With the emergence of such a strong group of young tie-down and breakaway ropers in the PRCA, a roper purchasing their first set of tie-down and breakaway roping gear can’t help but be excited about their future in the sport. Even for a beginner, it is important to have the best ropes and equipment possible.\n\n\nHow Do I Start Roping Calves?\nIdeally, you want to start by practicing on a ground dummy like a Nex, Tufkaf, Smarty Jr, or even a calf head in a bale of hay. Practicing on a ground dummy is a great way to develop a feel for your rope, perfect your swing, angles, and delivery, and learn to handle your slack. From the ground dummies, you can graduate to roping one of the calf roping sleds for sale at NRS from your horse, and then work your way up to roping live cattle.\n\nOnce you have a feel for your rope and are consistently catching clean bell-collar catches from your ideal position on the ground dummy, you can mix it up by roping from different positions and taking fewer or more swings before you deliver. This will help you prepare for more game-type situations where you may have to throw a little faster or simply run one down and catch to win a check.\nIt can not be stated enough to find a mentor\/trainer to make sure you are learning the proper technique and not developing habits that will be tough to correct in the future. The is no substitute for learning the proper mechanics and fundamentals at the beginning of your roping career. The right trainer will be able to help you make the transition from roping on the ground to learning horsemanship and proper position when on your horse, all the way to helping you rope your first live cattle.\nFactors for Choosing Beginner Calf Roping Gear\nNew ropers will want to begin practicing with a rope that is easy to manage, has a good amount of tip weight so they can feel where the loop is in relation to their swing, and body to help keep the loop open when being swung. As you become a better roper and develop more of a preference for a certain feel in a rope, most likely, you will change ropes from what you started with.\nThings to consider when picking a rope:\n\n\nRope length: Calf ropes come in a couple of different lengths. The majority of them are 28’ in length, but a couple of the specialized breakaway ropes are only 25’.\n\nStiffness and Material: Also called the "lay," the stiffness of the rope is crucial for beginners. A less stiff rope is often the best choice for new ropers because it is easier to swing and deliver. The Fast Back Edge calf ropes come in an extra soft and soft lay. Other than that, most of the other calf ropes come in one lay, and the only variance is diameter. The Strikers, Vipers, Tsunamis, and other polyester ropes tend to stay fairly consistent in their feel, even with changes in temperature and humidity. The Kings, Dub Grants, Willards, and other polypropylene, grass, or syngrass ropes are more reactive to temperature and humidity, allowing the roper to manage their stiffness, but they also require more maintenance.\n\nDiameter: A calf rope's diameter is typically measured in millimeters, but sometimes, they’re measured by thread count. Beginning ropers tend to start with 9.0 or 9.5 in the majority of calf ropes, which is either a 40 or 50 in a Spitfire Breakaway Rope. The smaller diameter weighs less and is more manageable in the roper’s hand. As the diameter gets larger, the weight increases. The larger, heavier ropes are usually the choice of more advanced ropers because they have more power in their swing and need the weight to pull off a variety of shots.\n\nSelecting The Right Material For Calf Ropes\nAs mentioned before, the material the calf rope is made from has a lot to do with determining the stiffness of the rope. Because of this, beginners will want to pay close attention to the material that the calf rope is made of. Most calf ropes are referred to as a poly, but there are a couple of different types of “poly,” as well as grass and grass blends.\nWe'll look at popular calf ropes: polyester ropes, polypropylene ropes, poly\/nylon blends, and grass ropes.\n\n\nPolyester Ropes: Polyester calf ropes are designed to be very durable with little stretch while still having a consistent feel to them. Polyester calf ropes take very little maintenance to maintain a consistent feel in a variety of different environments. However, they do require more care than other materials to give the rope some longevity because they are more prone holding onto to dirt and sand.\n\n\n\nPolypropylene Ropes: These calf ropes are typically twisted around a lead-weighted core. Each rope manufacturer has their own way of treating the ropes to get them ready for the public. This treatment adds longevity and feel to the ropes that come on a spool and are tied one at a time. They have a smooth, fast feel, and the lead core gives the rope more weight in the loop, which helps identify where your tip is at in your swing. The combination of a feel, tip, and body makes them popular among amateur ropers, and professionals appreciate their speed and longevity. These ropes can be more reactive to the weather, along with needing constantly refined in their shape because of the lead core, making them take more maintenance to keep their feel.\n\n\n\nPoly\/Nylon Blends: Much like their team roping counterparts that are a nylon\/poly blend, the poly\/nylon blend is their breakaway counterpart. These ropes are mainly used for breakaway roping because they have a similar feel for many of the competitors that both team rope and breakaway rope. They have a snappy feel, and the nylon in the ropes adds a tick more body to help the ropes stay open when ropers take quick throws where they may be a little out of position but trying to be 2 flat. Although typically used for breakaway roping, ropers like Brent Lewis and Paden Bray have been seen using them in the steer roping and tie-down roping.\n\n\n\nGrass Ropes: For the sake of ease, we will also include syngrass in the discussion of grass ropes. Syngrass ropes are similar in look and feel to poly-grass calf ropes, but are made from synthetic materials treated with a special blend of oils to give them more body and a different feel. The feel of a grass rope is very much dependent of temperature and humidity. Managing these ropes can be a bit much for a beginner roper, but at the same time, the ability to maintain a precise feel through these variables makes them the choice of many professional tie-down ropers who might desire a different feel on different calves or in certain situations, but it also allows them the ability to maintain consistency when needed as well.\n\nWhat Are Breakaway Ropes for Beginners?\nBreakaway roping has really blown up over the last few years, thanks to exposure from The Cowboy Channel and inclusion at many PRCA rodeos throughout the year. In 2020, the first PRCA world champion, Jackie Crawford, was crowned at the inaugural National Finals of Breakaway Roping at Globe Life Field. Breakaway roping is a variation of tie-down roping that involves roping calves without having to get off to flank and tie them.\n\nBreakaway ropes are now being specifically made for breakaway ropers. These ropes typically feed fast and easy and have a balance of tip weight and body. The Tsunami by Cactus Ropes, The Spitfire by Rattler Ropes, the Pink Caddy by Lone Star Ropes, and The Halo by Top Hand Ropes are all examples of ropes that have been specifically designed to meet the needs of breakaway ropers.\n\nThe ropes mentioned above, along with the Striker and Viper by Rattler Ropes, and the Edge by Fast Back Ropes are all great rope choices for beginner breakaway ropers. As a rule, the polyester ropes or poly\/nylon blends are going to be the easiest to learn with because of their consistent feel and need for very little maintenance to maintain that feel. Some of these ropes are cut down to specific lengths preferred by ropers like Lari Dee Guy and Hope Thompson.\nNRS Has A Huge Selection Of Calf Ropes For Beginners\nAs one of the leading Western store, NRS works to provide quality ropes and gear to fit the needs of ropers around the world. Along with a huge selection of calf ropes for beginners and professionals, we carry strings, tack, and all the gear you’ll need, from the top brands in the industry. No matter if you’re a beginning roper concentrated on building your roping skills or a professional looking for the right ropes, tack, and gear, NRS is your best choice. Our customer service is available seven days a week to walk you through our selection of calf ropes and supplies.