Innovation can be a wonderful thing. It takes ingenuity, wisdom, and often a little luck for something to change the status quo though.
My grandfather was a brilliant man. He was one of the first to develop magazines for military rifles by using plastic instead of metal. I remember watching him whittling a clay bar and sliding it in and out of the rifle until the fit was perfect. He would then take a micrometer and jot down the measurements onto a piece of paper.
From there he would turn the measurements over to a mold maker and later use plastic injection molds to make the usable prototypes. It was more than just designing the shapes though. He had to use the right compounds in the plastics at the right temperatures in order to make them better than the traditional metal magazines that were in use since the military started using repeating weapons.
It is not often that something comes along that truly changes everything about the way you think of things. I can imagine if my grandfather had the knowledge and use of the current 3d printers his engineering would have come along a lot quicker than carving into a block of clay with a small Old Timer knife. 3d printers are one of these innovations that can change things drastically for years to come.
When you think of a bow nowadays, a compound is usually the vision that comes to mind. Yet, it was not until 1966 when Holless Wilber Allen, Jr. first thought of putting pulleys on the limbs of a bow that the compound was born. The pulleys, or cams as they are properly called, helped make the bow easier to pull, easier to aim, and more effective in taking down game animals.
The bow and arrow has been in use for an estimated 64,000 years according to fossil records and excavations. It took 64,000 years before Allen changed the game. Other inventors and innovators such as Fred Bear and Ben Pearson mass marketed the compound bow and things have never been the same since.
For over 4,000 years kayaks have been used by people such as the Inuit, Yun’ik, and Aleut of the artic regions for both hunting and fishing. They were fast, somewhat stable, and protected the kayaker from the frigid waters.
Roy Grabenauer started the design of the first sit-on-top kayak during the end of World War II while stationed in Burma. Later, in the 1970’s, Roy made a prototype that was originally used for diving. He wanted something he could paddle out in the ocean with his dive gear, and then get back on top of it and paddle back to shore later.
During one of his trips the anchor line broke and when Roy came back up to the surface his prototype was gone. As legend has it, nearly 2 years later the first sit-on-top kayak was found floating by a Mexican fisherman with his diving equipment and soft drink can still on it.
During and prior to this time, canoes and small boats such as john boats were the primary paddling vessels used in both recreation and angling. It is arguable that the sit-on-top kayak is now the go-to vessel if you wish to fish and paddle at this time.
Just this last year, Old Town Canoes and Kayaks won the iCast Best of Show award for the sit-on-top Predator MK kayak. The iCast show is nationally recognized as the place where companies introduce their fishing products to the world. It was the first time a kayak had won the best in show in the angling community.
Other innovations are constantly changing our world and have happened over just the past few decades. Computers and cell phones are two the biggest that we can relate to immediately. However, innovation is happening everywhere, even in the outdoors.