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Monday, December 31, 2012

Star Trek killed the Recurve Bow

Captain Kirk in 1969 Jennings Compound AD
Bill Shatner using a recurve before he turned to the "Dark Side"
William Shatner with a Shakespeare Recurve

Captain Kirk Killed the Recurve!

by Larry Vienneau

I know what you are thinking…what the heck does Captain Kirk have to do with Shakespeare Archery? Well, believe it or not, he has a lot to do with it. OK, I admit it, I might be a bit of a Star Trek nerd but William Shatner using his Star Trek fame helped end traditional archery (for a while anyway). Jennings was the first manufacturer of the compound bow. They used William Shatner of Star Trek fame to promote a new “Space Age” bow design.  It was a clever use of celebrity and technology which ultimately lead to the decline of the recurve and the birth of the compound. William Shatner owned several Shakespeare recurves and was friends with Shakespeare Archery Executive and Pro Dick Wilson and Shatner also knew Ernie Root.


Holless Wilbur Allen changed the direction of archery forever when he discovered that he could make a new, faster bow by sawing off part of the limbs of a recurve bow and attaching pulleys to the new ends.  In the early 1960s, he decided to try improving the current design of bows by using the pulley’s mechanical advantage to pull more weight than normally possible.

As Holless was exploring different ways of using the pulleys, he discovered that by using one with an offset axle (eccentrics), he created one of the biggest advantages of compound bows, “let-off”.  When coupled with a cam shape instead of a round pulley, the draw length, weight, and force curve could be changed and improved.

On June 23, 1966, Holless applied for a patent “Archery bow with draw-force multiplying attachments”; in December of 1969, it was granted.  He teamed with Tom Jennings, and the first compound bows began to be manufactured.

William Shatner in one of the first ads for a compound bow in 1968

Shatner with Recurve 1967

Bill Shatner with his (Shakespeare Model X-15 ?) recurved in 1967 and
 today as he reminisces about how he killed the recurve
recent photo© 2012 by Jeff Greenwald

© Copyright, Larry Vienneau Jr.
All rights reserved.


  1. Thats the same William Shatner Fred Bear kicked out of a bear hunting camp. Shatner shot a bear and wanted to wait till the next morning to track it, Papa wanted it done now!

  2. Haha I didn't know this. I googled it and found Papa Bear also had personality conflicts. Bear was quiet and modest and Shatner was ..well.. a TV star. Papa Bear must have been thinking "Scottie, beam him out of here!!"
    thanks David!!!

  3. Oh my! This post is absolutely awesome and fabulous! Vintage but so cool! Thanks for posting this!


  4. Interesting information! Thanks!

  5. Any back story on DeForest Kelley? You do have a great picture of him shooting with Shatner.

    1. No real story other than he needed to learn to shoot for an episode of Star Trek. Deforest for more of a tennis player than outdoors-man. The bow they are using appears in several of these photos. They remained friend after the the TV and movie series ended.

  6. Great images of Star trek and bows. Thanks for posting them.

  7. Great pics and article! As long as they're going to eat the meat I don't have a problem with hunting, though I do worry that the animals are not being killed humanely - especially in the case of amateur hunters.

    Whenever I see pictures of him wearing hats like this I always wonder whether he is wearing his toupee underneath!!

  8. I seen him on American sportsman shoot that bear .....never seen him again!