What is a Pigeon Race
“It is the sport with a single starting gate and a thousand finish lines” as described by Jim jenner
Pigeon Racing, in short is where competing birds are taken from their lofts and then are released to race home. The time the pigeon then takes to get home and distance it has flown is recorded and the fastest bird is declared the winner. Races are generally between 75miles and 500 miles in distance. Birds are entered in to a race under strict regulations at the clubs racing headquarters such as a local public house, sports club or village hall. Once all the birds are race entered they are collected by a specially designed pigeon racing transporter and taken to a predetermined liberation point and once all the weather conditions and flight path are suitable for race the birds are all liberated at and the time notified to all the fanciers waiting for the return of their pigeons. Each pigeon returning to a different loft has to fly a different distance to the next loft. This racing distance between the bird’s home loft and the racepoint is carefully measured by GPS. The time taken by the bird to return is measured using one of the two acceptable timing methods. A race season is normally separated between Old birds and Young birds (usually youngsters in their first year of competition) and another for older birds.
A pigeon can start to be able to competitively compete from about 6 months of age and still be in competition at over ten years of age, although four to five years is an average racing career.
The traditional method of timing racing pigeons involves rubber race rings with a unique recorded number and a specially designed pigeon racing clock. The ring is attached around the pigeons leg before being sent to race. The serial number is recorded, the clock is set and sealed, and the bird carries the ring home. When the first bird returns, its trainer removes the ring and places it in a slot in the clock. The time that the ring was placed in the clock is recorded as the official time that the competing bird arrived home. From this timestamp an average speed is measured and a winner of the race can be found
The latest development for timing racing pigeons is the Electronic Timing System. The bird’s arrival is recorded automatically. When using an electronic system, the pigeon fancier doesn’t even have to be at the loft to clock the birds as they return. Birds are fitted with a band that has a tiny RFID chip in it which can be read when the bird comes home. At the home loft the electronic scanning records the pigeons arrival. The pad is placed at the entry point to the loft entrance and as the pigeon crosses it the electronic band is scanned. The serial number of the transponder ring is recorded along with the time of arrival. This is very similar to timing systems used in human races.