Throughout the formation of our uniquely American archery/bowhunting industry, few times have been more pivotal than the WWII years, and few places hotter beds of technical innovation than Michigan’s communities surrounding the auto industry.
So, it was in 1946 that longtime auto industry chemist Rollin Bohning, who also happened to be an avid archer, saw the opportunity to apply his knowledge in the chemistry of plastics to develop a glue for fastening steel arrow points to cedar shafts.
“We were working with high-strength cements [epoxy] used in the war work. I saw where these cements might be used for putting on my broadheads if a simple method could be found to use them. Thus, was developed the liquid Ferr-L-Tite,” wrote Rollin in an article he shared with Bow & Arrow Magazine (1966).
It was with that innovation in 1946 that Rollin founded Bohning Adhesives on the site of his family cabin in Lake City, Michigan, and 75 years — and countless innovations later — The Bohning Company is still located on that very same piece of Northern Michigan deer country.
In the early days, opportunities to work with fellow industry pioneers Fred Bear and Doug Easton came naturally, and soon Rollin was seeking formulations to a wide variety of arrow-related adhesives, waxes, and coatings, as well as developing techniques and devices for cresting and fletching. Aluminum arrows presented a special challenge because traditional glues didn’t adhere to metals or non-absorptive surfaces. But using high-power microscopes, Rollin soon discovered that, “At the grain level of [metallic] crystals, however, there are minute areas in which glue will penetrate the crystal to form a tight adherent bond. This bond will be many times more powerful than a mechanical bond which many try to make by rough sanding the metal so that the glue bonds to the ridges made by the sandpaper.” With that knowledge, Rollin created a glue that would “penetrate into the grain boundaries of the metal and become close enough to the metal that electrostatic forces in the molecules of the adhesives and the molecules of the metal will form an extremely high bond.” The resulting product was Fletch-Tite, which Rollin Bohning created in 1948.
But of course, the innovations didn’t end there. That was just the beginning. A few years later, he brought Dri-Tite Water-Proofing Compound for feather fletching to market, as well as Tex-Tite Blended Bowstring Wax for synthetic string materials (1952). Six years after that, working with his son-in-law, Colby Johnson, Rollin introduced archers to Fletch-Lac Arrow Lacquers for aluminum arrows (1958). The Bohning team continued adapting to changing technologies and bringing new archery innovations to the marketplace, including in 1975 their first vanes (now the most-widely used worldwide). Rollin went on to use his chemistry know-how to make sizable contributions outside the archery business (think healthier foods and non-medical treatments for health issues), while Colby dug into research and development on the archery side.
As the business expanded under new management in the late 80s, Bohning continued to improve on its adhesives and added steadily to its amazing and colorful array of arrow-building accessories, which has grown to include highly specialized precision nocks, points, vanes, wraps, fletching jigs, etc. And over the years, the list of accessories has grown to include quivers, armguards, bow cases, a Shooter Stool, and most recently, the super-convenient Serveless Peep It.
Let’s face it, Bohning’s products are indispensable, and we cannot wait to see what innovations they’ll have for us in 2021 and beyond. We’re proud to call them our partners since the ‘70s, and offer a tip of the Bowhunter cap. Congratulations on 75 years!