TRIALS (The Short Course)
NSTRA, or the National Shoot to Retrieve Association, offers trials
as a way of extending the hunting season for you and your dog. NSTRA
trials differ a little from AKC or American Field field trials because
the emphasis is on finding birds rather than on range or style, although
judges may elect to increase the number of points given for each find
if the style is particularly impressive and ground coverage may also
be considered. Many NSTRA participants feel the only major difference
between a NSTRA trial and an actual hunting situation is that the trial
uses pen-raised birds instead of wild ones, but the dogs don't seem
Dogs are run in "braces"” of two. Each dog is able to
earn up to 100 points per find and is judged on steadiness and quality
of the find. Each dog can earn from 0-100 points for each retrieve,
plus up to 75 points for "honoring" or "“backing"
its bracemate (stopping when it sees another dog on point and holding
steady until the other dog has finished working the bird, including
retrieving.) Another 0-75 points can be earned for obedience to the
handler and 0-100 points for ground coverage. Under this system, the
more birds the dog locates and points, the more points can be earned.
Of course, accurate shooting can also affect the dog's total as up to
100 points can be earned for each downed bird retrieved so the more
downed birds, the greater the possible score!
the end of the trial, the dog with the most points wins. Once a dog
has accumulated enough placements (first, second, or third) he can be
designated a NSTRA Champion. This is a recognized title that can be
added to the dog's name.
Dogs can compete in several NSTRA sponsored events beyond those sponsored
by local and regional clubs. A complete list of all events can be found
on the NSTRA website http://www.nstra.org
along with a full description of the point schedule, factors considered
in judging, and a list of local chapters. Upon visiting the site, you
will note that the 2003 NSTRA dog of the year is a Brittany!
NSTRA TRIALS (The Long Course)
Much more information is available from NSTRA itself. If you think you
would like to extend the hunting season with your Brittany, get together
with people who have similar interests, and meet folks who enjoy working
their hunting dogs, please visit the NSTRA website at http://www.nstra.org
and get in touch with them.