“My dad [Gail Martin] started the company on our kitchen table. It’s the typical story where you can’t find what you’re looking for, so you make your own,” said Terry Martin, current vice president of Martin Archery. “Then local archery stores realized his arrows were better than anybody else’s and started buying them.”
Gail Martin’s real break into the archery industry was not arrows or bows, though; it was strings. “The real breakthrough came when he designed his own string-making equipment,” Terry related “The strings were built under high tension, and it took the rest of the industry—well, they still haven’t figured out part of it—20 years to figure out some of the designs.”
At one point, Martin was the largest string manufacturer in the world. “We made all of the strings for Bear when it was about 70 percent of the market—and for Wing and Jennings. In all, I think we were making over 8,000 strings a day at the time. Of course, you only needed one string per bow at the time. Today, of course, you need three,” Terry chuckled.
Early on, Terry Martin saw the future in the compound bow. He was met with a lot of resistance both internally and externally through a variety of bowyers and archery organizations. “I can remember when F.I.T.A. wouldn’t even let a compound in the room. I don’t just mean the discussion; they wouldn’t even let me walk through the door with the bow!” Terry exclaimed.
Designing bows wasn’t enough. Terry learned the hard way that if you were not well versed regarding patents, someone else was going to “invent” your idea for you. “I was designing bows—compounds—and had to show them to somebody to make the pressed parts. When I did, they kept stealing the ideas. Finally, I just started making the parts in-house and studied up about filing and getting patents. I guess that’s the price you have to pay when you make toys for the big boys,” Terry joked.
For 2011 Martin is blazing paths in different directions to meet consumer needs.
“We started making bridge-type risers in the ’80s. We have continued this tradition with the Onza,” Terry Martin explained. “It has all of the features of bows selling for hundreds of dollars more, but we have managed to keep the price range limited to the mid-$500s.”
On the more exotic end of the spectrum is the Seeker 360 from the “sister” Rytera line. The Seeker owns the claim of having been designed by the originators of the first one-cam bow, the original bridged riser, fall-away arrow rest, VEM vibration-dampening technology, and the silent arrow shelf. That’s a whole lot of technology.
The incredible adjustment range of the unique-looking Seeker 360 is truly revolutionary, allowing superior speeds when adjusted to its 5 3/4-inch brace height—and extra forgiveness when the brace height is pumped up over eight inches. “This is just the first year,” Terry Martin says with a knowing smile. “It will take some time for people to get used to the idea that you can separate the grip from the riser.”
(509) 529-2554; www.martinarchery.com