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The UKC Continental Field Trial Program In A Shotshell

The UKC Continental Field Trial Program is a blend of opportunities not previously offered to the bird dog world. Closely resembling the rules for European pointing dog events, this new program is a walking trial designed for companion gun dogs of all pointing breeds. It is a program that combines the best of both the field trial and the hunt test worlds.

Under typical hunt test formats, dogs are judged against a standard and are either determined to have met or to have not met the criteria for their breed, ability level, etc. Being non-competitive between handlers, the atmosphere of such an event is friendly, helpful and supportive. Dogs do not have to “beat” other dogs to earn credit towards a Champion title. But to some, this format is missing one thing—that feeling you get inside when your dog is officially recognized as being the best bird dog put down to run in its class.

The UKC continental field trial is designed to deliver that emotion. It’s a day in the sun, in front of friends and family, who may very well have also received credit for good work on the part of their own dogs. For both the novice and the experienced gun dog enthusiast, it just doesn’t get any better than that. And let’s face it, those days don’t come around often enough for most of us to get used to them!

Here’s how it works:

Dogs are evaluated based on their breed type, which puts all pointing breeds—from the French Brittany to the English Pointer and all breeds in between—on a level playing field. There are two divisions, Gun Dog and Open, which vary slightly as to the “finish” and “manners” required from the dog. Dogs in the Gun Dog class are not required to be steady to wing and shot. In the Open class, they are required to be steady. Braces may be run in either division at the club's discretion.

In addition, natural ability testing in the form of the TAN program is offered at most licensed UKC Field Trials. Dogs up to the age of three are issued TAN certificates for showing a natural desire to point, even though a lack of age or training may prevent them from competing in more rigorous Field Trials.

UKC Field Trials must be advertised as one of two types: Type W (wild bird trial) and Type L (liberated bird trials). Because game is shot in all Type L trials, retrieving is both required and evaluated. No game is shot in Type W trials. A placement in both types of trials is required to earn the UKC title of CHF or Champion of the Field, assuring a dog is a dependable retriever of downed game and has the ability to handle wild birds.

The UKC Continental Field Trial Program is for hunters and their dogs. If this sounds like something that interests you and your family, please refer back to the UKC Pointing Dog page for more information. You’ll find Running Rules, Club Locations, Upcoming Events—everything you need to know to get involved in the UNITED KENNEL CLUB, INC. and its exciting new venue for pointing dogs.

Todd Kellam
V.P. Hunting Programs