Pop Bailey 

Henry "Pop" Bailey (1874-1961) also known as "Grandpa Bailey" is one of the pioneers of the Crossbow in North America.

This is a rare photograph of Pop Bailey holding Paul Eytel's Record Breaking crossbow made by Bailey. Click on the picture for a larger view.

The late Gil Frey was the Corresponding Secretary of the Crossbowmen of America, and was George's very good friend. We thank him for his biography of Henry Bailey.


Henry Lloyd Bailey

by Gil Frey

Target crossbow shooting within the National Archery Association (NAA) of the United States resulted from the persuasive efforts of Harry Bailey, from Elizabeth, New Jersey, who was affectionately nicknamed "Grandpa" by his fellow archers even before his interest in the crossbow. Born in 1874, he passed away peacefully in 1961 while sitting in his rocking chair strumming his guitar.

Grandpa Bailey had been an archer from childhood on, but had to give it up when he severed the nerve ends in the fingers of his right hand in a workshop accident so he could no longer control the release of an arrow. Archery was an important part of his life so he looked for a way to continue in the sport he loved when he hit upon the idea of a light weight target crossbow.

Grandpa was also concerned about other archers who, like him, were getting up in years, and believed that some of them would continue in the sport if a light weight target crossbow was made available to them. A crossbow division might also help hold archer groups together as there were many people young as well as old, who would keep on at archery if they could hear the sound of an arrow hitting the target more often "but alas and alack, they seldom heard the smack."

Grandpa was a poet, as well as an accomplished guitarist and banjo player, amateur ventriloquist, artist, and a puppeteer.

Finally, Grandpa anticipated the return of veterans from the war to-end-all-wars and some of them would no longer be able to handle a recurve bow. He decided to do something about it, and the upshot was the heralded "Bailey Target Crossbow". A patent application for the concept was applied for on December 3, 1945, and patent no. 2,500,509 was granted on March 1, 1950 "to provide a crossbow which was constructed to be used with arrows which are feathered in the same way as arrows used with the conventional longbow".

The first crossbow tournament was held on May 9, 1941, in Rahway, New Jersey, but crossbow competition at the national level did not take place until the 1947 Nationals in Amherst, Massachusetts.

When Grandpa Bailey proposed that separate competition for crossbows be included in the national championship tournament it was ordained by NAA that this would only be possible if a light weight target crossbow could be developed, one that was handsome enough to be seen in the company of the graceful longbow.

Grandpa Bailey successfully met this challenge. His first attempt looked very much like a rifle with a shoot through, centershot bow fastened at the front of the barrel, but it did not shoot to his satisfaction. He then mounted an underslung prod to a more graceful stock, and he was quite satisfied with the way it behaved.

The Bailey crossbow reigned supreme until 1965.


Click on picture for larger version.

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