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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
There is an excellent article---JUDGING FLYERS IN AKC FIELD TRIALS. Ted Shih and Dennis Voigt both discuss the challenges for the judges as well as the challenges for the dogs.


An excellent read that I will be commenting on.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
OK, some of my observations based upon my experiences ---having judged and having gunned.


I do feel that some judges do consider the flyer an obligatory part of the test and little consideration is given to the challenges they might present. For example in at least three hunt tests I had the following conversation. Me: "You have the sun in the gunners' eyes." Judge: "But the sun will move." Me: "Yes but it will move to be more in our eyes." Judge: "Do your best."
 

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Kudos to the field trial judge who asked us, the gunners, what we thought of the flyer that he and his co judge set up. Gunning stations were already set up. We mentioned the expected shifting wind and what it would do to the flyers. He thanked us and made a change. (I can't really take credit for this, my partner made the suggestion.)
 

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And interestingly enough, both Ted and Dennis said that they do not like close in flyers. They feel that it is "too prone to cause breaks, too prone to distract, and risk of too much close-up variation in fall".


Ted defines a close-in flyer as 100 yards or less.
 

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OK, some of my observations based upon my experiences ---having judged and having gunned.
I do feel that some judges do consider the flyer an obligatory part of the test and little consideration is given to the challenges they might present. For example in at least three hunt tests I had the following conversation. Me: "You have the sun in the gunners' eyes." Judge: "But the sun will move." Me: "Yes but it will move to be more in our eyes." Judge: "Do your best."
Like you, I regularly shoot flyers and I judge (field trials only), so when on a judging assignment setting up marks, I'll go into the field from where the flyers will be shot and envision the task, taking into consideration the directional orientation. It's not rocket science, but it's something that must be conscientiously addressed.

As either a handler or a judge, I really DO NOT like flyers!
> They generally constitute 95% of the no-birds at a trial.
> The wind must be taken into consideration as to the direction they are thrown (the only exception is if you have an excellent thrower and good shooters, in which case the wind direction is less important unless it's gale force (an excellent thrower is more rare than good shooters)).
> The position of the other gunners must be taken into consideration because of the use of live ammunition.
> I've had dogs break on flyers ... several times ... in Derby ... Qualifying ... Amateur ... and Open stakes; in the first series ... and, heartbreakingly, in the last series.
I suppose that I should run trials in Canada unless I get my dogs under better control! :)
FTGoldens
 

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Like you, I regularly shoot flyers and I judge (field trials only), so when on a judging assignment setting up marks, I'll go into the field from where the flyers will be shot and envision the task, taking into consideration the directional orientation. It's not rocket science, but it's something that must be conscientiously addressed.

As either a handler or a judge, I really DO NOT like flyers!
> They generally constitute 95% of the no-birds at a trial.
> The wind must be taken into consideration as to the direction they are thrown (the only exception is if you have an excellent thrower and good shooters, in which case the wind direction is less important unless it's gale force (an excellent thrower is more rare than good shooters)).
> The position of the other gunners must be taken into consideration because of the use of live ammunition.
> I've had dogs break on flyers ... several times ... in Derby ... Qualifying ... Amateur ... and Open stakes; in the first series ... and, heartbreakingly, in the last series.
I suppose that I should run trials in Canada unless I get my dogs under better control! :)
FTGoldens
Out of order flyers.

Out-of-order flyers seem common in AKC Master Hunter..

Yet at least in Fairbanks, AK field trials, the flyer is typically the go bird in field trials.
I've often wondered why....the explanation I've heard from field trialers is that way
the variation in flyers is less compared to if it was an out of order flyer and also
if there was a "no-bird" on the first 2 or 3 dead bird stations, the competing dog
will not have a flyer influence when he comes back to the line.
 

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Out of order flyers.

Out-of-order flyers seem common in AKC Master Hunter..

Yet at least in Fairbanks, AK field trials, the flyer is typically the go bird in field trials.
I've often wondered why....the explanation I've heard from field trialers is that way
the variation in flyers is less compared to if it was an out of order flyer and also
if there was a "no-bird" on the first 2 or 3 dead bird stations, the competing dog
will not have a flyer influence when he comes back to the line.
Interesting point! I recently judged an Open and we set up a quad with an out of order flyer ... I've done OOO flyers a couple of other times, but not often.

As to why OOO flyers are not common in field trials ... the explanations provided are as good as any guess that I could make (although I'm not positive that I understand the one regarding "variation" unless they are talking about the size of the area of the hunt for the first bird retrieved as opposed to the second - third - fourth? bird to be retrieved, in which case the variation of the falls could make a difference ... but in my experience, the size of the hunt doesn't typically vary much with regard to the order in which the birds are retrieved); frankly, making the flyer the first bird down would save time because in the event of a no-bird flyer, you haven't expended the time in throwing the other birds.

In the recent judging assignment, I noticed two major ways in which the OOO flyer affected the dogs.
First, one dog broke for the flyer when the fourth gunner shot ... I suspect that the dog anticipated being sent after the flyer hit the ground, so when the last gun went off, he thought, "That's my cue!" And it was NOT a breaking bird, being out about 150 yards. And,by the way, none of the marks were tight by ANY stretch of the imagination!
Second, most dogs had a horrible line to and a significant hunt for the last bird down, even though the line for it was straight down a hillside and then straight up the opposing hillside, and being only about 175 yards, with a highly visible stand-out gunner with a slightly angled back throw. If it was thrown as a single, any 6 month old puppy worth their kibble would nail it, but with the flyer being on their minds, many of these all-age dogs, some of which were FC and/or AFC titled, had unexpectedly large hunts or at least covered a big chunk of real estate.

It was a fun assignment.

FTGoldens
 

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Interesting point! I recently judged an Open and we set up a quad with an out of order flyer ... I've done OOO flyers a couple of other times, but not often.

As to why OOO flyers are not common in field trials ... the explanations provided are as good as any guess that I could make (although I'm not positive that I understand the one regarding "variation" unless they are talking about the size of the area of the hunt for the first bird retrieved as opposed to the second - third - fourth? bird to be retrieved, in which case the variation of the falls could make a difference ... but in my experience, the size of the hunt doesn't typically vary much with regard to the order in which the birds are retrieved); frankly, making the flyer the first bird down would save time because in the event of a no-bird flyer, you haven't expended the time in throwing the other birds.

In the recent judging assignment, I noticed two major ways in which the OOO flyer affected the dogs.
First, one dog broke for the flyer when the fourth gunner shot ... I suspect that the dog anticipated being sent after the flyer hit the ground, so when the last gun went off, he thought, "That's my cue!" And it was NOT a breaking bird, being out about 150 yards. And,by the way, none of the marks were tight by ANY stretch of the imagination!
Second, most dogs had a horrible line to and a significant hunt for the last bird down, even though the line for it was straight down a hillside and then straight up the opposing hillside, and being only about 175 yards, with a highly visible stand-out gunner with a slightly angled back throw. If it was thrown as a single, any 6 month old puppy worth their kibble would nail it, but with the flyer being on their minds, many of these all-age dogs, some of which were FC and/or AFC titled, had unexpectedly large hunts or at least covered a big chunk of real estate.

It was a fun assignment.

FTGoldens
Thanks for your perspective!

In hunt tests, typically the routine is to always retrieve the go bird first.
So with some retrievers, they try to "split the difference" between the
go bird and the flyer, sometimes resulting in a "gorilla hunt".

In hunt tests, the flyer can also have an "eraser bird" effect where the retriever
picks up the go bird flyer, then must run a blind, then pick up the 2 memory marks.
Or a longer memory mark is down-wind of the flyer station, so the retriever must
remember that mark and drive through the scent of the flyers.

In Alaska flyers cost $25-$30, so by having the flyer as the go bird,
if there is a "no bird" on the first 2 marks, the cost of the flyer can be saved.
This is not the primary reason, but it is a consideration.
Another consideration for field trials is that the area of the fall will vary, so as a go-bird
there is no memory involved, while the other marks are thrown as dead bird
in the exact same location so it is fairer to the dogs for those memory marks.


It seems conventional to use the flyer boxes in the second series land blind,
running the retrievers down-wind of the flyer station in field trials.

In hunt tests, the blind is usually more associated with the marks, such as
under the arc of a mark, or between 2 marks.
 
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