Was live pigeon shooting once an Olympic sport?

Remarkably, live pigeon shooting did feature once, and only once, at the Olympic Games, albeit as a demonstration, rather than official, sport. The Games of the II Olympiad were unusual infosar as they were piggybacked onto the Exposition Universelle, or World Exhibition, which was held in Paris, France between April and November, 1900. As such, they were poorly organised, poorly promoted and poorly attended.

All told, eight officially-recognised shooting competitions were held at Camp de Satory, Versailles

and Le Stand de l’Île Séguin, Billancourt in early August, but the Exposition Universelle featured many more ‘non-Olympic’ shooting events, some of which required an entry fee and awarded prize money. The main live pigeon shooting event, for example, required an entry fee of 200 French francs and offered total prize money of 20,000 French francs.

Competitors were required to shoot as many pigeons, released one at a time, as possible; when they missed two in a row, their total number of hits was tallied. After nearly 300 living, breathing pigeons had been blown away, Belgian Léon de Lunden was declared the winner, with 21 kills, one ahead of Frenchman Maurice Faure, with 20 kills, and two ahead of Australian Donald Mackintosh and American Crittenden Robinson, with 18 kills apiece.

As far as prize money was concerned, that quartet agreed to divide the 20,000 French francs equally between them. Indeed, the leading four competitors were posthumously awarded gold, silver and bronze medals in 1992, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reclassified the live pigeon shooting event(s), such that they were no longer recognised as official Olympic events. Unsurprisingly, live pigeon shooting never again featured in, or in association with, an Olympic programme.

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