Pigeon Racing: The Decline of Long Distance Racing


pigeon racing - the decline of long distance racingDuring the last decade it seems there has been a decline in long distance pigeon racing. Long ago, there was great pride in winning a 500 mile race and having a 500 mile day bird in your loft. Slowly, most likely through better training techniques, the increase of better quality pigeons in the average loft and fanciers becoming more educated in their craft, there has been an increase in the number of days race pigeons on a 500 or even 600 mile race. Slowly the number of pigeons shipped to these long distance races has decreased creating a shorter field of competition. Why has this happened?

Futurities and middle distance racing  

One major change to the sport was the introduction of the futurity. The futurity offers fanciers a chance to win sometimes huge amounts of money. For the breeder, it means focusing on breeding birds that excel at middle distance as most futurities are between 200-400 miles. For the handler it means focusing on perfecting training techniques and preparation for the middle distance. For commercial breeders it means winning and scoring at big futurities reap the rewards of increased sales and higher prices for their birds. For the club it creates a money making opportunity which offers greater flexibility to the club in managing their assets. All these are creating a greater focus on the middle distance races.

National awards  

The requirements for many individual bird performance awards have a requirement for some sort of middle or long distance achievement. This is a good step towards keeping fanciers interested in the long distance races. Any system has to have a standard and a point system is in place. In middle distance birds are quite capable of racing week to week back to back, while long distance birds often only fly half as many races as they need to be rested a week or there are bye weeks in the race schedule. The result is the fancier has twice as many chances to earn points with their individual birds by competing and focusing on the middle distance.

Rising Costs  

It costs a club money to ship their race pigeons to any release point. If you factor into this that a driver required to go 500+ miles will require lodging in addition to fuel and the amount of hours spend driving, the cost increases greatly. It cost often three to four times as much to ship a long distance race versus the cost to ship a short or middle distance race. If you factor into this the decrease in the number of birds shipped in a long distance race the cost efficiency greatly decreases. In our area, the Husker Hawkeye Combine is more of a an economic coalition to keep long distance racing by allowing a great number of clubs to band together and focus on maintaining the long distance racing and combining their efforts to reduce the cost to the individual fancier


I don’t know what can be done to help increase the interest in long distance pigeon racing. The cost factor in our present economy is a huge force against our long distance racing. The effect of futurities upon our sport have dramatically changed the focus of our sport. Despite efforts to establish long distance awards such as the Ace Marathon award the interest is declining. Maybe the day will come when there really are no races of 300 miles.   The only thing that may hold to be true is that where you find a group of fanciers, there will be that urge to race and compete at what ever distance is affordable.

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By: Domanski Family Loft

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13 thoughts on “Pigeon Racing: The Decline of Long Distance Racing

  1. My club races all the short & middle distance races. To me though the greatest enjoyment is a day bird from 500 miles plus. We always fly at least one race from the 500 plus distance. Wish their were more local Fanciers in the Augusta, GA area who would fly with us. Cost is a problem but we have managed every year to fly at least one 500 mile race. We do golf tournaments and other things to help raise money for this event. So far things have worked out great. So if you are in the Augusta, GA area or close by come fly the 500 mile race with us.

    1. Hi Johnny we had a cap made this year for our truckers truck and it fits our crates and is all
      alummnium and our trucker built it for $3.500 dollars and we are flying two five hundreds and two six hundreds we had a couple of pigeon auctions to pay for the trailer i hope this
      help you or someone to keep there long distance races.Regards Brad.

  2. Hi to me you lose your distance races you have nothing left that is what most of us old timers love.
    We built a new trailer this year to fit on our drivers truck it holds our baskets and was very reasonable to do so we are still flying the longer races.I hope this help another combine or Fed
    that are having problems keeping there longer races.And one loft races there not for me.
    Regards Brad.

  3. i read the article and i agree with you 100%.i race in malta where in my club we race to win cups or their value in cash.to send 10 birds to a long distant race say 660klm. you pay 50 euros. if you win a first prise you win about 48euros.if you live on a pension like me you start to reduce the number of birds you send. i used to send 10 now i send 5 or even less .thats one of the reason that the number of pigeons sent to long races is being reduced.thats my openion.thanks for your support. victor

  4. Woow, my friend not dead here but growing. Our club has flown out to 800 miles and now we are going to do a 600 over night. You might was to visit the mid south!!!!!!! Bubba

  5. I only love the all distance pigeons. In my country Jakarta – Indonesia. Our club race the birds for total 8 post. Start from post 1 about 200 km to the last post (post 8)Lombok Island 1070 km. The Pigeons must came back home every post. Here we only love the Ace Pigeon. We don’t like the middle distance birds, because they can’t came back home when race in the Bali Island (970 km) and Lombok Island (1070 km). I only need 2 or 3 pigeons remain in my loft every year. If only race in the mid distance 400 or 500 km , it’s mean every year I must keep about 20 birds in my loft. it’s no meaning for me. I only want the best pigeons keep in my loft. Thanks.

  6. Due to health reasons i had to give up my beloved Homers around 14 years ago. I sold my home in Philadelphia in 2007 and moved permanently here in Delaware, prior to that only spent weekends at our home here on the weekends. Wishing that i had them here for sure. I think that if we want to see more come into our great hobby, we have to start with our youth. Every Club should build a Loft on their Club Property and have a young bird to give a youngster that will be his or hers and on a schedule each youngster will have to take a turn to clean the Loft and Feed the Birds. It would teach them responsibility and what it is to compete. This is just a suggestion. Hopeing all is good with all of you and your birds, all of you have a Great Year!

  7. maybe the longest races could be subsidised and made cheaper to encourage greater participation. The longest races could be sponsored by local businessses, etc.

  8. maybe if we set up a network between clubs here in USA we can ship/mail the birds to another club close to the mileage and have them release birds
    just a idea

    Dennis Patten

    1. Dennis,

      I totally agree with you. I am actually working on the beginning stages of a club directory that I think will deffinetly help boost participation in the sport and member numbers in clubs. And will be excellent to incorporate your idea as well. It will allow clubs to easily find other clubs close to them to partner with on certain aspects of the sport.

      Great idea!
      Yours in the sport,

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