How to Make Calf Roping Dummies


Calf roping has long been a sport that is part of the rodeo scene. Rodeos began as a way for cowboys to show off their skills at roundups and brandings. In 1936 the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association was born under the name the Cowboys Turtle Association, according to Clear Land, and calf roping became an official sport. Calf roping, like many sports, requires practice. You can buy calf-roping dummies for practicing, even motorized ones, but they can be expensive, or you can make your own calf-roping dummies.

Things You'll Need

  • Leather gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • 2, 2-inch by 4-inch boards, 6 feet long
  • 1, 2-inch by 4-inch board, 4 feet long
  • 10-inch square plywood
  • Miter saw or circular saw
  • 5/8-inch round dowel 2 feet long
  • Phillips head wood screws
  • Drill
  • Drill bit for pilot holes
  • Phillips bit
  • U bolt
  • Crescent wrench
  • Put on your gloves, safety glasses and hearing protection. Any hearing protection suitable for power tools will work. Make sure your safety glasses meet or exceed basic ANSI standards to ensure a high level of protection.

  • Measure and mark the center of both of your 6-foot-long, 2-inch by 4-inch boards. Make sure to mark the wide side of your board.

  • Cut your 6-foot-long boards in half with a 40-degree angle using your saw. Use your center point as the center point of your cut. You should have four equal length boards with a 40-degree angle on each. These will be the legs of your calf-roping dummy.

  • Cut a 70-degree angle on the end of your 4-foot board using your saw. This will be where the "head" goes. The board will serve as the body.

  • Lay your 4-foot board flat on the wide side. Place one leg piece at each end of your board. Don't put them all the way at the end. Put them so that your cut is against the flat part of your 4-foot board. You might need to prop them up. Make sure that the longer side of your 4-foot board is the same side that the legs angle toward.

  • Drill pilot holes through the leg pieces and into the body piece. Insert screws and use your drill to tighten the screws and secure the legs to the body.

  • Turn over your calf-roping dummy and repeat Steps 5 and 6. Your dummy will lay on the legs you already put on instead of the side of the body this time.

  • Stand your dummy up on the end of the legs. You should have a body with an angle on one end. The point of that angle should be on the bottom edge of the body. You should also have four legs coming off the body that hold up the body.

  • Cut your plywood piece into a trapezoid shape similar to the shape of a calf's head. Lay it flat and place your dowel across the wider part of your trapezoid. Mark where it is and remove it.

  • Drill holes to insert the U bolts through so that the U bolts will hold the dowel across the wider side of your trapezoid.

  • Place the dowel and insert the U bolts over it and through the holes you drilled. Put the U bolt nuts on and tighten them with the crescent wrench. This will be your head and horns. You can shorten your dowel or leave it off if you want smaller horns or no horns.

  • Hold the head in place on the angle at the end of the body. Drill two pilot holes through the middle of your calf head and into the end of your body. You want one above the other.

  • Insert a screw into each hole and tighten it using your drill. You should now have a completed calf-roping dummy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the screws are long enough and large enough to properly secure all parts together. Your dummy will not sustain much use otherwise. A construction grade wood screw should work well.
  • Using treated wood will help keep your dummy from becoming weather and sun damaged.

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  • Photo Credit calf roping image by Clarence Alford from
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