Master bow maker and innovator Tom Jennings passed away Monday afternoon in Columbia, Missouri. Tom usually called his residence in Honduras home but was in the States due to illness. He was 88.
Tom Jennings was a lifelong bowhunter and enthusiast. In an interview with Frank Addington Jr., The bow maker admitted to being first introduced to the bow while in the Boy Scouts. The first thing he hunted was rabbits, but young Tom quickly grew dissatisfied with his first bow and began tinkering with other designs. It paved the way for his creative mind to break into the archery business.
In the 1950s, Tom accumulated $10,000 to open up a partnership with M. R. Smithwyck and in the mid-1960s he acquired the licenses to build a compound bow. He knew then that it would revolutionize the industry. At that time Tom was still manufacturing recurves; compound bows were seen as an unproven new technology. He would spend the rest of his life a constant tinkerer, developing improvements and innovations for the compound bow.
Tom quickly founded the Jennings Compound Bow company and by 1974 he was selling more bows than he could produce. He was a major influence in the current popularity of the compound bow and the modern bowhunting industry. In 1999, Tom was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport. There, he was recognized as the driving force behind the compound bow’s eventual inclusion in every facet of archery, which remains the face of the sport today.
Images courtesy Archery Hall of Fame and Museum