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Thread: The future of retriever clubs

  1. #21
    Member Sugarwoods's Avatar
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    This thread has generated some great discussion.

    Here are some things that I am taking away:

    - The old guard has to be willing to step down. All too often we see folks running again for a position they don't want because no one else steps up. Maybe the "newbies" don't want to step on toes by running against someone?
    - We need to organize training days and they have to be fun and rewarding. I'd love more thoughts on this. The scheduling of training days need to accommodate members with competing interests.
    - We probably need to help folks find a good dog! Maybe offer a puppy referral?
    - Maybe a mentoring program for newcomers would help them understand what it takes?
    - I think clubs may need to offer something that gives newcomers early success. It doesn't have to be at a licensed event, but I think it's hard to keep going if you feel like you can't compare to the highly trained dogs of other members. Not sure what form this should take. Thoughts?

    I also want to point out that only one of the clubs I belong to hosts a trial. This issue is in the hunt test and breed clubs too. I saw one post where someone was worried about only being able to work a half day at an event. I chaired one event and was on the committee of two last year - I would be more than happy to take a half a day if that's what someone is able to give!
    Terry Johansson
    Just in Case Retrievers

  2. #22
    Senior Member Steve Shaver's Avatar
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    Didnt read the whole thread and maybe this was mentioned but here is my thought.
    New members are like new puppies. If the desire just aint there your not going to put it in them. Some are interested but not to the point that it is in others to stick with it. With puppies some things are more important than the retrieve and with some there is nothing more important than the retrieve. I have tried to help lots of new people that seem to be interested but most dont stick with it so I just wash them out and its on to the next puppy, or prospect.
    Our clubs both FT and HT have numerous picnic trials where new people can come and learn. Some stay some dont. How many FC's are in any one litter of pups?

  3. #23
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    IMO nothing will stop the decline of the FT game. The lost of trialing grounds, the lost of training grounds, eroding quality of judging, fewer amatuers, rise of "mega-owners", absentee owners, and the escalating cost to compete are irreversible.
    What its prominence suggest, and what all science confirms is that the dog is a creature of the nose- A. Horowitz.

  4. #24
    Senior Member cpmm665's Avatar
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    Club organized training days and Special events such as Club tests seems to help with member retention for BCRC. At our annual meeting we ask for volunteers to sit on the training committee, we meet and set up dates and tentative locations for training, typically one Saturday and one Sunday per month. We send out an email to the members a week prior and ask for pre-registration so we have an idea of the skill level of attendees and their dogs. Some of our members also provide freezer space for birds which we use at our Club events. We kick off the season with a Flyer day, 2012 was largest we've had to date, we had 27 attend. We also host two Members only mock hunt tests which continue to be popular. We run JR., SR. and Master and all participants work in the field or judging.
    As Club Secretary, I started emailing a set of documents to potential members upon membership inquiry. These include things like popular training programs, a list of vendors, basic and advanced needed training gear and a glossary of terms. Several veteran members also offer to mentor new folks. We also encourage new members to connect with others in their area to form their own training groups.
    BCRC averages 50-55 members per year and we do have the same "core" group stepping up to Chair events, however, the involvement of less active members has improved since we started offering the flyer day and mock tests. We have also had increased numbers of Master Hunters. I believe it is the responsibility of the dog owner to train their dog, not the responsibility of the Club, but, in my opinion folks join a retriever Club for training opportunities and education and this is paramount for member retention.
    Cindy Von Sutphen

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  5. #25
    Senior Member BonMallari's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugarwoods View Post
    This thread has generated some great discussion.

    Here are some things that I am taking away:

    - The old guard has to be willing to step down. All too often we see folks running again for a position they don't want because no one else steps up. Maybe the "newbies" don't want to step on toes by running against someone?

    Why should the old guard be willing to step aside, they worked long and hard to get a club to where it is, they may have been the ones to secure the grounds or in some cases they own those grounds,plus they still want to compete, just like its hard to unseat the old grisled incumbent politician from their elected seat and power, the same goes for power within a club


    - We need to organize training days and they have to be fun and rewarding. I'd love more thoughts on this. The scheduling of training days need to accommodate members with competing interests.

    Training days end up being mini one day FT's, they often are more benefit to the more experienced trainer with advanced dogs, who wants the luxury of added help to run multiple setups, and the novice trainer is relegated to being the "free help" and often is forced to run set ups that may be too advanced for their dog..the novice may best be served to train with one mentor then to be "trained by the group"...peer pressure can be intense and intimidating,and probably does more to run off potential newcomers to the sport than we ever know
    - We probably need to help folks find a good dog! Maybe offer a puppy referral?
    - Maybe a mentoring program for newcomers would help them understand what it takes?
    - I think clubs may need to offer something that gives newcomers early success. It doesn't have to be at a licensed event, but I think it's hard to keep going if you feel like you can't compare to the highly trained dogs of other members. Not sure what form this should take. Thoughts?

    There used to be the picnic trial and sanctioned event, but they are just as expensive to put on as the real deal and open dates on the calendar are few and far between, hard enough for a club to pull off a licensed trial, no longer cost effective to put on a sanctioned event or picnic trial


    I also want to point out that only one of the clubs I belong to hosts a trial. This issue is in the hunt test and breed clubs too. I saw one post where someone was worried about only being able to work a half day at an event. I chaired one event and was on the committee of two last year - I would be more than happy to take a half a day if that's what someone is able to give!

    my response in purple
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  6. #26
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    The days of the 3 day,4 stake FT are probably numbered but I am a bit more optomistic. FTs will always be a game that requires time and money.
    The issue therefore is how to reduce time and money to get people started and retain them.
    One thing that might help to attract new people would be the return of the AKC Sanctioned FT. These are 1 day events, they are competitive, D/Q/O levels can be offered,cost can be controlled with dead birds and an understanding that all participates must be willing to help. Area clubs can get together to offer an actual circuit and present yearly high point D/Q /O trophies. Prior to HTs, this venue provided training for handlers and judges.
    The issues of declining available FT grounds, and true amatuer participation could be helped if clubs had the option of a 2-day/ 2 stake FT with a controlled entry( controlled in both dogs/stake and dogs/handler). This could help retain new members long term as opposed to "burning them out" at large trials.

    JMOs

    Tim

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    Last edited by Tim Carrion; 10-31-2012 at 09:44 AM.
    You order a Lab; ask a Golden; but negotiate with a Chesapeake!

  7. #27
    Senior Member JoeOverby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Carrion View Post
    The days of the 3 day-4 stake are probably numbered but I am a bit more optomistic. FTs will always be a game that requires time and money.
    The issue therefore is how reduce time and money to get people started.
    One thing that might helpto attract new people would be the return of the AKC Sanctioned FT. These are 1 day events, they are competitive, D/Q/O levels can be offered,cost can be controlled with dead birds and an understanding that all participates must be willing to help. Area clubs can get together to offer an actual circuit and present yearly high point D/Q /O trophies. Prior to HTs, this venue provided training for handlers and judges.
    The issues of declining available FT grounds, and true amatuer participation could be helped if clubs had the option of a 2-day/ 2 stake FT with a controlled entry( controlled in both dogs/stake and dogs/handler). This could help retain people as opposed to "burning them out" at large trials.

    JMOs

    Tim

    -
    So I'm gonna spend money I don't have and take time off from a demanding entry level job and take time away from a newly started family to run a trial I am required to work if entered for no chance at a title or placement??? The only reward is a little league trophy at the end of the year IF there is an area circuit??? There aint no way to spin that to make it sound attractive to new members. Since my last post on this topic there has been some great discussion. I do think Steve Shaver is right though. There are only so many people who truly wanna be involved. As a club, you do everything in your power to retain those folks when they show up. The rest, you can't worry about because no matter how much coddling, begging, or encouraging you do they just arent interested enough to give what we feel is an adequate amount.
    Joe Overby
    Candler Creek Retrievers
    www.candlercreekretrievers.com
    GRHRCH UH "Hooch" MH (HRC 1500 pt. club)
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  8. #28
    Senior Member Miriam Wade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonMallari View Post
    my response in purple
    Oops!! This is all that came up when I tried to quote you!

    Bon,

    I agree with you 100% on your comment on the training days sometimes benefiting the more experienced folks than the new person you are trying to attract, but also have seen just the opposite. One of our New England clubs hosts training days that truly foster the person new to the club and training. There is someone standing on line with them offering advice as to how to run the setups and throwers are ready, able and willing to help the dog. I think it's a win/win for the newbie to have help as well as watch the experienced handlers and dogs to see what is possible with good training. I know a few people have gone on to become valuable and valued members of the club and it's in no small part to the fact that there isn't a clique or unfriendly atmosphere.

    This same club has sanctioned trials that are fun, friendly and efficiently run. It's what got me to join.

    Terry,

    Sent you an e-mail, but I just looked at the club website. What I would recommend are what's already been suggested:

    Training Days w/ mentors for the new folks

    Sanctioned Trials and Club Test w/ the option of running out of contention for those that may need some help

    A Training Day where you buddy up new folks w/ long time members to run stations, so that everyone has time in the field and new folks don't feel intimidated by not knowing what's expected of a bird boy.

    Workshops/Seminars: A lot of us would love to have a workshop in our backyards with someone like Mike Lardy or Dave Rorem.

    M
    "You can put pressure on a dog, you canít take it backÖ"

    Mitch Patterson '07

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  9. #29
    Senior Member Labs a mundo's Avatar
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    Default 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.
    Deb
    Shekko Raven Of Brunlea SH "Raven" 1999-2011 forever loved & never forgotten
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  10. #30
    Member Sarge's Avatar
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    Thank you to all the members of FT/HT clubs that work so hard to make the events possible.

    As a relative new particpant in FT/HT I cannot comment on member retention. However, my most discouraging experience with the game came after completing all three series of a Master Test, waiting for the compilation of scores and judges eating lunch (over two hours), only to be told I did not receiving a qualifying score. It was a long drive home.

    Retaining new particpants in the game will require some way to expedite the event process.

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