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

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

As Pure Fishing's Andrew Upshaw explains, reel making giant Abu Garcia has done it again at ICAST 2019 with a new spinning reel geared towards finesse fishermen.

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.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

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.

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options. Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them. Reels

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them.

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

Predator hunters living in more open areas are in a unique position to enjoy coyote hunting at its Stories

Guns & Loads for Long-Range Coyote Hunting

Stephen D. Carpenteri - December 13, 2015

Predator hunters living in more open areas are in a unique position to enjoy coyote hunting at...

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human Stories

Coyotes In Suburbia

Stephen D. Carpenteri - November 30, 2016

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working? Conservation & Politics

Revisiting the Light Goose Conservation Order

M.D. Johnson - March 30, 2020

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working?

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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