Luis (Lou) Edward Stemmler was one of the first, and perhaps oldest, archery companies in the United States. Luis acquired the business from his father. The company was located on Long Island, New York. The archery business dates back to at least 1912. Stemmler produced all sorts of archery equipment, including bow making materials, English style long bows, arrows, and broadheads. He was at that time the largest manufacturer of archery tackle in the USA. The 1920 Stemmler catalog included bow making materials, strings, points, broadheads, feathers, arrow shafts, arm guards, quivers, tabs, shooting gloves, as well a a line of lemonwood, yew and osage longbows. In the 1930s Stemmler also produced a line of Turkish and Persian bows.
In 1942 Luis wrote his classic book “The Essentials of Archery – How to Use and Make Bows and Arrows”. The first bow that Fred Bear ever made was from a bow stave purchased from Fred Kibbe, a Stemmler protégé. Stemmler is reported to be the supplier of the staves for Fred Bear’s first lines of bows. The Stemmler factory was destroyed by fire (suspiciously) in the late 1970s, and was not rebuilt. Stemmler resurfaced with operations in Middlebury, CT.
It is thought that Stemmler had two levels of production. One was an inexpensive line of bows and wooden arrows for youth groups and schools, and a second line of higher quality recurves, many of which were custom orders from sporting goods companies.
Stemmler did venture into the compound market before going out of business. A catalog from the 1970s featured a line of 5 compound bow models, 2 recurve takedowns, and a fiberglass bow. Lou Stemmler was reported to be a very good archer himself, although it is not known if he ever competed in many archery tournaments. Surpirsingly, its fairly common to see old (1930s-1950s) Stemmler catalogs for sale on Ebay or elsewhere, but quite rare to find one from the 1960s or 1970s.
Editor’s Note: I have owned a few vintage Stemmler recurves from the 1960s, and find them to be of marginal quality.
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