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Chief Compton

Chief Compton

Historical Category - Bowhunters who have impacted the history of the sport.

William John “Chief” Compton
September 28, 1863—May 16, 1938
Hunter–Bowyer–Enthusiastic Archer

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


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