airman cowboy

Meet Travis Beck: The All-Around Air Force Vet Heading to Rodeo Corpus Christi
Travis Beck is a retired Airman heading to the 2024 WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi in both the heeling and steer wrestling.
Travis Beck is the 2022 Heading and All-Around PAFRA Champion.

Travis Beck spent 20 years in the Air Force, but he’s always found a way to return to rodeo, now expanding his opportunities with the WCRA and heading into his first Rodeo Corpus Christi. The 46-year-old retired Airman is a household name in the Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association with six all-around titles to his name, as well as multiple between the heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and chute dogging. Beck and his wife Jessica—a veteran of the U.S. Navy who also has multiple PAFRA world titles—raise and train performance horses and spend time on the rodeo road. 

The Team Roping Journal: What does 20 years in the Air Force look like?

Travis Beck: I didn’t know really what I wanted to do, so I started out as a maintenance guy—I worked on support equipment for the aircrafts—and I did that for about eight years. Then, I did a few odd and end jobs. I was stationed in Japan, then Germany, then I came back to the United States and was stationed in Texas, then Washington State. 

Then I moved into a different career field, and that gave a little more support on the outside. I moved into a contracting field, which allowed me to have a little better job when I got out. 

Pretty much, if it has a “-stan” behind it, I’ve probably been to that lovely island of the desert.

TRJ: You said you rodeoed internationally while in the Air Force. What was that like?

TB: When I was in Germany, Alan Jacob had moved over there in the 1980s, I want to say, and started a rodeo [association] over there. He started to bring the American rodeo to the European forefront. He did a lot of his contracts with the military bases there, so we had the European Rodeo Cowboy Association—the ERCA. 

We got to rodeo and go from different bases around there. We’d spend a whole month in Berlin, Germany, putting on rodeos, or we’d go to local bases or the beer fests that were going on for Oktoberfest, we’d go to some of those rodeos. I’ve rodeoed in England, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands. So, it was pretty cool. 

It was kind of like a traveling show, but we used all of his stock because none of us had horses, obviously, because we were all in the military. That made it a little unique; everybody rode the same team roping horses or rode the same barrel horses.

TRJ: Have you been around rodeo your entire life?

TB: Yes, I grew up riding horses and ranching up in Nebraska, and then I figured to make ends meet, I probably should go get a better job than what I had.

TRJ: Tell me about the military rodeo opportunities you’re a part of here in the United States.

TB: In 2000, the Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association was developed. So, in 2002, a bunch of us came over from Germany to the Military Rodeo Finals here—that was in Bandera, Texas, that year. That kind of got me involved in the military side over here in the United States, so I could kind of keep going at it and have something to look forward to when I came back.  

The best thing about PAFRA is it’s a way for us all to go back. It’s a chance for all of us to get together one more time. Our camaraderie, it never ends. We still have the battle between the Army and the Air Force and all the branches. It’s a fun way to get together for four days and have fun and still get to do what we love with our equine friends and rodeo.

TRJ: You qualified for the 2024 WCRA Stampede at The E. Why did you start nominating for WCRA events?

TB: Initially it was because they have one in Guthrie, and it’s close to home. I’ve been there a couple of times since they’ve started the WCRA and just kind of expanded. I’ve had a few buddies that said they went to Corpus and said it was an awesome time and a good experience, so we figured we’d try to nominate for it and kind of try to expand a little more. 

TRJ: When did you start nominating for Rodeo Corpus Christi?

TB: I think I started nominating in October of last year. Corpus had just opened up. So I started nominating, and I was also nominating for Guthrie (the Stampede at The E). We went to Guthrie in January, but we didn’t have very good luck there, so we’re hoping Corpus is a whole new window and really allows us to get where we’re going. I really hope to end up in the top two and make the Kid Rock rodeo out of this. That’s a pretty awesome opportunity that they’re providing for us. 

READ: Travis Beck: All-Around Airman

TRJ: What events do you normally nominate?

TB: We did nominate PAFRA. We also do some military events. Usually, I do the bigger side of rodeos. I try to stay away from the jackpots because it’s too one-sided. But the higher added money rodeos are the ones we try to nominate.

TRJ: The bull dogging is your main event, but you rope a lot, too. What’s the balance?

TB: I started [steer wrestling] when I was growing up ang got good at it. I just kind of kept always falling back on it. I’ve always had a little more luck in it than the team roping. Team events are hard sometimes. I go quite a few places. I keep going to the USTRC Finals and have yet to make it through that rock. It’s not been my lucky place yet, but that and the BFI, I go every year to the BFI, and then all these local jackpots. I’m mainly a heeler but trying to find somebody that can go and stay at the same caliber as most of these guys are going, that’s pretty hard. For Corpus I’m partnered up with PJ Ramos out of Texas, so it should be a good team matchup.

TRJ: You’ll have your hands full bull dogging and heeling in Corpus. What are you looking forward to most about RCC?

TB: It’s going to be a pretty rapid deal. Luckily, I got up the second night (in the bull dogging), so I think that will be definitely on our side. This is the first time I’ve ever been to Corpus to rodeo—I’ve been through and visited a little bit, but it sounds like it’s a great atmosphere. The stock should be amazing, going off what they had last year. I saw some highlight reels, and it looks like they put on a wonderful show, so it should be a really good time. It’s a pretty tough field of competitors, but we all get along and we all kind of know each other, so it’s pretty awesome.

TRJ: Your wife, Jessica, also rodeos and has multiple PAFRA all-around titles. What’s it like sharing this together?

TB: She was in the Navy for five years, and we met through PAFRA, which is kind of funny, but we’re not the only couple. It’s kind of an awesome little deal. Trying to figure out what rodeos you both want to go to is sometimes a headache, but I think that’s the way for everybody. Barrel racers, they like different ground, but me, I don’t care—it’s all about who’s bringing the stock. But she’s been a great influence for me because she usually does all the hazing for me and kind of helps support all that. So, in the bulldogging world, it makes it a lot easier because I know who’s with me and she’s who practices with me, too. So it’s kind of a family deal, go everywhere and do things together. 

TRJ: What do your goals on the rodeo front look like?

TB: We started nominating a little bit for the North Carolina WCRA. We hope to qualify for that. We’d love to get to go to the Kid Rock Rodeo and hang out at that. So that’s our initial plans. And then just have a great year for the 2024 season. It hasn’t started off really great but, as always, you just give it a little more and hopefully it’ll turn around.

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