Bird Dog & Retriever News

October / November 2003 issue Page 8

 October/November 2003 Now in our thirteenth year.

 Letter from American Field:
Mr. Wes Barr, President
National Shoot-to-Retrieve Assn,
12133 County Road 100
Abilene, TX 79601
Dear Wes:
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 as costly.
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 cease.
Wes, I realize that this communication is quite unexpected. We have thought long and hard about the decision and feel it is correct.
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
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

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News October 2004
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
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