Before clay pigeons, Olympic shooters shot and killed live ones

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One of the games you won’t see at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, and probably won’t see in any future games is the live pigeon shoot. In 1900, the live pigeon shoot was a non-medaled event with a paid entrance fee for shooters.

In the competition, shooters had to kill as many live pigeons as possible. The pigeons were released from traps placed in front of the shooters and winners were determined by who had the most confirmed kills. Shooters were eliminated after missing two shots. It has been reported that nearly 300 birds were killed, according to multiple written accounts of the event.

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A $20,000 purse was split between the top four competitors. 10 shooters from 5 different countries participated. Belgian Leon De Lunden won the 200 franc competition with 21 kills. Aussie Donald Mackintosh won the 20 franc competition with 22 kills.

Frenchmen Louis Debray and Pierre Nivet tied for first place in the running game target event. The event results are not listed in any official IOC results.


It represented the first and only time live animals were killed for sport in Olympic competition. Animals rights activists mounted campaigns to ban the event. In 1902, the United States led the charge to ban the event and introduced clay pigeons.

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