By Spencer Neuharth

When I filled my archery tag in 2011, I couldn’t have been happier. Over 100 hours in the stand finally paid off with a 133” whitetail that was duped by my grunt call. It was my first buck, shot with my first bow, from my first treestand. The cherry on top for this experience would be seeing my name in the Pope & Young Club pages.

I was wrong, though.

how pope and young became relevant again

My lighted knocks weren’t considered fair chase by Pope & Young, which looked down on hunters who used modern archery equipment. Not only that, but my bow’s 70% let-off would earn me an asterisk next to my name.

The snubbing left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I largely disregarded the Club after that. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, and Pope & Young knew it.

“I told our guys that the Club mostly ignored the industry for a long time, and now the industry ignores us,” said Pope & Young President, Jim Willems, in a 2014 interview with ATA.

The Club grabbed headlines just months prior by announcing that the “no electronics rule” would be revised to allow archers to use lighted knocks and recording devices. This was a breakthrough for the archery world and Pope & Young, who also agreed to make the change retroactive.

Willems definitely meant what he said, and proved it two years later with an addition of the Pope & Young Gross Score Policy. This new amendment added gross score as supplemental data, meaning an animal’s score without deductions is recorded, but only the net score matters for official ranking.

Fixing the electronics rule and adding gross scores to the record book were no-brainers for Pope & Young. Lighted knocks don’t make killing a deer any easier, but they do assist in recoveries. As for the Gross Score Policy, Pope & Young was able to hold their stance on net score, while still pleasing those who favor gross score.

The Club should continue its facelift, though, by doing away with asterisks for bows with greater than 65% let-off. Most of the market has now settled in at 70 or 75%, and Mathews estimates over 80% of the bows they sell today are high-let-off models. With so many archers toting around bows that are considered asterisk worthy, why even bother labeling them anymore? Leave the asterisk stigma for steroid users in baseball.

However, even if Pope & Young doesn’t get rid of the asterisks, they’ve made it obvious that they’re willing to roll with the high-tech archery punches. No longer does the Club feel like a porch full of old codgers yelling at kids to get off their lawn.

– Spencer Neuharth

So what do you think? Is P&Y moving the right direction?