I agree. Those of us that train alone, Stickmen are invaluable. Especially with young dogs and wingers. It teaches them to look out and locate the white and usually a sound. Once used to them, they walk to the line looking for them. I do always make sure that the wingers throw a good distance away from the stick men so the puppies dont learn to run at the gun. It also helps down the road when you teach dogs to run blinds off either side of the stickmen.Actually, "stickmen" are not a distraction. They provide a focus. In the following video, walking singles are thrown as the
handler (me) moves around throwing singles. My dogs return to a "placeboard" after each mark is retrieved out in the field
and a stickman makes it easier for the dog to "get back" to the running line. If I were running field trials, I would be wearing a
white coat in the field and with an older hunt test retriever, I would be wearing camo (maybe behind cover and sometimes not).
However, white helps a dog to look in a specific direction. Having worked in the field at field trials, I could not help noticing
that some retrievers are well versed in "measuring" where a fall is in relationship to the gunner in white. "Some" never seem
to look at the gunner while others will glance back and forth (visually measuring).
I do not run field trials. However, I do use white stickmen when training a young retriever. Often times the "camo" gunning
stations are quite obvious. Showing where the running line is can be with a white stickman (or white bucket). Eventually, there
is a transition to hidden gunner stations in HRC Finished tests. And of course, distance is less of a factor.
The following link is a young retriever's "Training Alone YouTube" (stickman/bucket line) with handler and dog doing "stand
alone/send back singles.