The Tir du Papegay - May 12, 2018 / Château de Grandson
Revived from an old tradition dating back several hundred years ago, the "Tir du Papegay" (parrot shoot) is a crossbow competition that takes place during the month of May in the inner courtyard of the Château de Grandson and is open to a limited number of participants. Visitors are of course more than welcome to come observe this thrilling spectacle.
In the first round of competition, each participant receives three chances to score a maximum number of points by shooting at a static target from a distance of about 22 meters. In the second round, the three shooters with the highest score from each category (ladies, men, juniors) compete for the grand prize by taking aim at a "parrot" made from wood and steel perched on a pole.
The grand winner of the "Tir du Papegay" receives the coveted silver cup which remains in their possession until the next year's competition.
A very well researched publication by Juerg A. Meier about this traditional contest is available in French and in German (both editions include a summary in English), can be obtained at the Château de Grandson gift shop.
A brief glance at the historical background
In 1515, Count Charles III of Savoy accorded the cities of Yverdon-les-Bains, Moudon, Morges and Nyon the privilege to host this particular Tir du Papegay. In some other regions of Europe, this contest, carried out with a bow or a crossbow - had existed since the 13th century and in a few places is still celebrated to this day.
Perched on a pole at a height of 25 meters, the attempt to hit the parrot always took place in the month of May as a spring festivity. The best shot was exempted from taxes for the duration of the whole year, - a prize we unfortunately cannot offer today!
At Grandson, this traditional competition began in 1614 by the Compagnie des Mousquetaires (in existence since 1579 and still active today), thus the year 2014 was the 400th anniversary of the Tir du Papegay.