Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Singles with Multiple Gun Stations, Narrow Blinds

Muncaster Mill Farm

Today we returned to the huge network of hay fields north of Muncaster Mill Road for some light preparation for Laddie's first Master test on Friday.

Series A was set up as an xmas-tree land triple with two blinds, but I ran Laddie on all the marks as singles. The marks (two BBs and an RL) were 50-70-90 yards. The first blind (OB) was 120 yards, with the line to the blind featuring a diagonal keyhole formed by two closely-spaced hay bales. The blind was placed 10 yards into an area of high cover. The second blind was 410 yards. The line to the second blind was 15° to the right of the first blind and a few degrees to the left of the fall for the center mark, and required an angle entry into a corner of high cover at 280 yards.

Series B was a triple land blind, with all the retrieves at 120 yards or less. The first blind was on the right thru a pair of hay bales. The second blind was on the left, in open meadow except for a hay bale a few feet to the right. The third blind was in the center and the longest, another keyhole between two hay bales and then a few feet into the woods. The left hay bale for the first blind was the same bale as the right bale for the second blind, so those blinds were quite tight.

My focus on Series B was having Laddie run in a tight corridor, with plenty of WSs to keep the line tight and a couple of WSs even when Laddie was already on line. In the past, I've tried to balance control with motivation by holding off as long as possible on whistling, giving Laddie a chance to maintain momentum as long as he wasn't too far off line, but not for this series. I especially wanted to be sure Laddie would sit when whistled fairly close to the blind, what I call the danger zone. For some reason, Laddie sometimes veers sharply off line as he gets within 30 yards of a blind. When I whistle to stop him, he realizes that the whistle must mean he's veered the wrong direction, so he instantly turns the other way and wants to hunt up the bird. I feel that in a test, it's essential that he sit and let me cast him that last few yards. Patty, the Field Trial pro I sometimes train with, once told me that FT blinds are often failed because of cast refusals just a few yards from the bird.

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