For 40 years, the Archery Hall of Fame has been inducting those who significantly contributed to the sport — helping to preserve history and recognize trailblazers. But the Hall existed in name alone, with no permanent place to honor inductees. That is until November 2012, when the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum officially opened inside Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo.
The 3,500-square-foot space on the store’s fourth floor offers a unique look into the past, from the row of Hall of Fame inductees sketched into glass to artifacts such as Geronimo’s bow and quiver.
|A Fred Bear display at the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo., is a peek into the personal collection of the iconic outdoorsman.|
In 1971, Archery Lane Operators Association President Joe Rusinek and Professional Archers Association President Dave Staples presented the Hall of Fame idea to the American Archery Council (AAC), according to the Hall of Fame’s website. After getting the AAC’s full support, a committee opened up nominations to bowhunters, coaches, competitors, educators and those who contributed or influenced the sport of archery in some way. Those categories now also include innovator, inventor and Lifetime Achievement.
In 1972, as part of AAC, the Archery Hall of Fame inducted its first honorees: Fred Bear, Howard Hill, Ann Weber Hoyt, Karl E. Palmatier, Ben Pearson, J. Maurice Thompson and Russ Hoogerhyde.
In 1976 the Archery Hall of Fame became a standalone organization and continues to recognize some of the most prominent members of the archery community. Today the Hall of Fame is supported solely by donations.
The Hall has 72 members, including Doug Easton, Ann Marston, Jim Dougherty and Holles Wilbur Allen (inventor of the compound bow). Bob Lee was added to the Hall of Fame in 2012.
Dream Come True
Diane Miller, executive director of the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum, wasn’t sure if she’d ever see the day the Hall would have an actual brick and mortar location. For years artifacts and memorabilia from the archery greats were housed in several places, such as their home office in Pennsylvania or in Indiana.
But through a collaborative effort, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris offered the late Dave Staples, who was Hall president until his death in 2008, a spot inside the company’s flagship store in Springfield.
After years of work, the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum opened — finally giving the 40-year-old organization a permanent place to honor those who helped make archery the sport it is today.
Miller said there weren’t many dry eyes when Hall of Fame board members and inductees got a chance to see the Museum for the first time. “Words can’t really describe it. Half the place was in tears,” she said. “It was a dream that finally came true that we didn’t know if it would ever happen in our lifetime,”
What wasn’t lost on Miller and the others is the fact Staples wasn’t there to see his hard work and perseverance finally come to fruition.
“(It was) so sad because he could not see that,” Miller said. “And that was his life’s dream; it was his mission and I’m so glad we could make that happen for him.”
The Archery Hall of Fame and Museum features roughly 1,500 pieces of artifacts and memorabilia related to Hall of Fame inductees, said Kurt Surber, who works in the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum.
And while not every inductee is represented by memorabilia, Miller said that’s the ultimate goal as they continue to hunt down artifacts across the U.S. and anywhere else they may be located.
|One of the highlights of the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum is a bow and quiver Geronimo made by hand around 1900.|
But what the Museum does have is a look into some of the most iconic archers of the 20th — and 19th — century.
While Geronimo isn’t one of the Hall’s inductees, one of the famous Indian leader’s handmade bow and quiver are on display.
“Almost every article in this room is in some way belongs to or is related to one of the Hall of Fame inductees,” Surber said. “This one (Geronimo’s bow) is a little different in that it is actually an authentic bow that was built by Geronimo around the year 1900.”
Surber said the bow is an example of how the Museum has a little something for everyone. “You may not be interested in archery, but you may be interested in history and this is definitely history.”
Miller agrees. “Even for a person who has nothing to do with archery, when they see that, they’re going ‘Holy moly.’”
From primitive to modern, the Museum also includes one of Allen’s first compound bow prototypes. The other prototype? In the Smithsonian, Surber said. “It’s one of the most prominent articles that we have,” he said. “It’s said it’s the bow that forever changed archery. So we have a pretty important artifact in this Hall of Fame.”
Surber noted that while Allen came up with the first compound bow prototype, Tom Jennings (Hall of Fame 1999) made the compound bow an accepted means of shooting.
“When the compounds first started coming out, it wasn’t accepted,” he said. “In fact, it was illegal to hunt with it in a lot of states for a while. There was kind of a political battle there for several years, and Tom was right along the front lines of that battle.”
Visitors will also see several displays of the inductees, including Fred Bear. The Museum is host to numerous memorabilia that was once part of the Fred Bear Museum in Gainesville, Fla. Surber said Bass Pro bought the contents and is displaying a portion of them in the Museum. There’s even a former record bear on display killed by Fred Bear with a bow.
“Fred Bear is the most recognizable face in all of archery in its history,” Surber said. “When people walk through that door, if it’s not ‘wow’, it’s ‘hey, it’s Fred Bear.’”
The Archery Hall of Fame and Museum is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For more information on the Hall of Fame and Museum, visit www.archeryhalloffame.org.
Did you know that 14 of the 72 inductees into the Archery Hall of Fame were women? Click below to read more.