British Trials-Interesting

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British Trials-Interesting

Postby bill10979 » Sun Dec 11, 2005 8:29 am

I came across this and thought I would post. My uncle participates in many of these type shoots in Ireland and speaks highly of the dogs and their training. At a trial-a whimper and youre out. Total control, total obedience-Im told theyre not even worked on live game until about a year old. A bird can fall on their head, and sometimes do, and they dont move. No ecollars, no FF. Quite different from here. Interesting.

British Retriever Field Trials Today

By Robert Milner – 10 August 2000



The greatest difference today between American and British retriever field trials is in the way tests are determined. In America the judges think up the test and engineer it with bird throwers and gunners. In England the dogs are evaluated on an actual shoot. The test is determined by where the bird falls when shot.

You might expect that it would be very difficult to arrange to hold the trials on a regular day’s shooting, but it is not. A high value is put on well mannered efficient retrievers in England because the good dogs make an measurable impact on the economics of shooting. In England birds and shooting constitute a cash crop for landowners. A typical shoot commands a price commensurate with the average size of the bag of birds shot. That shoot would have eight guns each paying for that day’s shooting. The price might typically range from $150 per gun up to $7,000 or $8,000 per day per gun. The difference in price is driven by the average bag of the shoot. The low end might be 60 to 70 birds for the eight guns. The high end might be up to 1000 birds for the eight guns. At the conclusion of the days shooting the landowner gives each gun a pair of birds. The landowner sells the rest of the birds for 4 pounds a pair, or about $3.00 per bird.

Major M.F. Turner-Cooke, a notable British field trailer and shooting enthusiast puts it this way:

The average price paid for a days shooting is dependent on the number of birds shot. The number of birds to be shot is agreed before hand with the guns or syndicate captain or owner. The average price is approximately 25 pounds per bird plus VAT(value added tax) at 17.5%. Sometimes the VAT is not added. Taking and average day of say 250 birds shot, the cost to each gun (normally eight guns shooting) would be 781 pounds per gun or 6,250 pounds for the 8 guns collectively.

Grouse are more expensive, i.e. approximately 80 pound per bird. Therefore a 250 bird day would cost 20,000 pounds which comes out to 2,500 per gun. In addition a gun would tip the gamekeeper 20 pounds for every 100 birds shot, therefore the gamekeeper receives 400 pounds for a day of 250 birds.

When you apply an exchange rate of $1.60 per pound, you can see that shooting in England is expensive. A good retriever more than earns his keep.

The landowner has plenty of costs in these birds in the form of raising the birds and providing predator control as they mature. He makes more money by maximizing the number of birds shot and recovered. Thus good retrievers that maximize his bag also maximize his profit.

The calm well mannered dog doesn’t frighten off birds with consequent reduction in the days bag. Secondly, the efficient retriever collects all the downed birds, including the wounded ones that would otherwise run off and die. Thus the calm well trained, game-finding retriever adds direct value to shooting in England. Landowners are aware of this and are aware of the valuable contribution that field trials make to breeding selection to keep producing high quality retrievers. English field trial clubs have little trouble getting invitations from landowners to hold their field trials.

This relationship between economics and good dogs is also what has kept the British retriever field trial gene pool so high in the qualities sought after in good gun dogs. An ill mannered, out-of-control dog can divert a lot of birds before they reach the guns. That maverick dog can flush a lot of birds out of range. He can drastically reduce the bag of a days shooting and thus reduce the landowners income. Shooters with an out-of-control dog are not allowed to return to that shoot.

A British Field Trial
Lets visit a British field trial. Today’s trial is being held at Newton Hall an estate of approximately 5,000 acres. They normally bag around 300 birds on a days shooting. We arrive at around 8:00 am as the contestants and gallery are gathering. There are 24 dogs competing in this trial as it will last two days. The other alternative is a one-day trial in which case, only 12 dogs would be competing. The dogs running here today have been chosen by lottery. Dog owners sent in applications a number of weeks before the trial. Several weeks prior to the trial a drawing was held and the luck 24 dogs were drawn by lot.

The three judges call together the handlers and give them a brief description of how the two day trial is planned to unfold. They will first walk up the peripheral fields of the estate to herd the birds toward the central coverts from which tomorrow the birds will be driven over stationed guns.

The estate keeper who is in charge of game for the estate gives instructions to the gallery of spectators. The gallery will be following along as the trial moves across the fields. The keeper instructs the gallery to stay close to the marshal who is carrying a large red flag.

Walked Up Pheasants
The dogs are then called to the line for the first walk up. It will commence next to the parking area at the beginning of field of sugar beets. The line forms up line abreast across the field. The line is composed mainly of beaters spaced a few feet apart to kick up any close lying pheasants. Interspersed with the beaters are the guns, judges and dogs. Today there are three judges. Some trials are run with four judges. Each judge will judge two dogs at a time, so as the line proceeds across the field there are 6 dogs interspersed among beaters, judges and guns. The dogs are expected to walk quietly at heel without any noisy badgering from the handler. When a pheasant is shot the line halts, and a judge sends a dog for it. The other dogs are expected to remain quietly in line. As the pheasants are walked up in the beets, some interesting points can be observed.

Dog number 3 on the left end of the line is sent for a retrieve of a bird that has been shot by a gun on the right end of the line. The retrieve is about 60 yards and the bird appears to be a “runnerâ€
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Postby tam » Sun Dec 11, 2005 9:10 pm

Very interesting article, thank you for posting it.

I can't believe how expensive it is to shoot birds over the pond! Although our public land is getting scarcer and scarcer, a grouse on public land is still free!
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Postby Sharpshot Kennels » Fri Jul 21, 2006 12:55 am

Bill,
Whereabouts in Ireland does your Uncle shoot? Shooting here is not as expensive as in the UK, our rules and regulations for field trials here are the same as in the UK. My partner and myself are involved in organising several field trials here a year.
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Postby bill10979 » Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:36 am

County Galway I beleive?
My moms side of the family is from there a few generations back-Kirby, Gillespie.

My uncle and I are going fishing in Utah in 2 weeks, I will get more details. He takes part in "shoots" as you call them-mentioned something about being a beater and a loader? Sounds like alot of fun I just wish I could use my dog, he tells me the quarantine is just ridiculous though?

I may try to visit him over there if I can schedule it with work and my wife. Never been. Is this an area you are close to?
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