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Back to the Basics - Part 1

The PRCA Circuit System - Understanding how the circuit system works, what it can do for contestants, and why it is a vital moving piece of professional rodeo.


The PRCA circuits are comprised of all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico. The map above shows the breakdown of what states belong to each circuit. They are also broken down in the table below! (Pro Tip** if you screenshot or copy and print this table, it creates a perfect fold-over study tool)

Badlands Circuit (2)

North & South Dakota

California Circuit (1)


Colombia River Circuit (3)

Washington, Oregon, (Northern) Idaho

First Frontier Circuit (14)

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia

Great Lakes Circuit (9)

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin

Montana Circuit (1)


Mountain States Circuit (2)

Colorado & Wyoming

Prairie Circuit (3)

Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma

Southeastern Circuit (9)

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee

Texas Circuit (1)


Turquoise Circuit (2)

Arizona & New Mexico

Wilderness Circuit (3)

(Southern) Idaho, Nevada, Utah

Maple Leaf Circuit (1)


Mexican Confederate Circuit (1)


Why did it start?

The PRCA Circuit System was created in 1975, when the PRCA recognized the need for an award system that highlighted the talent of athletes who may never reach the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the end of the year. These contestants are most often referred to as "circuit cowboys" or "weekend warriors". These nicknames refer to the cowboys who work normal jobs just like any other person during the week, then hit the road each weekend hoping to win a check at the rodeos closest to home.

How do the Circuit Championship rodeos work?

Each circuit will have a "Finals Rodeo" usually toward the end of the calendar year, where the contestants in that specific circuit will have to qualify for a chance to compete. Whether or not they qualify is determined by their performance at the rodeos within the circuit throughout the year. **For those who are full time rodeo athletes, their circuit finals rodeo can be an opportunity to earn enough money to move up in the world standings before the end of the season.

There is also an overall circuit championship rodeo each year known as the NFR Open powered by RAM. This event was previously named the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) from 1987 to 2021 and was renamed in 2022. The NFR Open takes place in mid-July each year in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. This is one of the biggest rodeos of the summer run, and even the regular season, with over $1 million in payout to contestants, livestock athletes, and other PRCA members.

How do you know what circuit you belong to?

Generally, because the majority of "circuit cowboys" are looking to stay close to home, athletes belong to whatever circuit they live in. However, this is not always the case. It is possible for a rodeo athlete to "claim" a circuit they do not live in if they attend the qualifying number of rodeos within that circuit. This is most commonly seen among full time cowboys, especially when traveling partners (ie: in the team roping) are from different states.

If there's anything you want to see next in this series or ideas you'd like to contribute feel free to reach out to me by email at!

Until next time...

Keep those Boots Busy!

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