| Letter from American Field:
Mr. Wes Barr, President
National Shoot-to-Retrieve Assn,
12133 County Road 100
Abilene, TX 79601
At the recent meeting of the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of American
in Memphis, Tennessee the trustees tackled the issue of liability.
A St. Louis insurance executive was on hand to present detailed
information on liability. The upshot was that dogs, horses and
guns pose a combination of potential problems that few if any
insurance companies are desirous of covering. In short: dogs
bite, horses kick and guns can injure a person, perhaps fatally.
What also arose from the meeting was the "extended"
liability, if I may use that term, in the event of an accident
reaching the sponsoring or "recognizing" body as the
entity that approves the activity in which the accident occurred.
While it is possible that, when all is said and done, no liability
could be inputed to the sponsoring club or organization, the
defense of such a suit or claim would be troublesome as well
The AFTCA took action in their bylaws to state that blank ammunition
only was to used at AFTCA amateur recognized trials and that
"solid barrel" guns are to be used - ie.: a gun from
which no projectile can be emitted. Sanctions are also spelled
out for those violating this rule.
Wes, given the litigious sentiment in society, the NSTRA and
its officers are perhaps in a precarious position given the dogs-horses-guns
combination, and extending that, The American Field also.
If an effort to shield ourselves from potential problems and
to minimize any possibility of being party to a suit, we have
taken a hard look at our affiliation with NSTRA. We are not aware
of any accidents oc
curring at NSTRA trials, but all it takes is one.
Perceptions of our outdoor pursuits are not what they were 20-25
years ago. Guns are considered an anathema, connected in the
minds of most to urban violence. Shooting birds has not caught
the attention of animal rights activists; if such were the case
you would know about.
Part and parcel of the field trial sport is the time-honored
tradition of game bird propagation and preservation.
In light of the serious potential liability issue that has surfaced
and the NSTRA requirement of shooting game and retrieving as
an integral part of "point-earning" for placement,
it is felt that recognition of National Shoot-to-Retrieve Association
placements by The AMERICAN FIELD (Field Dog Stud Book) should
Wes, I realize that this communication is quite unexpected.
We have thought long and hard about the decision and feel it
We wish you and the NSTRA all the best.
Bernard J. Matthys
The American Field Publishing Company
From Wes Barr to BD&RN
Dennis, Below is the email I circulated to the membership of
NSTRA. Wes Barr email@example.com
Members of NSTRA,
Many of you have requested that I email or post something about
the recent letter from American Field (AF) pertaining to the
sudden appearance of this issue of "shooting birds".
As I had stated in the officers page article this is not a new
issue but has never been discussed with
| Mr. Matthys as a 'show stopper' issue.
I will attempt to give an order of times that this was brought
up by Mr. Matthys but only in a passing manner.
In 1998 or 1999 while at the Trial of Champions, Mr. Matthys
came to Plainfield to meet with myself, past NSTRA treasurer
Tom Kroyer, and past NSTRA President Marvin Spiller. The purpose
of that meeting was to discuss the possibility of having NSTRA
Champions recognized as such on the AF pedigrees. The meeting
was lengthy but became apparent right up front that Mr. Matthys
was not going to agree to the recognition as he continually redirected
the discussion towards the need for additional National Championship
Trials and several other issues of NSTRA rules and habits that
he felt were degrading the to standards of "Field Trials".
One of those issues was the harvesting of birds as a part of
our competition. He only mentioned this in passing as a part
of an explanation of his reasoning that NSTRA Championships were
not as significant at AF Championships.
I talked with Mr. Matthys several more times about this meeting
and in these subsequent phone calls he mentioned again the need
to rethink our philosophy of shooting birds. This was not the
only issue he wanted us to rethink however so it did not stand
alone as being super significant or as one that caused him extra
concern above the rest.
During years of 2000 to 2001 the American Field was a frequent
topic of discussion at all NSTRA events. It was becoming very
expensive to continue in our present course while not really
getting any value for what we were spending.
We basically only got 5 National Champions out of spending approximately
$50,000 each year. The National Officers explored other