United Field Trialers Association

   Not too long ago I had the privilege of being asked to judge a shoot to retrieve trial that was based on the United Field Trialers Association (UFTA) format. That experience was an eye opener for me as to some of the stress that a judge has to deal with when looking at someone’s dog and its performance.

  That being said when the opportunity to become an official judge for the UFTA I jumped at the opportunity. 

  This came about as a result of Oak Hill Shooting Preserve hosting another trial and this time they were able to secure the services of UFTA judges. They were also able to train myself and two friends to become judges. 

Photo by Monica Brady


 We had to walk at least eight braces with them and then we had to take a written test. The test was based on the UFTA rule book and we were able to knock it out during the day’s activities.

  So seeing as I have now joined the UFTA and am a judge for them I figured why not talk about the organization here.

Stock Photo from Internet


   According to their website “ Founded in 2001, the UFTA provides a competitive venue for handlers and their dogs to compete in a fair and consistent system.”  This is not saying that other organizations are not fair but it is saying that the subjectivity that is prevalent in the judging in other systems is removed.

  To break down a run to its simplest form there are three birds planted on a field that is seven to twelve acres in size. You have six shells to take these birds in a fifteen minute time limit.

Photo by Monica Brady


  Now that is a quick break down and there are some nuances to running this game. Such as while you may have six shells using all of them to take the birds will actually cost you points. You are awarded points for each unused shell at the end of the run. You are also awarded points for each minute under the fifteen minute time limit that you have left on the clock.

   The purpose of the game is to have the birds brought back after the shot. So a full retrieve to the handler is where you score points. A partial retrieve also gets scored however it is only half the point of a full retrieve. At the end of these retrieves the bird is bagged and you get points there.

  These are just a few of the ways to score points and have a good run. The one thing that I truly like is that there isn’t any subjectivity when it comes to style. The dog either accomplishes the tasks faster than others or he doesn’t. This makes it consistent when it comes to scoring.

Photo by Monica Brady


   The typical way to score a trial is that you run twice in the day and then your score from both runs is totaled and that is your score for the  trial.

  There are multiple divisions that you can compete in. The amateur is for dogs under three years old. After three they run in the open division.

   You can also run as a singles competitor and there is a doubles division. So now there are two dogs and two shooters and the brace is run as a team.

  One more thing that I feel is a great thing is that there is a flushing dog division. I will be honest here and tell you that I do not know as much about this division as I should. In my defense I do not have a flushing dog and have not really given this division my due diligence to expand on it more than to mention that there is a division for flushing dogs.

  A couple of the rules that are outside the actual running are that everyone that is participating in the trial from the bird planter to the judges to all the handlers must be a member of the UFTA.

   Also as of 2018 all dogs that run in a trial must be registered with the United Kennel Club (UKC). In order to have your run honored you have 30 days to get the registration to the UFTA for the run to be honored. The UKC is pretty simple to get a single registration from and if you become a title dog in the UFTA it will show on UKC pedigrees and registrations. 

  The few people that I have met from the UFTA so far have been very accommodating to all my questions and making sure that I understand what is going on. It really didn’t feel as tension filled as some trials that I have been to.

  My goal here is to give you a quick overview of the UFTA. While it may not be as well known as other organizations it definitely deserves a look, if not for anything else than its straightforward and consistent way of scoring.

  So if you want to learn more about the UFTA take a look at their website. You will not only get the rules and regulations but also how to join and  get involved. 

Hopefully you will get involved and I will see on the field.

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