January 22, 2013

Shooting Pop In Jays in a Tavern with Bow and Arrow

Bill Matteson
Uptown Chicago History Correspondent

In and around the mid 1960s, I worked for I. S. Berlin Press at Belmont and Kimball; I also worked
in the evenings as an instructor at The Blackhawk Archery Range, above the Portage Theatre on Milwaukee Ave (6 corners).

Working at the Archery Range gave me the opportunity to practice a few hours each day and sell my custom made aluminum arrows, strings, belts, and quivers.

One evening, a guy walks in with an arrow, that had a blunt tip on it and asked me if I could get blunt tips and make him a few dozen. I asked what they were used for, his reply was Pop-In-Jay shooting. I never heard of Pop-In-Jay shooting before, but I said I would make him the arrows, wood shafts, with custom cresting.

I made 6 dozen arrows; for the tips, I used blank 38 spl, brass shell casings. I delivered them to a tavern on North Clark Street , on the northern edge of Uptown. I think it was the "Pop in Jay" Lounge or the Wooden Shoe.

I walked in with the arrows. They were happy to get them and they led me to the left side of the bar where a shooting range with a 3 tiered metal rack was set up. The bottom tier held three wooden pegs on each side with feathers stuck in them, the second tier had two pegs each side, and the top post only had one.
The object was to shoot a bird (peg with a feather) off the rack, starting with the bottom and working upwards.

Now here's where the rules get fuzzy. You win if you shoot the top bird; if you miss you have to buy a drink, if you win someone buys you a drink. All I remember is there was a lot of drinking. Man those guys could drink. They were fair shooters but I was a top ranked AA shooter and won a lot of amateur contests.

I just wasn't that good of a drinker. On subsequent orders I made them pick up the arrows at the archery range. I couldn't drink like they could.

There were four or five of these bars on Clark Street, and everyone was from Belgium and they all shot Pop-In-Jay. Pop-in-Jay shooting was a sport that originated in Belgium, by shooting pigeons off of the church steeple .

Each bar had their own club, so I made them silk screens so they could make their own shirts, also each club had their own custom cresting, cresting being the colored bands around the arrow near the fletching (feathers).

Speaking of archery, there was a Buddhist Temple on Leland and Racine. I shot there against some monks; they never beat me! I always had respect for their skill in shooting, but their equipment was not all that great. I don't know if it's still there or not.

1 comment:

Jon Trott said...

Buddhist Temple... yes, it is still there. ;-)


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