Historical Category - Bowhunters
who have impacted the history of the sport.
William John “Chief” Compton
September 28, 1863—May 16, 1938
Born in Flint, Michigan. As a boy of seven, Will, who later was to accept
the accolade of “Chief” with great humility and pride, moved to Norfold,
Nebraska where he spent much time with and was adopted by the Sioux
Indians. He drove the first team load of freight into Laramie, Wyoming in
1881 and settled near Medford, Oregon in 1883. Will moved to California
around 1900, living here the remainder of his year.
It is ironic one must do considerable research to discover this humble
man, expert Bowyer and enthusiastic Archer was, more than any other,
responsible for the modern introduction of Archery to the West Coast.
Primarily a bowhunter, Will killed his first deer at age 14 and hunted
with the bow 30 years before Ishi first stimulated Saxton Pope’s interest
in Archery. Saxton credits Will with taking numerous small game, bird in
flight, many deer, elk, moose and even a buffalo with a bow. Compton and
Pope shot with Ishi until his last illness. It was Will who met the expert
rifleman and hunter Art Young and introduced him to the bow and to Saxton
Pope. After Ishi’s death the three shot and hunted together many times.
Although acknowledged by Saxton Pope in his writings as the “better shot
of the three of us,” it was Young’s colorful exploits with the bow and
Pope’s writings that caused Pope and Young’s names to become more famous
than their teacher. The “Chief” brought Pope and Young together, gave them
his wisdom of his years of hunting and instilled in the, and many others,
a love for the primitive use of the bow.
In 1947, the National Field Archery Association recognized “Chief”
Compton’s contributions through its highest award, the N.F.A.A. Medal of
Honor, “which shall be known as the Compton Medal of Honor and it shall be
bestowed sparingly and only in recognition of outstanding and unselfish
contributions to Archery in any of its phases.”
“Chief” Compton — the truest of Bowman Hunters.
Installed in January 1979