It was with great interest that I read the article of a few weeks ago from the Bee-Pic sports writer, in which he stated that he took up bowling when he got too old to play ball.
I have another suggestion for him. When the bowling ball gets too heavy, I suggest that he take up the sport of pigeon racing. This way he can sit under the shade tree and let his feathered warriors do the competing for him.
Pigeon racing has been going on for hundreds of years, dating back to the first Olympics when pigeons brought the results back to Rome. They were used by Reuters to get the scoop on the news of Europe before the other papers.
In more recent times, the sport has developed two national organizations – those being the American Racing Pigeon Union (ARPU) and the International Federation of Pigeon Racing. Each group then has sub groups called clubs. Locally, we are members of the Beeville Racing Pigeon club affiliated with the ARPU. Our membership stretches from Normanna to Corpus Christi.
Pigeon racing is a well-regulated sport, and there are two seasons. In the spring, we race the birds that are called old birds. These birds have a season of flying under their belt and are able to race in distances up to 600 miles and beyond. A bird can fly about 40 mph and is capable of staying in the air and on the wing for many, many hours; it is not unusual for a pigeon to fly the 500 miles in a day.
Prior to a race, the club members meet and register their birds that are going to race. The birds are then loaded into a specially-built trailer and hauled by a driver to the designated release point. At a pre-arranged time the driver releases the birds. When they arrive at their home, they cross an antenna, and the chip rings; we record the time of arrival and log it into a clock unique to pigeon racing. Using GPS, we can determine the exact distance the release point is from every man’s loft. With this information, combined with a reading of the length of time it took the bird to cover the distance, the speed at which the birds flew can be calculated. He who flies fastest wins.
This same system is used in the fall month when we race birds that are born in the current year and referred to as young birds. The distance we race these birds in reduced to 300 miles because of their youth and inexperience. So you can see this is a year-long sport.
I hope this letter gives some insight into our sport. For additional information, contact the ARPU at 1-405-848-5801.
R.H. “Dick” Segelken