The Hoyt Archery Alabama Pro/Am draws competitors from around the world to Foley, Alabama. The tournament features a range of divisions, including a hotly contested women’s division.
The event will be held Feb. 20-23. The Pressure Point Shoot Down is on February 22.
A lot of people think that females in archery began with the rise of Katniss Everdeen, but for many, like Cara Kelly, the love affair with the sport goes back much further than the popularity of The Hunger Games. She’s been competing on a national level for 25 years and nothing stops her from picking up a bow. This year will be the second time Kelly has gone on the Archery Shooters Association (ASA) tour pregnant.
Kelly spent the entire 2018 season pregnant with her first son, Kade, and earned the honor of Women’s Pro ASA Shooter of the Year. She said there are absolutely zero excuses for not giving it your all.
“You determine your own destiny. Archery is an individualized sport and one where if you have dreams, inspire to reach them,” Kelly said. “The biggest challenge is mentally committing. I believe you can do anything you put your mind to. People may say, ‘Oh you have an excuse if you don’t do well, because you are pregnant.’ My response is always a firm ‘No, I don’t.’ There are no excuses whether I’m pregnant or not.”
This time around Kelly is competing much later in her pregnancy and intends to continue on the tour after the birth of her son. She hopes someday her boys take interest in archery, but said as long as they are passionate about anything the way she has been since first picking up a bow and arrow she will be one proud momma.
“I hope my boys both take interest in it and have the passion I have for it. If not, that will be fine also, but at the end of the day I just want them to have a passion for a sport like I have found with archery,” Kelly said. “I remember being a little girl growing up in this sport. I idealized the top female pros and aspired to be like them. I just hope I can leave this sport better than I found it.”
Foley’s Graham Creek Nature Preserve Archery Liason, Leslie Gahagan, worked her first Hoyt Archery Alabama Pro/Am in 2016 pregnant and has found the archery community to be one that’s inspiring and supportive.
“It’s a family,” Gahagan said. “My first year I was pregnant. The second year people remembered and wanted to know how my daughter was doing. Archery is so much more than a sport. This is so much more than a tournament. This is people coming together to compete, yes, but also to catch up and cheer each other on. Sure winning is nice, but these visitors care about so much more than that. They care about their Foley family.”
The Hoyt Archery Alabama Pro/Am is free and open to the public. Spectators are encouraged to check out all the events taking place at Graham Creek Nature Preserve throughout the tournament. The Pro Pressure Point Shoot Down will take place Saturday evening at the Foley Event Center. Thousands of dollars in prize money will be awarded in a range of divisions, including Women’s Pro.