“Cupid” Hill – The World’s Greatest Archer

13 Nov

Howard Hill
Born November 13. 1899

Howard Hill was an expert bowman, long regarded “The World’s Greatest Archer”. He established the record for winning the most bow-and-arrow field tournaments in succession, a total of 196 competitions. He also wrote several leading books on the topic. Additionally, he was a tremendous athlete, most notably in football and baseball.

Among his many achievements in archery, Howard Hill in 1928 set a new world record for the farthest recorded flight shot with a bow and arrow, at 391 yards. That same year, he won his 196th field archery competition in a row. Hill, though, was not only one of the most decorated archers in the modern era of target shooting, hunting, and flight archery competitions, he was also a celebrated writer and producer. During his career, he produced 23 films about archery for Warner Bros. He also produced 10 different films of his own and was a technical adviser in many more motion pictures, providing his expertise in the field.

Howard Splitting the Arrow

Forward to Howard’s book, WILD ADVENTURE
Written by Errol

When you meet Howard Hill you know darn well you have met him before, but you can not remember where or when.

Let me solve your problem. If, like myself, you sometimes find yourself hanging on a bar rail and staring over the head of the bar-tender, behind those character-destroying bottles of Four Posies or Old Step Mother, you will spot Hill. There you will see a reproduction of a painting, the cultural contribution of some beer cartel like Somebody and Rusch, depicting Custer’s Last Stand. That American aborigine, that Indian on the piebald pony is Hill. Yes, the guy giving out with the blood­curdling war whoop, drawing a bead on the heroic general (if a bead can be drawn with a bow and arrow Hill is the one who can do it) is our boy. This is no quaint flight of fancy; It has to be Hill. God knows, I have stared at both Hill and his weapon often enough, chilled to the marrow.

When Hill goes after any living creature with his bow for whatever reason, whether for food, motion pictures or sport, he has the same intensity, the same piercing black eyes, the same unmistakable snarl, leering with the triumph of the Indian about to wade up to his navel in the gore of the Paleface, He may be stalking only a rabbit, but it is still Hill.

He calls himself a Cre, I think, and is inordinately proud of it, But he is a real Indian, make no mistake, as this Paleface knows. Confronted by Hill bearing down upon me over the bar on that pinto pony charging over countless hordes of Four Posies, I have always felt a keen sympathy for the unlucky Custer.

It is only our long and enduring friendship (based upon a mutual love for hunting and the Great Outdoors) that has induced me to write this foreword to his book, a thing I would do for no one else. As yet, being on a different continent from him at the moment, I have not had a gander at Howard’s book, but I am sure it is a work calculated to bring out the best kind of savagery in American youth. The book is a cinch to stir many a nervous pulse as Hill has stirred mine in the past. It has to be filled with wild adventure. In it naturally, he will not tell you of the time we were out hunting mountain lions, and having just lassoed one, he had the frenzied brute screeching and turning somersaults at the end of a rope snubbed around a tree. Suddenly Howard yelled, “Here, hold this, and I did, only to find out that I had hold of the tail of the enraged cat instead of the rope. Nor, I suppose, will this savage recount another incident that occurred while we were hunting wild boar on Sana Cruz Island when he left me hanging on the side of a cliff several hundred feet above the rocky sea-shore. While he sat in safety fifty yards away, eating boiled eggs and going into sporadic gales of laughter, he watched me suffer the terrors of chronic vertigo, too petrified to move an inch. Yes, Hill is an Indian.

Although no Indian myself, and having no claim to being perhaps even an exceptional hunter, yet I do have much in common with Hill. The wailing note of the loon floating across a placid lake, the distant high pitched cry of the timber wolf, the roar of the jaguar and the blood-curling cough of the charging wild boar, call to some deep inner response within us both that is not acquainted with modern civilization.

“Cupid” Hill, as I have called Howard ever since we first met while making the picture Robin Hood, has done things with a bow and arrow that few have essayed with the rifle and I for one am going to read his book with great nostalgia, for some of the truly wonderful moments of my life have been spent tagging at Howard’s heels on our hunting trips in many strange corners of the world.

Errol Flynn

Rome, italy

Errol-Related Filmography

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
– Technical adviser and archery instructor

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
– Captain of Archers (credited)
– Elwyn the Welshman (uncredited)

Sword Fishing (October 21, 1939)
– Short Documentary – Himself

Shark Hunting (November 9, 1940)
– Short Documentary – Himself

They Died with Their Boots On (1941)
– Stunts (uncredited)

San Antonio (1945)
– Henchman (uncredited)

Deep Sea Fishing (1952)
– Short documentary – Himself

Cruise of the Zaca
(Released December 6, 1952)
– Short Documentary
– Filmed 1946-47

— Tim


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  1. barb

    November 13, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    Another great find, Tim, and what a wonderful book intro by Errol. I won’t ask for any trade secrets :-), and I know I sound like a broken record, but it just never ceases to amaze me that you keep being able to find what you find .. and that there’s some Flynn nugget every day of the calendar.

    • Gentleman Tim

      November 18, 2020 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks, barb. It’s near impossible to keep up with the Flynnster. The difficult thing is not finding something he did every day on the calendar, but, rather, deciding which of the many things he did every day is best to post. I’ve never known anyone who did 1/10 of what we know he did. And we can sure that he did a lot of Flynntastic things that were never published. He lived 500 years from 1909 to 1959.

  2. David DeWitt

    November 14, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Deep Sea Fishing was never released in Theatres. It made its debut on television in Philadelphia on June 8th, 1952 on a program titled King’s Crossroads.

    Here is the ad in the newspaper. It later appeared sporadically on other misc. TV shows around the country for about a year and then disappeared.

  3. David DeWitt

    November 14, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Cruise of the Zaca was released at the Embassy theatres (Nov. 26, 1952) in New York. Here is the ad from the Daily News paper.