By Scott Bestul
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for losing legends. Only a few days after learning we’d lost our own John Merwin, I found out that Tom Jennings, member of the Archery Hall of Fame, passed away last Monday. He was 88.
An acclaimed compound-bow pioneer, Jennings was the technical editor for The Archery Magazine when Missourian W.H. Allen sent him a wheel bow to test in 1966. Allen had just applied for a patent on the product and was shopping a prototype around to several companies, but no one was interested in the odd-looking mix of limbs, strings, and cables. But when Jennings shot this early compound—a bow that was only 20 fps faster than a recurve and offered only 15 percent let-off—he realized he was holding the future. Already a custom bowyer and co-owner of S&J Archery, Jennings immediately abandoned production of recurve bows and threw himself into building and marketing a better compound.