Sunday, February 27, 2011

Answers to "What makes a good field trial?"

Here are a few great answers to the question of:
  "What would make a great field trial that attracts new field-trialers in a tough economy?"

"Rod, you asked me several days ago what I thought made a good field trial to bring in new people and get them engaged.
 Off and on since then I’ve started to type up a lot of different ideas and then you asked me a subsequent question that really got to the heart of it for me.

 You asked me, if I could remember my first field trial? I’m not sure honestly of which was the first, but what I can remember is snippets from early trials. I couldn’t tell you whether the grounds were good or bad. I couldn’t tell you if the judges were the best in the world or the worst. I don’t remember if the gunning was good, the food was great, the birds flew well or not at all. I know I didn’t win. I know I didn’t place – I didn’t even get an atta boy for trying ribbon.

So what was it I wondered, that brought me to trialing, made me enjoy it, and brought me back for more?
The answer - I had a mentor in the person who bred my dog. He encouraged me to enjoy the dog and supported me in my first several runs with him. We had fun, and people were accepting of me and my newbie dog and all that we were and all that we weren’t.

So that’s my answer in a nutshell, and that’s what we try to offer in return.

 Down the road, it’s those who spent their time with you at the field trial that makes it a good trial for newbies.

 That personal involvement, in my opinion, is the singularly most important aspect in what brings people into the sport." - KK

"When I think of a good field trial, it is one held on good, safe grounds with wild game with low enough cover to offer objectives of 50-yards and up. A few treelines, harvested crops, edge country. It's a swell day if the skies are not pouring or blowing. The trial is administrated by competent individuals who do not cross the sporting lines of misconduct ethically or by deed.

Competent, honest judge with no conflicts of interest, capable handlers & scouts and competitive entries with sporting conduct. A good trial goes a lot farther than the actual event.
 I am happy with a good field trial. Will let those who think they know more than me determine if it is a high-class field trial or not.
There is the FT camaraderie, whose power should never be underestimated. It must be present in the parking lot, course, campfire & clubhouses. It's a sure sign that this group is having field trial fun when as a FT visitor to a club where the membership is involved in some sort of old joke.

People who are smiling are not jacking their jaws or twittering their facebooks. Then you can further judge that club if you are a visitor by watching how people act if someone has broken down on their dog, their vehicle. I've seen better field trials afterwards just watching people get pulled out of muck.
Next thing you know, you got a great story to tell and are all involved telling it." (shortened response) - DB

"Its all about bang for your buck, especially for those that aren't wealthy.
Here in the midwest, clubs are getting together and doubling up on a weekend...Thurs-Fri and Sat-Sun trials...or Fri-Sat and Sun-Mon trials. That way you can run twice as much for one trip's expense. I put on a two day walking trial for the Vizsla Club of MI on Memorial Day weekend. We follow the local GWP club's one day walking trial on sunday. In three days, you can run in 3 open gun dog stakes, 3 amateur gun dog stakes, 3 puppy stakes (2 open, 1 am) and 3 derby stakes (2 open, 1 am). That seems to really encourage participation, though it makes for a long weekend.

I'm fortunate because I live an hour from one of the premier grounds in the midwest, if not the country (Ionia, MI) I can trial there almost exclusively. I find myself going to all-breed trials there rather than driving 300+ miles to a Vizsla club trial elsewhere. I don't see that changing because of the rising fuel costs.
Field trialing is going to become more localized for Amateurs. I think walking trials will become more popular, too, since the expense is considerably less if you don't have to drive a big truck pulling a horse trailer. I can rent a car for the weekend, with unlimited miles, for $44. Tack on $100 in fuel and a couple entries and I can go to a trial 500 miles away for under $500. That same trial would cost me $400+ in fuel alone if I pull my rig with horses. I'm not a huge fan of walking with my dogs, but if that's what I have to do...then I will.

Glad to see you are getting involved in the sport. We can always use more trialers."  - JP
"For me, a good trial, for experienced and novice trialers alike, is well-organized, efficient, and employs judges (in the Amateur stakes especially) who understand that this is supposed to be friendly competition and that the future of the sport lies in encouraging folk to participate by explaining rules, offering advice, and letting dogs run their thirty minutes (even if they're not going to get used). If you don't have those things, then folks don't want to hang out in a clubhouse or round a grill; if you do have those things, then being able to sit down, chow down, and either ask questions or shoot the breeze is pretty awesome."

".... So, for example, I think our CVVC Spring trial especially is known as a historically good trial because we do several things:
We bring at least one judge from 'away,' someone whose reputation we know, but who doesn't know the dogs in our region;
We aggressively raise money to support that expense through sponsorships and raffles -- and in fact, we've turned a profit on our last three trials because of those things;
Our spring trial is horseback; our December trial is all walking -- at both trials, we have one Amateur stake which is vizslas-only;
We also have a vizslas-only Hunting Dog Championship (with two different stakes) in early June;
We could always use more, but we have a solid core of volunteers from within the club who marshal, bird-plant, sort paperwork, cook, and clean (and half those people don't even trial);
We belong to an active Grounds Association that is continuously maintaining and upgrading our facilities, so we do actually have a proper bathroom with warm water, a proper kitchen, and a warm dining room;
We eat really well! And have a great grill."
(shortened response) - AC

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