Friday, April 18, 2014

Dick Wilson - Shakespeare Archery's Mystery man

Dick Wilson- Shakespeare  Archery’s  Mystery Man

One of the reasons I started this blog was to document and record information from the Golden Era of Archery 1950 – mid -1970s. So much of this priceless knowledge has been lost to the passage of time and the passing of the men and women of this period. Many of these Vintage Bow Makers went bankrupt with the invention of the compound and their legacy has been neglected. Today, with the resource of the internet, we have a responsibility to preserve this heritage for future generations.

Fred Bear and Ben Pearson were great bowyers and their persona help market their exceptional bows. Shakespeare had no such person. Ernie Root was the heart and soul of the company but perhaps he was unwilling to become a figure head. In 1963-64 until 1970 Shakespeare hired Dick Wilson as Shakespeare's Archery Product Manager and President of Shakespeare Archery Division. He was an accomplished archer and he became the face of Shakespeare Archery. Ironically there is virtually nothing known about him. Where was he from? What was his influence on Ernie Root? Why did he leave Shakespeare? What did he do afterwards? This bio is found in the 1969 Shakespeare Archery catalog”

 “Dick Wilson had a wide and varied background in tournament and hunting archery. As a tournament archer he was Michigan State Field Archery Champion and won over 50 archery tournament prizes. President of the American Archery Council, he also presently serves as chairman of the Education Committees of the Professional Archery Association and the American Archery Council. He was on the board of the Archery Manufacturers Organization, director of the Professional Archery Association's Business and Instructors School and is a member of the Archery Committee of the Outdoor Education Project. Dick has been bowhunting all over the United States and in many foreign lands. He has been involved in a dozen television films seen by millions of viewers, including a 1970 segment of "The American Sportsman" on hunting Alaskan bear.”

Over the past several months I have tried to find out more about Dick Wilson. I have asked for help on several prominent traditional archery forums with no real luck. One poster erroneously suggests he was related to the Wilson brothers of Black Widow Archery. Another poster said they had known him years ago but lost touch but did say he was a very nice guy.  I have written to Shakespeare with no results. Shakespeare closed its archery division in the mid-1970s and over the years lost or destroyed all records. I have also written to the Michigan State Field Archery association, American Archery Council, Professional Archery Association, Archery Manufacturers Organization and “the American Sportsman. Many of these organizations have been reorganized and renamed, and the old guard is long gone. If Mr. Wilson is alive today he would be in the mid-80s.

Dick Wilson was with Shakespeare when Ernie Root was making Shakespeare’s bows. It really was the peak the convergence of Shakespeare and Root. He was active in the promotion of Shakespeare Archery and was featured on many Ads and catalogs. He also seems to have left Shakespeare at the exact time which Ernie Root left. My gut feeling is that Dick Wilson’s expertise as a Tournament Archer and Bowhunter had to have had some influence on the bows being designed by Ernie Root. I also find it interesting that Mr. Wilson left Shakespeare around the same time that Ernie Root left. This time period was after the sale of Root to Shakespeare and just before Shakespeare left Kalamazoo MI for Columbia SC.

Here are the printed references which I found about Dick Wilson:

In the bow review of the OCALA X17 -, Brush Beat for a Meat Sheep  By Jim Dougherty. May- June 1967, BOW & ARROW Magazine  pp. 14-18, 43, 59, Mr Dougherty twice comments about Dick Wilson:

 “ Dick Wilson of Shakespeare had sent me a dozen of their rifled Fiberglass arrows and believe me the shafts are as tough as hell, you cannot break one in two…..”

Dick Wilson and the Shakespeare people have no reason to be anything but proud of the strides they have made in modern archery tackle. The complete line of Shakespeare bows is cut from the same mold of quality that highlights the Ocala”

Mr Wilson and his family are featured in both the 1964 and 1966 Catalogs

Dick Wilson on the cover of the 1970 catalog

In the 1966 and 1967 Catalog Dick Wilson is shown shooting the Titan X15

In 1966 Mr Wilson is shown with a trophy and at full draw Necedah X26

In the 1967 catalog he is featured on the cover
If anyone has information about Dick Wilson, please share it.