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Bill "The Book" Richardson

(These recommendations were written for a seminar at the Gopher State Auction in Minnesota in October 2004.)


Bill Richardson presenting eyesign at the Minnesota seminar.

My name is Richard Clingan and I am the Editor of "The Australian Racing Pigeon Journal"

RichardFor almost a year now I have published a regular monthly article from the pen of Bill Richardson. Not only is he a master of his subject, he is also a story teller of some renown. Very few writers in the pigeon sport can take on the more serious subjects such as he does, make them understandable to a broad spectrum of readers and at the same time give those readers a laugh . I for one will always have room on the pages for Books articles. Whoever named him, got it right, first go!

Kindest Regards, Richard


Introducing Bill “The Book” Richardson, by Steen Haagh

SteenWe all want to achieve good result with our pigeons, and I am no exception. My name is Steen Haagh, and I live on the northern end of Zealand, which is an island that is part of the country of Denmark. I am a second generation pigeon fancier, and I have been racing pigeons since 1970. Over the years, I have had some good results.

I started studying eyesing in racing pigeons very early on, but truthfully, regardless of the theories I followed, they seemed to lack any correlation with results. Clearly, there is something to eyesign, but the theories I was exposed to were inconsistent at best. Over time, I became disenchanted with the subject to the point where about three years ago, I was going to drop it altogether. However, over the years, it had become such a fascination for me that I just couldn’t give up that easily.

With the help of the internet, I began one last search for someone that had a better understanding of the subject. I wrote many fanciers that had shown interest in eyesign, and I received many answers. Once again, I was disappointed with these answers until one day I received a reply from an American by the name of Bill Richardson who is better known as “The Book”.

We communicated several times via emails, and I came to realize that I had found what I was looking for. Soon we were sending photographs of eyes back and forth, and his ability to select the right breeders and racers from just a photograph was amazing. He put me in contact with several of his students, of which many were already very successful in their own right. I quickly found out that they are extremely loyal to him, and they hold him in very high regard. In fact, without exception, all agreed that he is the best that they have ever come in contact with, which is interesting as most of them have never even met him in person. After much correspondence, I eventually became one of his students. This was a major achievement for me because he only takes on one or two students a year, so this was a real honour. In retrospect, he probably made me think harder than I had ever thought in my life, and, by profession, I am a teacher.

After many hundreds of emails, I think I now have a good understand of his eyesign selection methods, which in reality is a very small part of his selection methods. His general concepts on the eye have become very popular here in Denmark. I have been asked many times to give seminars based on his teachings. His methods tend to be more popular because they are based more on the physical makeup of the eye, and, therefore, they are very logical.

The truth is that even though I understand his concepts far better than most, it will still take many years of practice to achieve his level of expertise. For example, I once showed him several eyes from pigeons on my young bird team. He selected out the best two youngsters from that year, but liked one better than the other. He made a funny comment about this pigeon in saying that while it was a very nice pigeon, it probably wouldn’t take a nest as a yearling. Well, out of 32 cocks, this was the only cock that didn’t take a nest box! Like I said, it would take years.

I want to point out very clearly, that “Book” is far more than just an eyesign man. Eyesign is my love, not his. So far, Book has provided me with a great deal of help on eyesign and racing methods, but I know enough about him to realize that his knowledge goes off in all directions. He is far far ahead of anyone that I have ever met in this sport.

Book has become very popular here in Denmark, and I have talked to him many times about coming to this country to give a seminar. I know it would be very well attended. His articles in Winning magazine are very popular world wide, but with the help of my eyesign seminars, his eyesign methods have become very popular here. In my opinion, anyone that gets the opportunity to attend a seminar given by the master himself would be very lucky indeed!

P.S. I hear that he has offered to grade pigeons for $3 each. Should he ever get the chance to visit Denmark, I have standing offers for $5 a pigeon here, and many were willing to have him grade the whole loft!

Steen Haagh

My name is Steve Zammit

SteveI have known Bill Richardson for 5 years, he has become my mentor in the sport. Prior to knowing Bill I was a successful flyer and thought I knew plenty. He showed me very quick how little I knew. I have met many of the best in our sport and can say Bill knowledge is second to none of them. He takes a rounded view of all aspects in the sport, he not just and eye sign man or a wing man. He has mastered all aspects of our sport. What I like is that he just doesn't rehash all the same stuff you have heard before and say things like a bird must have this wing and not explain why. He will explain how things function i.e how the eye works and functions and then what it means to us in selection, everything is based on fact because he proves his theories with university studies and private
studies . He is a pioneer in our sport who has information never before seen or heard in our sport before. He now writes for our local pigeon journal and has proved to be a real hit with his articles stimulating many debates. I am sure he will be a great hit as your guest speaker, we are hoping to bring him out here one day to speak at our convention.

Steve Zammit , Sydney Australia.

Fellow Fanciers,

My name is Warren Smith and I am the Publicity Director for the United Pigeon Combine. Our organization encompasses Southern Pennsylvania and Maryland with over 100 clubs competing. I had the pleasure of being part of this combine in 1965 as a junior member.

Because of a recent career change, I have been able to reenter the sport of pigeon racing. However, I have noticed a lot of changes in the sport. It did not take me long to realize that today's tough competition meant I needed to devote considerable time and effort to create and maintain a family of birds that could compete in today's environment. I discovered that owning birds from families that were winners years ago did not guarantee me a spot or put me near the top of the race sheet. If you want to improve your family's race results, you need to improve the quality of your breeding stock. Personally, I would like to advance to the next level. In order to do this, I need to be constantly advancing and improving my family.

This brings me to the purpose of this letter; to introduce one of my most valuable resources, Bill "The Book" Richardson. In my research over the years I have found that Mr. Richardson is a Master at the game of pigeon racing. I believe that whatever your level, beginner or an advanced owner, he can be of considerable help to you. Mr. Richardson is not going to "give" you all the answers, but he willingly shares many of his valuable insights from his 35 years of hard research through his 27 published articles and by personal correspondence. His thought-provoking commentary can help unleash better performance right in your own loft. From reading his articles, I have advanced years and saved thousands of dollars in unnecessary and counterproductive expense. I highly recommend anyone who loves the sport of pigeon racing attend one of his seminars or speaking engagements.

I also would like to thank the publishers of the Internet magazine Winning. It is one of the best kept secrets in Europe. They regularly publish the writings of Bill "The Book" Richardson. I learned more from their vast archive of articles in the last six months then from all my previous years of research.

Yours in the sport,
Warren R. Smith III

Bill ‘The Book’ Richardson

This past February I came across several articles in Winning Magazine by Bill ‘ The Book’ Richardson. I was spellbound by my first readings of those articles and still reread them today. Those first articles cover general concepts of pigeon breeding and give an account of the extensive work and thought that he goes through every year prior to pairing his birds.

As a new flyer with a high interest in the breeding side of pigeon racing Book’s articles have given me the mental framework needed the think through the establishment and maintenance of a quality breeding loft. Now I’m constantly thinking about: the quality of birds that I need to start with, the number of birds needed from a given family to maintain that family, the high priority that ongoing selection must take, the high level of analysis required when matching pairs for the year, how to attempt to make hybrids and super hybrids for racing, and keeping a foot in the past while placing a foot in the future, to list a few points that I’ve gleaned from his writings.

What I particularly like about his teaching style is that he doesn’t always give you the flat answer to a problem. He often gives you enough information to spark deeper thought on the problem. That really keeps your head in the game.

Bruce Reed
Independence, Iowa




Introducing my good friend Bill “The Book” Richardson!

I first met the Book on shipping night of the IF Convention in 2001. I had never met him before, but I will never forget our first discussion. He happened to be the guy standing next to me in line waiting for the Siegel pigeon supplies tables to open. There were several of us standing around talking. I don’t remember how, but we started discussing training methods. I remember him saying that he didn’t train much, maybe once a week. I responded by saying, “Well you would never win here training like that!” I thought who is this guy?

The next morning, I discovered that “this guy” was the keynote speaker for the convention! Soon, I found out that he didn’t do much of anything like anyone else I had ever met. He talked for two solid hours about things that I don’t think anyone in the room had ever heard. I thought, “If he knows all of this, maybe I should see if I can talk with him again after the seminar.” While I was standing around waiting to talk with him, I heard several fanciers discussing that the Book had graded a number of lofts in the area, and that people were very impressed.

After things died down, we spent much of the rest day together, and at one point, he asked if I wanted him to through my pigeons. It was almost completely dark when we reached my loft. I handed him a few of pigeons, and I was very surprised how quickly he made up his mind about pigeons. He never looked at the eyes because it was too dark, but he had no trouble picking out the best cock in my loft. Just by feel, he was able to make a number of suggestions on which pigeons I should work with.

I think several people were a little unnerved by his ability because after he left, at first, they were very impressed and later that gave way to the usual cynicism. When they found out that he was helping me, one guy at the club blurted out, “He lives in the desert, what does he know about flying over things like trees and water?”

Although I live on the very long end of our combine, using the Book’s methods, I have had some very impressive results including winning combine average speed and placing 6 pigeons in the top ten on the 300 mile futurity. We have spent many hours on the phone over the last several years, and I through these conversations, I have learned so much about handling pigeons!

This last year, I purchased six pairs of breeders from the Book, and they are truly stunning pigeons! Without exception, every fancier that has handled them has said that they were the strongest and healthiest pigeons they had ever handled. I am looking forward to big things this young bird season!

Where pigeons are concerned, the IF Convention of 2001 changed my life. The Book is always discussing his being in the right place at the right time when it came to pigeons, but I cannot imagine being in a more “right place” than I was that weekend. Having the Book visit your area to grade pigeons and give a seminar, is a rare opportunity indeed! Listen to what he has to say, because he is “The Book!”

Chris Busick

Bill “The Book” Richardson

PhilA couple years ago, I became interested in the theory of eyesign in racing pigeons. After studying the various eyes in my loft, I was left with a lot of questions. Unfortunately, at the time, I lived in Alaska, and there were really no experts on the subject in the area. After a couple months of this frustration, I decided to purchase a camera so that I could take pictures and send them to anyone that might be able to help.

It was about this time that I read a very interesting article on the eye that had written by Bill “The Book” Richardson, and while it set him aside from the rest of the so called eyesign experts, I still wasn’t totally sure what to think, so I sent him several pictures of the eye. He made a number of interesting comments, and he did pick out the only outstanding old breeding cock with any proven record. As I had only been in the sport for a few years and my competition was very limited, most of what I was showing him was untested and, while what he had to say was interesting, it was difficult to verify.

We talked a number of times on the phone, and he was always very confident in his opinions; however, with my limited experience, while what he had to say usually sense, I didn’t always understand. As he eventually put it, “You are just not ready to move forward yet.” I know for a fact that Book is in constant contact with a large number of fanciers, and I took this as my cue to back off for a while. At the time, backing off was easy to do because I was moving from Alaska to Maryland for a couple of years, and it took about a year for things to come together.

Have you ever been fascinated by someone because you knew that they were the keeper of the flame? Well, even though we went quite a while without further direct contact, his name, his articles, his students, his pigeons and his teachings kept popping up. Once I knew that he was there, he was kind of hard to ignore.

It was about a year ago that I had the good fortune to spend several days in Florida with Bert Braspenning “The Sprint Champion of The Netherlands. Bert is a very well known and accomplished fancier with a broad knowledge of many things. We visited a number of lofts together, and he made many interesting observations. However, the more he talked, the more I kept thinking of how I had already heard all of this from the Book. Indirectly, Bert was the verification of Book’s thinking. It was then that I realized that I had been away from the Book too long!

I have read all the recommendations for the Book on the GSR site, and I don’t think he will mind if I bring in a little reality that has been left out of most of those recommendations. The Book is tough minded and busy. Very Busy! He is very easy to deal with when you have a direct question. Where you run into to trouble is when you attempt to increase that commitment. This is where the friendly side ends, and he is all business. Many people have been put off by this abrupt change, and I was no exception!

I quickly found out that you don’t ask him to teach you; instead, he will select you when he feels you have something to offer and he feels you are ready. He always has a number of fanciers in a holding pattern, and he prods them with questions like a butcher would prod a nice cut of meat; through this process, there have been many times that I have felt like a piece of meat. He is always assessing your readiness, and you don’t graduate to the next level until he feels you are ready. I know he is very into the martial arts, and his teaching methods are similar.

Past the initial pleasantries, the Book has a style that is not for everyone. He keeps asking questions until you find the answer. Don’t wait by the computer for him to write first, because that is not going to happen. If you disappear for a few days, in his mind, you have disappeared for good and he is onto the next student.

It took a while for me to realize that every time I disappeared, I ended up back at the end of the line. I will also warn you that he is one of the most critical people I have ever met. It isn’t right until he says it is right. “Good enough” is not in his vocabulary. In the beginning, I used to get very upset with him because I thought he was attacking me directly. There were many times that I dreaded turning on the computer. Several times, my wife asked me why I bothered. I guess I bothered because now I knew for sure that he knew, and when you consider how few people really know anything, I wasn’t about to let him get away. Once you understand his style, it becomes much easier to understand him!

Phil Lincoln,
Denali Lofts
Anchorage, Alaska
Severn, Maryland

Recommending Bill “The Book” Richardson, by Mike Pelaez

MikeI have been around this sport for a number of years, and because I belong to the Greater Tampa Bay Combine in Tampa Florida, I have had the opportunity to meet many of the best fanciers in America and from around the world. I have only known the Book for a year now, and, in my humble opinion, the Book is easily the best of them all!

I have always flown well in my area, but like everyone else, I know that there is room for improvement. Last year, I was discussing the desire to find a teacher with a friend of mine when he mentioned the Book followed by “But that won’t be as easy as it sounds! He is picky about who he takes on, and he isn’t always fun to work with, but he is the best out there.” This description was somewhat intimidating and while I was intrigued, it took me almost two full months to work up the nerve to contact him. When I finally did, his response was sort of like a dismissal, not rude, just no real interest on his part.

I was determined to make an impression, so I wrote again. This time he ended the email with, “Well you are going to have to show me that you know how to think.” I was taken back by this because, as a paramedic, I have to study, and I have to know how to think. In fact, that was my topic in the third email, to which he answered, “Thinking is not about reading books, it is about writing them. I don’t need a parrot; I need someone with the ability to be an original thinker.” By this point, I was exasperated, and all I had learned so far was that he thought I was a parrot.

A couple of days went by, and then I received a two sentence email. It was a test. All I had to do was to answer it, and I maybe I would become his student. I was very excited! Three months later, I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was think about this stupid test, and I was no closer to solving it. He gave me hints when I was doing something smart, and he jumped all over me when I was doing something stupid, which was most of the time. In the end, I had to admit that he was right; I didn’t know how to think! I felt even stupider when one day there was a two page explanation of the problem and everywhere I had done wrong in solving it. Part of the reason I hadn’t given up earlier, was that I didn’t want to hear him gloat, but when it was all over and I felt like I had failed, he was actually quite supportive. It was then that I realized that this was just part of his method of teaching, break them down and build them up. When the test was over, I felt kind of like the TV set had gone out and there was nothing to do.

I was sort of settling back into my life when I received an email asking me to take pictures of my loft and to get measurements and to call him as soon as possible. He said that we needed to be ready for young birds in 2005. Not really sure what he meant, I did what he said. I was extremely apprehensive when I had to call him for the first time; however, he was actually quite easy to talk to on the phone. My loft is not the easiest loft to understand, and I was wondering how I was going to explain it to him. When I started explaining, he interrupted me with a number of questions. At first, I was kind of annoyed, but within about five minutes, he was past the learning stage and he was already redesigning the loft right out of his head. It was sort of stunning really. I hate to admit it, but I had to take the phone outside and look at my loft just so I could keep up. He took everything into account, sunlight, ventilations, placement of the sexes, number of perches types of material and number of nest boxes. At one point he was telling me how wide to make my perches to maximize my plywood. We talked again several weeks later, and he still remembered ever detail. It was amazing.

Recently, I sent him some pictures of the wings from several of my pigeons. It is amazing what he could tell me from just a simple picture. He instructed me on how to better hold my hands when handling pigeons. He knew which pigeons were distance pigeons and which ones were not. He also told me some things about health. From a picture of the wing, he picked out my best breeding cock and told me why. The list goes on!

In my opinion, this is a very rare opportunity! I happen to know that due to health reasons, the Book doesn’t often grade pigeons anymore. Between the seminar and his offer to grade pigeons, this should be an event for everyone to remember! Believe it or not several of us are considered flying up there just to hear him speak!

Mike Pelaez
Tampa, Florida