Bob Lee – Living Legend

Brodie Swisher

Bob Lee – Living Legend

By Brodie Swisher

Mar 1, 2007 – 6:55:00 AM


In a fairly recent issue I shared with the readers a personal struggle I’d been battling with over the past year.  It was what I labeled the “Traditional Temptation”.  I fought the urge to give in to this fierce temptation, but, much to my wife’s dismay, I gave in. 

The “traditional temptation” got the best of me and I soon found my self reading magazines and books on the subject of traditional archery – literature I once thought was for “old timers.”  What I found was that the mystery and methods of traditional archery are nothing short of fascinating. 

The men that pioneered and propelled the sport of archery and bowhunting should receive the utmost of honor and recognition for their work in making the sport in which we are so passionate about a reality.  In this issue, we’ll take a look at a National Bowhunters Hall of Famer Bob Lee of Bob Lee Archery and his efforts to make bowhunting what it is today.  

Bob Lee’s journey to the National Bowhunters Hall of Fame began at the age of 23, when he attended one of Texas’ first organized shoots and became enthralled with the advanced archery equipment he discovered therein.  This enthusiasm prompted him to forge a garage business he branded as Wing Archery, a company that would experience explosive success throughout the fifties, sixties, and seventies and emerge the era’s premier archery manufacturer and trendsetter, with daily shipments averaging more than 300 bows. 

Due to this success, Bob was required to travel a great deal, which presented a dilemma in packing the long, cumbersome archery equipment.  As a result, Bob conceptualized a three-piece bow that would break down for ease of transport, with the added advantage of versatility in weight and limb length. 

Though his idea met with skepticism and even ridicule, in 1963 Bob produced the Presentation II, the first laminated takedown bow.  This new bow proved an overwhelming and immediate success, spawning the multitudes of takedowns on the market today.

If you’re like me and you enjoy the fact that as bowhunters we have the opportunity to hit the woods weeks, and in some places months, before gun hunters do, you can thank people like Bob Lee.  In the late 1950’s, Bob Lee lobbied extensively for a pre-rifle, archery only hunting season. 

Through much hard work and unwavering determination, Lee, along with many of his traditional bowhunting comrades realized their first exclusive hunting season in October 1959.  This same year (1959) saw the beginning of the Pope & Young Club due to the pioneering spirit of Bob Lee and other legends in the sport of bowhunting. 

Bob was also a founding member of the Archery Manufacturers and Dealers organization, which later became known as the AMO (Archery Manufacturers Organization).  This association proved instrumental in developing industry standards for bow weights, strings, draw lengths, etc.  

Bob with son Rob looking for perfection

Today, Bob and son Rob share a partnership through Bob Lee Archery.  It is through this venue that they combine their experience as bowyers and passion for the sport of archery to once again produce outstanding and innovative products.  The same craftsmanship that evolved Bob Lee’s Wing products into timeless collector’s items is echoed in the bow models that bear his name.  Through this legacy, Bob shares his dream with each owner of a Bob Lee bow.

I was introduced to Bob Lee Archery by Brooks Johnson of Double Bull Archery.  Brooks has been somewhat of a traditional archery mentor to me over the past year and in pickin’ his brain about top-notch bowyers, Bob Lee quickly came up. 

“The Bob Lee bows are smooth, quick, and are hard to beat,” says Johnson.  Brooks has taken a variety of big game animals with his Bob Lee bows, as can be seen on his video series, Another Year on the Ground, from Double Bull Archery.  From my first conversation with Rob (Bob Lee’s son), I realized just how incredibly service oriented this company is.  Rob took the time to answer my “dumb questions” and steer me in the right direction on what I needed as I plunged deeper into the sport of traditional archery.  

This name on a bow means quality and performance for a lifetime.

Though my traditional experience started with a longbow, I’ve been lured by the beauty and curves of the recurve bow.  I’ll admit it was love at first sight the day my new Bob Lee Hunter Recurve arrived.  I quickly found out for myself that there is indeed a reason why the Bob Lee name is legendary, as are the bows which bear his name.  My new recurve is silky smooth and is extremely quick.  It truly shoots as good as it looks.  

So begins the next chapter in my traditional archery journey.  Spring turkey season is just around the corner and I’ve already scheduled a death-match with the local gobblers.  Turkeys the traditional way – I can’t wait – and you can bet I’ll be taking a piece of the Bob Lee legacy every time I go. 

On the web go to: Bob Lee Archery

Brodie Swisher is world champion game caller and freelance outdoor writer/videographer from Buchanan, TN.  Check out his website at

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