Boone and Crocket clubs.

  • Past AMO (ATA) Board Member

  • Inducted into Archery Hall of Fame, September 2012

- J.R. Absher

Recommended for You

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere. Records

State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

Major League Fishing pros Alton Jones, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi and James Watson share their thoughts on how to approach fishing a new lake for bass.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

 Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...

See More Stories

More Stories

A father and daughter with their dogs on a dry ground mountain lion hunt get more than they bargain Stories

Arizona Mountain Lion Hunt Turns Into Dangerous Jaguar Encounter

Aaron Decker - November 30, 2011

A father and daughter with their dogs on a dry ground mountain lion hunt get more than they...

From a world-record crappie to the best gear of the year, these hunting and fishing articles were most popular with our readers. Stories

Game & Fish's Top 10 Stories of 2018

G&F Online Staff - December 24, 2018

From a world-record crappie to the best gear of the year, these hunting and fishing articles...

Calling all coyotes:'These predators are efficient, so finding and calling them to the gun can Stories

Predator Hunting: 3 Ways to Find Elusive Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 26, 2018

Calling all coyotes:'These predators are efficient, so finding and calling them to the gun can

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×