John Clements
Euro Pigeon

Copyright 2010 John Clements.
Trouble at Mill
Watermill of Braine-le-Château, Belgium (12th century)   Photograph taken by Pierre 79.
There seems to be trouble at the RPRA Mill. I was at a Western Region meeting last week to collect a Region award. Prior to the award ceremony a case came up involving ETS.  Twelve members of one club had broken off and formed their own club because they objected to the use of ETS by four of the original members. The newly drawn radius of the breakaway club was now strategically drawn to keep out four of the original members who wanted to use ETS.
As ETS is an accepted and approved RPRA system for timing pigeons it would appear that the 12 members of the new club, by breaking away on the grounds that they disapproved of ETS were in fact also breaking RPRA guidelines.

The Western Region did not see it this way for they approved and accepted the forming of the new club.
It seems a conflict situation has arisen where the Western Region  have in fact accepted a club that disapproves of and is not prepared to accept an approved RPRA timing  system. What a mess for the RPRA. I myself have no axe to grind for I am also not prepared to use ETS until it gets much cheaper and more user friendly but for those who do want to use ETS, they should be allowed to do so.

There are a couple of back-stories to all this that may be relevant. The Western Region borders on the NWHU so it may well be that there was a fear of the ‘breakaway 12’ leaving the RPRA and joining the NWHU.

The other back -story was a remark made during the discussion which asked the following question.  ‘Why  are we in the UK having so much trouble accepting ETS when it seems ETS became accepted in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands without much trouble at all. 

I think I  can shed some light on this  - the reason why the UK and the RPRA is having trouble might be  the UK emphasis on first prizes, where a first gets paid more than a second and so on. This  does not happen on the Continent. There, automatic prizes do not exist. Their structure relies on voluntary pools as a reward. Because the basic Belgian and Dutch pool is paid at 1 in every 4 pigeons where the first gets the same as the 20th  they need to clock as many pigeons as they can get into the top quarter of every result thus  encouraging ETS use.  In fact the original idea of ETS was devised for the Germans - the Belgians and the Dutch systems not for the UK first prize system.

We, the UK are unfortunately here using ETS by default because so much of what we use (rings - dials - rubbers etc…) are  manufactured in Belgium and re sold to the UK. Their prize system encourages ETS use. Our system, where seconds lost are important discourages ETS.
There is bound to be a huge fall out because of this and unless we change our attitude to the importance of first prizes not only for competition but also for selling purposes, it is bound to come up time and time again.  Until of course the time comes that no other system is available or the sport is no more.  A BIG problem.

John Clements