Invitationals

NGSPA Invitationals


Guiding Principles/Philosophy

Beginning in 2016 the NGSPA began holding two Invitationals: the Open Shooting Dog Invitational (OSDI) which was first held in 2012, and the Amateur Shooting Dog Invitational (ASDI) first held in 2016. Both events provide a unique qualifying standard for the GSP Shooting Dog. In June, 2018, the NGSPA Board approved the establishment of an All-Age Invitational with a format along the same lines as the Shooting Dog Invitationals except for the Call Back which would be a 90 minute stake instead of 60 minutes

By limiting the entry to twelve top performers from the previous year’s major trials, the NGSPA Invitationals become the “de facto” all-star events for the open shooting dog class and the all age GSP. They are not intended to identify a champion performer, but to establish the “best of the best” from a field of champions.

To fulfil this purpose, the Invitationals feature a unique format intended to provide a fair and rigorous test for the dogs. By requiring three hours of performance over three days of competition for shooting dogs and three and a half hours of performance over three days of competition for all age, the Invitational format eliminates, to the extent possible, the “luck of the draw”, and requires consistency of effort rather than a single flash of brilliance. Further, the Invitationals are the premier endurance tests offered by the NGSPA and are intended to exemplify the endurance of the GSP at its best. Our format is modeled after the American Field Open Quail Championship Invitational which was first held in 1941, and the AFTCA Invitational.

Open All-Age Invitational

As with the other Invitationals, the top 12 invited dogs will run one hour stakes two days in a row with a call back on the third day. In a move to substantially raise the “performance” bar, the call-back will be a 90 minute stake. This will be the first 90 minute endurance stake in the entire GSP world, and coming after two days of running will truly test the dogs.

This trial will be held at the Hell Creek Field Trial grounds in Mississippi. It will be the only NGSPA trial held on these challenging All-Age grounds. The launch date of this prestigious event was January 4-6,2019.

Taken together these two decisions by the NGSPA Board of Trustees are expected to raise the standards of performance for the entire GSP breed. Indeed the future is bright for those who compete and hunt this remarkable breed.

Standards for All-Age Invitational

The All Age Invitational Champion must demonstrate the requisite qualities of the All-Age class at a high level. The following standards lean heavily on the “Guidelines to Field Trial Procedure and Judicial Practice”, published by the AFTCA. The All-Age invitational Champion should:

  • Hunt boldly and independently throughout the brace as exemplified by this time-tested quote by Jim Avent: The All-Age dog “is a dedicated hunter of upland game birds which runs off-but not quite.”.
  • Display a free spirit that fills up all the available country (plus a little) in a bold and sometimes reckless manner, yet ultimately acknowledges the control exerted by his handler and courses to the front in such a pattern as to maintain periodic, suitable contact with the handler.
  • Possess a superior nose, allowing him to hunt from objective to objective at a very fast pace, and locate game at speed.
  • Exhibit strength, courage, and an unquenchable desire to find game regardless of cover or conditions, not simply choosing the easy path but hunting through habitat likely to hold game.
  • Exhibit style, speed and stamina in action.
  • Handle game correctly. Locate and point birds quickly and accurately, honor point if the occasion arises, and be steady to wing and shot.
  • Demonstrate extreme character and finish around game, exhibiting style, intensity, and polish.
  • Stamina is a watchword, and the All-Age dog should finish the allotted time with range, speed, and the ability to find game undiminished.
  • Range is the ultimate requirement of an All-Age dog and should be the first priority of judicial evaluation.

These standards when applied should examine the total performance of the dog with All-Age range being kept foremost in mind. The Invitational seeks to identify the epitome of the All-Age dog class, an individual with strength, courage, intelligence, and “game sense” at the highest level, operating on the cutting edge of excitement and range. A flawless performance should not be favored over one that, although imperfect, thrills with the magnitude of the effort.

Standards for Both Open and Amateur Invitationals

The Shooting Dog Invitational Champions must demonstrate the requisite qualities of the shooting dog class at a high level. The invitational Champion must:

  • Hunt boldly and independently throughout the brace, and should not require excessive direction from the handler.
  • Demonstrate qualities of the finished dog by consistent coursing to logical objectives, responsiveness to the handler, and maintaining a forward pattern.
  • Exhibit strength, courage, and an unquenchable desire to find game regardless of cover or conditions, not simply choosing the easy path but hunting through habitat likely to hold game.
  • Exhibit style, speed and stamina in action.
  • Handle game correctly. Locate and point birds quickly and accurately, back if the occasion arises, and be steady to wing and shot.
  • Demonstrate extreme character and finish around game, exhibiting style, intensity, and polish.

The Invitationals seek to identify the epitome of the shooting dog class, an individual with strength, courage, intelligence, and “game sense” at the highest level. A flawless performance of pedestrian quality should not be favored over one that, although imperfect, thrills with the magnitude of the effort.

Format
  • The location, dates and judges will be selected by the governing Associations.
  • One day between events allows dogs in both to have one day off. No other special accommodations will be made.
  • The ideal location will provide neutral grounds where no other GSP Championship is held. Nor will the grounds be available for GSP training. They will offer excellent and challenging shooting dog cover and terrain. They will offer at minimum three one-hour continuous courses with each hour section offering comparable terrain and challenges to the other two.
  • Excellent infrastructure is important to conducting an event of this stature.
  • Shooting Dog Invitationals dates will be in late November or early December.
  • All-Age Invitational dates will be in late 4th quarter or the first part of January.
  • The ideal judges will possess “best of class” reputations with a proven history of having judged top level Championships throughout the country. They will be judges with little or no experience adjudicating GSPs and GSP handlers. This is to mitigate even the appearance of partiality.
  • Twelve dogs will be selected from the 12 months beginning June 1 in year “X”, and ending May 31, in year “X+ 1”. This deviation from the normal calendar-year allows time to train and prepare without allowing excessive time to lapse between qualification period and trial date.
  • The prior year’s winner will be the first dog invited. The remaining dogs will be invited based upon their appropriate“ Dog of the Year” points, adjusted to the Invitational 12 month cycle. The point structure is from the Handler of the Year Points System, but limited to all NGSPA Championships and Nationals. The dogs will be invited based upon the order of their final earned points with the highest point earner being invited first and so on. Dogs whose owners have declined the invitation will be replaced by the next dog in order, until there is a field of 12.
  • The ASDI dogs must be amateur owned and handled.
  • Sufficient birds will be released to provide numerous opportunities to locate and point game.
Running Guidelines
  • All three day’s performances will be evaluated by the judges to determine the Champion.
  • The judges will consider that some so called “accepted rules of performance” are merely guidelines and not rules. Examples may be :”two non-productives and you are out”, or “a bird taking flight during a relocation automatically means that bird was “bumped or knocked” “.
  • Shooting Dog Invitationals the duration of the heats for all three days shall be one hour. All Age Invitational the duration of the heats for the first two days shall be one hour. The call-back will be 90 minute heats.
  • Drawing and bracing is unique to this event. First day dogs are drawn as usual. Second day’s bracing will be made by the trial officials so that all dogs will have a different brace-mate, a different course, and those dogs having run in the morning will run in the afternoon and vice versa. The only exception being bitches in season which must be run on a course that will not be used again that day. In this case the bitch in season plus two more bitches must be drawn for the same half day. Call-back bracing to be made by trial officials in consultation with judges.
  • After the second day’s running, the judges shall call back at least two dogs, or more as they determine. These will be the best dogs in their judgment, not necessarily “perfect” dogs.
  • Dogs shall not be ordered up in the first two days for any reason other than interference. The overall quality of the performance over the two days will be evaluated as the judges identify the “call-back” dogs.
  • A dog does not have to be seen at the end of the brace in the first two days of running. A brace is complete when the judges order the dogs up. The dog must be seen after the end of the brace on the third day. Time given to show the dog is according to normal Championship guidelines.
  • If a handler pulls out his tracker or puts his dog on a lead at any point in the running before the judges call time, then the dog is out of contention for the entire trial. The dog shall not be returned to judgement.
  • Dogs shall be run in braces except for the possibility of a dog becoming sick or injured on the first day so as not to run the second day. Then one dog will run as a “bye” dog.
  • In the face of adverse weather or conditions, the judges shall decide whether to postpone the running and for how long. If during the running of a brace, then they may decide to either rerun the brace, or wait out the weather and restart the clock. If substantial time is lost so that the running cannot be completed in a day, the running schedule may be adjusted, but any accommodations made will not cause any dog to run two one hour heats in one day.
  • Dogs called back by the judges will run the third day. These will be the best dogs in their judgment, not necessarily “perfect” dogs. A minimum of four call-back dogs is recommended, but the number is up to the judges.
  • As with the first two days, interference should be the only reason for ordering up a dog during the third day. The standards of running and the weight of the third day’s running shall be the same as the first two days. A flawless three-day performance of pedestrian quality should not be favored over one that, although imperfect, thrills with the magnitude of the effort. The Champion will be named considering all three performances.
  • Judges should pay particular attention to the stamina of the All-Age dogs which ran in the 90 minute call-back. The endurance aspect of this Invitational is extremely important to the breed.
  • All ties which have a possibility of affecting the invited dog lists will be broken by a random draw conducted by the NGSPA Board while in session at their June meeting, or conducted by assigned disinterested Board member(s) if circumstances warrant.
  • A Runner-Up shall not be named.