Moments before, the 15-year-old had done a final check on the lines suspending a net in the far end of the circus tent that was his final destination.
He gave a final wave to the crowd and slid into the muzzle of a canon that was tilted to at least a 45-degree angle. It appeared like they were going for a bank shot off the tent ceiling, but when the canon fired, Davenport flew through the air, arms outstretched as though he was making a swan dive, then made a half flip, landing on his back in the net
"To tell you the truth, it feels like getting hit by a car ... but then you get a nice breeze," he said after the performance.
Besides being a human cannonball, Davenport, of Dallas, Texas, helps with the announcing at Big Top Family Fun Circus, which is in Chippewa Falls for two days, and he also juggles and breathes fire.
Rocket has been a human cannonball for four years, but he has been with the circus as long as he can remember, traveling 10 1/2 months of the year with his family. He speaks English and Spanish and has been home-schooled along the way. He plans to make the circus his career -- even though circuses are becoming rarer. Four years ago 10 to 12 were performing in the U.S. Now only four remain, he said.
The circus also features a contortionist, a clown, a high wire act and other performers, along with a petting zoo that includes a baby camel and a zebra of mixed parentage.
Amanda Brown, 28, of Chippewa Falls said Friday she had never been to a circus, so she came with her four children. Her 10-year-old son, Blaine, said he liked the fire jugglers and the clown who came over to the crowd, but he also moved to the back row to avoid the clown, who was involving audience members in the show.
"I didn't want to go in front of the whole audience," he said.