Dec 05, 2023
Jim Easton, NFAA Compton Medal of Honor Recipient, Passes at 88
James L. Easton, renowned for innovative sporting goods such as carbon-fiber arrows and aluminum baseball bats, was driven by a never-ending passion for excellence.
James (Jim) Easton passed away at his home in Los Angeles, surrounded by family and friends. He was 88 years old. Jim, renowned for innovative sporting goods such as carbon-fiber arrows and aluminum baseball bats, was driven by a never-ending passion for excellence.
A True Friend of the NFAA
The National Field Archery Association mourns the passing of a true friend and an instrumental figure in the archery world, Jim Easton. In 2004, Jim was awarded the NFAA's highest honor, the Compton Medal of Honor, recognizing his significant contributions to the sport. He was a steadfast supporter of the NFAA and the NFAA Foundation, a passion that went beyond mere affiliation — it was a commitment that shaped the future of archery.
Jim did a lot for the NFAA, especially for young archers. He helped our youth bowhunting programs grow, making sure kids had a chance to learn archery from the start. His work made a big difference in many young people's lives. Perhaps one of Jim's most significant contributions to the NFAA was his role in the NFAA's acquisition of The Vegas Shoot. His insight and support were key in transforming this event into the prestigious tournament it is today, often referred to as the "Super Bowl of Archery." The Vegas Shoot has become a cornerstone event, thanks in no small part to Jim’s foresight and support.
Jim’s philanthropy was equally evident in his support for the establishment of the first Easton Archery Center in Yankton, South Dakota. His dedication to the sport's growth culminated in this center, which not only serves as the home of the NFAA headquarters but has also become a hub for archery enthusiasts and elite athletes alike. The center stands as a testament to his commitment to nurturing talent and building communities through archery. The NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center is a physical representation of Jim’s belief in the transformative power of archery. It is a place where archers can train, compete, and share their love for the sport.
As we reflect on Jim Easton’s remarkable life, we do so with gratitude for his unwavering support and deep history with our organization. His memory will live on through the continued success of the programs and institutions he helped build, and he will be deeply missed by all who had the pleasure of walking alongside him in the archery community.
A Look Back at Jim's Legacy
As a young man in the 1950’s, Jim worked in his father’s archery shop by day and studied engineering at UCLA by night. Eventually, after five years at Douglas Aircraft, where he worked on the DC8 jetliner, Mr. Easton returned to the family business to help make the Easton company the world’s foremost innovator of sporting goods, such as ice hockey sticks, baseball bats, and arrow shafts used at the Olympic Games and worldwide.
Jim Easton’s deep involvement in archery is particularly credited with that sport being designated as a core Olympic Games event today. Mr. Easton had seen the products he developed transform every sport into which he delved. Even after becoming president of the international governing body for archery, and a member of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Easton’s passion for excellence drove him to spend hours per week on his company’s shop floor, improving processes and rubbing elbows daily with his large staff of engineers.
As president of the World Archery Federation for 16 years from 1988 to 2004, Mr. Easton innovated new competition formats making archery a television-friendly sport, one of the most-watched during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Mr. Easton was elected to the International Olympic Committee in 1994. As IOC Vice-President, and as an Executive Board member, Mr. Easton worked hard to support the Olympic Games, having previously served as Archery Commissioner, Olympic Village Mayor, and Technology Commissioner for the highly successful 1984 Olympic Games. Mr. Easton was a board member of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and served on the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games.
Mr. Easton was born in Los Angeles on July 26, 1935, son of archery innovators Doug and Mary Easton. Doug Easton had built a business making highly crafted, custom archery gear, popular at the time with Hollywood luminaries such as Errol Flynn. Some of Jim Easton’s earliest memories involved helping his parents and younger brother build wooden aviation map cases for World War II Allied pilots.
Throughout high school, Mr. Easton was a competitive archer, taking a podium at a US Nationals in the 1950’s. After his return to the family business in the early 1960’s, he collaborated with his younger brother, world-renowned architect Robert (Bob) Easton, to create the first aluminum ski poles. He also developed a critical part of NASA’s lunar instrumentation for the Apollo manned lunar program.
Mr. Easton moved the company beyond archery into baseball and softball equipment, ice and field hockey equipment, tennis racquets, golf equipment, bicycles, and many other pursuits. But archery was always his dearest passion and pursuit. To that end, he was credited with the earliest development of carbon fiber for archery bows and arrows.
He met his wife, Phyllis, while creating technical literature to advance the sport of archery. Together they created numerous books and videos documenting the history of the sport in the Olympic Games, and oversaw philanthropic work benefiting UCLA and other institutions around the world.
In later years, two substantial sports development foundations, created with proceeds from his archery and team sports businesses, fulfilled Mr. Easton’s interests in philanthropy. In particular, Mr. Easton built numerous world-class archery centers for the advancement and teaching of the sport throughout the United States, and helped create a world level archery training center in Lausanne, Switzerland near the IOC headquarters.
Jim Easton was awarded the UCLA Medal in 2014, and made substantial contributions to UCLA, and Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Research Center, Intermountain Hospital Trauma Center, Primary Children’s Hospital and The National Ability Center.
His family-owned archery companies, Hoyt Archery, and Easton Technical Products, employ more than 400 workers in Utah and Indiana. Mr. Easton is survived by his wife of 29 years, Phyllis, son Greg, daughter Lynn, and three grandchildren. The family will celebrate Jim’s life at a private memorial observance.
View more on Jim's history with the NFAA.