Ranger Boat's History
From the fast-paced drama of America's toughest tournament trails to quiet, welcome respites with family and friends, the sport of fishing has traveled far from the cane poles and hollow perceptions of days gone by. Alongside that transformation, Ranger Boats has built a solid reputation for premium quality and unmatched value while strengthening families, fishing and personal dreams.
With more than 40 different models and 5 different series, it's a legacy of leadership that continues to grow.
The beginnings of Ranger can be traced to 1968 when founders Forrest and Nina Wood were operating a successful fishing guide service on Bull Shoals Lake, the White River and Crooked Creek. Guiding from large, heavy, wooden boats, Forrest's long hours and years of guiding taught him the value and real need for a design which was comfortable, efficient, and most importantly… demonstrated unquestionable quality. With those merits in mind, his dream to build a quality fishing boat began.
Forrest wanted his boat's strength, integrity, and commitment to be reflected in a single name. A patriot and cowboy at heart, he looked to the legendary reputation of the U.S. Army Rangers and the rugged western heritage of the Texas Rangers. Today, the dream he set in motion proudly carries the hard-earned badge and fierce reputation of 'Ranger'.
From the start, Forrest Wood's ideas were straightforward and confident. Napkins, scrap paper and anything to write with were his design templates. Listening closely to anglers and customers was his engineering plan. His initial designs were so well accepted by other guides and anglers that the business soon took off in earnest.
The original (6) boats were built in what is now the City Hall in downtown Flippin, Arkansas. Manufacturing was then moved to an unoccupied dance hall on the edge of town that had been known as the "Silver Star" when Marion County was temporarily a "wet" county during the construction of Bull Shoals Dam. In 1969, orders expanded to 600 boats and in 1970 production doubled to 1200 boats, each selling for $1,000 complete with lights and steering. Demand was good and orders were streaming in.
Then disaster struck. The boat plant burned to the ground on the evening of May 4th, 1971. Forty boat orders were salvaged from Forrest's army surplus desk the next day. Family, friends and employees rallied to help, cleaning off the charred slab and helping to rebuild. Some dealers even offered to pay for their boats in advance. All of this along with determination and hard work had production restored within 40 days.
About this time, Forrest started fishing in several newly-created competitive bass fishing tournaments. His tournament presence and fine products resulted in the rapid expansion of Ranger orders and production. In association with these tournaments, Forrest Wood and Ranger helped to pioneer the sport of tournament bass fishing.
Early Ranger industry innovations included: the use of heavy, 6-gauge wiring for more efficient trolling motor operation; the first to use fiberglass seat components for greater durability; first to develop and use matching fiberglass trailer fenders; first to use a computerized spin balancing and laser axle alignment machine on trailers; first to introduce disc brakes on trailers; introduced resin transfer molding for boat parts; first to use environmentally friendly zero ozone depletion flotation foam; first to feature newly designed hydraulic steering as standard equipment on models equipped with V6 engines; first to use closed cavity bag molding.
Early on, Ranger also led the way to new U.S. Coast Guard flotation standards with the use of additional safety foam flotation material. Ranger also patented the aerated livewell for keeping fish alive for release following a tournament. Catch and live release, enabled by the aerated livewell from Ranger, has been one of the industry's most obvious conservation efforts.
Ranger also received the first-ever "Protected Design" hull copyright registration from the U.S. Government. Over time, the Ranger legacy of innovative leadership has been marked by numerous other firsts including… patented pultruded transoms and pultruded fiberglass parts, oil bath COOL® hubs for trailers, high performance integrated engine setbacks, a patented center swing trailer jack, exclusive Rite-Track Keel®, Dri-Latch™ compartment locking system, solid state digital switching, SRS Soft Ride Seating®, and our tough-as-nails, Road Armor Equipped® trailer finish.
Ranger discovered very early that most boats spend more time on their trailers than in the water. Experience also proved that ill-fitting boat trailers actually damage a boat's hull and running surfaces over time. For that reason, Ranger builds their own custom boat trailers…RangerTrail® trailers…each precisely fitted to protect the hull they are carrying and are matched to that boat in color and styling.
During the mid-1970's, Ranger also began building boats for walleye, salmon, and musky anglers. Traditionally an arena populated by aluminum boats, the Ranger Fisherman Series has become the boat of choice with knowledgeable, big-water anglers. A premium line of Saltwater flats, bay and intracoastal boats are also among the well-established and strongly recognized products available.
The atmosphere that Forrest and Nina cultivated early on has resulted in an environment that not only enjoys the experienced advantage of a long-time workforce, but also consistently draws a fresh field of extremely talented craftsmen. To that end, Ranger enjoys the benefits of sharing its workdays with genuine friends that carry the same uncompromising commitment to quality, performance and lasting peace of mind. It's a passion for exceeding expectations while building dreams for its family of owners and friends that continues to be the driving force of the Ranger legacy.
With a history that parallels the launch of an entire industry, Ranger has been called 'a way of life' and 'legendary brand' continually obsessed with reflecting the wants and needs of anglers. From a humble start of only 6 boats that first year, Ranger has grown into an internationally known household name. It's the boat of choice for NASCAR, Chevy Trucks, Cabela's, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and countless other tournament trails and leading organizations around the world. Listening closely to others and sharing a strong 'family' connection with owners, Ranger is noted for its exceptional quality, performance, innovation and customer service. It's a philosophy forever ingrained into the very fabric of those who've come to call Ranger 'home' and with literally thousands of years of combined tenure, these skilled craftsmen daily shape and polish the dreams that others pass from generation to generation as honored members of the family.