By Fred Eichler
Ever since my job as a young man working in the pro shop and museum at Bear Archery, I have felt a closeness to the company that still bears the founder’s name. His presence is still felt at the factory and Bear Archery still uses Fred in their promotions, which to me is a great form of respect for their founder. It shows me they haven’t forgotten who made them what they are. When I left Bear Archery it was for a job managing an archery shop in Fort Collins, Colorado, and before I left Frank Scott gifted me a Fred Bear takedown recurve.
Since that time I have been fortunate to hunt some of the places Fred did and hunt some of the animals Fred spoke and wrote so eloquently about. My passion for bowhunting and promoting the sport I care so much about has been a major part of my life. As I get older, protecting our hunting heritage as well as learning more about our archery and bowhunting history means even more to me now than it did as a young man.
In 2022, I got an amazing opportunity to work on a new Bear recurve riser with the General Manager of Bear Archery, Jonathan Lene, and Timmy Langley, one of the engineers at Bear Archery. Their vast experience with both bows and bow design eclipsed mine, but I was able to make some of the changes I really wanted. One of the changes I wanted was a bow that was super light and designed to shoot better off the shelf with more feather clearance than other models.
I kept the small handle design because most recurves make it hard for me to put the riser in the exact location in my hand every time for every shot. I also wanted to change Fred’s original shelf. There was a lot of arrow contact on the shelf on the older designs and I had trouble getting perfect arrow flight.
I also wanted to change up the side plate. The original design had one set screw for adjusting the plate and I wanted two set screws. Just the opportunity to make some improvements on Fred’s original take down with the unique latch system Fred designed was inspiring to say the least.
To say I was excited would be an understatement. Bear Archery is where my archery career started and Fred Bear was my bowhunting mentor even though he didn’t really know me or the impact he had on me.
One of the most exciting parts of this project was the testing of prototypes that we kept tweaking. I understood that things like curved designs and taking out material in the riser and adding another set screw all adds more costs in machining, but I had an image of what I wanted and we did it.
To have a hand in helping design a bow that has my name next to Fred’s is by far my proudest archery moment. This past year having the opportunity to test the bow took me back to a time when men like Fred Bear as well as others were literally designing the equipment that many of us use today. My humble suggestions weren’t that ground breaking and certainly aren’t going to change the sport like so many other people have done. However, I like to think Mr. Bear is somewhere shooting his bow and appreciating that there are many of us that are thankful for the work, sacrifice, testing, and promoting they did. I don’t know if he is on hunts with me or not, but sometimes I feel like he is standing right beside me.
Side bar: For those interested here are the stats on the Bear Riser
Fred Eichler/Bear Riser
- 17″ riser with Fred Bear’s original latch system
- Lengths of bow options with different limbs: 58″, 60″, or 62″. Poundage options 30-70 lbs @ 28″.
- Will accommodate older bear limbs.
- Color options: Fred Bear camo, hunter green, or buckskin.
- Interchangeable shelf heights: low, medium, or high.
- Adjustable strike plate.