Growing up in West Texas, world-class bit and spur maker Wilson Capron, 46, never really had his career figured out. That was until he made a life-changing move to live and work under iconic bit and spur maker Greg Darnall in the spring of 1996, while Capron was working toward his degree in ag-business.
“I never thought that I would be a bit and spur maker—especially at that time,” said Capron, who now lives in Christoval, Texas, and is a member of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. “It was just a job. A year-and-a-half of working for [Greg], I started engraving, and the engraving was just like my roping—I loved it. Greg needed a little help in the shop, and I needed entry fee money.”
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Cowboy Renaissance by the TCAA
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Though engraving can be a great challenge, Capron found himself fond of the artwork, which may have come from following in the footsteps of his father, Mike Capron, who was a conventional cowboy artist.
After three years of working for Darnall, Capron headed back to the family ranch in the spring of 1999 to work for his father, while still filling bit and spur orders of his own.
“I left Greg having a few orders of work, but I never dreamed it would turn into a career. I left Greg to go back home to day-work and do whatever it took to make a living.
“One day I woke up and there I was. A big portion of that is to Greg and my dad. Between the two of them, I think people were buying stuff from me to help those two guys out because they liked them. Then it just turned into, ‘Dang, I’m a bit and spur maker and I couldn’t be happier.’”
As a bit and spur maker, Capron’s main concern is to make sure that the decorations and engraving are elite for his customers, over restructuring the function of a bit.
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“My decorations are what I’m known for; not because the function is that much greater or better. I’m not a leading-edge guy trying to restructure the function and figure out the next greatest thing to make your horse do what it’s supposed to do. To me, the fundamental things are where a guy should focus, but the decorations and how the presentation of all that is where my focus is.”
Capron’s artwork has not gone unnoticed. He, alongside an elite group of men and women, is a member of the TCAA, an association of cowboy craftsmen that requires a three-quarter majority vote to obtain a membership.
“The best way to put it, is that is a group of my heroes and they’re the best of the best. It’s an honor to be in that group. I wouldn’t be who I am today without that because I’ve been exposed to so much—education, business.”
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Along with sharing his knowledge in the TCAA, Capron hosts workshops to share his knowledge and information with men and women who are interested in learning what it takes to create these pieces of art.
“My workshops are a way for me to share with people. Yes, you have to pay to go to them. You have to pay for my time is basically what that boils down to. I have a family to feed. I love doing it. I love sharing and seeing individuals that are inspired and trying to better themselves. If I can help those guys, they inspire me as well—guys and ladies.”
Capron’s work starts at $2,500, whether it’s a pair of spurs or a bit. It’s based on his time and the materials he uses to finalize the product. Capron assures that his work is going to satisfy his customer.
“I don’t try to push my experiences over on to them. I do try to use my experiences to make a bit that’s going to fit and work in a horse’s mouth and try to get the information out of the customer that shares how they’re going about their day.”
Capron has worked so hard at his craft that he hasn’t roped in years, though his passions do lie in building artwork that team ropers will love.