By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Fresh off last weekend’s Alabama Recreation and Parks Association State Swimming and Diving Championship, John Hunt and the City of Cullman haven’t had a lot time to rest.
Don’t expect things to change too much for the city’s Parks and Rec director, as he and countless others are preparing to host the second annual McKenzie Archery Shooters Association Classic beginning on Thursday at St. Bernard.
Despite the short turnaround for his department, Hunt said he couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming festivities.
“The city is super happy to be hosting again,” he said. “These events only come around ever so often. It will be a big challenge coming off state swimming this past weekend. It’s going to take a great team effort.”
According to Hunt, the city is expected to see around 1,500-1,600 archers come in from all over the globe, including participants ranging from Argentina to Australia.
Like last year, the four-day tournament will be 3-D, which consists of replicas of all kinds of wildlife placed in the wooded areas surrounding St. Bernard Prepatory School. There will also be a safety course, where archers will be instructed about the trails, as well as how to avoid being in others’ line of sight.
Without having to construct more than 200 lanes for the archers, the 2013 ASA Classic comes about a little easier for Hunt’s crew as they work toward preparing all the necessities.
“We were able to keep up the lanes created last year,” Hunt said. “That’s made it better for us. However, we’ve still had to do a lot of work. We’ve had to build two more ranges to accommodate all of the archers. St. Bernard has really been a blessing to us in terms of getting this thing together.”
This week’s competition is a result of countless hours and hard work spent by the Parks and Rec Department acquiring hosting rights for the event. They struck a three-year deal with the ASA back in 2011, which will expire next August.
Hunt, however, is hoping the city will get to turn the McKenzie Classic into a regular occurrence well past 2014.
“It’s not a habit of the ASA to keep it somewhere longer than three years,” he said. “But we are going to work extremely hard to get it back to Cullman. It’s great for us.”
The shooting schedule begins at 8 a.m. Thursday morning, where archers will participate until around 2 p.m. The big catch of the event is Saturday night, where the top 10 male and female points leaders will take part in a “shootdown.” The winner will take home between $30,000-40,000. The public is welcome to come out all four days. The only charge will be a $5 per car fee.
Hunt acknowledged that the efforts to get this event to Cullman, as well as the dedication of his department, have been nothing short of outstanding.
“This starts with our mayor and city council for letting us pursue this,” Hunt said. “It’s also our parks department’s willingness to work, the ASA organization that’s been here since Sunday and the community that welcomes these guys with open arms and makes them want to come back next year and beyond.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at email@example.com.