Jim Fletcher Archery 1960-2015
Jim Fletcher Archery is promoting a new, best all-around release aid for 2015. It is news because the Outsider looks different and fires in a different manner. The Outsider, including its stabilizer arm, is a D-loop only, thumb-trigger release designed to provide a smooth, consistent shot. It requires the archer to put the index finger on the stabilizer arm and the thumb on the trigger to squeeze the stabilizer arm and trigger together.
The Outsider, says Fletcher General Manager Terry Harris, can help overcome the tendency to “jerk” the trigger and help with target panic. “We wanted a release that would reset itself, and with this setup we are finding that people don’t tend to jump on the trigger so hard,” he explained. Because the company is already back-ordered for this new product, Harris and company are already working on an upgraded version to preview at the 2016 ATA Show.
What is remarkable about the “release of this release” is both the product itself and the fact that Fletcher Archery has been active in the development of the sport and the industry since 1960. Few independent start-up companies last beyond four to five years, so the 55-year lifespan of Jim Fletcher’s company is exceptional.
Jim Fletcher became interested in archery while he was working at Northrop Aircraft in the 1950s. Fletcher, as it turned out, was a master tinkerer. (“If he buys a new car,” said son-in-law Harris, “Jim begins to fiddle with it immediately, trying to improve it.”) So in his garage Fletcher began building things for himself. Soon his friends wanted him to make things for them as well, and that’s how the company got started.
Eventually Fletcher’s curiosity drove him toward the mechanics of a smooth string release and that meant experimenting with – by today’s standards, quite primitive – mechanical releases. “That was about the time Susie, his daughter, and I joined the company, in 1978,” Terry Harris said. Susie was very familiar with the product because she was packaging TruPeep peep sights and kisser buttons when she was 10 years old!
Fletcher has not been active in the company or in product development for 20 years, but it has been hard for him to let it go. Harris notes that at 90 years old, Fletcher still drops by the office frequently.
“Jim was the first one to split the string for a peep sight, as many archers in those early days used a peep that hung on the outside of the string,” Harris said. “Then he figured out how to angle the peep inside the string strands so that when an archer drew the string back, the peep was squared up to the face…and then he added a little hood so the peep was shaded. It all seems so simple, but putting it all together was really a stroke of genius. Our peep patents have run out, but we still sell all of the TruPeeps that we can build although there are a lot of imitators out there now.”
Terry Harris says the company tries to think ahead, taking the long view in archery. “The really important part, though, is just trying to deal with the problems people have while shooting. That’s where the new Outsider came from, really – the tendency for people to want to punch the index-finger release.”
One small step for man …