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Pigeon shooting is a type of live bird wing shooting competition. Traditionally, there are two types of competition: box birds and columbaire. In box birds, the pigeons are held in a mechanical device that releases them when the shooter calls out. In columbaire, the birds are hand thrown by a person when called upon. The pigeons are bred for speed. The most common species of pigeon used in regulated shooting contests being known as a zurito (Columba oenas). In the shooting competition, large sums of money are gambled and winners can have purses exceeding USD$50,000. The equipment for the sport can be specialized and purpose built.

In the past, the sport was worldwide. It was for the leisure class and was held at resort locations such as Monaco and Havana. Popular magazines covered the sport—for example, Field & Stream and Sports Illustrated. But, over time, the sport has fallen out of widespread favor due to costs, alternative shooting sports such as trap, skeet, and sporting clays, and of course, animal rights activism over a blood sport.

In the past, events used to be publicly posted.[1] The sport still exists in pockets around the world, but generally, it's not well advertised and it's only hosted in select locations and by invitation only. Usually, this is to avoid the protests inevitably attracted by the event.[citation needed]

Venues and championships[edit]

Tournaments and competition during beginning to mid twentieth century were worldwide. In the 1900 Paris Olympic, live pigeon shooting was one of the events.[2] The prize for the winner was 20,000 French Francs (more than USD$82,000 in 2017),[3] though the top four finishers agreed to split the prize money.[4]

Early to mid 20th century[edit]

A brief list of some of the active venues in the 1950s:[5][6]

  • Estoril, Portugal - Match of Nations World Championship
  • Monte Carlo, Monaco - Prix de Larvotto and Prix Gaston Rambaud
  • Havana, Cuba - The Pan American Live Pigeon Championship, The Grand Prix
  • Vichy, France - Grand Prix de Vichy[7]
  • Lebanon, Pennsylvania - Miller Memorial [8]
  • Deauville, France - Prix Roger Dubut
  • Rome, Italy
  • Milan, Italy
  • Madrid, Spain - Live Bird Championship[9][10][11]
  • San Remo, Italy[12][13][14]
  • Valencia, Spain[15][16]
  • Barcelona, Spain - Columbaire Championship
  • Seville, Spain - Columbaire Championship
  • Guadalajara, Mexico - Open Flyer Championship[17]
  • Mexico City, Mexico - World Live Pigeon Championship [18][19][20]
  • Cairo, Egypt - Match of Nations[21]

Pigeon Shooting in Monte Carlo: 1872 to 1960[edit]

Pigeon shooting in Monaco dates back to 1872. The ring was located behind the casino and was in continuous use with live pigeons until 1960, when robotic devices went into use. Slowly, shooting faded out of fashion, and the shooting range was demolished in 1972.[22] After the ring was demolished, a mosaic titled "From the Earth to the Sea" ("De la Terre a la Mer") was installed by Victor Vasarely.[23]

The popularity of pigeon shooting at Monte Carlo included creation of new types of gun stocks; the "Monte Carlo" comb.[24]

Current locations[edit]

  • Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic[25][26] - 25 pigeons for $418
  • Guadalajara, Mexico[27]
  • Spain[28]

Firearms and ammunition[edit]

Traditionally, live pigeon shooting guns were heavier than a regular field gun (greater than 7 pounds). Characteristics of them were longer barrels (30 inch with ventilated ribs give better sight plane), tighter chokes (full/fuller), no safety, beavertail forend, single triggers, clipped fences, a third bite,[5][29][30][31] 2 3/4 12 gauge shells. These extra features were in place to handle the higher pressure loads used for live pigeon competitions where the bird had to be dropped inside the ring. Today, these pigeon guns command a higher premium at auction.[32]

Pigeons used[edit]

In Europe, a special breed of rock pigeon is used called a zurito (Columba oenas) (see stock dove). They are small, gray, and exceptionally fast.[33][34]

Animal rights criticism[edit]

John Goodwin, director of animal cruelty policy with The Humane Society of the United States, has criticized pigeon shooting.[35] As early as the first quarter of the 20th century, editorial pieces were decrying the sport.[36]

In the USA, live pigeons shooting remains legal in several states. In Pennsylvania,[37][38] a 2014 bill for banning pigeon shooting[39] was opposed by the National Rifle Association. Legislators were apparently convinced and let the bill expire.[40] In 2015, Pennsylvania Senator Patrick M. Browne re-introduced Senate Bill 715 [41] to amend Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to further provide for the offense of animal cruelty.[42][43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "San Antonio Express from San Antonio, Texas on February 11, 1965 · Page 55". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  2. ^ Gibson, Megan. "9 Really Strange Sports That Are No Longer in the Olympics". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  3. ^ "euros to dollars - Google Search". www.google.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  4. ^ "Live Pigeon Shooting at the Olympics". www.topendsports.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  5. ^ a b "Holt's Auctioneers". auctions.holtsauctioneers.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  6. ^ "Shotgunning Mastery: Rudy Etchen's Records". www.joeletchenguns.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  7. ^ "Le sporting club de Vichy - Vichy Destinations". Vichy Destinations (in French). Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  8. ^ "Lebanon Daily News from Lebanon, Pennsylvania on September 2, 1958 · Page 10". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  9. ^ "Club de Tiro Somontes". www.clubdetirosomontes.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  10. ^ "Las armas del Rey Alfonso XIII salen a subasta - Stock Armas". Stock Armas (in Spanish). 2014-12-12. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  12. ^ Pathé, British. "San Remo Pigeon Shooting On Sleeve As Sam Remo Pigeon Shooting". www.britishpathe.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  13. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (1967-02-04). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
  14. ^ Lear, Edward (1911-01-01). Later Letters of Edward Lear: to Chichester Fortescue (Lord Carlingford), Lady Waldegrave and Others. Duffield.
  15. ^ Luis, Juan (2016-01-12). "Marítimo de Valencia: El tiro de pichón". Marítimo de Valencia. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  16. ^ "Activistas protestan en Valencia contra el campeonato de tiro de palomas - Qué.es". Qué.es (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  17. ^ "A World Champion After Just Two Years". tribunedigital-mcall. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  18. ^ Brister, Bob (2008). Shotgunning: The Art and the Science. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 267. ISBN 1602393273.
  19. ^ Field & Stream. 1982-07-01.
  20. ^ Barnes, Duncan. "A Border Pigeon Shoot". SI.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  21. ^ "نادى الصيد المصرى". egyptianshootingclub.net (in Arabic). Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  22. ^ "Monaco: an extraordinary history of unusual sports". Monte Carlo Legend. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  23. ^ "History of Art: Victor Vasarely". www.all-art.org. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  24. ^ Simpson, Layne (2005-02-24). Layne Simpson's Shooter's Handbook: 600 Questions Answered. Krause Publications. ISBN 0873499395.
  25. ^ "Shooting at Casa de Campo". Case de Campo. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  26. ^ "25th Annual Pigeon Shooting Tournament". Case de Campo. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  27. ^ Brister, Bob (1982). "My Search for Supergun". Field & Stream. July 1982: 78.
  28. ^ "Pigeon Shooting Competition in Spain". federacioncazacv.com. 2017-01-23. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  29. ^ "doublegunshop.com The Quest for Quality - British game gun or British rifle". www.doublegunshop.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  30. ^ "Concealed Third Fastener". www.hallowellco.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  31. ^ "Wing Shooting and the Pigeon Ring". www.joeletchenguns.com. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  32. ^ Gardiner, Gavin (2010). "Going, going, gun!" (PDF). Shooting Gazette: 76–81.
  33. ^ Montague, Andrew. "Successful Shotgun Shooting". https://books.google.com/books?id=bZuhAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA98&lpg=PA98&dq=zuritos+pigeon&source=bl&ots=cypskkeZ_Y&sig=azXm4F9ekvV5Eho1sAeRmDY7EDY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjp5JeDvtjRAhWM24MKHcYLDPIQ6AEINDAF#v=onepage&q=zuritos%20pigeon&f=false. External link in |website= (help)
  34. ^ Montague, Andrew (2000). Successful Shotgun Shootihng. The Derrydale Press. p. 98. ISBN 1568331649.
  35. ^ LAKANA (2014-08-01). "Animal rights advocates fighting to end live pigeon shoots". WFMZ. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  36. ^ "PIGEON SHOOTING AT ITS WORST » 3 Mar 1928 » The Spectator Archive". The Spectator Archive. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  37. ^ SHARK (2008-10-19), Cruel, Cowardly Pigeon Shooters Exposed!!!, retrieved 2017-01-25
  38. ^ http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/xconnect/v4/i2/t/leo.html
  39. ^ http://www.bornfreeusa.org/legislation.php?p=4432&more=1
  40. ^ Bill White (Oct 25, 2014). "Pigeon shoot bill got buried by frightened PA legislators". The Morning Call.
  41. ^ Pennsylvania General Assembly Regular Session 2015-2016 Senate Bill 715
  42. ^ Browne, Patrick. "Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda". Pennsylvania State Senate. Pennsylvania State Senate. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  43. ^ President, Wayne Pacelle; CEO; States, The Humane Society of the United (2014-06-30). "Live Pigeon Shoots: The Shame of Pennsylvania". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-01-20.