Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

  • The Whip Artistry Studio’s take on whip care and maintenance

    Here at the studio we often get questions about the care and maintenance of whips. So, here is how we do it, although, except for some common sense items, a great deal of whip care is personal preference. Keep in mind, this information is going to focus primarily on kangaroo hide bullwhips and stockwhips, but also holds true for cowhide.

    First, some common sense. 

    As with any expensive tool, proper care is vital. Mostly that requires some common sense and awareness of the materials involved in making a whip and how it’s used by the handler.

    If you’re using your whips daily, more care will be required. For those worked less often, not as much maintenance is needed. But here are some things everyone should be doing.

    Keep your whips dry and clean. Never let a whip get saturated with water or submerged in any liquid or oil. The braided leather bellies of a roo whip can act like a wick, drawing moisture into the center where it remains, unable to evaporate, and eventually cause the leather to mildew and rot.

    Conditioning the whip.

    Conditioning is probably the most debated part of whip maintenance. How often do you do it? What should you use? What methods are recommended? Well, we’ve seen and heard it all at The Whip Artistry Studio, but here is our recommendation.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 11.58.27 AM

    Pecard leather dressing is a popular choice.

    Studio director Gery Deer has used Fiebing's Aussie Conditioner for more than 25 years.

    Studio director Gery Deer has used Fiebing’s Aussie Conditioner for more than 25 years.

    Step one: After every use, always wipe the whip clean of debris with a dry, cotton cloth. Avoid terrycloth, however, as the “pilling” gets caught in the laces and can work its way under them causing the braid to loosen. A white, cotton t-shirt is recommended. Wipe the whip from the handle out as seen below …

    Step two: Apply some liquid (glycerine based is fine) saddle soap to a cloth or (very) soft brush and clean any excessively dirty areas of the braid. Do not apply the soap to the whip, however, you could over-saturate it. Put it on the cloth or brush and gently scrub the affected area. This is also the best way to clean excessive dirt from the fall, which is especially important since it takes most of the punishment from the environment and the ground.

    Step three: Once the whip has been cleaned of excess dirt and debris, apply a small amount of conditioner to a separate cotton cloth (or you can apply it by hand). Regardless of what brand you choose, it takes very little to properly condition the whip. You don’t need to soak it.

    You also need to be careful that excess conditioner is wiped clean from the whip. Over-conditioning can actually cause the leather to become too soft so it will scratch and break easily. That softness also leads to loosening of the laces, allowing dirt and debris to work its way underneath and damage the whip from within.


  • Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase Whip Contest Details

    Are you interested in attending the whip exhibition competitions and shows at the Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase this year? Well, here are the details.

    First a bit of history.

    The Western Arts Showcase is a performance service of The Whip Artistry Studio and GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. It started as a whip cracking workshop in 2002 at the family farm of producer Gery L. Deer and moved to Annie Oakley Festival in 2003 and has been associated with the event ever since. The showcase consists of Wild West arts performances and exhibition contests in the traditional show style in front of a live audience during the festival. The festival recently moved from the Darke County Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.33.47 PMFairground in Greenville, to about 2 miles outside of town off of St Rt 127 at York Woods, near Ansonia, Ohio. (6129 Reed R. Versailles, OH 45380)

    Since the production is the service of a world known whip artist, our event is “whip heavy,” but we welcome trick ropers, knife throwers and fancy gun spinners to attend as well! Highly publicized and advertised, ours is one of the longest continually running whip artistry events in the United States.

    Remember, this is a western-themed event so all participants are encouraged to wear western costuming and accessories. (Notice: No loaded firearms are permitted in the contest / performance area – not even blanks.)

    At this time, we are only doing whip exhibition contests but hope to bring back knife and trick roping contests in the future. If you’re interested in knife throwing, please contact our Thrown Weapons Director Kirk Bass. World-record setting whip artistry performers, Robert Dante and Chris Camp (pictured above) are regulars at the Annie Oakley events.

    This year, there is no cost for attending the festival or participating in our contests and showcases. Please read full details to follow.

    About Our Contests:

    First, it’s important to remember that while it’s true our events were once professional competitions with trophy prizes, today they are “exhibition” contests, meaning they are done in full public view with no monetary prizes. The intention is to expose the public to professional and hobbyist whip artistry in a family-friendly setting that is true to the traditional bullwhip handling performance style.

    We do sometimes have prizes to give away such as whip holsters, whips and other items depending on donations and sponsorships, but mostly these contests are about pleasing an audience and having fun sharing our skills and interests with other whip handlers. All of our events are held outdoors during the Annie Oakley Festival at York Woods in Ansonia, Ohio (Darke County)

    Most of the whip targets used in the contests are 12-ounce styrofoam cups.

    About Our Showcase Performances

    For those interested in participating in our showcase performances information is available here on how to do that as well.

    If you have a business and would like to sponsor prizes to be given away, please contact Gery Deer –


    Whip Speed & Accuracy

    Traditional whip speed and accuracy contest styled after the original Wild West Arts Club contests.

    Whip Requirements: Any style of whip (leather or nylon), any length up to 10 feet.

    Description: Five target stands hold two styrofoam cups, one on each side of a steel post. Starting the clock at the first crack, the contestant will attempt to cut each cup moving down the row of targets while remaining behind a “deadline” approximately 6 feet from the target stand. The contestant gets two shots at each target in any order they like but must not touch the deadline with their foot. The goal is to have the fastest time at the end of the run. Distance from dead line to target is adjusted accordingly for children at the discretion of the producer.

    For each missed cup, foot touch or crossing of the deadline, or cup hit on the upswing, judges will add 5 seconds to final time.

    Video below of a whip speed and accuracy contest from 2013 AOWAS.
    (Note: The event is now held outdoors on grass field.)

    The Whip Artistry Studio’s “Speed Switch” Speed & Accuracy

    Description: Set up in the same configuration as described for the standard speed and accuracy contest, The Whip Artistry Studio’s, “Speed Switch” contest is an original contest created at the festival in 2005. The rules are essentially the same – cut all the targets, don’t leave any untouched, don’t step over the line, and two shots at each target.

    In this version, however, contestants will switch hands halfway through. Starting from the far left target stand, each contestant will go down the line using the whip in the left hand to hit all the targets on the left side of the post and then switch hands at the end of the line, using the right hand to hit all right side targets going back from right to left.

    The contestant must not hit a left-hand cup with the whip held in the right hand, and vise versa.

    For each missed target, target cut on the wrong side of the post, foot touch or crossing of the deadline, or target hit on the upswing, judges will add 5 seconds to final time.

    Video below of a Speed Switch contest from 2014 AOWAS.

    The Whip Artistry Studio’s “Bullwhip Fast Draw”

    Description: This contest originated with members of The Whip Artistry Studio and first appeared at the 2003 Annie Oakley Festival – Ohio Regional Wild West Arts Club Convention. Created by Gery Deer, Paul Nolan and Chris Curtis, with input from Rich Hoffman, the contest is designed to test the speed and accuracy of a bullwhip handler from a coiled, holstered position.

    Whip Requirements: 6-foot bullwhips only (leather or nylon). (Measured from the butt of the handle to the fall hitch.)

    Two contestants stand opposite each other with a target placed on a stand midway between them. A six-foot bullwhip is coiled in their hand and held at the belt on one side (not snapped into a holster). When the announcer counts down and says “draw” each contestant tries to be the first to make contact with the target with the whip from the coiled and held position. Video below.

    Video sample of the bullwhip fast draw featuring Rich Hoffman and Kirk Bass…

    Indiana Jones Bullwhip Fast Draw

    Similar to the bullwhip fast draw described above, this contest is further refined to reflect the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you recall, in the movie, the first time you see Indy use his trusty whip, he has his back to the guy who pulls the gun on him and his whip is coiled and holstered at his side.

    At the sound of the pistol cocking, Indy manages to draw his whip, wheel around, target and strike the hand of his would-be assailant just in time to save his own neck. Somehow he manages to do all that in a split-second, without tangling a 10-foot bullwhip in the trees and dunking it in the water behind him as he throws it. And so will our contestants! Actually, we’ve made it a great deal easier than that.

    Two contestants will stand opposite each other with a target midway between them. Their whip is coiled and hanging in a snapped holster with their backs to the target and their opponent. When the announcer calls, “draw,” or clicks his pistol hammer (whichever he decides to do), each contestant will attempt to draw, turn and be first to make contact with the target.

    Whip Requirements: 8-foot bullwhip or longer (Indy style with wrist loop preferred but not required).

    Other Requirements: Please bring a belt that fits you. A snap holster will be provided if you don’t have one.

    Western Arts Showcase Performances

    Newcomer Hollie Bradley during her work with Chris Camp in the evening show. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    Hollie Bradley during her work with Chris Camp in the evening show. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    Description: The showcase performances are entertainment shows featuring any of the performers who attend the event and wish to participate.

    Showcase performances are 10-15 minutes in length and include whip artistry, trick and fancy roping, knife throwing, fancy gunspinning, and music performance – or a combination of these.

    There are three shows during the festival – one on Friday afternoon and two on Saturday – matinee and feature.

    Requirements: If you’ve never been to our show before, you’ll need to “audition” to perform. Send us links to video of your previous performances. You’ll need to provide proof of your performance liability insurance ($1,000,000 minimum liability). We will need to see your performance demo reel and a copy of your insurance certificate by June 10th, 2016.

    Your placement into one or all of the showcases is dependent on your arrival time. Spaces are limited and first come, first served. If you’d like us to publicize your appearance with us, please include a photo of yourself and a 100 word (or less) bio with a link to your website and/or social media.

    Please Do: Be entertaining, bright and skillful. Lots of energy and show us how you get the crowd excited!

    Please Don’t: No fire arms are to be discharged during your performance.

    There is no compensation for these performances, but performers are welcome to sell merchandise at specified locations within our space. Vendors must be contest sponsors or showcase participants.

    (Reference: If you need performance insurance, please visit

    Hints on practicing for the contests:

    1. Don’t overthink it! If you are already a good targeter, chances are you’ll be able to handle the contests with no problem. Just practice your target work.
    2. If you want to do better on targeting, use targets smaller than those used in the contest. The 12-ounce foam cups used in these contests are about 6 inches in length. Practice using a smaller 8-oz. cup to refine your skills.
    3. Don’t watch the clock! In speed and accuracy contests, accuracy counts more than speed. You can have a great time running down the line but leave targets untouched or hit the wrong ones just because you’re rushing and paying less attention to your accuracy.
    4. Try not to move any more than necessary. It’s really hard to target when you’re walking – especially with a longer whip. A good whip targeter can stand in one place and hit targets at different distances. Practice directing your whip where you want it to go.
    5. Have fun! Remember these are exhibition contests. Everyone is at our event to enjoy each other’s skill and company and to learn and show the public the fun we all have with whip arts.


    The Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase is sponsored by The Whip Artistry Studio, GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd., and The Annie Oakley Festival Committee.

  • Studio director, Gery Deer, thrills at Carnegie Music Hall during Indy event

    On Friday June 10, The Whip Artistry Studio director, Gery Deer, performed at the Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh as part of the “Indiana Jones After Dark at the Museum” for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The hour-long show included targeting, interactive segments and a surprise opening with Gery on the piano performing a comedic “Chopsticks” which rolled into the theme to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on the hall’s Steinway grand.

    “This was probably my most favorite show in years,” Gery says. “I’ve spent the last 20 or so years performing in just about every kind of venue from small town festivals to great theaters and the Carnegie has to be my favorite so far.”

    The show was part of a four-hour evening event presented by the museum which included the whip show, talks by various museum experts and a live performance of the Indiana Jones music by the Pittsburgh Philharmonic.

    Gery and assistant Barbara performed for an audience of 400 or so with many others passing in and out of the 3-tiered theatre during the presentation. The performance included detailed target work, comedy and themed routines based on the Indiana Jones films. Afterwards Gery and Barbara took photos with fans and answered questions before exploring the rest of the event.

    “I rarely do an Indy-themed performance, but this one I wouldn’t have missed. And I want to thank the entire staff of the museum, particularly Mallory Vopal, the gallery experience manager, who helped with our booking and guided us through the event flawlessly!”

    On Sunday, Gery received this from the museum, just one of many notes of appreciation he received after this performance.

    “Hi Gery!
    Again, a tremendous THANK YOU for driving out to Pittsburgh and giving an incredibly thrilling, fun, and educational show. I have gotten completely bombarded with compliments from guests and museum staff members who absolutely loved it. It couldn’t have been more wonderful!

    I hope you had safe travels home, and if you’re ever in Pittsburgh, you are always welcome at our museum!”

    Mallory Vopal
    Gallery Experience Manager
    Education and Visitor Experience Department
    Carnegie Museum of Natural History
    Pittsburgh PA

    Here are some photos from the performance … (Many photos courtesy Mallory Vopal)

  • Indiana Jones “AfterDARK at the Museum” June 10 – Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh

    If you’re an Indiana Jones fan near Pittsburgh, PA, don’t miss this great event. Details provided by the Carnegie Museum …

    Gery L. Deer will perform at the Carnegie Museum "AfterDark" event June 10

    Gery L. Deer will perform at the Carnegie Museum “AfterDark” event June 10

    Satisfy your curiosity for the natural world over cocktails as you (re)discover Carnegie Museum of Natural History…After Dark. Enjoy exclusive access to the museum’s permanent collection and hands-on spaces, explore special topics in science, and experience uniquely-themed, fun-filled entertainment and live music.

    Registration for each event includes museum admission; beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres are available for purchase.

    All After Dark guests must be at least 21 years old. Proper identification is required, and all guests must show ID at the door. Parking at the museum’s six-level parking facility is available after 5 p.m. at a pay-on-entry fee of $6.

    Indiana Jones… After Dark
    Friday, June 10
    6–10 p.m.


    We couldn’t agree more, Indy! Dust off your best hat and enter an Indiana Jones themed costume contest. Get whipped into a frenzy watching well-known professional whip artist Gery Deer. Search for treasure through the museum halls in a scavenger hunt, make your own rubbing of ancient inscriptions, and take a selfie with a life sized replica boulder. Watch “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” on the big screen and see our very own “Fred” the solid crystal skull. Enjoy a performance of the movie series’ famous score by members of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic. Meet snakes from the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium and see amazing museum artifacts up close while sipping on special themed cocktails.

    Cap off the night by dancing to music provided by Pittsburgh Vibes Unlimited!

©2017 Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)  Raindrops Theme