Annual Bow-Up Against Breast Cancer event draws crowd for a good cause


An archer takes aim at his target at this year’s Bow-Up Against Breast Cancer tournament in Cullman. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)

CULLMAN – Bowhunters of Alabama (BHA) and the Heritage Archery Club teamed up to co-host the seventh-annual Bow-Up Against Breast Cancer 3-D Archery Tournament Saturday and Sunday. Held at Cullman Archery Park, the event benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama (BCRFA).

Bowhunters and archers from all over the Southeast participated in the event, which has become a staple in the archery community over the years. One of the founders of the Bow-up event here in Cullman, Cameron Mitchell, said the tournament is one of the BCRFA’s more lucrative fundraisers. Over the first six years of the tournament, the event raised more than $140,000 for breast cancer research, and this year’s turnout was projected one of the biggest yet.

Mitchell said he was just looking to do his part and support the BCRFA through one of his passions but quickly realized that this event could grow into a big difference maker for the archery community and breast cancer research.

“When I started this, I didn’t have any particular motive like a family member, mom or sister with breast cancer or anything like that, I just wanted to do something to give back as a bowhunter. So, I got to talking to the right people at the BHA and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and it kind of started snowballing and the next thing you know we’ve got a really good tournament going,” said Mitchell.

“The first year our goal was $15,000, and we ended up raising $23,000, which shattered records for an inaugural event for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. That year we had, at the time, the biggest turnout for an archery tournament in the state for BHA so we knew then that this was going to be a successful event.” Mitchell continued. “It took a couple of years to get the train rolling as far as getting sponsorships and we thought it would take a couple years to get the attendance, but as the event grew it sort of became a staple in the state archery tournaments. People realized this is a tournament they want to come to every year, and as it grew and grew and grew, sponsorships were easier to come by and got more people interested in archery. People who had never shot before started coming to this event for 3-D archery and you can talk to any random person here and they’ll tell you that they believe in what the Breast Cancer Research Foundation does, ‘I’m a bow hunter, I’m an archer and I’m shooting for, ‘fill in the blank person.’’ There have been so many people on this range over the last two days shooting for an individual person.”

Mitchell also credits the local venue for some of the event’s popularity.

“The archery park here in Cullman, it’s one of the best in the state. It’s centrally located, easy to get to, they keep it manicured and cleaned up, you have a really nice pavilion here for events, they keep the trails cut and I mean we can’t really think of a better location as far as where we should have this event each year,” Mitchell said. “It’s right off I-65, 4 miles from the interstate and you’re here, right across from the golf course; you can’t miss it and it’s an amazing facility.”

There are always high expectations for the event each year due to it’s past success, but Mitchell said he doesn’t want to try and define what makes the tournament a success. Every contribution matters, so Mitchell is happy to see the event help out regardless of the final numbers.

“Our sponsorship numbers were down a little bit; however, donations were up. So, it’s probably going to be a wash and break even. The thing is we don’t ever want to get locked in to saying, ‘We have to raise this much money, or it won’t be a successful event’ or ‘We’ve got to have this many people or it won’t be a successful event.’ People are coming to shoot, so it’s done. As long as we can get a few folks to donate money and the weather holds out, which it has every year, it’s going to be a success,” said Mitchell.

“They come out here and shoot their best scores of the year; we set the range at a distance where you can shoot a high score because we want people leaving here saying, ‘I love archery, I love this cause, this is great, and I want to come back next year.’ We’re trying to generate revenue; it’s a business for breast cancer research and that’s the end result,” Mitchell said. “How much money can we raise for breast cancer research? Every dollar counts, the research foundation does tremendous things at UAB. We’ve averaged about $30,000 a year at this event which is really good. We’ve had higher years and lower years but it’s always a successful event, so I’m really happy to be here and happy to have the city of Cullman help out with it; we appreciate it every year.”

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