A NOVICE WITH HIS SIGHTS ON THE DISTANCE
by Tony Ward
My name is Tony Ward. I am 37 years old and will have been married 15 years on the 12th December to Laura, an extremely hardworking nurse at the Royal Blackburn Hospital. We have 3 testing young boys, none of whom seem to have caught the pigeon bug as of yet.
Together Laura and I served in the Armed Forces until 2000 when we decided to call it a day and set up home together back in Blackburn, Lancashire. Although I have no war stories, I have seen first hand the devastation and destruction caused by war/conflict during my tour of Bosnia. It was seeing and realising this at a young age that had a massive bearing on the way I have come to mature and my overall outlook on life in general. My philosophy is: "For all those that have more than me, there are far more with less."
I will do a follow up article in due course with more pictures of the overall set up. At the moment I am worked to the hilt trying to finish off renovating our family home. The lofts also require an overhaul - but the wife says not yet!
Four of my team of cocks
In 2011 I decided to take up this grand hobby, as it is for me, of racing pigeons. Nobody else in my family has ever been involved in the sport so I knew it would be a long and testing experience for me to endure. The first couple of years I spent messing around with what I would call mediocre pigeons of various sorts, trying to compete against some very good local club men and women, needless to say, to no avail. I am no quitter and do not get disheartened easily.
My method of gaining knowledge has been purely Internet and DVD based. Last year I decided that channel racing, and more specifically marathon distance racing, is what I am really keen on. Simply to have a pigeon return home from the 700-800 mile race points must be a real BUZZ.
So then, I suppose I am back to day 1 with pigeons as I begin my own journey down the long, long road of trying to build and maintain a successful team of long to marathon distance competitors.
I don’t think there is any one system or method for success, just pigeons that are bred right for the task ahead and as closely related to winning pigeons at your chosen distance and level of competition. Keep them healthy and train them well, add a bucketful of luck and you just never know.
Some of my hens
I am in it for the long haul that’s for sure and now that I have made contact with someone who I believe to be amongst the best fanciers in the UK I am confident that over the years I will have some kind of success.
At this moment in time I have a total of 21 pigeons from which I will select 3 or 4 pairs for stock. These are all very well bred pigeons closely related to successful distance racers. They are to form my base or building blocks for the future. The rest being only yearlings will have a couple of prep races and all in at Messac (410 miles) with the NFC. Any that return will be set aside for the following year.
I have no fear of emptying the loft for a target race as long as the pigeons are in good health and are fit enough as, in my own opinion, as the saying goes, THE BASKET TELLS NO LIES! Remember, I am still a novice and fly to a small self-built back garden set up in Blackburn, Lancs, 730 miles from Tarbes and in excess of 800 miles from Barcelona, but my way of thinking is this: Preparation and planning is key! Couple this with someone who is totally self motivated and extremely determined to succeed and NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. If at first you don’t succeed, keep bloody trying!!
Good luck to all other like minded fanciers, especially those who may just be starting out.
Elimar - December 2014