AKC Hunt Tests are one of many “field” sporting events that provide an opportunity for handlers and dogs to participate in a sport where Weimaraners (and other pointing breeds) perform their purpose, the original reason for the breed: to run, hunt, find prey, point and retrieve. Other field sporting events include Field Trials, Weimaraner Club of America (WCA) Shooting Dog and Retrieving Dog Ratings Tests, North American Versatile Hunting Dog (NAVHDA) tests.
In Hunt Tests, the handler and dog do not compete with other dogs. Instead they are “tested” against a standard set of criteria and then “pass” or “fail” as determined by a judge. The handler and dog participate with one other handler and dog in a “brace”. Multiple braces make up a test. Live upland birds (usually quail on the East coast) are placed on the course for the dogs to locate. Tests are typically 30 minutes.
There are three levels of Hunt Tests. The most advanced dogs test for Senior Hunter and Master Hunter titles. These dogs must be steady to wing and shot. This means that the dog must remain pointing until the handler has flushed the bird and shot a blank pistol and then released the dog. Sometimes a retrieve is required for the dog to fetch and return the bird after the shot.
Many of us started in the sport by putting our dogs in the Junior Hunter test. In this test, the dog must find a bird and point the bird, the handler shoots a blank pistol. The dog does not have to be steady to wing or shot.
Hunt tests are walking events, where the handler walks behind the dog during the event. Our club and other pointing breed dog clubs host one or two hunt tests every year. Our club has many dogs who have achieved hunt test titles. Many of us use professional trainers and many train their own dogs and help others.
If you are interested, there are lots of ways to learn more about hunt tests and field work. Our club holds training events throughout the year. We can help you with your puppy or older dog. You can attend events to watch and admire the dogs as they run and find birds. It is a treat to watch them!
Detailed information on Hunt Tests, including class descriptions, rules and judging guidelines can be found on the AKC website: http://www.akc.org/events/hunting-tests/pointing-breeds/pointing-breed-hunt-test-rule-resource/