Military Salute

BJ Garcia & Clint McMurtry are the 2023 PAFRA Team Roping World Champions
On Sat. Nov. 4, BJ Garcia and Clint McMurty became the 2023 Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association World Championship Team Ropers. We caught up with them in the following days at the American Hero Celebration to hear about their big win.
BJ Garcia hits the corner with his steer in tow and Clint MrMurtry ready to fire. | April McDermid photo

After three rounds of battle beginning Thursday, Nov. 2, and culminating on Saturday, Nov. 4, in Clovis, New Mexico, the team of BJ Garcia and Clint McMurtry were crowned the 2023 PAFRA World Champion team ropers.

“Clinton and I were fortunate enough to win the first and second round, the short round and the average,” Garcia, who retired in 2018 after a 20-year career with the Air Force, said of his runs. “Then I won third in the first round with my son, and fourth in the average.”

It was a big event for the team, as Garcia and McMurtry, who performed aircraft maintenance on A10s for the Air Force, also each won Rookie of the Year titles, though neither are new to team roping.

“Clinton and I roped together when we were younger,” Garcia said. “His dad and my dad go back to the ’70s when they were both up in Oklahoma, and so we roped together years and years ago when we were kids.”

“We were really good friends,” McMurtry added. “It was kind of a crazy deal. Neither one of us had plans to join the military; it just kind of worked out to where we both did. We reconnected, and here we are.”

Both men make their homes in Texas now, and PAFRA’s move to host their World Championships in Clovis, New Mexico, made traveling to the rodeo a viable option for both.

“It was amazing,” Garcia said of the event. “The city of Clovis, as well as Curry County, did a lot to welcome all of us to be there. The new [PAFRA] board that’s there, they’ve done so much to better it and to welcome us with open arms.”

Garcia and McMurtry also rope in the Military Rodeo Cowboys Association and finished the 2022 season in a tie for third in the MRCA world standings. They also each had big years in 2021—the first time they attended Charly Crawford’s event at the NRS Arena in Decatur, Texas, which is now known as the American Hero Celebration.

“I actually won the program with Jake Long,” Garcia noted of his first-year experience competing in the event’s Military/Pro Roping that pairs military and first responders with Top 15 ropers. “Then, I was able to place in the average last year.”

“David Egleston and I won [the Military Roping] in 2021,” said McMurtry of the roping that pays $10,000 a man to the winners, and is strictly for military and first responders.

Jeremy Johnson, Team Roping Director; Clint McMurtry; BJ Garcia; Aaron Auld, PAFRA President. | April McDermid Photography

Crawford and his team at the Liberty & Loyalty Foundation go to great lengths to make that roping as close a representation of the NFR experience as possible for those men and women.

“We’ve provided every other experience that we can think of, from the NFR bags to the back numbers to getting to rope in an NFR-type setup to making the victory lap once they’ve won the buckles and saddles,” Crawford said, explaining why his next big goal is to sell out tickets to the final round of the roping, which was held at the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth on Veterans Day in 2023. “That feeling right there never goes away when you can hear that crowd bust loose and tear the roof off. You never forget that. So that’s my next goal for these guys.”

McMurtry also has big NFR goals in mind.

“I’ve always wanted a back number from the NFR,” he said. “You want to talk about goals? That’s shooting for the stars. So, hopefully, one day I can get one of them felt back numbers. That’s the big deal.” TRJ

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