On Sunday, archery pioneer and businessman Gail Martin passed away at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, Washington, at the age of 89. According to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, family members say that it was due to heart failure.
Since 1951 Martin had a leading role in Martin Archery, the business he built with his wife Eva. The couple started the company by making custom arrows and bowstrings shortly after they were married, beginning a tradition that would last for three generations.
Martin had been shooting longbows since he was 14, and continued to do so during his service overseas in World War II with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In his off time, Martin would construct his own longbows. After the war ended and he returned home, Martin joined a local archery club that welcomed his self-taught skills and it was there that he learned to fletch arrows with turkey feathers. However, it was his bow lines that propelled Martin into the archery world. Using a custom-made jig, Martin’s lines were capable of enduring multiple stretchings and quickly earned him the attention of Bear Archery, which put in the first major order for the company’s products. By the 1970s, business was booming for Martin Archery. The company began producing their own compound bows in 1975 and eventually purchased Damon Howatt Archery to expand their opportunities in traditional bows.
Located in Walla Walla, Washington, the company produces roughly 50,000 bows a year for hunters and enthusiasts alike. Martin Archery is especially held in high regard for the brand’s traditional bows. Made from exotic hardwoods and finely sculpted, these fine works of craftsmanship are prized by collectors. A peek into how a Martin longbow is made can be seen below:
Gail Martin was inducted into the Arhcery Hall of Fame just last year. Martin Archery is now left in the hands of his wife, sons Dan and Terry, and grandson Ryan.