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Rules & Regs

AKC Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Spaniels 

AKC Spaniel Field Trial Rules and Regulations 

Chapter 14: 

Judges/Amateur Entries 

SECTION 3. A dog is not eligible to be entered or to compete in any field trial in any stake in which championship points are given, if a Judge of that stake or any member of his family has owned, sold, held under lease, boarded, trained, or handled the dog, within one year prior to the date of the field trial. 
Amateur Status 

SECTION 21. An Amateur All-Age Stake shall be for dogs over six months of age that are handled by amateurs.  The status of the handler is to be determined by the Field Trial Committee of the club holding the trial. 

Definition of A Professional: 
A professional shall be defined as any person who accepts, or has accepted, money, or other compensation (defined as anything that has a monetary value), for the field training or field trial handling of any breed hunting dog.  Once a person performs as a professional for a one year 
period, they cannot run in Amateur stakes thereafter. If they have not run as a professional for a full year, and they want to reclaim their amateur status, they can do so after a one year waiting period. 

The determination of amateur status under these directives for the purpose of any particular field trial shall be made by the Field Trial Committee for that trial.  

Regulations for AKC Hunting Tests for Spaniels and Guidelines for Spaniel Hunting Tests    

"A Guide to the Conduct and Judging of Cocker Spaniel Field Trials" available from the ECSCA 

Host Club Criteria for Field Trials (pdf)   

Novice Stake Decision Made By ECSCA/FEC

In summary, the consensus of the ECSCA FEC is as follows:  
  • The Novice (dog) stake will mirror the Open stake criteria and rules.
  • Will afford no points (ribbons only)
  • Only game birds will be used
  • Dogs will be braced in 1st & 2nd series (3rd series at the discretion of the judges, if needed) and does not have to be completed during one (1) field trial day
  • Offering a Novice stake is at the discretion of the host trial club.

  • Dogs may continue to run in Novice until such time they receive an Open placement.  
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In an effort to get a meaningful dialog regarding the Gun Program the FEC is presenting the following outline of the historical rationale for developing a cocker gun program and its various points open for discussion and evaluation.  It would be helpful if everyone considers what they value in cocker field trial guns and gun captains and develop ideas for the program based on those values.

1. In 2004 it was suggested by several AKC representatives that eventually the AKC would establish a gun program for all field events that didn’t already have something in place. 
2. The FEC felt that the Cockers should begin to develop our own Gunning program rather than having the AKC mandate one that may or may not meet our needs.
3. The ESSFTA gun program had been in action for several years.  Many points from the ESSFTA program could be adapted from their program but many had to be modified to fit our circumstances. 
4. Having a formula in place for individuals interested in becoming active gunners would/could be beneficial. 
5. From a liability standpoint, we need an education program that is sound and objective.
6. Was the FEC a qualified body to approve potential “Gunner Applications” as it is possible the FEC can be comprised of “non-shooting” people by the current election process.  Therefore, should a separate committee be established?    How would membership of that committee be organized?  Creation of the CGAC.

Listed below are suggestions and comments voiced by others since the development of the Cocker Gun Program:

1. New gunners can be tested on rules, procedures, and conduct before being selected as a gun in training. Gunners in training would then be mentored by guns and gun captains in the field. A gunner in training should be continually reviewed by a mentor and should not become a gun until successfully serving some defined term as a gun in training.

2. Gunning is a job and every job has a job description. The job description has rules
and procedures. It would be very useful for some of our top gunners to put into 
writing what they do and why. Sometimes describing what we do is not an easy task and it may take several attempts before it becomes an accurate description.
A job description can lay down the foundation for training and mentoring new guns. They must first have some guidelines on rules and procedures and their conduct in the field. 

3. Questions 1 through 5 and question 8 of the Gunning Questionnaire are appropriate and are the relevant questions to determine eligibility as a Cocker Gun. Eligibility for Gun Captain or gun team member status could be established based upon the number of Cocker Field Trials (number to be established) at which a gun has officiated as a gun captain or participated as a gun team member or by a “grandfathering” process for existing Cocker Gun Captains and gun team members. 

4. The approved mentor should be the one to determine when a gun “is ready.” Someone who has significant experience in shooting over spaniels and who has worked extensively with his mentor may well be ready prior to shooting an arbitrarily arrived at number of events.  Our observation is that a potential gun member should have satisfactorily demonstrated their capabilities well before shooting 15 events.

5. The ECSCA does officially recognize differences between English Springer Spaniel and Cocker Field trials.  To quote from The ECSCA Guide to the Conduct and Judging of Cocker Spaniel Field Trials, (preface pg. 2), "...In many instances the guide is a duplication of what is found in the ESSFTA's publication the Conduct and Judging of Spaniel Field Trials.  Much of this duplication should be expected since the two breeds operate under the same AKC rules and indeed share similar qualities in the field.  The new reader should be aware, however, that this guide has been developed specifically for cocker spaniel field trials for English Cocker and American cocker spaniels, and therefore differs in some important areas of interpretation and emphasis from all other breed guidelines."  In many cases, it is these "differences" that create different shooting situations, conditions or unique gunner interactions with judges.

6. A Captain should be an active voice on the field trial committee, not just get the shells and call the people to shoot!  Improving safety needs to be a group effort. 

7. Could we start with an easier program and gradually make it more stringent in future?  If we made it too easy, would this jeopardize gun safety? 

8. Should there be “Grand-fathered” Cocker Guns based on ESSFTA?  If not, what other criteria?  What about our loyal Cocker Gun’s that were not ESSFTA qualified?

9. Did we need to modify that attendance so as not to exclude someone qualified if the seminar was not available in their area.  i.e. take a test.

10.  Is there a possibility of developing one spaniel gun program for both springers and cockers?

Listed here are additional concerns shared with the FEC since the development of the Cocker Gun Program:

1. Most Cocker Field Trials do not have entries which compare to our Springer counterparts. Breaking even financially can be difficult, if not sometimes impossible. Not only do our guns give of their own free time to shoot for us, in many instances they also absorb all of their travel and accommodation expenses.  A burdensome qualification process may be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

2. The open book review and questionnaire was too long.

3. The questionnaire had questions not relevant to gunning.

4. Should there be a distinction between shooting springer trials versus shooting cocker trials?

5. The time frame established was too tight for all gun teams to meet the new requirements.

6. The field trial clubs were not fully informed or involved with the development process of the Gunning Criteria.

Thank you all for your input! 

Respectfully submitted,
Bethann Roettger 
FEC Chairperson

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