In late October, the Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association held their annual World Finals and retired Airman Travis Beck won the heeling and the all-around titles, not to mention he clinched the chute-dogging championship as well.
All-Around, All the Time
“I’ve kept the title for six years, but I don’t know how,” the multi-year all-around champ stated, humbly. “When you go in five events, in the military world, I’m doing well and holding my own, I guess. It’s not that there’s not hard competition.”
In military rodeo and ProRodeo, Beck’s go-to event is the bulldogging, but he’s also a regular competitor in the heading and tie-down roping. He’s quick to point to his fellow competitors as his markers of success, though.
“I spent the last three months roping with my neighbor,” said Beck, who lives in Oklahoma with his equally competitive wife, Jessica, a veteran of the U.S. Navy who’s also a multi-year PAFRA all-around champion. “I’m glad to see it paid off and helped out.”
As a result of their training, Beck’s neighbor, J.D. Shields left the PAFRA World Finals having earned the Men’s All-Around Rookie of the Year title. Then, his 75-year-old friend, Bubba Stewart, was the Reserve Champion Header.
“It was an awesome experience for all of us,” Beck said.
Rodeoing Around the World
Interestingly, Beck joined PAFRA when it formed in 2002, and he was stationed in Germany and rodeoing in the European Rodeo Cowboys Association.
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“That’s why we have the NATO clause,” said Beck of the rules allowing NATO allies to join PAFRA along with active duty and honorably discharged veterans and their immediate family members. “We brought a bunch of German soldiers to compete with us at PAFRA for the first time in Bandera, Texas. We were probably a third of the population that showed up for the rodeo that year, so it was a really great international experience.”
Beck, a three-time NHSFR qualifier for Nebraska, stuck with rodeo as much as his military career allowed. Some years, that meant no rodeo and, others—like the years he spent stationed in Spokane, Washington—allowed him to actively compete. When he retired in 2017, he put his full attention to the sport.
“We try to get our good horses going and go back to the pro levels,” Beck said of the rodeo goals he shares with Jessica, whom he married in 2012. “We’re still trying to get to the circuit finals in the Prairie Circuit. It’s a pretty tough circuit, but we keep trying.”
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Between tuning up their horses to compete in the PRCA, the Military Rodeo Cowboys Association and PAFRA, the Becks are also hugely involved in support roles for PAFRA, Warriors and Rodeo, as well as Charly Crawford’s American Military Celebration.
“I’ve known Charly for a while, when he was rodeoing up north and lived in Oregon,” Beck explained of how he became involved in the effort. “His previous deal used to be like the weekend before PAFRA, so these guys would come down, hang out at Charly and Jackie’s for a couple days, and get tuned up and then go to PAFRA. Since then, 2015, it’s blown up. Now there’s 170 entries in the first roping. Our little pack that was 20 or 30 of us is now, it’s huge.
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When asked what keeps him hooked and committed to the effort and hours volunteering for these organizations requires, Beck doesn’t hesitate to answer.
“For me, personally, it’s the camaraderie. If we didn’t have places we could go get together and do stuff, who knows what we’d be doing.
“We’ve all go different stories that, unfortunately, have a lot of the same outcomes that nobody really wants to talk about, especially when you’re not talking to one of your fellow brothers or sisters that have been through it. So, this is a way we can all get together, do something we love or have an interest in and, you know, be a part of it and help it out any way we can.”
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