John Moses Browning and family operated a shop and rifle making works in Utah during the latter 19th century. A prolific gun designer, but unable to produce products in any quantity, Mr. Browning would shop his designs to US and European manufacturers in return for royalties or to produce the product with the Browning name. John’s family heirs continued this business strategy of other companies producing Browning labeled products, and with a quality dealer network and a “best quality” reputation, the company prospered, sometimes venturing into fishing gear and archery.
Not a lot has been published about the Browning Company’s Archery Division. Their first archery catalog introducing Browning Archery Equipment was printed in 1962. Some believe that Harry Drake had some sort of design/consulting agreement with Browning early on, and there are Drake designs and models of Gordon bows before Gordon sold the bow operation to Browning. It is generally believed that Wing built later Brownings, but there is no written proof of that assumption. Perhaps Gordon initially leased his archery business to Browning in 1961-62, but didn’t actually sell until the until the early 1970’s when Browning did close down the San Diego production plant and move bow building to Browning HQ in Morgan Utah.
Since Browning was an established brand with rifle and shotgun hunters, Browning’s marketing ploy was to both entice rifle hunters to expand into bow hunting, as well as advertise in archery magazines. For example our vintage magazine section has descriptions of Browning display ads ranging from 1963 through 1975.
Browning bows do live up to the Browning reputation for excellence. Browning bows are well designed, used quality materials, and were crafted with attention to detail. Browning recurve bows are considered to be high quality, and perform well.
The 1975 Browning catalog features 2 compound bow models, 2 takedown recurve models, and a half-dozen traditional recurves – all hunting bows, including the Explorer, Cobra, and Nomad Stalker. Sometime in the later 70’s, Browning stopped marketing recurves altogether, and focused solely on compound bows. The initial 1963 bow line included the (from most to least expensive): Olympian, Trophy, Safari/Explorer, Apollo, Diana, Norma, Medallion, Spartan, Mohawk, and Apache. In 1966 Browning added the high end Challenge target bow. In the late 1960s Browning added the Monarch mid-range target bow, and popular Cobra hunting bow, as well as the Wasp. The Fury model was added in 1972. Take downs and the first compound was introduced in 1974. The final 1975 Browning archery catalog featured 3 compound models, one takedown model (The Cam-Lock), and the Explorer, Cobra, and Normad Staker, as well as the entry-level Rover, Wasp and Mohawk recurves.
Browning Recurve Bow Models - 1960's and 70's
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