Nothing derails Proctor's passion for bull riding
Every night, Shawn Proctor faces opponents that weigh more than 10 times what he does. The more ruthless and uncontrollable they are, the better.
For what is sometimes mere seconds, the thrill of riding atop a snarling bull supersedes whatever danger or injury might result. You see, in bull riding, it's not a matter of whether you'll get hurt, but rather when and how badly.
Proctor wouldn't have it any other way.
"You've got a 150-pound cowboy against a 1,800-pound bull with no timeouts or penalties for roughing players," Proctor, 27, said. "It's all-out, and I like it. Once you get it in your system, it's hard to walk away from."
Proctor, who raises bucking bulls on his ranch near Tooele, also is an accomplished rider, having won the bull-riding competition at the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo in Central Point, Ore., earlier this month. His total of 86 points bested the field by 5 points and earned him nearly $3,000.
Judges score each ride based on rider skill and how well the bull bucks. Each ride is scored out of 50 points, with a perfect score totaling 100. Proctor has reached the 90s before, with a high of 93, before injuries curtailed his career.
Just a year ago, Proctor wasn't sure whether he had another ride in him. Since 2009, he has undergone two surgeries on his shoulder and has joints in his foot fused together as a result of his bull-riding injuries.
Still, as he insists, it wasn't enough to simply walk away from the sport.
"It's given me confidence that after four years of injuries I can still do that," he said about his recent win. "That was my 15th bull back [since returning]. I'm going to go as hard as I can until I win a world title, or get hurt again."
For Proctor, bull riding has been a lifelong passion. It has been a part of his life since the times when he would turn over his mother's couch cushions and ride them like a bull. His uncle used to ride broncs for his career.
"My family has been involved in ranching my entire life," Proctor said. "I've always been around roping and riding horses. I used to sneak out and get on steers. When my parents found out, they said they'd support me. My mom says ever since I was a baby I've wanted to do it. I used to watch rodeo more than cartoons."
Perhaps his crowning achievement came in 2008, when he placed seventh in the world in the National Finals Rodeo. He also placed fourth in the state and made nationals as a high-school junior, won two circuit rodeo finals and has competed in the Dodge National Circuit Finals twice.
Fresh off a night of bucking in Moab, Proctor hopped in his car and drove to Oregon on June 1 to compete in the rodeo there. It wasn't until he arrived that he discovered what bull he'd be riding for his one-shot opportunity.
"You get one shot to win some money," he said. "If not, you jump back in the car and go to the next one. If you win, you've got money in your pocket."
Proctor will continue competing in rodeos, with some upcoming in Delta, Cedar City, Pleasant Grove, Reno and Oregon. A rider's accumulated winnings qualify him to compete in each rodeo, so he knows he has his work cut out.
"Everything is unpredictable," he said. "You can't think you know how to ride the bull because they have a mind of their own. That's the challenge of it."