Race Day and Figuring the Race
On the morning of the race you should find out from the club’s race secretary when the birds went up (liberated) so as to estimate the approximate arrival time. Racing Homers fly at 45 mph air speed, but their ground speed is controlled by the wind direction and velocity. Their ground speed is estimated by adding or subtracting the amount of the wind component the birds have to fly with or against, respectively, from 45 mph. Knowing your airline distance, the simple relationship of time equals distance divided by velocity is used to compute the estimated arrival time of the birds. The next thing to do is to lock your traps, locate your “poling sticks,” put your “droppers” in a carrying crate close at hand for ready use, and to place your clock and capsules near the trap.
Manual Non-Electronic Clocking
When a bird arrives from the race, a “dropper” is released to bring the Racing Homer down to the landing board. The race bird is herded into the locked trap with the “poling sticks” whereupon its countermark is removed, put into a capsule which is then placed in the hole in the top of the clock and the crank on the clock turned until it stamps to record the official time of the bird on the paper tape.
The trap is then unlocked to let the race bird into the loft. The trap is then immediately relocked, the dropper put back into the carrying crate and the next bird is waited for. At this time, some clubs require the fancier to report the arrival time of his first bird. This should be done promptly so as not to disqualify your bird. The race birds, after they have been clocked, should be fed and have fresh clean water to drink.
After the birds have been clocked, and when the members assemble to compute the speeds, (or as it is commonly called “to open clocks” or “to figure the race”), the clocks are again synchronized with the master timer by stamping the clocks together in a manner similar to starting the clocks. The clock is then opened by the race secretary and the paper tape removed. The capsules are removed from he clock one by one. A countermark, after it is removed from the capsule, read and recorded on the entry sheet and paper tape, is immediately placed back in the capsule and replaced in the clock in the hole from which it was removed. After all countermarks have been read and recorded on the entry sheet and paper tape, the times recorded on the paper tape are read starting with the stamp that started the clock and noting each on the tape. For example, the tape may have four stamps as follows: 20:00:00, 12:01:56, 12:25:10 and 14:00:20. This shows that the clock was started at 8 p.m.; the first bird clocked at 12:01:56; the second bird was clocked at
12:25:10 and the clock was 20 seconds fast when synchronized with the master timer at 2 p.m.
The AU has developed a computer program for computing races. The time each bird is clocked, his band number and description, and the clock variation is input to the computer. The computer then computes the speed of each pigeon in yards per minute (ypm). When all participants’ information has been input into the computer, a race report will be printed out showing the winners. The bird with the fastest average speed in ypm is the winner. This program offers a variety of different features to enhance the club’s record keeping for the complete race season.
In the mid-1990’s, a number of firms introduced a new technology to the scoring of racing pigeon competition. Using micro-chips imbedded in special leg bands, and with a reading unit installed at the loft entry point, pigeons are automatically “clocked” as they step across the system antenna and into the loft.
These electronic systems eliminate the need for placing a countermark on the bird as it is entered in each race. They also do not require that you have a trap to hold the bird as it enters the loft, so that you can remove the countermark. The greatest benefit to some flyers is that they do not necessarily have to be at the loft for their birds to be clocked as they arrive home. The traditional methods of clocking pigeons still work fine, however, the electronic systems are gaining an increasing acceptance.
The winner usually receives a trophy, and, in addition, clubs award “diplomas” to the top few birds in the race. The AU recognizes diploma winners on the basis of one diploma for each 20 birds entered in the race. Most clubs have an annual banquet in which the awards are given to the deserving winners. AU Centers and the AU itself have annual conventions, held in a different state of the United States each year. At the AU convention, the winners of the AU Hall of Fame awards for the most outstanding Racing Homers, as determined from the entries submitted, are given special recognition. Every Racing Homer fancier’s dream is to win the Hall of Fame award. You could be a future Hall of Fame winner!