Aspirin Bustin' with Hoyt Bows for 21 years by Frank Addington, Jr.
July 9: July 1, 2011 marks 21 years of me having a Hoyt bow in my hand and on stage. As I enter my 21st year on their pro staff, I am thankful for a career that's been so good to me. I have been on stage a total of 26 years and 21 of those have now been with a Hoyt in my hand. 21 years is a long time. A lot has changed in that time. The materials that make bows, arrows and accessories has changed, my show has evolved and I now do my entire show shooting behind the back. About the only thing that's the same is my green Bjorn net, which has been with me the entire time. I have some newer nets, but the Bjorn is the one I use most. It's been coast to coast many times! My 2011 Hoyt Formula RX bows are state of the art, as is the new Buffalo hunting recurve. I am impressed with the way these bows perform. If you haven't tried one of these new Hoyt recurves, you should.
I actually had Hoyt bows before being on their "official" staff. Earl and Ann Hoyt still ran the company. One year my father ordered a Hoyt recurve for me for my birthday and Ann Hoyt put a copy of a snapshot of her and I in the box with the bow. Getting photos, notes and such was the norm when Ann and Earl ran the company. In those days Ann took care of packing and shipping the bows. Earl signed some of my early bows. I also have signed arrows from both Earl and Ann that are now priceless. Earl was the design man, seems he was always tinkering. I have some cool photos of Fred Bear and Earl sitting and chatting, just some candid snapshots of two legends sharing bow talk.
Ann Clark had wanted me to go down the JOAD trail and get into target and FITA archery. It wasn't to be. I found myself bored to death with field shooting and the sights got in my way when trying to shoot instinctive. I guess once you are an instinctive shooter, you really never outgrow it. Anyway, I have many memories of those early days when I'd visit with Earl and Ann at shows and events. Earl and my father would usually go booth to booth and critique that year's new bows. Once the Hoyts sold the company to Easton, a vibrant and energetic Joe Johnston assumed the presidency. Joe was a real hoot, his grin and laugh were contagious. He had a knack for PR/Marketing and really put Hoyt on the map in the archery industry. Earl and Ann still attended many of the shows so we kept up with them and shared some good meals with them over the years.
The Joe Johnston era is when I first came on board with Hoyt. Joe was a natural at the job and loved what he did. I remember he travelled with me and Hoyt sales rep Jim Wynne in the mid 1980's. We did a series of shows in Virginia schools, some in-store promotions and also made an appearance at the Dixie Deer Classic. Here I am a young exhibition shooter sharing the stage with the president of the company! Joe stood beside the stage and watched many of my shows. He liked it except one comment. He didn't like me taking time between shots to retrieve my arrows from the foam targets. So he insisted that he'd send me enough arrows so that I never had to pull one during the show, "Just keep shooting" Joe would say.
We shared a great meal at the Angus Barn in Raleigh during that Dixie Deer appearance. It was what I dubbed "the President's dinner". We had Jim Wynne, my assistant Rob Parog and Joe Johnston, President of Hoyt, Jim and Sherry Crumley, President of Treebark, Ben Southard, President of Loc On Treestands, Bill Robinson, President of Robinson Labs/Scent Shield and I believe Bill Bynum was there too. All in all, a great and fun crew. At that time the Angus Barn was very proper and high class. The Angus Barn staff dressed up and wore white gloves and brought you a chilled fork, etc during the meal. My assistant, Rob could do a wide variety of animal noises and so Joe Johnston gets him to do his cricket imitation in the middle of the restaurant. It got louder and louder and seemed like a whole bunch of crickets were among us and other tables began looking around for the crickets. All at once Joe took his cowboy boot and loudly stomped the floor and yelled, "Got him"! You could have heard a pin drop and then Joe roared laughing. He was genuinely funny and a good time was had by all when ole' Joe was around.
Jim Wynne, the Hoyt sales rep, was also important in my time at Hoyt in the early days. Jim worked hard to promote archery, Hoyt and he often would have me do exhibitions at events to get some attention for the name/sport. Wynne was like Joe, a born promoter and he had a knack for making the PR produce sales for his dealer base. I can't say enough good about Wynne, we remain close friends and still eat meals whenever our schedules have us in the same town. He's moved on to a VP role with another bow company, but our friendship dates back to 1978. Wynne is one of archery's good guys.
Another thing about Joe, he was always a phone call away. If he missed the call, at first opportunity he'd call you back. I'd have a suggestion and next thing I know it would be taken care of - whether it was something needed for my stage show, a bow for a celebrity or event, Joe would listen, make his decision and take action. I always admired that about him.
During my early years at Hoyt/Easton I answered to a variety of people. I remember answering to Jack Lyons, the late Bill Krenz, Bob Ridenour and Erik Dally. I went from Advisory Staff to Gold Staff and finally when I didn't really fit the bowhunting pro staff or the target pro staff, Erik Dally told me I was on the "Promotional Pro Staff". When I asked him who was on the staff, he said, "you". He made up a title for me. We both laughed. I didn't mind, I enjoyed being a part of such a great company. I remember Bill Krenz was really strict about reports; he wanted to see quarterly reports and year end reports. It started a habit I have to this day, I always do a year end report so that the company has feedback from my year on the road listening to consumers and hearing feedback both good and bad. Over the years I also saw the name go from Hoyt/Easton to "Hoyt USA." Next I answered to a young guy named Mike Luper. Of all the people I'd met at Hoyt, which were all good people, Mike seemed to have the Joe Johnston knack for publicity and promotion. He was brilliant and impressed me. I always told him he'd work his way up and run the show someday. I knew he shared Randy, Erik and Joe's vision for keeping Hoyt the best of the best. The name has evolved into simply "Hoyt" now.
Hoyt had some good presidents after Joe too. Erik Watts and Randy Walk have both ran the show. Erik seemed to have more of an accounting view and he put key people in place to help achieve his vision of Hoyt. When Erik left the President's office at Hoyt, Randy Walk took over the show. Randy was young and came up through the ranks, bringing that experience with him to the President's office. Randy's tenure has seemed to emphasize engineering and quality products. All three men have had their own unique management style. They all have striven to keep the bows and name at the top of the archery industry. It has worked. Today Randy's vision for Hoyt honours the Hoyt heritage and history and brings a modern line up of bows to please today's consumers and perform well on the shooting line at major competitions or in the woods on the hunt of a lifetime. There's a lot of history behind that Hoyt decal. Walk has striven to push the brand past the mark to exceed customer expectations. He's also not been one to rest on his past achievements.
I should also mention that there's a lot of unsung heroes at Hoyt. The people who answer the phones and emails, the engineers and product designers, those who assemble the bows and parts and those who run customer service. Then you have a staff in the marketing department and in the accounting department. Every single person at Hoyt seems to have one goal in mind, build the best bows and accessories they can build, take care of daily business and pay special attention to take care of the dealers and consumer base.
I was away from Hoyt from 2003-2009 but during that time, I shot a SKY bow which was an Earl Hoyt design. Mathews bought the company when Earl passed away and I was with Sky/Mathews for that time frame. So with the exception of one Fred bear Kodiak, I have shot an Earl Hoyt designed bow 90% of my career.
In July 2009 I made a decision and I returned "home" to Hoyt and went back to work promoting the Hoyt brand of bows and answering to Mike Luper. It was as if I'd never been away and Crystal and the folks at Hoyt take such good care of me. When I get a consumer email or question, comment or concern I can't answer, I send it to Hoyt and they never fail to respond and help the consumer the best they can. Like when Joe Johnston was there, if a need or concern arises, one email or phone call and it's usually taken care of.
Douglas Denton and the engineers at Hoyt really outdid themselves in 2010 when the Formula RX line launched! I did a video interview with Douglas at the ATA Show in 2010 so that he could explain the new concept/riser and limb design they'd come up with. It left a 30 year old design to break the mould for what a recurve could be. Next came the Hoyt Buffalo which is one of the best shooting hunting recurves you'll ever try.
Now that I am heading toward my third decade with a Hoyt bow in my hand, I am excited about the future. Having had a 26 year career as a professional athlete has been a dream come true for me. I always tell people I have always admired the career of country singer George Strait. He's been consistently doing what he does for more than thirty years. And he seems to get better with age. By the way, in 1999 I gave George a Hoyt bow my father set up for him. You'll find I usually try and get a bow in any high profile person's hands that will take it, a lesson learned from Fred Bear. My shows stay booked and I typically perform between 20-30 major events per year.
I am anxiously awaiting the 2012 line up of bows, getting the new catalogue is always like getting a Christmas wish book. The folks at Hoyt seem to always be building new bows and taking archery to the next level, just the way Earl and Ann and my pal Joe Johnston would have wanted them to. As I begin a new year shooting for Hoyt, looking into the future, a Ronald Reagan quote comes to mind - "You ain't seen nothin' yet." That goes for Hoyt and for my shows.
That's the latest. Until next time, Adios & God Bless. Shoot Straight, Frank Addington, Jr., The Aspirin Buster