Another thing that I think keeps new people away is getting whacked in the first series. I have seen a good number of minor stakes whack 50 to 75% of the dogs in the first series. Sometimes its because the judges want to get done because they have to judge another stake and are pressed for time.
A lot of times it's not about which dog does the best job it's about which dog can do the test period. The open is one thing but I dont think this should happen in the derby or qual. Pretty discouraging to new people. I have even seen this happen in DQ's that are trying to attract cross overs form hunt tests.
I have seen derbies and quals both where only 1 or two dogs finish the trial. No second thrid or fourth place not to mention jams
This has been an awesome discussion!
I am a member of many clubs from obedience, to breed clubs to field. They all have the same problems.
Communication - communication - communication
It seems that the new members apprciate and thrive on the more information I can give.
-- nametags for everyone at teaching days
-- "teaching days" (instead of calling them training days)
-- maps of the property so new people don't get lost trying to find where they are going
-- RSVP for training days (not required but appreciated and this has helped planning tremendously)
-- an agenda of what drills and set ups will be offered sent out in advance of each "teaching day"
--plan the dates of teaching days and events a year in advance if possible
-- facebook and web site keep updated and active
--Recruit "chairs" for different areas of responsibility (equipment, hospitality, marshals, training days) - and then encourage and help them to recruit their committee members this takes work! But it has paid off greatly for our club. Several of our chairs were very new to the club - but with the help and support of the experienced - they have really jumped in and have done a fantastic job.
--I have to say that one of the things that helped our club the most - was bringing back a previous president who is also one of our landowners, he suprised us all by announcing at the annual meeting that his property would be available to all members to train on at any time - provided that they volunteer at one event per year. I'll tell ya - that first mock test we held the next month - I had volunteers lined up 2-3 deep - which was also great that people did not have to work all day, and they could run their dogs.
--also identify volunteers with talent and interests and put them to work. One lady creates maps for a living - so she does maps for us. Finally after several years of looking - a new member said he had some web building skills - and man he has done an incredible job on our web site.
Our club also had to face the reality that though we are an HRC club "for hunters, by hunters" the club member majority are people who Don't hunt and just want a title on their dog. We were not getting enough entries in our HT, so we switched to a one day Mock Test - and made more money and more people raved about that is what they needed - ability to practice in a HT like setting. Our Teaching days have gone from doing one big set up - where you stayed all day to run your dog once - to multiple areas for different levels- people love it. Then 2x a year we are holding a big Mock Test, and 1 x per year we are holding a HT.
So in summary - communication -
and Support new volunteers - if they don't work in one job, find a different one and give them lots of support until they are successful