The history behind the handmade Arkansas Bullwhip
Founder & maker of the Arkansas Bull Whip, J.R. Barnett, was born & raised in downtown Heber Springs, AR. At 9 years old, his older brother, Mickey, taught him how to braid. That winter J.R. made his first bullwhip out of 550 paracord. Not until the late 90's though, after experimenting with different handles, the cane handle with a core was the key. That is when Mr. Zoppe, a friend of J.R.'s, brought in a man visiting from Germany that was active in his families circus. He often used a leather bullwhip during his shows & needed J.R. to repair one for him. J.R. did just that, but he also sold him one of his handmade bullwhips as well, which is when he decided to start numbering them. To date he has made over 900 bullwhips since that day.
The 550 parachute cord whip originated in the wet muddy land of Florida. Florida whip crackers found that the mud & water didn't impair the para cord because the whip didn't hold water like leather would. Mud washes out of para cord easily & is quick to dry. This para cord whip quickly became known as the Florida Cow Whip. J.R.'s whips have a fast acting core & are a true bull whip as originally used by the wagon trains going west.
Most of J.R.'s bull whips have been made while kicked back in his recliner right here in the upstairs of this old building. When Leah took over, J.R. found him a new spot in front of his big rock fireplace only 100 yards from here where you can usually find him braiding or cat napping. From day one, each whip has been made by hand from start to finish & even in his mid-80's, he's still going strong! We keep a good stock of colors & sizes, but if you would like one custom made, he will be glad to do it. All custom orders take at least one week to make. Color choices are available in store & pricing is as follows:
- Cane Handle - $12/foot, 9' & up - Add $1/foot
- Braided Handle - $14/foot, 9' & up - Add $2/foot
- Cane Handle - $14/foot, 9' & up - Add $1/foot
- Braided Handle - $15/foot, 9' & up - Add $2/foot
We also keep stock of his custom made reins, lead ropes, neck ropes, goat strings, etc. Call us at (501) 327-3667 to see what colors we have in stock or to make sure he can make exactly what you are needing.