Wrangling some family time

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, May 12th. We’re grateful you’ve turned to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. What’s a dad to do? Especially a single dad like Bryon Potter. He’s got two athletic teenagers who want to add two more sports to the family’s schedule! One dad. Two kids. Four sports.

EICHER: The math just didn’t work.

So, he took into consideration his kids’ interests, drew from his own experiences, and found a compromise they all could agree on. 

WORLD reporter Bonnie Pritchett found the family at a competition that put their newfound skills to the test.


BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: A few years ago, Bryon Potter retired to take up full-time parenting and part-time ranching on the family’s 40-acres in rural Bellville, Texas. Like many of their neighbors, the single dad and his teenage children raise horses, cattle, and the occasional goats and chickens.

LUKE POTTER WITH JOSEY: [LUKE] It just gets so hectic cuz, ya know, there’s at least one game a week and half the time it’s partially on the weekend… 

Sixteen-year-old Luke and 13-year-old Josephine—she goes by Josey—attend a private Christian school where Luke plays basketball and Josey manages the team. She is also on the school’s volleyball team.

A couple of years ago they asked dad if they could take up two more sports.

POTTER: The way it came about is Luke was always interested in competitive shooting. And he is a competitive shooter in small bore. And Josephine always wanted to barrel race…

Bryon tried to wrangle a compromise—something that would suit both interests.

ANNOUNCER: Ok. We’re going to go to Josephine Potter. You’re going to be up next. Then Bryon Potter….


But what activity incorporates fast horse riding and firearms? Preferably one that does not include bank robbers and posses. 

ANNOUNCER: Well, folks, come on in. And get you a seat. This is Cowboy Mounted Shooting. One of the fastest sports on dirt… 

In Cowboy Mounted Shooting competitors ride fast horses. And shoot things. Josey and Luke agree it’s a great compromise. In March, days before city officials shut down the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo the Potters competed in the Cowboy Mounted Shooting contest.

And, no, the riders don’t shoot bullets.

ANNOUNCER: Real guns. They are using brass with black powder. Now its going to be loud….

Riders are divided by sex but everyone rides the same course, one at a time, in the dirt arena. There are three rounds and the course changes each time.

Red-white-and-blue barrels and tall, bright orange pylons mark the track. Ten of the pylons hold one balloon each—five blue, five red. As competitors ride the course, they must shoot—and pop—five balloons of one color before dispatching the remaining five. Each pistol holds only five rounds.

LUKE POTTER: And, so, you have two guns, you know, and you do it with the same hand. You’ll holster it once you’re done with that gun and then you’ll grab the other one…

The rider with the fastest run wins the round. But miss a balloon, knock over a barrel, or drop your hat or pistol and judges add time penalties to the run.

From the 19th century-styled pistols to the clothes they wear, Cowboy Mounted Shooting emulates life in the old American West. For Bryon Potter, it draws from his real-life experiences as an agent with the mounted division of the U.S. Border Patrol on the Texas—Mexico border.

BRYON POTTER: In the Border Patrol, when we were doing mounted shooting it was to prepare for a lethal encounter while you’re on horseback. Typically we would try to dismount and sometimes use the horse for cover to be able to return fire…Yeh. We were fired upon fairly regularly from the other side of the border even then. In the 80s.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you for your service Mr. Bryon Potter…He was one of the cowboys that patrolled the Rio Grande Valley…

He could have easily just coached his kids in their new sport. But Bryon Potter wasn’t content driving them to competitions in Texas and Oklahoma and cheering them on from the bleachers. So, Dad got back in the saddle.

POTTER: Well, I thought it was important, you know, to show them the ropes and teach them what I did know. And this sport is especially very family oriented. And it was set up in a way where parents can really lead their kids in the sport. 

Josey and Luke agree their competitors seem more like family.

JOSEY POTTER: Everyone you meet here is really, really nice and they all take you in like family at every sport.

LUKE POTTER: And there are a lot of people here, that whenever there’s someone new they’ll lend you anything. They’ll help you out. They’ll give you anything you need to get into it. They’ll give you your gun, their gun, their holster. A horse. A place to sleep…

And what family doesn’t take good-natured pot-shots at each other?

JOSEY POTTER: Even though we’re in different categories, I still want to get faster than him, even if it doesn’t count on the ranking score. If I get faster than him or I shoot a clean one and he doesn’t, I still like to mess with him about it just being my brother. Or even my dad, if I get a clean and he misses, like three, I’ll mess with him and ask ‘How does it feel that your daughter’s better than you.’

LUKE POTTER: I’d say the same thing. But not as aggressive (laughs)…

A little family competition spurs improvement.

LUKE POTTER: If your sister, if your little sister, is doing way better than you, you’re not going to feel too good about that, so, yeah…

Seated between his rivaling teenagers, Bryon Potter grins at the exchange. He can laugh because he’s watched them mature and take seriously their responsibilities at home and on the sometimes hectic road schedule.

BRYON POTTER: And then they’re interacting with a lot of adults, you know, and they’re being given guidance and coaching from everybody. So, to watch them, your goal as a parent is always for them to be better than you. You know, really, you want to see them do better. And so, when you see them start to smooth out and start to do things good, it’s like, yeh, that’s what you want.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett.

(Photo/Potter Family)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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