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A Note from a Mentor From Chuck Dryke 3
By Tom Kirkman
Introduction Overview of the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial and the Art of Field Trial Gunning SAFETY
Basics Shooting Under Pressure and Concentration Shooting with Both Eyes Open Gun Handling FIGURE A - PORT ARMS FIGURE B - ON HIP EndurancelFatigueIW eather
8 8 11
Basics Optics Footing Shotguns Shells
17 18 19 19
"The Art of Field Trial Gunning" FIELD TRIAL GUNNING PROCEDURES Shot Determination Positioning and Fields of Fire 20 20 21 TECHNICAL DOG
"The Art of Field Trial Gunning" APPENDIX" A"
ANALYSIS OF THE SUCKER BIRD SHOT
DISTANCE FROM DOG TO BIRD = 10 YARDS DOG VELOCITY lOYARDS/SEC TIME FOR DOG TO REACH BIRD = 1 SEC
Basic Positions 23 1. Wing Gun 2. Center Gun 3. Active Fourth Gun 4. General Gun Positioning and Fields of Fire Overlaps FIGURE 1 -Overlapping Fields of Fire Running Braced with Inactive Fourth Gun FIGURE 2 - Overlapping Fields of Fire Running Braced with Fourth Gun Active FIGURE 3 - Standard Running Not Braced FIGURE 4 - Field of Fire Advantage Gained by Wing Gun by Moving Ahead of Handler After Flush Specific Information & Situations 1. Shooting Etiquette 2. Cross Shooting 3. Fall Criteria 4. Dog Indicating a Bird (Reading a Dog) 5. Hopping, Weak and Sucker Birds 6. Volunteers 7. Volunteers During Pursuit of Running Birds 8. Bird Flies Into Tree 9. Honoring/Flush During a Retrieve 10. Simultaneous Flush by Both Dogs 11. Multiple Flush 12. Trapped Birds That Escape 13. Puppy Stake GUN TEAM CONCEPT GUNNER APPRENTICESIDP SUMMARY/CONCLUSION SAFETY METHODOLOGY REFERENCES About the Author By Dale W. Luther Sf. APPENDIX "A" - TECHNICAL ANALYSIS OF THE SUCKER BIRD SHOT OUTLINE 29
BASIC SITUATION DOG BREAKS SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH GUNNER'S SHOT ASSUME DOG VELOCITY COMING FROM STEADY POSITION AS 10YARDS/SEC (30 FEET/SEC) EQUIV ALENT TO SPRINTER VELOCITY = 100YDS IN 10 SEC ASSUME BIRD VELOCITY APPROXIMATELY 0 FPS (FEET PER SEC) DISTANCE FROM GUNNER TO BIRD = 40 YARDS USING #6 SHOT @ 1255 FPS TIME TO BIRD IS 0.129 SEC GUNNER
38 39 40
CONCLUSION - SHOT WILL REACH BIRD WELL BEFORE DOG. 0.129 SEC. FOR
SHOT vs. 1 SEC. FOR DOG. EVEN IF DOG WAS TRAVELING THE AVERAGE SPEED OF A GREYHOUND AT 43 MPH (63 FPS) IT WOULD TAKE 0.48 SEC TO REACH BIRD AT THIS SPEED AND THE DOG WOULD STILL NOT REACH THE BIRD BEFORE THE SHOT. IN 0.129 SEC AT 30 FPS DOG WOULD ACTUALLY TRAVEL 3.87 FEET. IN 0.129 SEC AT 63 FPS DOG WOULD ACTUALLY TRAVEL 8.13 FEET. DISTANCE TO BIRD IS 30 FEET. DOG WOULD STILL BE CLEAR IF SHOT TAKEN AT HALF THE DISTANCE OR 15 FT (5 YARDS). SHOOTING IN THESE SITUATIONS IS NOT RECOMMENDED.
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The following guideline that Dale Jr. for a total of around 60 trials. but whose first love is gunning over spaniels and making a study of it in the process. By the way. Dale has been mentored by the best. using the wind. jump shooting waterfowl or waiting in a blind for ducks or geese. Shoot for the dog. Not bad having someone with all of the above as your personal training partner. Luther Sr. when the handler and dog are hunting the cover. Dale Jr. Great dogs. Chuck Dryke. and even today. began gunning over spaniels when he was eight years old. there is no greater recognition than being selected to shoot the Nationals. Dale Luther Jr. he would shoot training sessions as a youngster where he was mentored by two former gun captains. For a field trial gunner. Safety first. whether it be training. And. hasn't forgotten where it all started and still helps Sr. In short. All of us. which incorporates many years of experience and expertise for future generations of field trial gunners. Nervous? You bet! But I was confident that my training by mentor. outlined is a must to make a field trial run smoothly. they also involved shagging at field trials. talented handlers. shooting and dog trialing. Dale was invited to shoot his first trial for the Western Washington English Springer Spaniel Club (WWESSC) at the age of 19. the founder of the WWESSC Gun Team (circa 1965). Physical and mental aspects of shooting are usually the prime topics of these conversations and it would be difficult to determine which one receives the most attention. don't cross shoot! The Western Washington and Inland Empire English Springer Spaniel clubs have a long tradition of training field trial guns. on all aspects of shooting. he involves himself in gunning over dogs. how many of you have ever asked a "gun" about dog work. good grounds. one would see Dale as the complete shooter who is able to adjust his skills to the shooting situation at hand. Later. respect your teammates ability. periodically around the United States (including four US national English springer spaniel championships) and occasionally Canada. etc? I think you will find an experienced gun to be a valuable source of information. He is also known to shoot registered targets at a national sporting clays association (NSCA) course and occasionally a competitive live pigeon shoot. pushing birds boldly up and out within gun range to be shot by field trial gunners sticks out in my mind as one of the most pleasurable moments along my life's path. Best of all for me is that Jr. Over the years. These conversations include discussions of shooting over spaniels in addition to the shooting of clay birds and live birds in the ring. Mr. Ihave been privileged and honored to participate in numerous field trials throughout the US and Canada. is a "graduate" of this course and an accomplished field trial gun. One thing always stands out in my mind and that is how well a properly trained gun team functions as a unit. good guns shoot as a team. Dale is also actively shooting for the local hunt test programs in his area and shoots cocker spaniel field trials. fishing. are extremely proud of Dale and this comprehensive manual he has written. A Note from a Mentor From Chuck Dryke "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Along the way in my journey through this world. From those first sessions to this day. Dale continues to spend time at the Sunnydell Shooting Grounds. mentally preparing myself to gun my first AKC Springer Spaniel Field Trial. where he not only shoots sporting clays. expertise and experience necessary for leadership in the gunning over spaniel' s arena. helping me train dogs in an area in front of our house. I have had the honor to be a part of this field trial environment many times and always look forward to more. rolls and shoots. Preface By Tom Kirkman It seems like only yesterday Iwas standing at the beginning of the course in Walla Walla. and I know I speak for all the Gun Captains who preceded him. Chuck Dryke would get me through it. As far as formal shooting instruction is concerned. It makes no difference what part of the country your from. handling. qualified judges and unassuming skilled trial gunners are the ingredients for making a complete field trial experience. Since that time. hunting upland birds. I have been fortunate to have been selected many times and have enjoyed the camaraderie of teaming with the finest guns from the US and Canada. Those first years didn't just include gunning. Dan Carlson and Tom Kirkman."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" About the Author By Dale W. That was 1974. 420f43 9/26/01 30[43 9/26/01 . I can recall many pleasant and pleasurable events including hunting. planting birds and doing whatever else was needed during a training session or field trial. skeet and trap but also confers with Chuck. hunt tests. Watching a spaniel trial. To be selected to gun in one of these events is always a treasured privilege. whether it be a training session or field trial. Whether it be clay birds or live birds. trainplants. Washington. he has been gunning regularly at local trials. It can be said that he is a highly qualified gunner who possesses the knowledge. Dale has made quite a study of all aspects of shooting and especially the art of gunning over spaniels. During those early years. Thank you Junior for compiling this manual.
After actively pursuing the field trial game. but it is not intended to substitute for the experience and natural abilities required and possessed by quality gunners. 51 Madison Avenue. This book is an attempt to supplement the apprentice method by documenting the procedures and the underlying philosophies behind them to provide a foundation of knowledge of the gunning art. Chuck became a successful instructor for internationally known shotgun shooters and sportsmen. Timothy Gallwey 4) Gun Captain's Safety Check List . The implementation is strictly up to the individual and some people integrate into the field trial environment easily and naturally while others struggle with their decisions and resulting inadequate performance. During his time as a Handler. Ellen is currently a member of the WWESSC and IEESSC gun teams founded by her father. It has become apparent that in the current information age the oral tradition is no longer sufficiently training quality gunners in the quantity required to support the recent growth of the sport. Matt was recently inducted into the Shooting Hall of Fame for his incredible career as an international skeet shooter that includes a Gold Medal in the 1984 Olympic Games. NY.Provided by the Field Trial Gunning Safety Committee . 40f43 9/26/01 41 of 43 9/26/01 . Chuck was also the Official Gun Captain for the Western Washington English Springer Spaniel Club (WWESSC). Ellen was also an accomplished international skeet shooter and was on the United States Women's Skeet Shooting Team. Mr."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Introduction REFERENCES: This book was inspired by an increasing interest and demand for information regarding the Gunning of an American Kennel Club (AKC) English Springer Spaniel Field Trial.by The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association. the Inland Empire English Springer Spaniel Club (lEESSC) and the Northwest English Springer Spaniel Club (NWESSC). Over the years the art of gunning a field trial has been taught by an oral tradition where information was passed from the experienced gunner to the apprentice. Chuck was a professional field English Springer Spaniel trainer and handler for many years. Some may question the statement that the gunning of a springer trial is an art in lieu of a science.by The American Kennel Club. This book lays out the foundation of knowledge from an objective and mostly scientific perspective. Science may analyze a gunner's performance but the actual performance is governed by the gunner's knowledge. New York. Chuck Dryke is the originator of the gun team concept and gunning procedures that are detailed in this book.The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association 5) The Conduct and Judging of Spaniel Field Trials . Dryke combined his experiences with his innovation to develop the basic guidelines and philosophies that are stilI used today by the team he established and trained. Nevada.10010 2) Field Trial Gunning Apprentice/Sponsorship Program Booklet . Mr. Two of Chuck's most successful students are his own son (Matt) and daughter (Ellen). experience and intuition that cannot be quantified by scientific methods. Gunner and Gun Captain.Provided by the Field Trial Gunning Safety Committee . "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" 1) Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Spaniels . The rules and guidelines can be taught but the proper application of those rules and guidelines cannot be taught. He is currently the proprietor of Sunnydell Shooting Grounds and has a long list of personal shooting accomplishments including two perfect 100 straight sporting clays scores at the Sage Hill Gun Club in Reno.by W.The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association 3) The Inner Game of Tennis .
must understand the field trial and working spaniels completely. 2) Shoot to represent dog and handler . RESPONSIBILITIES 1) Awareness of overall field trial (court vision) 2) Cover primary fields of fire 3) Cover secondary fields of fire (backup shooting & cross shooting when necessary) 4) Check background prior to shot STRUCTURE 1) Positioning 2) Fields of fire MENTAL ASPECTS 1) Comprehensive understanding of the field trial and working spaniels. Dryke has maintained an active interest in the gun team he created and has provided support in the form of shooting instruction and guidance in the field trial gunner arena throughout the gun teams existence. It will be noted that some of the basic principles of gunning a trial have been repeated in the text. Dryke founded over 30 years ago. gunners are constantly faced with new situations and opportunities to learn and must keep an open mind in order to expand their experience base. Dryke's successors Mr. Dryke during his tenure as Official Gun Captain of the WWESSC and IEESSC.Making decisions and applying hunter safety rules by using priority system. Tom Kirkman. Basics . Some of the information in one section may be relevant to other sections. Understand Springer Spaniel Capabilities. The team could never have asked for a more dedicated and knowledgeable mentor. The education of a gunner is never complete. Mr. Potential gunners and experienced gunners will make the proper associations and overlap the information with ease. The field trial environment is very dynamic. Both Mr. PRIORITIES 1) Safety .PORT ARMS FIGURE B . Dan Carlson and Mr. knowing responsibilities and field trial structure. How a person applies the knowledge and tools provided by this book in the constantly changing field trial environment will determine whether he or she will be a quality gunner. But instead. Repetition is an important part of the training or programming of a field gunner.ON HIP Physiology . Even experienced gunners are still learning and it is important to look upon the education and/or career of a gunner as a never-ending journey and not as a means to an end. Kirkman and Mr. Knowing priorities and responsibilities narrows the field for the decision making process. and using the following guidelines properly provides some basic structure to an otherwise chaotic situation. both former Official Gun Captains of the WWESSC and IEESSC. It is not practical to attempt to tie all the information together for any possible situation. 3) Shooting Etiquette . The following document is a compilation of the author's experience and interviews with knowledgeable and qualified gunners including the aforementioned people. This was intentional and an effort to reinforce the basics from different perspectives. Understand what dogs are judged on and what causes them to be disqualified. 2) Awareness of overall field trial (court vision) 3) Shooting under pressure (confidence) and concentration PHYSICAL 1) 2) ASPECTS Shooting skills and shooting with both eyes open Gun handling FIGURE A . because that is not possible. The author apprenticed for 18 years under Mr. This book also lays out the structure of a gun team in a field trial and how all the components of the team interact on the field. It is essential that the gunners act independently but as a representative of the contestants and in support of the other team members.A methodology or basis for making safe gunning decisions that also benefit the performance of the dog and handler is necessary.Endurance/fatigue/weather/travel 3) 400f43 9/26/01 50f43 10/10101 . Carlson apprenticed under Mr."The Art of Field Trial Gmming" SAFETY METHODOLOGY OUTLINE "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Chuck is also a pioneer in the implementation and establishment of sporting clays in the United States as inspired by the desire to duplicate shooting situations encountered during hunting and field trials. the reader should learn what to use as the basis for making a sound decision in each situation and then be able to act accordingly. The reader should not read this document with the idea that he or she will learn exactly what to do in each situation.when to shoot and when not to shoot as well as shooting as a team and not an individual. In the case of an experienced gun team it is apparent that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts as will be discussed in the following document. The author is the fourth gun captain in the team that Mr. In order to be a safe gunner the shooter must have a solid foundation of knowledge to influence the decision making process.
The field trial is not a competition between gunners. However. Knowing the field trial structure and having the ability to maintain "court vision" by maintaining an overall awareness of the constantly changing field trial environment." it is the purpose of the field trial to "Improve the Breed" and accomplish this through contests in a simulated hunting environment. as fair game is a recipe for disaster. the birds must be killed in a manner that will display the dog's retrieving skills. The gunner must have a complete knowledge and understanding of the field trial and its underlying purpose. The knowledge alone in this text is just information. The gunner pulling the trigger must personally perform a safety verification prior to the shot by checking the background of the kill zone. Under all circumstances. Not realizing the limits of responsibility and considering all birds in the air. In order to be a safe gunner the shooter must have a solid foundation of knowledge to influence the decision making process. It is apparent that the other side of this particular situation could be argued but that is not the point. Knowing responsibilities and their proper priority narrows the field for the decision making process. knowledge alone is not enough. If a shot is safe and the intent of the gunner is to support the presentation of the dog and represent the handler fairly. But situations can also be viewed as unsportsmanlike from the standpoint of a hunter. and it is not the intent to revisit the basics in this book. not every person is suited for gunning a field trial. The proper use of knowledge is developed by experience and the base cognitive skills of the individual. positioning and etiquette. Knowing proper shooting etiquette prevents conflict within the group and poor shooting decisions based on a competitive attitude. especially at the center gun position. Knowing procedures such as effective gun handling and control. But there are times. However. 60f43 9/26/01 390f43 9/26/01 . How the information is understood and applied is dependent on the individual's understanding and talents with the quality of the gunning performance the final determination of the gunner's qualifications. Staying within established fields of fire eliminates a large potential for error. it should be considered a correct decision from the standpoint of the gunner.) flush. An example of proper prioritization was provided in the "cross shooting" section of this book where the prioritization of shooting for the dog and shooting etiquette was examined. therefore. The perception of the gunner on this question can significantly affect the decision-making process. as they would in a day's shoot. For instance. Without the proper application and implementation of the knowledge there is no gain in the retention of the information. Knowing proper priorities of the knowledge." In a simulated hunting situation. terrain and relativity to the handler and centerline. The rule book also states "The guns should shoot their game in a sportsmanlike manner. Having positive control of the weapon with the weapon on mechanical safe at all times is a must. In most cases. if a gunner had plenty of clearance from the steady dog with a clear background and killed a weak bird close (approximately 20 yards) to the dog that flushed the bird and the dog subsequently broke after the shot. In accordance with the AKC rule book "Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Spaniels. In varying cases a bird may be considered killable by a gunner from the viewpoint of displaying the dog's abilities or aid the dog in a difficult situation. Maintaining proper positioning to cover primary fields of fire with due regard for obstacles. The gunners are in a support position for the handler and dog. it is important to come to some common ground in regards to how a gunner integrates into the field trial structure.) The point is from the standpoint of the gunner that the shot was safe and the intent was to help the dog and handler by not having the dog potentially chase a weak bird after a second (or third. Along with the fundamental understanding of the overall purpose of the gunner is: Killing birds safely and consistently with the intent of fairly and fully displaying the dog's abilities is the ultimate overall goal of the field trial gunner. "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" SUMMARY/CONCLUSION Safety and intent to help the handler and dog are the foundation for the quality gunners' decision-making process. the main point that should be considered by the official gunner is whether or not the shot is safe. This not only includes shooting. Allowing a bird to flyaway without an attempted shot when not in your area of primary or secondary responsibility is an essential capability. Understanding that the proper prioritization of the responsibilities requires a full understanding of the field trial and the trials underlying purpose. it is important that it be realized whether he or she considers the sport as a "hunting test" a "competition" or a combination of both. but this knowledge understood and properly applied is the art of gunning. From the standpoint of the gunner. As an example. then it would be considered the correct choice. but also the ability to handle a gun safely in adverse conditions. Everyone focuses on the necessity of safety but not many provide a methodology (See following page for Safety Methodology Outline) or basis for making safe gunning decisions that also benefit the performance of the dog and handler. it could be considered unsportsmanlike if the bird is destroyed by a shot that was intended to aid the dog in the competition. Responsibilities include primary fields of fire. (This particular situation will be discussed in more detail in the section Hopping. This book supplies the basic information needed by a field trial gunner including their priority. People have different capabilities and talents. The choice should be considered correct even if the results were negative with regards to the dog's performance and judgment."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Overview of the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial and the Art of Field Trial Gunning There are many references that delve into the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial. There is a clear need for a solid decision making foundation of a field trial gunner. Killing birds safely with the intent of fairly and fully displaying the dogs' abilities is the ultimate overall goal of the field trial gunner. the correct decision is obvious and there is no doubt as to the proper course of action. etc. where things become very gray. Weak and Sucker Birds.
is a good reference for how an aspiring gunner should be coached during the apprentice portion of their training. For example. Learning to shoot at the appropriate skill level for a field trial is expensive and may take many years depending on the students natural abilities. It must also be emphasized that the aspiring gunner in regards to time. shooting is an art within itself and is just one of the tools required by a field trial gunner. The apprentice must bring some of the fundamental skills to the training session or apprenticeship and be able to absorb the information specific to a field trial. as stated previously in this book. These individuals are obviously misguided and this is riot the focus of a true field gunner. A true field trial gunner will represent the dog and handler while naturally displaying his or her own talents as a shooter in the process of supporting the contestants. most of the skills required by a quality gunner can be obtained by the aspiring gunner prior to the apprenticeship through active involvement in basic safety programs. shagging. non-shooting functions at field trials (handling. and some gunners may make better choices than others but the bottom line is safety and the intent to aid the dog and handler. etc. The methods and procedures for accomplishing these goals are the subject matter of this book. This is otherwise known as "Shooting for the dog. Gunners should strive to support the handler in all situations with the goal being a safe and professional representation of the dog's hunting abilities. The gunner should be considered a part of the field and speak only when spoken to. Ajudge's decision and input may be required under certain conditions regarding the shooting or not shooting of a bird. With this in mind. but the trial is not the place to display those abilities at the expense of the dog and handler. The gunner should always be in a position to support the handler and dog without interfering with the dog's quest or detrimentally affecting the dog's performance. except under circumstances where ajudge's decision is necessary. planting. The text in this book is intended to supplement the apprentice method and is in no way meant to replace the education received from the apprenticeship with an experienced gunner. although not interfering in any manner with his work or that of the down dogs." Regardless of whether the game is considered a hunting test to improve the breed or a competition to determine a winner/loser. A field trial gunner should have excellent shooting skills. The apprenticeship should be viewed as the final step or a polishing of the qualified student's natural and learned abilities. 380f43 9/26/01 70f43 9/26/01 . the gunner's decision-making platform is clearly safety and fair representation of the contestants. Some gunners shoot for ego gratification and are just trying to display their own abilities." The gunner is a silent extension of the handler and should act accordingly. This sponsorship program is established to use the traditional oral method of teaching the art of gunning. However. it is not practical for an experienced field gunner to apprentice an aspiring gunner without some foundation work already established by the student. effort and money requires a substantial commitment. The ultimate results may be argued for each situation."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Safety and intent to help the handler and dog are the foundation for the quality gunner's decision-making process. It may be found in this time of learning that the shooter does not have sufficient talent or commitment to become a quality shooter. Per the rule book: "The guns are supposed to represent the handler up to the time the game is shot.) and shooting sports. GUNNER APPRENTICESHIP The recommended Field Trial Gunning Apprentice/Sponsorship Program of the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association. Inc.
Number two is shoot for the dog and not for yourself by attempting to provide the animal and handler with the best opportunity to succeed. is maintain a professional attitude that includes acting autonomously within procedural bounds. Proper prioritization and the ability to let a bird flyaway when a higher priority overrides the desire to kill the bird are essential. Gunners must be competent in all the safety fundamentals taught during this type of course and training before attempting to become a field trial gunner. It is an honor and a privilege to shoot a field trial. if the noise from the ejection of the shell could distract the dog on retrieve."The Art of Field Trial GUDning" SAFETY GUN TEAM CONCEPT Basics It is assumed that gunners and aspiring gunners know the basic firearm safety rules and have passed a firearm safety course if possible. Gunners must have a very deep understanding of the purpose and rules of the field trial in order to be safe and effective. The gun team should be organized and implemented by the gun captain. all gunners break their shotguns until the dog resumes hunting. the gun captain should be chosen by the other gun team members with the approval of the field trial committee or club. For example. It is also important to note that a structured gunning environment and complete understanding of the field trial situation also govern gunning safety. Gunners who shoot together frequently also develop a sense of trust that reduces the chance of cross-shooting or overcompensation for one member by another that may lead to confrontations. The idea of discussing a situation with someone who can remedy a situation is the main focus of this structure. comments or grievances. A person who cannot implement safety fundamentals is clearly not a potential candidate for gunning a field trial. Number one priority is to shoot with due regard for the safety of all field trial constituents. After a bird is shot or the dog is stopped from hunting. The gun captain is the main point of contact for judges and contestants during the trial in the case of questions. the gunner should remain motionless until the retrieve is completed. Other situations may occur where following these rules may be detrimental and common sense is needed when following and implementing these guidelines. Within this line of thought the gun captain and team should police their own situations and thus are responsible for the team's internal discipline andlor removal from the team of anyone who will not work within the field trial structure. it is in the committee's best interest to find a reliable gun captain and team to shoot for the club on a consistent basis." "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" When possible the gun team concept of using the same gunners for trials is a great benefit to the sport. 80f43 9/26101 370f43 9/26101 . The apprentice prior to the apprenticeship must master this and other basic safety procedures. If possible and prudent. cross shooting and realizing that killing a bird is way down on the list of priorities when gunning a field trial is imperative. However. There are exceptions to the rule of breaking the gun after the kill or quest. Gunners should not close a loaded shotgun until the dog starts running. The field trial safety procedures are described as follows using common handling terminology for double barrel-shotguns used by gunners in a field trial. It must be emphasized that gunners are invited to shoot trials by the field trial committees and clubs. Someone who handles a gun in the field safely will stand out from other potential gunners and could be considered for apprenticeship on a serious basis. gunners also follow some specific field trial safety procedures. it is in their best interest to allow the captain to select and run the team. Although the field trial committee is required to select the gunners per the AKC rulebook. Staying within the procedural bounds of the fields of fire. such as not pointing a loaded gun at another person or dog. The person pulling the trigger is ultimately responsible and liable for the shot. Gunners who are familiar with each other's tendencies are much more likely to shoot as a cohesive unit instead of as individuals. There is no place on a gun team or a field trial for a gunner with a "cowboy attitude. It is not the intent or purpose of this document to cover the firearm safety basics. The gun captain is responsible for the overall team performance. If the field trial committee or club has a competent gun captain and team available. Along with the basic hunting safety rules. the apprentice must understand and correctly implement safety fundamentals. this does not relinquish the responsibility of all gunners to shoot safely on an individual level. and the official gunners should treat the invitation to shoot with respect and with the intent of providing the best performance possible. safety requirements or has a problem personality. as a part of the gun team and as an extension of the handler in lieu of an independent entity. For example. Number three. It is essential that the gun team work without the sense of competition or personality conflicts within the group and with the safety and support of all involved as the main goal. This is important to stabilize lines of communication and prevent the occurrence of rumors and conflicts that are detrimental to the event and sport.
but very few provide a solid methodology for gunning a field trial safely. A consistent killer of pheasant mayor may not have the ability of killing pigeons efficiently. It is important to know who in the gun team is the most suited for shooting the puppy stake and those individuals should be used appropriately. That is why it is important to have a general awareness of where things and people are prior to the flush and then immediately prior to the shot. Another may have the comprehension of both beats but cannot include bird planters or gallery. Using the field trial as the environment sets the context for a discussion of different individuals varying states of awareness. especially during breezy or windy conditions. The proper place for an apprentice to break in is on the wing of a braced amateur or open stake. dogs etc. the personal safety verification prior to the shot by the gunner pulling the trigger is essential to safe gunning. That is why gunning should be considered an art and not a science. People have varying capabilities when it comes to overall awareness of situations and environments. For example. 13. Some people are capable of comprehending this type of running dialogue of events and some are not. Finally. Trapped Birds That Escape Trapped birds are considered still in the field of play until they are killed by the dog. A quality field gunner must be able to include all aspects of the trial. sound and previous experience. Maintaining "court vision" is essential. but is no substitute for checking the background on every shot prior to pulling the trigger. Blocking out things mentally means they no longer exist in the gunner's consciousness and virtually disappear in memory and vision. The term for this is "paralysis by analysis" as defined by Mr. It is a common misconception that apprentice gunners should break in at the puppy series. Pigeon shooting is much different than shooting pheasant due to the bird's potentially erratic flight. A quality gunner will maintain a constant vigilance using sight. handler. over focusing on a dog working or tracking a bird for too long a period of time may prevent the visual recognition of a bird planter down the course after the flush. Everyone is concerned with safety and constantly stress the need for safe gunning. dogs and bird planters. The killing of pigeons is much more intuitive than that of pheasant and an extra measure of skill and different perspective is required for their consistent demise. The use of blaze orange helps in this endeavor but is no substitute for maintaining vigilance and present moment awareness of the field trial environment that is very dynamic and constantly changing. The gunner must then be able to combine all of the pieces to develop an overall picture of the situation and comprehend how they fit and what they are responsible for in the big picture. freeze up and perhaps block out some of these things (like people. The pigeon series is also typically run at the end of the day when the gunners are fatigued. The methodology for field trial gunning safety has many layers and starts with having the "court vision" and general layout ofthe field trial during any given moment. Then the knowledge of the gunners' responsibilities with regards to the field trial structure. positioning and fields of fire present the next line of the gunning format and structure overlaid on the physical reality. Dryke. 360f43 9/26/01 90f43 9/26/01 . Trapped birds that escape the handler or dog should be shot safely at a suitable distance to provide a respectable retrieve for the dog unless otherwise directed by the judge. Puppy Stake The puppy stake is typically run with pigeons and a possibility of encountering an unsteady dog. Maintaining a mental presence or "court vision" throughout the trial is essential to being a safe gunner. This is accomplished by viewing the different aspects of the field environment using both sight and sound on a continuing basis and not over focusing on anyone aspect of the event. it is similar to how a tennis player plays the whole court and not one specific area. One person may be capable of watching one dog run at a time but will not have a grasp of what is happening around or outside that area of focus. This can be a significant error and is not recommended unless the apprentice has proven skill in killing pigeons and known ability shooting over unsteady dogs. gallery. A person who intellectually attempts to maintain an inventory of all these items will more than likely become extremely confused. judge or placed in the shagger's bag. For these two reasons the puppy stake should be shot by the gunners who are the most proficient at shooting pigeons and highly experienced. Quality gunners are capable of keeping track of everyone's positions as they change throughout the running of the dogs."The Art ofField Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" 12. The court in the gunner's case includes the locations of the handler. gunners. "Court vision" is when the gunner has a complete awareness of where everyone is located during the running of the dogs. All of this may sound quite overwhelming.) in order to try to make some sense of the chaos.
It is important to stay alert for instructions from the judge if the second bird lags the first by a significant time period. positioning and present moment awareness of the dynamic field trial environment are a necessity. especially behind or on the other course. Ideally. A quality gunner not only fully understands the hunter's training course rules but also how they apply to gunning a field trial. it is appropriate for the gunner to inquire for instructions from the judge prior to or after the flush. if shooting a wing and the handler on the other course blows a "Hup!" whistle command. But unless the other dog has been sent on the retrieve or the judge indicates otherwise. People who have the necessary capabilities stand out from the crowd when viewed from the perspective of an experienced gunner. the lagging bird should be shot. If all birds cannot be shot. These can give the gunner a clue as 'to what is happening in the area. It is also important to note that not everyone has the abilities necessary to become a gunner and shoot a trial safely. If the judge does not indicate whether or not the bird should be shot if produced. Another reason behind this is that most dogs are steady to wing and shot. especially when the shot comes from the honoring dog's course.e. The questing dog is required to differentiate between the bird that was shot and new contacts encountered during the retrieve. they should both be shot. then it is probably safe to shoot the lagging bird without interfering with the dog on retrieve. This situation occurs frequently when the honoring dog is indicating a bird prior to the retrieve on the other course. In the case where a suitable gun captain is not available. This would be the case when the field trial committee or club implements the team concept to gunning and was confident in its gun captain's abilities and judgment. See the Fields of Fire Section for diagrams and explanations of the fields of fire. Honormg/Flush During a Retrieve No birds should be shot while a dog is on a retrieve. When dogs are split during braced running sound is the best indicator of what is occurring behind the center gun and accompanied by frequent visual checks is very effective. then having an early indication if it is coming in the direction of the opposite course gunner will help the gunner determine where to shoot the bird and determine if the shot is clear. then move to the others. How the gunner sets priorities and implements the guidelines in this book are important to the field trial's success and safety. 11. then it would be appropriate to look in that direction and see if the dog has produced a bird. Steady to shot means the dog will "Hup!" (i. 9. Once again. If the dog has flushed a bird. the gun captain should be responsible for picking the gun team. but if both are still "hupped. Simultaneous Flush by Both Dogs When both dogs running braced produce birds simultaneously. the gunners should shoot the bird(s) that the dog most likely will retrieve. The center gun must maintain an awareness of what is happening behind even when the fourth gun is active. If the dogs running braced are separated a significant distance."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" In the interest of overall awareness and safety." then both birds should definitely be killed. For instance. In this case the judge should indicate to the gunner whether the bird should be shot if produced. The ideal gun team concept is discussed later in this text. 10. This is considered an unacceptable interruption of the questing dog's work. Multiple Flush In the case of a multiple flush of birds by one dog. This can be questionable depending on the time between flushes and their proximity. sit) on the sound of a gunshot and will cease pursuit of the downed bird they were sent to retrieve. The judge observing the dog that would be required to honor the dog on a retrieve may continue questing with the dog not on a retrieve. It is not prudent to kill a bird if another dog has been sent on a retrieve. The fourth gun supports the center gun but does not fully replace or cover the center gun field of fire responsibilities that are inherent in shooting effectively and safely. safety is not just the adherence to simple rules obtained during a hunter's training course. Usually it is best to kill the bird that the dog originally produced first (if known). Having a prior awareness of a potential shot and not having to make spot decisions is a key to safe gunning. the captain and gunners should be chosen by the field trial committee directly as stated in the AKC rulebook. Listening to the whistle and verbal commands by the handlers is extremely vital when shooting center gun. It is always best to kill all the birds flushed if possible. One exception is if the dogs are separated a significant distance during a braced run. 100f43 9/26/01 350f43 9/26101 . Typically this can be determined by looking at the dog prior to the shot to determine which bird the dog is watching. it is important to use the sense of sound and know what whistle and verbal commands are used. the official gunners should attempt to kill all the birds. Understanding the fields of fire.
In most cases it is best for the gunner to kill the volunteer. 7. If a shooter tries to run on adrenaline or sugar all day. It is a common occurrence for birds to appear to "volunteer" when pursued. This contradicts the "if it flies."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Shooting Under Pressure and Concentration The self perceived pressure of gunning a field trial can disrupt the concentration of even the best gunner and impact the decision-making process in regards to safety. if a bird flies into a tree and attempts to land or lands. it dies" rule but all rules should be applied with common sense and all gunners should consider if there is a benefit or purpose to killing a bird in the volunteer situation. but it is possible to kill the volunteer and then have the actual bird the dog was pursuing flush. This means not displaying signs of dissatisfaction with themselves outwardly after a miss or other difficult situation. The judge may observe some form of danger that is not seen by the gunner and command him or her not to shoot. The ability to deal with pressure and maintain a high level of concentration and self-awareness throughout the day is primarily developed by individuals through experience. It is necessary for a field gunner to be able to turn on and turn off the high level of focus required during a day's shoot. It is essential that a gunner be proficient enough at shooting live birds so that missing a bird will not result in shattered confidence. It is necessary for gunners to be capable of not shooting a bird at any moment during the shooting procedure for safety or judging reasons. lunch). it should be shot whether the dog sees it or not. but this would not be possible if the gunner has emptied his gun on the volunteer. Bird Flies Into Tree A sign of an experienced shooter is also the ability to perform satisfactorily immediately after a long break (e. If the killed bird will not provide a decent retrieve or is right above the dog. Field gunners must be confident in their shooting abilities and not fall apart mentally or lose confidence when dealt difficult situations. 340f43 9/26/01 11 of 43 9/26/01 . he or she will eventually burn out or will last one day but not two. It is also important that gunners maintain an unemotional attitude toward gunning and develop a high degree of professionalism. In this case both birds should be shot. challenging shots or when shooting poorly. but will provide a suitable retrieve for the dog. and it is necessary to take into consideration the questing dog's position and visibility of the volunteer. The judge will decide whether or not to send the dog on the retrieve. Volunteers Volunteers are birds that flush from the course without being pursued by a dog or outside of the. When trouble or difficulty arise. Volunteers During Pursuit of Running Birds It is important to consider the possibility of multiple birds when a dog takes a runner. Any lapse in a gunner's concentration and focus can potentially lead to an accident. Finding the state of constant readiness without overcompensation and resulting adrenaline rush is necessary for a shooter to maintain his or her endurance thoughout the trial.dog's visual area.g. 6. However. Experience and knowledge of working spaniels must be your guide. The judge will yell "NO!" ifhe or she does not want the bird shot. Shooting skills of the field trial gunner must be exceptional to the point where the gunner is not concerned with his or her shooting skills and is focused on the overall field trial awareness with shooting as a secondary concern. unprofessional and indicate a lack of maturity that is considered a detriment to the game. Typically the judge determines this by deciding whether the movement of the dog caused the bird to flush. Such a command can disturb a gunner's concentration by interrupting the shooting process. it should not be shot. Many shooters are quite capable in the perfect/stereotypical field trial environment or training sessions. quality field gunners must maintain their composure and not make poor decisions with regards to safety in order to compensate for a damaged ego or poor performance. Shooting live birds must be automatic for the field gunner and not a source of doubt. it should be shot and killed. Having the ability to maintain an open awareness during the day and then focus hard on each individual shot is a necessity. Outward bursts of emotion are distracting. The gunner must also have the experience and maturity to perform self-diagnosis with respect to poor shooting streaks and be able to make the necessary corrections to recover and perform at a satisfactory and safe level. a person who is a competent hunter or training session gunner may not be able to make the transition to field trials due to the inability to cope with difficult situations only found during a field trial. If the volunteer is in close proximity to the questing dog and will provide an acceptable retrieve. Volunteers out of range should not be shot even if they fly over the dog and guns. Gunners must always be ready for a command from the judge not to shoot a bird. 8. unnecessary. In most cases.
In this case. Obviously. The philosophy behind this is to only shoot the bird if it will allow the dog the opportunity to make a retrieve difficult enough to show the dog's ability by killing the bird a minimum of 30 yards. (See Appendix "A" for a technical Analysis of the Sucker Bird Shot) As discussed earlier. a short 20-yard blind retrieve in heavy cover could be compared to a 50-yard retrieve in light cover when viewed from the standpoint of difficulty. but if looked at closely and evaluated with respect to the potential fall or barrel control and end of muzzle awareness. the gunner must stop the shooting decision immediately and not shoot if possible. There are really only two efficient ways of carrying a shotgun in the field that meet the worst-case scenario requirement. Gun Handling Gunners should have safe gun handling procedures already mastered prior to entering the field trial environment. For instance. then no retrieves or very few will be made. The basics taught in a firearm safety course must be fully integrated into the gunner's gun handling habits. there are many possible outcomes and scenarios that are not only dependent on the gunner's decision but also on the dog. it is necessary to evaluate methods of carrying a gun in the field. As can be seen from the two options. This may also reduce the risk of a dog breaking on a close shot bird. The only way to maintain positive control is to have the gun in the grip of the hand either by the pistol grip (preferred) or by the fore stock. The worst-case scenario for gun handling would be in the case where the gunner trips. Some people are not capable of pulling off a bird or allowing one to flyaway. If the bird does not maintain sufficient flight to achieve the minimum distance then it would be allowed to land. There are other methods. Shooting with Both Eyes Open The ability to shoot with both eyes open is an important safety device necessary for gunners to develop. The most important consideration is that if the gunner falls will the gunner maintain positive control of the gun with the barrel pointed in a safe direction in the air. A field gunner must make the determination on each shot with respect to safety. strong healthy birds. which do not allow the gunner direct sight of muzzle direction. As a final note. With this in mind. steps in a hole or falls for some other reason. Main safety considerations for a gunner in this situation are having an open view of the steady dog and enough distance with a good angle to shoot safely. This increased awareness makes gunners safer by giving them a better chance of foreseeing a dangerous situation as opposed to shooting with only one eye open. The natural instinct when falling is to put out the hands and arms to break the fall."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Allowing the bird to flyaway in certain situations must be an option in the shooter's decision-making process whether directed by ajudge or on the shooter's own· cognizance. it is extremely difficult to quantify a retrieves difficulty. The subjective interpretation and judgment of each situation individually after the shot will determine whether the gunner's decision is right or wrong. Using both eyes gives gunners more peripheral vision. This does not leave a definitive immediate choice for the gunner and the decision must be made for each situation based on the gunner's experience with safety as the main basis for any decision. This can be typical of a clay bird shooter that is always presented a safe target. From the perspective of judging the dog in regards to steadiness. Carrying the gun properly takes extra effort and physical endurance. Awareness of the end of the barrel is also extremely critical. are unacceptable. This allows the gunner to maintain control of the gun in the event of a fall and allows the natural instinct of putting out at least one hand and arm to break the fall. 12 of 43 9126/01 330f43 9/26/01 . The gunner must also be aware of the potential for the handler to send the dog prematurely for the retrieve. This understanding applies to all decisions made by gunners during a trial. There are some specific areas with regard to gun handling in field trials that have frequently not been implemented by the novice gunner and will be discussed in the following text. All methods of carrying the gun. This poses the challenge for the dog with respect to potentially breaking by chasing a low-flying weak bird (sucker bird) when sent to retrieve the live bird as stated above. if short retrieves are not provided. preferably straight up. then either choice (kill the bird for the retrieve or let bird land) should be considered acceptable. This fact should be taken into consideration when faced with the situation of poor birds throughout a trial. the problem is determining which method is best in any given situation. It is a clear sign that a gunner is becoming fatigued if his or her gun handling deteriorates. but the underlying intent of the shooter's decision is the important factor. From the position of the gunner. They are not capable of disengaging from the target and may make a poor safety decision based on improper prioritization. This shot should not be attempted on an unsteady dog. Some gunners make better decisions than others. The deciding factor when carrying a gun is what would happen to the gun if the gunner fell. 2) Do not shoot the bird unless it has gone a minimum of25 to 30 yards to allow the dog to make a decent retrieve: . and they are both shown in FIGURES A & B. ifthe shot is made safely and with the best interest of the dog and handler in mind. they show themselves to be inadequate. In this case. which makes shooters more aware of where they are swinging and firing the weapon. the dog that remains steady after a close shot could be valued equally to the dog that is steady to a repeatedly flushing sucker bird. some trials (especially in the spring) do not have good. such as carrying the gun over the shoulder.
At the beginning of a run. In many cases. Closing the gun by pointing the muzzle at the ground and lifting the stock (pistol grip) is the preferred method. This leads to the first part of the question about shooting so the game falls too close to the dog. a gunner may see over 50 dogs that he or she has never seen before. an experienced gunner will have the capability of reading a dog better than most handlers. 1) It is essential that the gunner keep the gun on mechanical safe at all times prior to shooting. If this is done. 320f43 9/26/01 130f43 10/10101 ."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" 4. in the case of a severely damaged bird. There are many reasons for keeping the firearm mechanically on safe at all times. This leads to the unconscious action of closing the gun while pointing it at the running dog. Ensuring the dog is on the other side of the course or well away from the muzzle direction during gun closure is a necessity. observing trials. or in the case of a national field trial over 100 dogs. in which case the dog would be disqualified from the trial. It is also significant to realize that the judge makes the decision to send the dog on the retrieve. Dog Indicating a Bird (Reading a Dog) Learning to "read a dog" or determine when the dog is indicating that a bird is in the area is a critical ability needed by quality gunners. etc.possibly breaking if the bird is allowed to land and attempts flight after the dog is sent for the retrieve/flush. Hopping. The gunner must keep this tendency in mind when starting out on a run and closing the gun. Weak and Sucker birds FIGURE A FIGUREB The AKC rule book . It is imperative that the gunner have enough experience hunting and gunning with spaniels to be proficient at reading and understanding the sometimes subtle nuances displayed by a dog indicating a bird. Some double-barrel guns have an infrequent tendency of discharging when the breach is closed. This is a more detailed look at the options. not the gunner. The dog sent to retrieve the bird that is still capable of minimal flight may be seriously tempted to chase the bird flushed for a second time or third. Attending training sessions. in the case of a weak or sucker bird is there a difference between sending the dog to retrieve on a safely shot close fall or closely landed bird? This dilemma is discussed in the following text. 5. but one example is that sometimes field trials are run in heavy cover that can snag the gunner or trigger and cause the inadvertent discharge of the weapon if the gun is not mechanically on safe. it does not afford a chance for the dog to show any good retrieving ability and often results in a bird being destroyed" As stated earlier. During a regular field trial. The gunner should take the safety off when the gun is mounted for the shot and then reapply the safety after the shot during the dismount. it is a natural instinct to watch the dog cast in the gunners direction and follow the dog with the eyes and the gun. When carrying the gun the gunner should keep the trigger fmger off of the trigger and rest the trigger finger on the trigger guard or use the finger to help grip the firearm. and this must be considered by the shooter when closing the gun. the intent of every gunner on every shot should be to shoot the bird in the head and not damage the bird. It is also important to note that the gun should be closed while pointing the end of the muzzle at the ground and not just down the course. First question of interpretation is "What is too close?" Second. It is also a possibility that the bird may escape by running and eluding the dog. running dogs and shooting training sessions can accomplish this portion of the gunner's apprenticeship. There are two sides to the weak bird dilemma and has been mentioned previously in this text. shagging at trials. The only way this experience can be obtained is by watching volumes of dogs. This is due to the large volume of dogs viewed by an experienced gunner."Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Spaniels" specifically states: "Care should be taken not to shoot so that the game falls too close to the dog. Kill the bird before it lands as long as it is a safe shot: The idea behind this is to send the dog for a dead bird and prevent the dog from potentially chasing the bird and.
Meaning shooting within the range that allows the gunner to kill cleanly and consistently to provide the best retrieve to test the dog's retrieving and bird finding skills. such as cover. Do not shoot birds so that they hit or fall close to dogs. It is important for the gun captain to know the comfort zone of each shooter in a team and use his or her unique abilities accordingly. it may be prudent to provide shorter retrieves. Do not shoot over the gallery or over the head of any person during a trial. "They are supposed. "with due regard to the dogs. the bird would still be in range. Receiving invitations and traveling to different places to shoot field trials is one of the benefits of becoming a quality gun. if possible" . Some general conditions for falls are that if it is a hot day or heavy cover. gallery and other contingencies. it would be better to provide longer falls. It is recommended that gunners expand their shooting experiences with respect to travel by attending shooting competitions or hunting trips in order to fully understand the impact of travel on the gunner's performance. tired.Meaning if it is safe. long periods of inactivity can be more detrimental than too much action. 14 of 43 9/26/01 31 of 43 9126101 . It would be virtually impossible to quantify a standard or minimum length that each retrieve should be due to the infmitely variable situations and terrain that are encountered during a trial. unless otherwise directed. Experience. However. handlers.Meaning otherwise directed by a judge by verbal command. . 3. if possible. judges. handlers. the field gunner must be capable of shooting with pain or illness."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Endurance/Fatigue/W eather Field trials are run no matter what the weather conditions are at the time set for the event. gallery and other contingencies. Weather. handlers. Gunners need to find suitable clothing combinations that allow them to be comfortable and capable of shooting birds under any weather conditions. A gunner must be able to kill birds consistently and cleanly no matter what challenges the weather provides. not for personal gratification as discussed throughout the text. The author considers that five gunners is the minimum and six is optimum for a gun team. Judges. "at a point most advantageous to a fair trial of the dog's abilities. with due regard to the dogs. and shooting in a strange place is much different than shooting on the home court or local trials. The gunner must make decisions based on the current situation and past experience. Gunners must be able to endure physical hardship and still maintain an above average level of performance and awareness during the trial. Judges.Meaning shooting at a range that the bird can be killed and without crippling game on a repetitive basis. obstacles and scenting conditions. injured or shooting poorly. Extreme weather conditions can take a toll on the body's energy reserves and affect performance. Shoot safely as discussed in this text. Having extra gunners allows the option to rotate gunners out who are ill. Do not shoot birds so they will fall in the gallery. at a point most advantageous to a fair trial of the dog's abilities. That is why a field trial gunner must have a comprehensive understanding of the field trial and working spaniels in order to provide appropriate retrieves. It is necessary for gunners to be aware of their changing physiology and how that affects their mental state and concentration. Illness or injury can also affect the gunners performance. whereas on a cool day with light cover. Time changes. With a minimum number of gunners available and the event time fixed. When a gunner is fatigued and hungry. Providing falls with consistent difficulty also helps level the playing field for all the contestants and helps produce a fair competition. cover and scenting conditions are major considerations when providing challenging and fair retrieves during a trial. including colds and flu. to kill cleanly and consistently the game flushed by the Spaniels. Sometimes. Fall Criteria As stated in the AKC rule book "Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Spaniels": "They (gunners) are supposed. new environments and new people can disorientate a shooter and have detrimental effects. hungry." Most of this statement has been addressed previously but will be broken down and reviewed in this section. gallery and other contingencies. More than six seriously impacts the amount of time each shooter has on the line and can make it difficult to get into the flow of the trial mentally. A good guideline is to shoot the first shot so that if a second shot were required. it can be difficult to concentrate and focus on the job at hand. " Meaning shoot for the dog. "unless otherwise directed" . This can be very subjective when considering all of the variables. traveling places its own types of stress on the shooter. knowledge of scenting conditions and knowledge of a spaniels abilities are the key to analyzing these factors. ". "to kill cleanly and consistently the game flushed by the Spaniels" .
if the primary shooter does not fire at a reasonable range or time frame. Aspiring gunners and experienced gunners should hone their shooting skills in a diverse and diligent manner. lack of awareness. It is not the intent of this book to detail all the aspects of each of these sports but. the sustained lead method can be described as follows: The kill zone should be checked visually prior to picking the shot placement. After the primary shooter shoots the"first shot then any gun that has a safe clear shot may open fire. under adverse conditions it may be necessary to cross shoot. but to make them aware of what is expected and supply some direction on how the necessary skills can be obtained. training sessions and clay target games. but the shooter must bring a high level of competence in the realm of shooting basics from the beginning. Sporting clays. When the gunner mounts and swings the gun with the bird. In a brief discussion. standard shooting etiquette on the line dictates that if the bird is angling or quartering in the direction of a wing gun or center gun relative to the course centerline then the gun that is in the direction of the bird's flight is allowed the first shot at the bird. The purpose of this book is not to teach aspiring gunners or active gunners how to shoot. the basic goal and responsibility for a field trial gunner is to kill consistently and cleanly without crippling the majority of birds. Improper or unwarranted cross shooting is an indication of inexperience. These include shooting in hunting situations. poor safety prioritization or poor shooting etiquette. Team members who shoot together frequently have a good idea of what their colleagues are capable of and when they typically shoot based on their comfort zone. detrimental to the team concept of shooting a trial and can deny the dog a decent length of retrieve. 300f43 9/26/01 15 of 43 9/26/01 . However."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" SHOOTING 2. trap. By cross shooting a teammate there is the implication that the cross shooter does not trust the other gunner or is not aware of the proper fields of fire. A gunner who has been cross shot by a teammate will inherently believe the teammate does not trust his or her abilities. A gunner should not attempt to back up a teammate unless the primary shooter has shot first or there are extraneous circumstances. There are many shooting styles and all should be explored in order to find the best combination of styles for the diverse field trial environment. Cross shooting occurs when a gunner intrudes into another gunner's primary field of fire without allowing the primary gunner to have the first shot as described above. This is why it is highly advisable to shoot as a team with regular members who know each other's tendencies. Taking lessons from shooting instructors and experienced gunners is highly recommended. Hunting supplies valuable insight into dog and bird behavior but can lack the structure and prioritization associated with a field trial. An increase in shooting ability does occur naturally by experience when the shooter starts shooting trials. the shot can be made in a very quick and efficient movement. when safe. Crippled birds can cause dogs to fail on retrieves and be disqualified from the competition.e. The shooter focuses on the head of the bird in flight. Cross shooting can be dangerous. using the sustained lead method of shooting is the most effective and the safest. The forward foot of the shooter should be pointed toward the spot where the gunner plans to kill the bird. "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" From a strictly shooting aspect. all of which help a field gunner develop and mature. Not shooting at the appropriate time and range will be obvious to the experienced gunner and will indicate a problem (i. The criteria for taking a cross shot is if the shot is safe and the primary shooter is letting the bird fly out of range when a suitable retrieve could be provided. This is a classic case where the priority of shooting for the dog and handler obviously overrides shooting etiquette. only to make aspiring gunners aware that the shooting game and shooting experience can and should be explored and expanded in a multitude of disciplines. skeet and live ring birds all have lessons to be learned and explored that add to a field trial gunner's diversity and abilities to perform in a field trial. the lead on the bird should already be established. gunners should shoot at the range that is most comfortable for them and not wait or get into a waiting contest with the other gunner. Gunners should bring excellent shooting skills to the field trial and not attempt to obtain or develop shooting skills from or during the field trial. On birds flying straight up the course. blinded by sun) with the primary shooter. On the other hand a dog may show great skill in pursuit of a crippled bird. With the eyes focused continuously on the head of the bird and the gun barrel in the peripheral vision of the shooter. Cross Shooting Basics As stated earlier. Other areas that need to be explored are the basic shooting fundamentals and sporting games. For most shots. but the goal of the gunner is to kill the birds. If a bird does not favor one side of the course and goes up the middle of the course then it is fair game for any shooter who has a safe clear shot. not cripple them.. Gunners should develop these skills on their own time in many different shooting disciplines. gun malfunction.
" This means a clear visual lock and focus on the target and no thoughts in the head absorbing the shooter's attention. This should be minimized and gunners should not "track" birds with their gun mounted waiting for the correct moment to shoot. As Mr. This rule needs to be applied with some common sense on the part of the shooter and gun captain. Any time the gunner has the gun mounted.has the gun mounted and swinging with the bird. it is mostly learned through experience. This is extremely important on blind falls for the dog. This rule dictates that if a shooter misses two birds in a row (and especially if the birds were on the same dog) then the shooter should call for replacement or be replaced by the captain. The shooter mayor may not have missed any birds but if for some reason the shooter loses confidence or is uncomfortable for whatever reason the shooter should call for a replacement." shells. As mentioned earlier. the answer would more than likely be "nothing. if a gunner misses a standard shot on the first bird and then draws a bird that is produced 50 yards in front and heads down the course. the overall court vision of the shooter is impaired. Dryke is fond of saying. Shooting Etiquette The main advantages of this shooting style are the minimization of the time the shooter . Some may question how a shot can be taken without measuring the lead. This may be difficult for some to realize. but one of the main difficulties with shooting is getting out of your own way by ceasing to intellectualize and letting yourself shoot naturally without analysis in the process. judge and handler. That is why it is extremely important for a shooter to develop a very diverse background of experience. Dryke also coined the phrase "paralysis by analysis" describing the situation when a shooter freezes. With this in mind it is in everyone's best interest if the gunner makes and maintains a good mark on the fall of the killed bird. the shooter just knows what lead to apply and does so naturally. If the gunner feels uncomfortable about this situation or for any other reason. The "sustained lead" method was used to illustrate the points of interest needed to be considered when evaluating each shooting method in regards to visual acuity prior to shot and "tracking. Most land used for trials is not owned by the club sponsoring the trial and it is considered a point of good will and respect for the land owner not to litter empty shell casings on the host's land. Another point of shooting etiquette is the need for shooters to recognize when they are having a problem with their shooting and call for a replacement. The lead is measured but not at the intellectual level." Each shooter should evaluate different shooting methods and find out what works best for him or her and meets all safety requirements. Another standard rule followed by field gunners is the "two miss and out" rule. 16 of 43 9/26/01 290f43 9/26/01 . does not visually lock on a target or does not follow through on a shot due to too much thought paralyzing the natural shooting movements and processes. Intellectualization is for after the shot (if then) and not during. The reasoning for this will be discussed in the following section on optics. Handlers and judges usually focus on the dog and may not mark the fall. then there is really no reason for replacement if the gunner is still in his or her comfort zone. For instance. An easy way to do this is to point your lead foot at the fall and rest the end of the barrel of the open gun on your foot in line with and pointing at the fall. In most cases. another gunner or leaving the line at a dog change or other appropriate time. If successful shooters were asked what they were thinking about when they pulled the trigger. then the gunner should remove himself or herself from the line. It is important to remember that any attention that is focused on thought is not focused on the target or the shot. Mr. As stated earlier there are many methods and styles of shooting that can be used during a trial. it is common courtesy to allow the primary shooter the first shot and not cross shoot except under extraneous circumstances. Wing shooting is an art and not a science. This can be done by signaling the gun captain. and this is accomplished without thinking about or measuring the lead. It is important to note that wing shooting with a shotgun is very different from rifle As stated earlier."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" SPECIFIC INFORMATION & SITUATIONS 1. Gunners are typically the most focused individuals on the fall of a killed bird. An experienced shooter automatically applies the appropriate lead based on past shooting experience that is stored in the shooter's mental database of leads. A final point of shooting etiquette is the need for gunners to police their own empty shooting because in wing shooting the gunner should not (although some do) aim down the barrel of the gun. "A shooter needs hungry eyes and a quiet mind. The focus of attention should be on the bird's head with the barrel in the peripheral vision of the shooter and not the other way around.
the shooting process is developed through experience. the shooter should visually lock on the head of the bird and shoot using their trained and refined natural abilities. Attempting to master the mental aspect of shooting and gunning will open the door to improved skill and safety.FIGURE IS NOT TO SCALE "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" +~ .TH ) GALLERY AREA A simple way of testing the theory of performing difficult and dangerous tasks without the aid of thought can be performed by observing oneself in a basic daily activity.Field of Fire Advantage Gained by Wing Gun by Moving Ahead of Handler After Flush . This is essential to maximizing the visual capabilities of the shooter and safety. The constant in each shot process is the shooter's established internal knowledge of where the gun barrel is in relation to the visual lock on the bird's head. Basically. Do you think about turning the steering wheel. Focusing on the bird allows the internal knowledge of the shooter to be applied automatically. Physical talent and instinct will only take a shooter to a limited skill level and does not provide a shooter with enough awareness of the overall environment to allow a safe review of the shooting situation. there is not a solid visual lock on the target. but not both at the same time. A more detailed explanation of this "mental" approach to shooting can be found in the book "The Inner Game of Tennis". Ifthe shooter focuses on the gun barrel or in the lead space. In order for the shooter to correctly apply the lead the target must be in visual focus with the utmost attention and clarity. by W. It was discussed in the previous section that the focus of visual attention should be on the bird's head and not on the gun barrel."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" FIGURE 3 . adjusting the pressure on the accelerator or do you perform detailed analysis of the traffic flow? Or do you drive the car naturally without thought based on the fact that you already know how to drive a car due to past experience? When you find out how you drive your car you will discover how you would shoot a field trial if you were on the line. MOVE FORWARD WG GALLERY AREA 1 280f43 9/26/01 17 of 43 9/26/01 . Timothy Gallwey. A shooter can look at one clearly. It cannot be overemphasized that the mental aspect of shooting and gunning is the key to safety and success.FIGURE IS NOT TO SCALE Flush & Dog 1i3iiU)I~ I FLIGHT I . Driving a car is (or should be) considered very dangerous when viewed from the standpoint of hurtling down the freeway at 70 mph in a two-ton vehicle with hundreds of other vehicles driven by complete strangers! The next time you drive a car notice how much thought you give to the actual tasks that are required to operate the vehicle. FIGURE 4 . Optics All field trial guns should be shooting with both eyes open. The variable is the bird. As discussed earlier. All advanced shooters use both eyes and this is a sign of a shooter's skill level.Standard Running not Braced .
Now pick an arbitrary point in the lead space between the barrel and the target. fatigue or inability to perform the task at hand. door knob etc. go overhead. There must be an uncluttered visual lock on the target during the shooting process. The thumb will be visually blurred and possibly doubled. One of the main differences between a field shooter and a clay target shooter is the ability of field gunners to adjust their footing and find stability prior to a shot in a field environment. 18 of 43 9/26/01 270f43 9/26/01 . will be visually blurred and possibly doubled. such as a light switch or doorknob. This is not the case for a field gun. Use your thumb to represent the end of the gun barrel."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" FIGURE 2 .Overlapping Fields of Fire Running Braced with Fourth Gun ActiveHGUREISNOTTOSCALE Being able to see only one item clearly can be briefly illustrated by the following method: Pick a point on a wall or door. I Footing Maintaining a solid footing and shooting foundation can be difficult in the field and is of the utmost importance. then tum and shoot the target. Once gunners know their responsibilities in regard to fields of fire it is their job to cover those areas to the best of their abilities and with due concern for obstacles. Place your eyes on the target and without moving your eyes look at the gun barrel. A field shooter must take advantage of the terrain when it is beneficial. The light switch. Now apply a lead on the target (light switch. and being off balance is a sign of poor training. Stability is critical to making a good shot. Turning and shooting may seem easy but it is probably the most difficult shot that will be encountered by a gunner in a field trial. especially in a situation where the bird comes directly overhead and the gunner must tum around and shoot the bird. Turning and shooting can best be practiced at a sporting clays range that has the capability to launch a target from a tower. Clay target shooters set up on one spot where they plan on breaking the target and then call for the bird without having to adjust their footing. if a gunner has a choice between being on a small knoll in a clear spot or in the heavy brush then the decision should be clear. Watch the target come out of the tower. This example shows the importance of visually focusing on the target and not in the lead space or on the barrel. Barrel and target will be blurred and possibly doubled. doorknob etc.) to the left or right using the gun barrel (thumb). Field gunners must always be conscious of their footing and potential snags that may inhibit proper foot placement during a shot. For example. proper foot placement and their orientation relative to the handler and course centerline. Now move your eyes to the gun barrel and without moving the eyes look at the target. This will be used to represent the target. If the mind cannot correctly identify the target speed and direction and automatically react with the experiential database to the situation then the result will be a missed or crippled bird.
The best advice is to find a factory-produced shell that works well for everyone on the team and stick with the shell on a consistent basis.would you prefer a center gun backing you up with a light field load or a heavy field and magnum shell? Long back up shots instill confidence in the gun team and benefit the dog and handler. But ultimately the decision is left to the shooter. 2 %" shot shell. Experimentation is for the training session or shooting range. double-barreled shotgun. The previous recommendations for shotgun chokes were based on a 30-inch minimum barrel length. -+ . lead. "Well-choked" is considered no less than a modified choke in the bottom and a minimum of a full choke in the top barrel. 4 dram equiv. 2 %" shot shell. It is considered that the over and under is slightly superior to the side by side due to the narrow profile of the barrel and no loss of peripheral vision in the sight picture. . The following diagrams depict the standard structure of the field trial. Type. 1 Y4oz shot. Clubs sometimes buy inexpensive shells in order to cut field trial costs. it is important to remember that a long backup shot is the worstcase scenario. the shell choice should obviously be at the heavy end of the spectrum. copper coated or buffered. not the field trial. This is considered a light field load and less than optimum for shooting a trial. When the cost of the bird is weighed against the cost of the shells. with the optimum backup shell being a 1 Yz oz shot. Find a shell combination that works and stay consistent. This can be more expensive in terms of lost birds than the difference between quality and inferior ammunition. #5 or #6. Shells The AKC rule book . Consider the perspective of the wing gun . No reloaded shells are allowed. #5. A more suitable minimum is a heavy field load. 3 ~ dram equiv. handler and the wing gun that just shot twice.. / ~ \ WO ( " /-. in actuality."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" 4.Overlapping Fields of Fire Running Braced with Inactive Fourth Gun . The type. It must be noted that these drawings are rudimentary at best and are not intended to show an unsafe condition. 2 %" shot shell. They are merely used to show general shooting lanes and fields of fire and are not to scale. 3 % dram equiv.TH ~ \. One cheap shell can cost the loss of one comparably expensive bird. The proper position for the wing guns is approximately two steps (or more) behind the handler. the gun captain should obtain or approve the shells provided by the field trial club. The proper position for the center gun is approximately two steps (or more) in front of the lead handler. Ideally. copper coated or buffered. From the standpoint of the dog. 7 ~. / AREA 260f43 9/26/01 19 of 43 9/26/01 . #5 or #6. FIGURE 1 .TH WG- 40 -+ GALLERY When considering loads. 6. Changing shells can be as damaging as constantly switching shotguns. style and manufacturer of shotgun are personal preferences of the shooter."Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Spaniels" specifies that shells must be a minimum of 1 118 oz shot. A center gun may choke even tighter in order to provide the capability of long backup shots for the wing guns.FIGURE IS NOT TO SCALE "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" The AKC rule book "Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Spaniels" specifies that field trials should be shot with a well-choked. the structure is really -a "V" shape if the guns are positioned properly. General Gun positioning and fields of fire overlaps Shotguns It is a common idea that the basic field trial structure is a line. the choice for quality ammunition should be obvious. Another factor that affects the shot pattern along with chokes is barrel length. due to unknown quality control during the loading process. 12-gauge. missed and was subsequently backed up by a long center gun shot. manufacturer and capabilities of shells are quite variable.
Allowing the bird to cross onto the other dog's course allows for interference problems. there are times when a dog has covered a long distance and needs a retrieve desperately due to fatigue. This does not mean shooting the bird on the ground. "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" The centerline as a fence . The fourth gun will maintain a ready status and fill in (become active) as needed to cover blind spots for the center gun when the two running dogs split ahead and behind of each other over a significant distance. the statement is a good place to start. Active Fourth Gun Active Fourth Gun . There are some serious considerations that need to be addressed when viewing the centerline as a fence. it should be shot again if possible by all gunners who have the opportunity to kill the bird until the guns are empty Of it is not possible or not safe to shoot again. If the bird is passed by the center gun then the wing gun must be alert and kill the bird in the appropriate place to provide a respectable retrieve for the producing dog. Neither philosophy should be used as the sole option. it can be disqualified.An active fourth gun is responsible for covering the fields of fire shown in FIGURE 2. the bird should be shot if it is safe or there is not an obvious reason not to shoot. This is very detrimental for both animals. In most cases. This means that shooting a bird for one dog that will fall too close to the other dog could be a disastrous scenario. in general. After the primary shooter shoots the first shot. To the best of their ability. On birds flying straight up the course. Gunners should try not to consider or make decisions that are outside their area of expertise or consideration when considering a shot as long as it is safe. A gallery gun is totally inactive until used for replacement. 200f43 9/26/01 250f43 9/26/01 . This means that if the first shot cripples or mortally wounds the bird. For instance. 3. Handlers have an enormous amount of time and resources involved in their dogs and deserve a gunner's best efforts and attention. A fresh dog would be a better candidate for the fence philosophy where a longer retrieve would better display his abilities. Ground sluicing is not allowed in field trials. For example." There are exceptions to this rule. it would probably be best to treat the centerline as a wall for a shorter retrieve. The dog that did not flush the bird must honor the retrieve of the other dog. If a bird does not favor one side of the course and goes up the middle of the course. it may be necessary to attempt a head shot and potentially destroy the bird as discussed in the centerline as a wall philosophy. It is also noteworthy to mention that even though a bird may appear to be flushed out of range. Shooting out of the gallery is strictly forbidden. It is in the best interest of the dog and handler to retrieve a dead bird and not a cripple. If the center gun drops the bird too close to the honoring dog and the honoring dog makes the retrieve or attempts to make the retrieve. Once again if the bird is close to the wing gun and the bird is a long way from the retrieving dog. The fourth gun also provides a good centerline reference for the lagging handler and quartering dog. A mixture of the two philosophies and overall gunning knowledge should be used as appropriate to provide the best situation and retrieve for each of the running dogs. gunners are required to support the interest of the handler and dog safely without judgment. then it is fair game for any shooter who has a safe clear shot. such as volunteers. it is quite possible for the dog on the retrieve to produce the other dogs planted bird. it dies. if the dog on the other course lags the dog that has a fall on the opposite course. gunners should shoot at the range that is most comfortable for them and not wait or get into a waiting contest with other gunners. it is the intent of the gunners to kill consistently and cleanly. then any gun that has a safe clear shot may open fire. A significant distance is defmed as when it becomes difficult for the center gun to observe and cover both dogs as they run. Center guns must always remember and consider that they are shooting over two dogs."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" FIELD TRIAL GUNNING PROCEDURES Shot Determination Sometimes it is not obvious if a bird should be shot and the standard rule for determining if a bird should be shot is "if it flies. It is the judge's decision whether the dog is out of range or not and not the determination of the gunner. The center gun must consider these possibilities. Standard shooting etiquette on the line dictates that if the bird is angling or quartering in the direction of a wing gun or center gun relative to the course centerline. But. In this case. Gallery Gun .This philosophy dictates that birds crossing the centerline should be passed to the other course if a decent retrieve cannot be provided or the bird would be destroyed by the shot. An important aspect to remember is that a bird should be shot until it is dead or gone. As mentioned earlier. the dog does not see the bird and potential double flushes as discussed in other sections of this book. then the gun that is in the direction of the bird' s flight is allowed the first shot at the bird. Safety and fairness to the questing dog should be the motivation behind all shooting decisions. It is important for a gunner to keep in mind that the judge has the final decision whether a dog is sent on a retrieve.A gallery gun is defined as a backup to the three or four guns on the line and is only used to replace a line gun. if safe. the gunner should always attempt the shot. This typically means that the bird should be killed as soon as possible and not extend the fall to the point where it would be impossible or extremely difficult for the retrieving dog on the opposite course. The dog on the retrieve must handle the difficult situation on a short-term basis and the opposing dog may have to run a considerable distance in order to produce the next planted bird.
This philosophy dictates that birds crossing the centerline should be dropped on the centerline and not passed to the other dog's course. The distance from the handler to the wing gunner is often quantified as approximately 15 yards. The gun captain should make the determination as to whether someone is ready to shoot the center gun position. This does not mean that the center gun should interfere with the dog's quest or intrude into ground not covered by the dog. An example of shooting from the standpoint of the sport as a competition would be a bird produced and passed over from the far wing of the competitor's course to the center gunner. Due to the difficulty of the position. Flushing a bird ahead of the handler could be perceived as a passed bird by the dog and result in the disqualification of the dog from the competition. Wing gunners. It is relatively safe for the center gunner to stay ahead of the handler on the centerline since it is really a "no mans land" in regards to bird production. if done properly. The center gun position is the most challenging position on the line and the best. The center gun should stay a couple steps (sometimes more) in front of the lead handler in order to provide the best angle to backup the wing gunners on quartering shots. Wing gunners are basically walking through a bird minefield and must not flush birds ahead of the dog or handler. Walking around planted and moving birds is a common occurrence for wing gunners. The wing gun must stay in the handler's peripheral vision. Staying a little ahead of the lead handler (not the lead dog) can be done effectively and without interference or detriment to the dog and handler's performance. It is extremely rare for a center gun to flush a bird. so the handler knows their position but not intrude on the dog's quest or enter ground not covered by the dog. Experience will show that maintaining a specific distance is virtually impossible due to obstacles and the handler's movements. If a center gun flushed a bird on the centerline. there are different philosophies regarding how to shoot this position effectively and in a sportsmanlike manner as discussed in the following text. With these two views in mind. The center gun is responsible for the fields of fire shown in FIGURES 1 & 2. The biggest objection with treating the centerline as a wall in all cases is that birds close to the center gun can be destroyed by the shot and frequently denies the dog a desirable retrieve. should stay a couple steps behind (or more) during the dog's quest. The centerline as a wall . since the centerline basically becomes a bird highway over the course of a trial due to the cover being trampled resulting in the fact that birds typically do not hold in that area. Some individuals are competent wing guns but do not have the ability to shoot center gun effectively no matter how long they have shot on a wing. This same situation could be viewed from the other side as a "hunting" situation in which the bird would be allowed to continue flight until it could be killed with minimal damage. The benefits for the shooter and overall field trial are worth the effort. In all situations the gunner should be intending to shoot the bird in the head but sometimes is a little behind on the lead. The center gun responsibilities are pretty straightforward and consist of always staying with the lead handler when running braced and walk down the centerline from flag to flag."The Art ofField Trial Gunning" 2. In this case it could be perceived in the best interest of the potential retrieving dog if the center gunner killed the bird as quickly as possible (even at close range with the intent of shooting the bird in the head) in order to provide the dog with a reasonable retrieve and not an extra long fall by passing the bird to the opposite wing. It is the author's current gun team's experience that a new gun will shoot on a wing for three to five years or more before that person will develop the awareness and skills necessary to start shooting center gun. 240f43 9/26/01 21 of 43 9/26/01 . The distance can fluctuate from 5 to 25 yards depending on the handler movements and obstacles. Destroying a bird on the centerline or on the wing is considered ''un-sportsmanlike'' from the viewpoint of the sport as a "hunting" test in which the game should be shot as if (and usually is) it will be consumed as a meal. The best method is more of a floating distance averaging about 15 yards but always slightly behind the handler relative to the centerline of the course. The other side of this is that the sport is a "competition" and that the bird should be shot solely with the interest of the judgment/evaluation of the dog in mind regardless of the potential damage to the bird. it would not be detrimental to either dog because the bird could have come from either side of the course. The center gull is faced with the widest variety and most difficult decisions of all the gunners in the trial. on the other hand. the gun must make the shot to suit the situation with the decision based on safety and intent on shooting for the dog. It is important for wing gunners to watch where they walk and avoid birds that have been overlooked by the dog. most experienced gunners should shoot this position. The intent is to support the handler and be in the proper position to cover primary field of fire responsibilities and to kill a bird for the dog in the correct place as governed by the situation. "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" Center Gun Positioning and Fields of Fire Positioning of the gunner relative to the handler is a very important aspect of gunning. The center gun must not forget the priority of shooting and positioning to support the dog and handler over covering his or her fields of fire.
This ability is what separates a quality gunner from a person who should not pursue the sport. as stated in the AKC rule book "Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Spaniels": "The guns should stand perfectly quiet after the shot. the center gun should shoot into the air to let the wing know that the bird should be shot. The advantage is clear when viewed from the standpoint of fields of fire and safety and is shown in FIGURE 4. All gunners are responsible for positioning themselves in a manner to cover the primary fields of fire as shown in a later section of this text. If the gunner chooses to go on the outside of the tree and have a distance of 25 yards from the handler he or she will be able to cover the primary wing gun field of fire (outside responsibility). The gunner is primarily responsible for the gunner's own fields of fire and secondarily responsible for backing up other teammates. In the case of a running bird. regardless of whether the center gun shoots a volley or not. A comprehensive understanding of all the positions and concepts is essential to being an official gunner. it is then acceptable for the gunner to move."The Art of Field Trial Gunning" "The Art of Field Trial Gunning" It must be emphasized that the gunner is a silent extension of the handler. the gunner should not move when the handler is stopped. Backing up other team members on the line is of secondary importance. Encroachment into the dog's beat is a serious concern for the gunner and should not be attempted except when prudent after a flush. the gunner should be 25 yards from the handler and cover the outside of the course. Finally. It is essential that the gunner move ahead of the handler if and when required after the flush in order to kill the bird safely. Exceptions to this rule would be if the bird were an out-of-range volunteer that the dog does not see or the judge says "no. judges and planters in the event of a running bird situation. there is little chance of flushing another bird. if the gunner must choose on which side of a tree to go around he or she must make the decision based on knowledge of his or her primary responsibilities. This is typically performed mostly in a third series or puppy stake where only two gunners are on the line. it is extremely advantageous for a wing gunner to move a couple steps (or more) ahead of the handler after the flush in an effort to help back up the other gunner on quartering shots. Another important guideline is that when the handler stops. In this situation. handlers. It is imperative that a gunner considers this in regards to positioning and obstacles during the quest. Currently. These birds may be passed over or missed by the center gun. It must be emphasized that this move occurs after the flush! If the dog has covered the area and the gunner has visually scanned the area for birds prior to the movement. If the gunner chooses to maintain the position of 15 yards from the handler then the tree will block the ability to kill the bird if it flies to the outside of the course. However.2. Experienced or potential gunners will make the correct associations and understand the overlaps between the positions. 1. It is extremely easy to become disoriented after leaving the line and it is important to keep a running log of where everyone is located during the pursuit of a running bird. When positioning with respect to the handler and obstacles it is important to remember the main responsibilities and primary fields of fire. If a handler verbally or using hand signals indicates to the gunner that a position change is desired. unless the gunner has fallen way out of position and needs to catch up. it is also necessary for the wing gun to be aware of birds flushed on the other dog's course that come into the wing gunner's field of fire. the gunner should follow the direction without hesitation or discussion unless unable to comply for some reason unknown to the handler. Proper positioning is essential for the gunner to consistently cover the gunner's specified fields offire. This statement summarizes the basic philosophy following a shot and stands alone without further explanation. Typically. safe fields of fire are also changing constantly and must be closely monitored by the gunner during the pursuit. when it is possible and safe to back up a fellow gunner as discussed in a later portion of this text. For example. The wing gunner must key off of the handler in regard to running birds. the gunner should stop and when the handler moves. It is the handler's decision. except under specific conditions. for otherwise they may interftre with the dog and handler". when running braced. the gunner must wait for and then go with the handler staying close (5-10 yards) to increase the available field of fire and to reduce the risk of inadvertently flushing the running bird. Wing Gun The wing gun is responsible for the fields of fire in FIGURES 1. When not running braced. In general this means that the gunner should speak only when spoken to. In this case. the wing gun must wait for the handler before leaving the course. the wing gun should shoot the bird as soon as it is safe. Keeping in mind that a gunner is an extension of the handler it is clear that the gunner must be capable of reacting appropriately to the handler's movements. Basic Positions The following section discusses the basics for shooting each of the shooting positions during a field trial. not the gunner's. and it is imperative that the gunner maintains a position to optimize the capability of killing the bird in a wide range of possibilities. It is important to note that some of the information in each separate section may apply to other sections.3 & 4. 220f43 9/26/01 230f43 9/26/01 . Typically. When the center gun passes a bird to the wing gun. as to whether to pursue the potential bird or not." Consideration must also be taken in regard to the wing gunner's primary dog so as not to shoot the bird coming from the other beat too close to the dog on the gunner's primary beat. It is also essential that the gunner keep close tabs on the orientation and location of the gallery. This can be difficult because the action of a good runner is quite mesmerizing and a gunner has a tendency to focus all attention on the dog. If the handler decides to go with the dog. only one gunner is allowed to go on runners (except in the third series).