1924 - 2013
It is with regret we inform the
archery community of the passing of Tom Jennings who passed
away at the age of 88 on February 25th.
Known as “Mr. Compound Bow,” Jennings was
the first man to mass produce
and promote the Compound Bow nationwide
Tom Jennings Eulogy
written by close friend, Sherwood Schoch
Jennings, 88, a pioneering Icon of the archery world passed away quietly
February 25, 2013, in Columbia, Missouri.
Tom, a visionary, a pioneer, a creator, an
evolutionist, saw promise in another man’s invention and quickly recognized
the potential of the compound bow, the archery tool that was to sweep the
country and changed the face of the industry.
In the 1950’s and 60’s Tom was a world class bowyer
with the talent to produce high performance recurve bows so exceptional that
his Citation won a world championship, and many others won high level
In later years, Tom’s identifying Mississippi Gambler hat, as he liked to
call it, personified his adventurous and sometimes gambling personality.
Upon testing the new sample compound bow, he immediately discontinued
producing his decades-old bow line and surged into improving and developing
the compound bow. It was a gamble but an intelligent gamble. Tom felt it was
not a gamble at all, it was a sure bet. Tom Jennings thought that way.
Many other national bow manufacturers had passed over
the invention of the newly patented bow but Tom’s genius saw differently,
thus, Jennings Compound Bows Corporation was born.
always believed that form preceded art, so he was not concerned with the
presence of cables and wheels, he believed that the superior performance
would quickly attract and appeal to serious bow shooters, and he could not
have been more correct. What he did affected the entire industry and all
others who skipped over this product soon got on the band wagon because the
guy in California, Tom Jennings, was winning followers everywhere.
Part of Tom’s personality was to not be concerned with
patenting his own innovations, rather he simply stated “we will keep ahead
of the competition and by the time they catch up to our idea, we will be on
a new one”. Although he passed up the opportunity for more patents, he did
have seven patents, but he always said his failing to apply for the cable
guard patent, which he developed, was a company mistake. Probably his most
utilized patent was the adjustable draw length wheels, cams and eccentrics,
currently offered on about every compounded bow being manufactured.
Tom was not only a creative mind, he was an avid
archery shooter and fan of it. For him it all started as an 11 year old boy
scout and the bug bite lasted his lifetime. He logged hundreds of hours of
flight time as a licensed pilot, attending bowhunts, archery events, and
tournaments. He truly loved the game and never tired of shooting his own
creations. Every office he worked from as officer and engineer of his
company, had archery targets within or outside the building where he could
easily pick up a bow and try some shots. Tom truly loved the sport and
dedicated his life to it. He was deservedly inducted into the National
Archery Hall of Fame in 1999.
Tom Jennings early pursuit of the compound bow, it quite likely may have
taken decades longer for it to enter the market and maybe never would have
swept it as the Jennings Compound bow did in the 1970’s. In that period
bowhunting license sales escalated quickly, and much of the reason for that
was the higher performance of the compound bow, which produced higher
harvest ratios in the bowhunting world. Tom believed success breeds
motivation and he proved it by providing an industry changing product,
sought by all bowshooters.
Tom attended hundreds of archery events and never
turned down autograph requests. He was a simple but highly dedicated man,
with an intelligence that seldom comes along. Tom Jennings had a very large
following and his bows of 30 and 40 years ago are still seen in the hands of
bow shooters around the country. He had thousands of fans and was rightfully
loved by all. Those who touched Tom and knew him well all had the highest
respect and regard for his integrity and honesty, he was a one-of-a-kind
with few peers.
Tom went where there was no trail and he left a path.