The National Shoot-to-Retrieve Field Trial Association's field trials were started by a group of dedicated bird hunters who were looking for a way to extend the fun they enjoyed with their bird dogs after their season ended. Field Trials, under hunting conditions, were the answer. They not only extend the season, they also provide a sportsmanlike environment where they can compete with others who enjoy bird dogs. The Association was incorporated in 1978, and is a non-profit association with service to the members and sportsmanship as its goals. There are currently 31 NSTRA Regions serving our members in the lower 48 States and Canada. More information on the history of NSTRA can be found at our display in the National Bird Dog Museum - Field Trial Hall of Fame - Wildlife Heritage Center located in Grand Junction, Tennessee.
NSTRA sanctioned Field Trials are open to all pointing breed dogs and are conducted under conditions closely resembling actual wild bird hunting. They are conducted by clubs and individuals throughout the country. Entry fees are kept to a minimum. Placements are recorded and Champions are recognized by NSTRA. Over fourteen hundred sanctioned trials are conducted each year. NSTRA also conducts 5 Championship Trials - Quail Invitational, Trial of Champions, Grand National Invitational, Endurance Classic and Dog of the Year. Spectators may view NSTRA trials from the gallery. They are not allowed in the field with the handlers. Most local trials start between 7-7:30 a.m.
Championship points are awarded at all recognized NSTRA trials depending on the number of dogs entered. At full trials (32 dogs max.) 3 points are awarded for first place, 2 points for second and 1 point for third. When a dog accumulates a total of 18 points, with at least 9 points from first place finishes, a Championship Certificate is issued.
The rules of NSTRA are easy to understand and score. Points are scored for each find and each retrieve, as well as the dog's first back. The dog is judged on his ground coverage and obedience throughout his running. the scores are posted on the scoreboard after each brace. The dog with the highest score at the end of the trial is the winner. NSTRA judges are knowledgeable of bird dogs and are very familiar with the NSTRA rules.
The outstanding characteristics of each pointing breed are enhanced through NSTRA field trials. Judging is by qualified judges with thorough knowledge of the various breed characteristics. The NSTRA concept of field trials emphasizes the complete bird dog, from point to retrieve. There are no penalties* for mistakes, only positive judgment for bird work that is done properly. Successful NSTRA dogs are excellent hunting dogs.
Family involvement is NSTRA involvement. Our youngest competitors are in their early teens and our oldest are in their 80's. NSTRA handlers may do their own gunning or elect to have a friend fun for them. We are proud to have many father-son and father daughter teams participating, not to mention the many women handlers who are just as competitive as the men. The only prerequisite for participation is the desire to enjoy competitive bird dogging in a sportsmanlike manner.