PUEBLO, Colo. – Shane Proctor spent the majority of the 2015 season nickel-and-diming his way on the rodeo trail part time, while putting his full attention to detail on the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series.
With the PBR season officially in the books, Proctor is now ready to up the ante in Las Vegas at the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The 2011 PRCA bull riding champion begins the NFR eighth in the PRCA standings with $79,013.68 after striking the perfect balance to end the PRCA regular season as one of the Top 15 bull riders in the association.
Proctor will need to overcome a $95,586.90 deficit if he hopes to catch current No. 1 rider Sage Kimzey and win a second gold buckle.
However, with $329,576.93 – the max amount of money one rider can earn if he were to win every round (each round winner receives $26,230.77) plus the event average ($67,269.23) at the NFR – Proctor, as well as all 15 bull riding qualifiers, is certainly alive in the race for a gold buckle.
The PRCA crowns its bull riding champion based on total money earned throughout the year, while the PBR World Champion is the rider who accumulates the most world standings points in PBR-sanctioned events.
Riders placing first through sixth at the NFR per round earn money toward the standings, as well as riders placing first through seventh in the average.
“With their Finals paying $26,000 to win the round against 15 guys – and they pay six holes – there is a lot of money to be had,” Proctor said in September. “With 10 days, 10 rounds, that is a lot of money to be divided up amongst 15 guys.”
Proctor has drawn No Regrets of D&H Cattle Company for Round 1 on Thursday night.
The task of overcoming a $95,000 deficit may seem overwhelming at first to outsiders, but the Grand Coulee, Washington, bull rider explained it is a little bit easier to earn a paycheck at the NFR against 14 other riders, instead of 39 at the PBR World Finals.
“Here (at the World Finals) you are riding against the Top 40 in the world for six rounds,” he added. “It becomes excruciating and difficult to get a good check there. You really have to have your game going and be at the top of it.”
Proctor was extremely disappointed with his 0-for-5 performance at the World Finals last month.
Regardless, the 30-year-old still finished 20th in the world standings in his first full season back on the BFTS following reconstructive surgeries on both of his shoulders in 2014, which cost him all but one BFTS event.
He rebounded from his injury riddled 2014 campaign to go 34-for-88 at 2015 BFTS events. He finished with 12 Top-10 finishes, including a season-best third-place performance in New York and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
He nodded his head a total of 151 times at various PBR and rodeo events, according to ProBullStats.com.
This is the third year in Proctor’s career that he has qualified for both the World Finals and the NFR.
Proctor won only one BFTS round in 2015 and has been able to have a successful professional career thanks to consistency rather than talented flamboyancy.
“My style is ugly,” Proctor said. “I don’t make the big moves like J.B. (Mauney). It is more of a dogfight. I am not flashy. I stick to the basics and that is what I stick to. There is not a lot of big movements. There is not a lot of wild movements. It is keep everything tight and keep everything square and ride them all jump for jump.”
Proctor won the 2011 PRCA title ($238,249) by using his small-ball approach to bull riding and went 5-for-10 to place in five rounds at the NFR.
“I won no rounds that year,” Proctor explained. “That year I went in with a $40,000 lead and then I stayed consistent every time. I got checks in five rounds. It was all second through sixth places. I kept nickel-and-diming it all the way there. I finished fourth in the average and with the average check, J.W. (Harris) was hot on my heels, and I ended up beating him by $3,000.”
However, Proctor will need to be aggressive in the next 10 days if he hopes to knock off the defending champion Kimzey.
He will likely need to win a couple of rounds to cut into Kimzey’s lead and leapfrog the other bull riding contenders, which isn’t entirely impossible.
Proctor has won two rounds in his past two NFR appearances. In 2013, the last year he qualified, Proctor began the NFR with a bang by winning the first two rounds on his way to a fourth-place finish in the PRCA bull riding standings.
Either way, Proctor says the strategy is simple.
“It is bull riding,” he concluded. “Bull riding is bull riding.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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