Cock throwing, sometimes also known as cock-shying, was a blood sport in which a rooster was tied to a post and people took turns throwing sticks weighted with lead at one end (known as cocksteles) at the bird from a specified distance until it was killed. Cock throwing was especially popular in medieval England, and was particularly associated with traditional festivities which took place on Shrove Tuesday (the Tuesday before Lent; the English equivalent of Mardi Gras). When a goose was used instead, the "sport" was known as "goose quailing".
Often associated with gambling, cock throwing was immensely popular with people of all classes. Sir Thomas More was particularly fond of the activity, and was well known to boast of his skill at throwing the cockstele, and in 1660, the attempts of an overzealous Puritan official to ban cock throwing on that Shrovetide famously precipitated a riot in Bristol. Puritans seem to have been the only people who were against cock throwing and similar activities such as bull-baiting and bear-baiting, but as the joke often went, it seems that the Puritans were not so much against animals getting hurt, as against people having fun.
Over time, cock throwing's popularity gradually waned in England, as Protestantism reduced the religious significance of Lent, and changing values made it less appealing. By the time the sport was officially banned in 1820, it had all but died out.