ONE LOFT RACES?????

May 30, 2017
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Submitted by Erik Hall
erikhall@optonline.net

I recently got a call from a new flier, and we all know there aren’t many of them. He wanted to buy some young birds but his first question to me was “do I compete in one loft races with the “big boys”?” He was only looking for pigeons to fly within his local club but said he had been told that if he wanted the best pigeons he should get them from someone who is successful in one loft races. He had called a couple of fliers who advertise their “champion” status but said he couldn’t afford pigeons from their “champion lines”. Thinking about what he said I decided I would express my thoughts.

Every year there are more and more one loft races. They are popping up in every corner of the country. So many pigeon fliers are no longer flying in their local clubs, but now are just breeding and sending to one loft races. This has become an easy way to be an “active” pigeon flier. No more getting up early in the morning to train or to the training truck the night before, no more having to care for and feed a hundred young ones, no longer do you have to worry about keeping your birds healthy. Now all you have to do is send your birds to these races and just wait and hope for the big payday.  Is this real proof of champion pigeons? With these one loft races we see hundreds of “winners;” champion pigeons, equal first from 100 miles, equal first from 200 miles, and equal first from 300 miles. Wow these are pigeons that are second to none or are they? Now let’s take a look at the results, If they have been properly taken care of and kept healthy and somewhat trained the results are, 100 miles, equal first, most of the loft was on the first drop, who was the lucky ones to run in first, all equal first winners, 200 miles, again a large portion of the entries are on the first drop, more equal firsts, and then the big one, three hundred miles, and again many champions on the first drop and the “grand champion” ran in first.

Now the pigeons racing career is over, three races, that’s all it has to fly to be a “champion,” now we can sell young ones from these “champions” for big bucks. No longer do we need to breed pigeons that have to compete in a ten race series of young bird races and go on to again prove themselves in old birds. No longer do we have to breed pigeons that are smart enough to orient themselves and race to their respective homes. No longer do we have to breed pigeons that can withstand fifteen weeks or more of training and racing.

Young birds especially need a lot of training as they are natural followers, take a look at the one loft races and see how many of them only start training a couple weeks before the 100 mile race, how many of these equal first winners do you really think were just followers?

I, as I’m sure many of us do, follow the results of all these one loft races, I am amazed when I see that when they have them trained to 20 miles they have already lost one hundred or depending of the amount of entries losses are up to 300-400 pigeons. Did that many bad pigeons get sent to the one loft races? Recently I saw one of these races where over four hundred pigeons where entered and on race day in the 300 only two made it home on the day, four by the end of the second day, how well where they trained ? How healthy where they? Unfortunately this is not the abnormal, so many of these races the birds are poorly trained or are not healthy. So, are the winners of these races the real “Champions” or are they just the survivors? On the other hand, many of these lofts lightly train the birds so they don’t lose to many and they never learn to break apart and you have all the birds home within a few minutes, can there be that most of these young ones sent to these races are so good or are they just followers.

Having raced pigeons for almost fifty years and been fortunate enough to have won over 150 races in the tough New York area in that period of time against some of the best in the business I never saw or heard of so many proclaimed “champion pigeons” as we read about today with these “one race wonders.” A champion pigeon was always a pigeon that performed outstanding over the period of a full race season winning several times.

I in no way wish to belittle the efforts of the owners of all these one loft races. I know there are some real top pigeon men that sponsor these races and truly put a lot of hard work and effort to make them successful. On the other hand I know that there are also many of these races sponsored by people who are just out to make an easy buck. At $100 perch fee multiplied by the number of entries for a quick season of very little training plus many of the one loft races receive free feed from the feed companies just to promote their feed and also free supplies from some of the supply houses. Do the math, it’s a nice gig, and from that you may get a “champion.”

I truly believe that in the end we will end up with a poorer quality of pigeon, breeding from one race wonders that have mostly just followed the bundle in its short career. Personally if I were looking to buy breeding stock I want it to be from pigeons that have gone through the test of time and flown several 300’s as a young bird, finishing at or near the top, rather than buy pigeons that have flown a short three race series and possibly just got lucky in the final race.  Many times you will see ads from the lofts that claim terrific results repeatedly in one loft races and they claim they have superior birds, but take a look at the number of one loft races they enter and more importantly the number of pigeons they enter per race. You only read about the one they scored in. A blind squirrel will always find an acorn if enough fall to the ground!

I am not trying to put down the one loft races as I have entered a few myself and have been lucky enough to have had a couple of “equal Champions” and competing in them can be fun but I also play Lotto and go to the casino’s, when I win there I don’t proclaim myself a professional gambler.

This is only my personal opinion and in no way is it meant to be a personal attack against anyone in particular. If I have offended anyone I am sorry, it was not meant to do so. I just have to question what direction the sport of racing pigeons is going and can we honestly say we are breeding better and smarter pigeons breeding from all these “one loft champions.” I have always in the past and will always in the future believe that true quality pigeons are the ones that have raced a full season of young birds AND at least one full season of old birds.

So in the end I am left with several questions, first again I ask, what kind of pigeons will we be breeding from? How will local clubs, combines, and even the IF and AU survive without support and dues paying members, and in a sport that is not getting many new fliers how will it survive when all that is left are one loft races, it will be hard to tell new fliers that to compete you need to send birds out to these races and be sure to send along $100 or more per bird for perch fees and $200- $500 per bird entry fee. To many this would be a financial burden that they could never entertain. I realize to some this is now the only way that they can compete in pigeon racing because their local club has already disbanded for lack of membership. There are other options, many clubs across the country hold special races open to out of area fliers to send birds to compete in races throughout the season and finally in their special race. This enables the clubs to make some extra money to stay afloat and your pigeons can prove themselves against the best of competition for a full season and you can still get a financial reward at the end.  Give it some thought!

Oh, I sent the new flier who called me 6 young birds free of charge and wished him success even though they were not bred from “equal champions!!!”

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4 Responses to ONE LOFT RACES?????

  1. Akzona Loft on May 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Erik well written and you nailed it on the equal champions or OLR racing. For me I have flown OLR and even hosted a OLR and as a handler I worked harder to keep the birds in top health and few losses by training them hard my format at that time was pay out on the race was only at the end on the 300. Now I’m back racing my birds and enjoy ever moment and thankful we still have a club to fly them in.Good luck to all who fly club or OLR enjoy the sport and our birds.

  2. len on May 31, 2017 at 3:21 am

    totally agree in south Australia compete in Adelaide 10,000 check out web site a one loft race total 5 races $10,000 each race first prize ,prizes to 30 positions, racing from 300km to 940km best part is put up with main convoy up to 4000 + birds these birds have to break to their own loft great mental and physical test ever 2 to 3 weeks

  3. Tom Fremont on May 31, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Great insight and very well written. I had to smile because this is the way so many hard core pigeon fanciers feel. As I’ve always said ‘One Loft Races’ are a fun little pastime, but certainly not a true measure of what a champion pigeon is. 3 or 4 races as a young bird does not make a champion. Many times (more often than not a pigeon does not show it’s true value and worth until it is two years old or beyond) Erik …thank you for this article, and I can only hope that it inspires fanciers to put into perspective the difference between one loft races and true pigeon racing !!

    • Joe Nemelka on June 19, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Excellent article…well thought out, well written and spot on. Please keep writing more articles Erik!

      A couple additional thoughts. Due to my job and the travel associated with it, the only way I can race competitively is through OLR. I really enjoy it and find that it isn’t all luck…there is a lot of skill, pedigree and work involved in being successful. The consistent OLR winners are the ones that deserve recognition and respect. Do it once – it is luck. Do it over and over – it is skill.

      The marketing of the birds and breeders racing in OLRs has become quite the interesting phenomena as well. It certainly isn’t often based in reality as there should only be 1…maybe 2…and in rare exceptions 3 birds from a reasonable sized race that are truly “Champions.” Unfortunately you get people claiming =1sts like crazy. I love the saying “If everybody is special then nobody is special.” The number of “participation awards” people claim from OLRs is worse than youth sports. When I read 100’s of 1sts or =1st – I know the person is living in the participation trophy world. When I read money won in a race, Average Speed awards or money won on the final race – those are the ones I applaud.

      I am very hopeful that the OLR Stats project we are doing this year will be insightful and create transparency for those breeders are truly successful in OLRs and do away with the 100’s of =1st claims.

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