If you were introduced to archery and bowhunting back in the 1970s or early 1980s, the era when compound bows were literally changing the fabric of the sport, chances are you loosed a few arrows from a Jennings Compound.
Tom Jennings, the man generally credited for bringing the compound bow technology to the American hunting and shooting marketplace, died this week after several months of failing health. He was 88.
Carrying the moniker “Mr. Compound Bow” for his decades of innovative bow designs with the Jennings Compound Bow Company, Jennings also collaborated with other major bow manufacturers of the time, including the legendary Fred Bear.
As the technical editor of an archery publication in 1967, Jennings wrote the first review of Holles Wilbur Allen’s 1966 invention—a bow utilizing wheels and pulleys—titled "Bow With Compound Interest.”
With that, the compound bow was named.
Jennings, who was already involved in bowhunting and building recurve bows, worked with Allen on his design and subsequently headed the first company to become licensed to build compounds when Allen received his patent in 1969.
A 1999 inductee in the Archery Hall of Fame, Jennings’ bows were the first 2- and 4-wheel compounds commercially produced and widely marketed.
Today, archery historians consider Tom Jennings the primary driving force in the archery equipment revolution beginning in the 1970s that brought the compound bow into virtually every facet of competitive archery and bowhunting. In the early years, he faced major obstacles and public relations dilemmas as he fought to gain acceptance for the compound in competitive archery and by state game agencies in bowhunting seasons.
Mr. Jennings, who had been in failing health for several months after suffering a hip facture in 2012, passed away Feb. 25 at the home of his stepson, in Columbia, Missouri. Prior to his recent physical ailments, Mr. Jennings spent most of the past decade at his home on the Honduras coast.