Founded in 1951 by Gail Martin and his bride, Eva, Martin Archery was actually started at the family dinner table. Gail and Eva would sit for hours on end making strings and fletching arrows in their Walla Walla, Washington, home.
By the 1970s, the business was growing and Gail, an avid archer with an incredible passion for the sport and a burning desire to make the products he used even better, began crafting the first Martin compound bow with his sons Dan and Terry. In 1975, Martin Archery released the industry’s first one-cam bow — a bow that featured a full string system and draw stop. A year later, Gail expanded Martin Archery when he purchased Damon Howatt Archery in Yakima. Martin was on a roll, and it didn’t take long for Martin to become a household name in the archery industry.
Over the course of the next several decades, Martin Archery continued to expand and grow. Gail and the Martin family would see their Martin Mamba recurve bow ignite the torch at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, and be used by famous celebrities like longtime Martin supporter and hardcore hunter Ted Nugent. Martin bows were also featured in the box office hit, The Hunger Games.
Sadly, Gail Martin, the man with 24 patents and an earned spot in the National Bowhunter Hall of Fame, passed away in 2013. Shortly after, Martin went through a series of ups and downs, including a fire that all but destroyed the manufacturer’s main facility. At one point, it seemed that the Martin legacy was hanging by a thread. However, that thread is slowly but surely being woven back into a thickly braided rope.
Team AB recently burned up the phone lines with Martin Archery Director of Operations Joel Miller, and Director of Engineering Scott Romero. This energetic duo was excited to let the archery world know that Martin is back.
AB: Martin Archery seems to be making a big comeback. Tell me about how you guys are once again climbing the archery ladder.
Joel: It’s revitalizing the past mentality. When Martin Archery first came out they treated everybody like family. They were people you just couldn’t help but love. I think that passion, coupled with their quality and design, made Martin a no-brainer. We are going back to those roots. Gail and Eva were passionate archers. They used the products and were continually trying to improve upon them. That passion is contagious.
Right now, with Scott as the engineer, we are combining leading-edge modern technology with innovative design. Scott has been a professional shooter for 20 years as well as a passionate bowhunter. He knows what serious bowhunters and serious target archers demand. When you have that kind of knowledge and drive in a leadership role, it quickly becomes an unstoppable force in the marketplace. Our talent pool at Martin Archery is unbelievable. Just watch what we do from here.
AB: What sets Martin apart from other bow manufacturers?
Scott: Although our quality is second to none, no one can compete with our pricing. I don’t believe there is an archery retailer or archer out here that wouldn’t back me up on this. I can remember back in the mid 1990s when the top target bow was about $600. Today, target flagships are about three times that amount. Yes, materials and machining prices have gone up, but not that much. We are trying to bring the price back to the consumer. We want them to have a high-end bow fitted with GAS bowstrings — a set that retails for $120 and are, in my opinion, the best strings on the market. We provide models with quality machining, split-limbs, adjustable limb stops, speed and the like. Our bows give consumers a high-quality product at a fair price.
Joel: Martin has brought as much production in-house as possible. The reason for this is two-fold. First, we wanted to pass as much savings as possible onto the consumer, and second, we wanted to ensure that the dealer has solid margins. It’s also important to note that Martin will be offering a consumer direct finance program through a strategic industry financial partner. In addition, late in 2018, we will roll out a financing program for archery dealers. This program will make it easier for dealers to get and carry Martin bows in their shops.
AB: Tell us about the new MAX Series of hunting compounds.
Joel: The MAX actually stands for Martin Archery Xtreme. Our goal with this series of bows is to give bowhunters a line that will appeal to every style and type of bowhunter.
Scott: The MAX-33 is a 33.5-inch axle-to-axle bow. This is perfect for the guy that likes a longer length bow, and it has a draw length up to 30 inches. It has a reasonable brace height that falls just under 7 inches. As far as speed, it’s a 333-fps bow. When it comes to balance and shootability, this bow is just unreal. The platform of this bow is amazing. I personally, with a new MAX-33 in front of a shop owner and a buyer, shot a clean Vegas round with hunting pins.
The MAX-32 extends out to 31 inches of draw length and features a 7.25-inch brace height. Like the other bows in this line, it’s fitted with our RRAD Weight Distribution System. This system allows the archer to better distribute weight throughout. The bow is very forgiving, and with the RRAD System, you can distribute weight to the left of the riser and to the right of the riser. You can also distribute weight low on the riser or high on the riser. In addition, the 32 also has a spot just below the grip, which is the ideal location for vibration dampening weight. The 32 is a little heavier than the 33, but because of the way the weight can be distributed throughout the bow, you don’t really need a stabilizer. This is pretty ideal for the guy who is packing in.
The MAX-31 showcases a short brace height, shortened draw-length options and can, at 29 inches of draw length, still send arrows downrange right on the edge of 330 fps. All three bows come with the option of a Long Draw Cam and a Short Draw Cam. The cool thing is that I shoot a MAX-33 set at 72 pounds and a draw length of 29.5 inches. My 13-year-old son shoots a MAX-33 set a 24-inch draw length and pulls 45 pounds. This is possible because of the Long Draw and Short Draw Cams.
AB: What about your new target series of bows. How are they being received?
Scott: I took the 40-inch platform that Martin had some success with and removed some of the things I felt weren’t necessary. I also changed the grip and the grip-throat location. In addition, I beefed it up in some areas in an effort to stiffen the riser and boost repeatable arrow flight. When I was done, the axle-to-axle length was actually 39.5 inches. I shot the bow, and it just felt so good. It was really accurate, and the AXON-40 was born. Then, I tried a little shorter limb on the bow, which cut the brace-height down to 6.5 inches, but it still shot so well. After discussing the idea with Joel, we decided the AXON-39 would be an ideal 3-D bow and the AXON-40 would be more for indoor target shooters. Don’t get me wrong, the 40 is an amazing 3-D rig, but just like with our compound line, we wanted to give target shooters options.
Both bows, like the MAX Series, have incredible adjustability in the limb stop. When I set up my AXON-40, I set it up at 29.5 inches. My draw-length is actually 29.25 inches. So, I drew the bow back and started increasing my holding weight, which actually shortens my draw length. Just about the time I hit that 29.25-inch spot, I’ve got my 17 to 18 pounds of holding weight. Our stop is elliptical, so you can rotate it and fine-tune your holding weight. It doesn’t matter if your drawing down on a 180-inch whitetail or shooting the last shot at Vegas, the bow has to bail you out. When you draw back and everything depends on that shot, the thought that must go through your mind is “I can’t believe how steady my bow is right now.” If you find yourself fighting your pin because of bow design, it’s over. With the MAX and the AXON Series you get that, and then you release the arrow and the magic happens.
AB: You also have a price-point carbon series of bows. We don’t see price-point-carbon anything in this industry very often. How is this series being received by dealers?
Joel: We wanted to offer, going back to the Martin mentality, something for everyone. We do so much of our production in the local Walla Walla plant, so we don’t have a whole lot of shipping on the carbon series. We really wanted to make this series one that a family could afford; where they have two, three or four bows for a family. The bows are lightweight, easy to shoot and are just good, all-around solid, mid-level bows. It has been really well received by both dealers and consumers. The bows are built on a great platform. There is quality and performance in this series.
AB: Bowfishing is a growing segment of the archery industry, and the Martin Kraken looks awesome. Tell me about it.
Joel: Scott and I worked really hard with Jay Paul, one of the stars of a popular show about a swamp, to develop this bow. Jay Paul is an avid bowfisherman, and we spent a lot of time conferring with him while designing this bow. He just gave us so much information, and poured his experience into the bow. He helped us to see what needed to be on this bow, what needed to be removed, and what needed to be fixed. In the coming months, we expect Jay Paul to be slamming some big fish and some gators with this bow.
Joel: We just have such incredible depth at the plant designing these bows. Our lead designer Antonio Garcia is just a true artist. These lines are his babies, and he works tirelessly to make them great. Last year, in late August, we approached Antonio and told him that we wanted to introduce a new traditional bow. We basically told him he had free reign to do what he’s always wanted to do in a traditional bow. He went to the lab and cooked up our new Savannah Super Diablo Ultra. I mean this thing is beautiful — it’s a work of art — a bow we expect to see a lot of shooters take notice of.
Scott: The four or five different wood grips offered on the MAX and the AXON bows, that wood is actually in our Damon Howett Traditional line. They are handcrafted by the same guy that shapes our Damon Howett bows. It’s really neat. When you hold the MAX or AXON series you can hold those bows and tell that those grips weren’t made by a machine.
AB: How do you keep the Martin Archery fire burning hot? What does 2019 look like?
Joel: Our mission is to prove to the market that Martin is back, Martin is here to stay, and we are coming for that top spot. Martin’s core energy is generated from Walla Walla, Washington. We have an amazing staff at our plant. Martin Plant Operations Director Josh Lewis has done an amazing job organizing and streamlining our production and vendor relationships. He is complimented by many talented people like Plant Controller Kathy Davis. These folks put in long hours and many weekends to make sure Martin is on the climb to its rightful seat atop the industry. With Josh and Kathy’s leadership at our plant, Martin Archery is already a driving force in the market just 4 months out of the gate, and we haven’t even got warmed up yet.
Scott: We were also excited to announce a new bow that was offered for a little over a month earlier in 2018. Martin is an American company and an American brand. This year, in honor of America, we released the AXON American. It could be ordered only from Memorial Day through July 4. The riser, man, I can’t tell you how we did it, but it’s an awesome platform and sports our own trademark print. We call it the American Print and it features multiple American flags. The limbs are white and showcase American flag logos. It is really cool, and you can expect things like this from Martin in the future. We want to shake things up and keep moving forward. We think like archers because we are archers. If there is something we want, we do it. It’s really that simple.
AB: I had a blast interviewing Joel and Scott. I could feel their passion coming through the phone lines. They love the company. They love the brand. They are committed to seeing Martin Archery regain its place amongst the industry’s bow giants. I fully expect them to get there.