It was 28th April 1893, the day when a group of distinguished gentlemen stepped into an elegant red-brick building on Lungotevere delle Navi in Rome.
They had gathered there for the most prestigious event of the period, the opening of the new premises of Tiro A Volo, where they would take part in a top-level competition with the best shooters of the time, to try and win the then-remarkable prize of 5000 Liras.
The event was attended by members of Rome’s major aristocratic families, including, among others the Odescalchi, the Torlonia, the Pignatelli, and the Altieri.
The building, featuring small towers on the façade, had been designed by professor A. Amadori under the supervision of Prince Prospero Colonna, president of the Hunting Club, and of prince Agostino Chigi, president of the Fox Hunting Society.
In 1907, Wing Shooting temporarily moved to Piazzale delle Muse, which at the time was all lawns and gentle slopes but, only a few months later, found its ultimate location in the nearby via Eugenio Vajna.
The double change of address did not change the traditional profile of the previous building; on the contrary, it brought out its pleasant architectural features, with the red-brick towers almost guarding the building.
At a closer look, however, Tiro A Volo has a much longer history.
The sport originated in England in the early 19th century as a reaction to the wild bird hunting ban.
According to the US sports historian Franck G. Menke, the first organised wing shooting competitions date back to 1832, the year when the High Hat Hunters Club was founded.
Trapshooting was the name given to the practice followed by the sport’s lovers. A pigeon was placed in a small hole, covered by a high hat. A thin rope was used to lift the hat, that the hunter had to wear before shooting. This type of sports practice was officially started in 1857 at the Pigeons Club, the first Pigeon Shooting club.
In the recent history of Wing Shooting, an important role has been played by the Circolo Antico Tiro A Volo in organising the 1st World Wing Shooting Championship in 1930, under the auspices of the Italian Shooting Federation - Lazio branch, which started a long-lasting, prestigious series of world competitions.
Even though the history of Pigeon Shooting is filled with names of British and American shooters, the world record is held by an Italian, the Florence-born marquis Luigi Torrigiani.
After moving to via Tiberina, the old building of via Eugenio Vajna entered a period of neglect.
The deplorable situation of the building was interrupted in the early 1990s, when a group of forward-looking entrepreneurs and professionals began working on its revival, giving new life to the old building, by preserving its original features and improving them to make it more modern and more efficient.
Over time, the activities that used to be carried out in via Vajna have been replaced by other sports, cultural and social activities ranging from tennis to five-a-side football, swimming, billiards, conferences, cultural and social gatherings, and charitable events. All the activities are carried out at the highest levels, and have received major awards - most important of all, the international women’s tennis tournament and the achievements of the very young competitive swimming team.
The new life of Circolo Antico Tiro a Volo, resting on a multi-century history, is now looking to the future which, like its past, draws its energy from the strong bonds that keep together its members, who are aware of being part of a reality that is not only highly enjoyable, but offers incomparable beauty and an enormous potential for further development.