PIGEON AND SPARROW SHOOTS
From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 10
By Samuel Herbert (1876-1866)
The Stanley Gun Club held regular Pigeon and Sparrow shoot in Stark’s Athletic Grounds, about opposite McGee Street, south of Eastern Avenue where commercial industries are now located.
Its members came from different parts of the city, mostly from the east end, and the sport was very popular. Old residents who were ardent shooters have passed on years ago and many keen matches were shot out with money wagered on both sides.
One match that stands out clearly in my memory was between two well known prominent residents of the east end. There was light snow on the ground, and the match was “miss and out”.
Twenty-four birds had been killed by each of the contestants.
It was getting late in the afternoon and a little snow on the ground. Visibility was poor. A white pigeon was placed surreptitiously in one of the traps, and when the word “pull” was given, the pigeon was just faintly discernable.
The contestant fired and knocked it down. The other side demanded he “gather his bird inside the line”, this he did and went back to his position on the firing line making a twenty-five straight. The other contestant fired, and missed his bird, my relative winning the match.
There was hilarity in the winner’s home that evening, and the winner later on had the white pigeon stuffed and mounted in a glass case which hung on the wall of his living room. He always relished telling how the pigeon won him the match and a challenge cup as well.
The cost of pigeons for shooting purposes was twenty-five cents. Each of the contestants kept all the birds they shot. Many a pigeon pie was the reward from these matches in Stark’s grounds.
Sometimes in the early evening one could see persons going stealthily with a long bamboo fishing rod which had a small net attached to the end. They were snaring sparrows from the eaves and other parts of the house and buildings.
The sparrows were later sold to the gun club for sparrow shoots. Light snow on the ground was always a help, and if I remember correctly, the traps were placed about ten yards from the firing line. Number ten shot was generally used. Sparrow shoots were less expensive than for pigeons, and were well patronized.