What do we need to Change?
This thread IMO, is exactly what a forum like this is about. It's an opportunity to gather objective information that is affecting all of us in this sport.
In the last year I can't begin to say how often this has become a topic of disscussion over post training lunch. Like the responders we also have lost new members for most of the reasons already mentioned. This is what I beleive my club does well:
1. Monthly picnic trials. These have been held without fail since the mid 60's. They are treated with the same rules as a licensed event. Points and ribbons are awarded at the end of the day along with yearly trophies at the end of the year.
2.We have a core group of trainers who are dedicated to Sat. and Sun. training. The only time this changes is if there is a licensed trial or picnic trial.
3.The experienced mentor the newcomers. They try hard to encourage new people.
4. We try .....try very hard not to overwhelm, or underwhelm new people.
Even with these things in place we are losing new people. New members are overwhelmed by the amount of time required to train a dog to a successful level. Usually when they join they have a dog that has missed out on solid foundation work and the holes they've created are beyond repair.
The financial investment is often beyond what new people can committ to.
Having said this it would appear that it is the sport in it's current state that has created it's own flaws. How do we re-create a sport that an amateur can be passionate about? Do we need to put more emphasis on the amateur stakes?
There are some people who believe that the trainers who compete in hunt tests are a natural progression to field trials. I agree with this in priciple but I've been told that hunt test participants find field trialers intimidating. I once had a person say to me at a hunt test..." Once he gets his master hunter title it's straight to Open" It made me wonder if handlers don't find working and having success at a Qualifying level enough validation?
Hmmmm........... it's lot's to think about.
I've cross posted this on Canadian Hunting dogs because I think it's important to get a cross view from both sides.