The circuit system was developed by the PRCA in 1975 as a reward system to those cowboys and cowgirls who compete in rodeos regularly but can't devote all their time to pursuing their rodeo career and trying to make the National Finals Rodeo. These circuit cowboys, sometimes referred to as 'weekend warriors' decide to give it their all at rodeos closer to home in order to fulfill personal obligations. Don't be fooled by the 'weekend' part of their nickname, they are just as serious as their full-time counterparts.
Each cowboy picks a home circuit at the beginning of the rodeo season or is given one based on their address. Points earned during the regular season at rodeos in the circuit count toward the circuit standings at the end of the season. The top cowboys in each event will go on to compete at the Finals of their respective circuit.
After all of the 12 circuit finals are over, the top cowboys in each event from the regular season and the winners of each of the circuit finals will qualify to compete in the nationwide Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (the DNCFR).
The 12 Circuits of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association are:
- First Frontier Circuit- includes the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.
- Southeastern Circuit- contains the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
- Great Lakes Circuit- includes the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Kentucky.
- Texas Circuit- is Texas only.
- Prairie Circuit- contains Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
- Badlands Circuit- includes the great states of North and South Dakota.
- Mountain States Circuit- is Wyoming and Colorado.
- Turquoise Circuit- is Arizona and New Mexico.
- Montana Circuit- is Montana alone.
- Wilderness Circuit- contains Nevada, Vermont, and the southern part of Idaho.
- California Circuit- is only the state of California.
- Colombia River Circuit- includes the rest of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.