The 8 Second Full-Time Job
Looking for a pure adrenaline rush, something to make your heart jump, your palms sweat and your mom worry? Edmond native Nathan Tull has found the answer and it’s excitement that only lasts eight seconds — if he’s lucky.
Tull worked in a bank in Oklahoma City, but when the business closed last December, he fell back on his part-time job — bull riding. Tull, who has bought a house in Shawnee, is now a pro at the sport and considers it his full-time career.
Tull began riding bulls when he was 14 and lived across the street from a rancher who had a small arena.
“I was trying to impress a girl the first time I tried it,” he recalled.
Although he admitted this first ride was not all that impressive, he had a good time and decided to stick with the event. Finally, he realized this was a sport he was good at and those watching began to encourage him to keep working at it.
As a teenager, Tull competed in high school rodeo and qualified for the High School National Finals in Gillette, Wyo. However, Tull explained that he did not have enough financial support for the entry fees at competitions such as the IFYR, held in Shawnee each summer.
“If I could change anything from my teens, it would be to enter the IFYR. It’s the greatest rodeo at a high school level that anyone could compete in,” Tull said.
Now, at age 26, Tull has already been recognized with several awards including NABA Finals Champion in 2002, NABA Rookie of the Year in 2002, PRCA Prairie circuit Finals Qualifier in 2005, IPRA Long Horn Finals Qualifier in 2005, IPRA Long Horn Finals Champion in 2005, IPRA Finals Qualifier (IFR) in 2005 and IPRA Rookie of the Year in 2005.
Of his competitions in 2002, Tull was one of only two cowboys to successfully ride three of four bulls, amassing a total of 248.5 points during the three rides to become the NABA Finals Champion and Rookie of the Year.
Even with all his awards, Tull explained that there is no better feeling than when a child asks for his autograph.
“It’s an experience I take pride in as a father, raising my own two daughters, and I’m always excited to meet the crowd at every bull riding I’ve participated in across the country,” he said, adding that his own daughters are Natalie, 5, and Audra, 3.
Tull said he enjoys getting to travel and meet new people. This year alone, he’s already competed in California, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, Texas and Missouri.
“In a year’s time I will have been from one coast to the other and (made) a couple trips to Canada,” he said.
He also explained that there is a lot of money to be won by those riders with talent. Downsides of professional bull riding include travel expenses, 17-hour drives and entry fees, which are usually about $100 depending upon the competition.
Tull described the rush he feels during competition as a combination of emotions. He explained that he has to concentrate on riding while dealing with the adrenaline rush building up inside him and then try to block out the natural emotion of fear.
“I’m not scared when I ride; I’ve been doing it so long it just comes natural. But there’s still those little thoughts of doubt that I’ve got to block out right before I climb on (the bull’s) back,” Tull said, adding that the actual sensation of the rush comes after the ride. “When I’ve made a winning ride and cornered a difficult bull, on top of the relief knowing that I’ve just made enough money to cover my bills for the next month — standing there with the crowd roaring and my daughter watching with excitement — that’s when the rush really hits me.”
As for what goes into his preparations for riding, Tull explained that he likes to spend time talking to his fans and signing autographs before he rides. When he is about 20 minutes away from his turn, he relaxes and thinks about how he will react to the bucking bull.
“About one minute before I ride, I don’t talk to anyone and really just try to take deep breaths and get my adrenaline flowing,” he said. By this time he has already asked around to find out about the history of the bull he has drawn to find out if he’s a spinner and what kinds of “tricks” he uses to throw off riders. “At a professional level, it’s 99 percent mental.”
Tull explained that, for as many bulls as he’s ridden, his list of injuries is fairly short. Over the years, he’s broken his collar bone, his wrist, one thumb and had multiple concussions.
Despite these injuries and the dangers of bull riding, Tull said his family is very supportive of his participation in the sport, but they do worry.
“They know that this is what God has put in front of me to do with my life and that I use my riding abilities to glorify God,” he said. “My friends all ride bulls or are into rodeo in some way so it’s just natural; we all support each other.”
Tull is currently sponsored by Humps N Horns Magazine, Extreme Sports Medics and Little Joe’s Boots, but is always on the lookout for more sponsorships. For more information or to become a sponsor, call (405) 205-0318 or send an e-mail to NTcanride@wmconnect.com.