Feb. 25 Indoor Training Day

To: RMC-NAVHDA Membership
From: Craig McLaughlin, Training Director
Subject: Indoor Training Session: February 25, 2017
Spicer Arena, 37440 County Road 43, Eaton, CO 80615
9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
This indoor event is intended to provide new handlers of versatile dogs with an understanding of the NAVHDA training and testing system, highlighting the techniques and equipment used by chapter members to develop useful hunting companions. The morning session will be devoted to young dogs. More advanced training of older, experienced dogs will be discussed in the afternoon. Much of the time before lunch will include presentations and group discussions. Opportunities to work with dogs will come in late morning, when some indoor table and basic obedience drills will be discussed.
9:00 – Noon – Starting Puppies (Natural Ability Dogs)
We will start the day with a focus on new handlers and young dogs.  The morning will include a discussion of setting training goals for your pup’s first year, review of the NAVHDA approach to developing reliable gundogs, including the testing system that is the backbone of our approach. We will then review and explain the major types of training equipment and approaches that will help you build a solid hunting companion.  (We’ll be exposing dogs to birds on March 4.)
Noon – 1:00 – Lunch.
We will be providing a light lunch on site.
1:00 – 3:30 – Developing a finished hunting dog (Utility Dogs)
This will be a session devoted first to discussions about setting goals and developing training schedules that will produce a reliable hunting companion.  We will finish with some indoor training drills, including an overview of the force fetch  process.
 What to bring:
  • Warm clothing, for while we are indoors, the temperatures in the arena may be chilly. The weather forecast for Saturday is for high’s in the low 40’s.
  • A folding chair to be comfortable for the discussion sessions, and drinks (for you and your dog).
  • If you bring a dog, you will need to hold it in your vehicle for much of the day.  Dogs will need to be on lead at all times, unless they are actively participating in a training exercise.  Please bring necessary equipment to clean up after your dog.
Questions? Email rmc.navhda@gmail.com




Wild bird, public land. That’s why we do what we do.

In just a few weeks, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of NAVHDA will kick off its 2017 schedule, so I wanted to take just a few minutes to update you on your Board’s recent annual meeting.

As we entered 2016, former president Phil Booghier outlined three big challenges for the chapter: financial stability, fundraising and membership. We had also seen some significant turnover on the Board. It seemed to me the Chapter was at an inflection point – I was concerned about where the next generation of leadership was going to come from.

Boy did that change in a hurry!

Membership doubled. Our financial picture stabilized. (That allowed us to leave dues unchanged for 2017.) We quickly found we were swamped at training days. And a cadre of young, very energetic members and new blood stepped up to help us deal with the growth. We’ve got a large ( and growing) group of handlers who have completed Natural Ability training and are moving to developing the advanced skills that characterize a fully functional versatile hunting dog.


Congrats to Rick Huber, who handled his Griff Norton to a VC at the 2016 Invitational!

For the cherry on top, super-volunteer Rick Huber, who does double duty as the president of the Frontier Chapter, handled his Griff Norton to a Versatile Champion title at the NAVHDA Invitational in Ohio. Congrats Rick!

Looking ahead

Now we have another challenge – Making sure we serve your needs as you work to train up the hunting dog that you want.

To that end, we’re offering three new training opportunities in 2017: An indoor training day on Feb. 25, a force-fetch clinic in June and an advanced skills training clinic in July.

We’ve also been gratified by the number of you who have stepped up to volunteer at our training and test events – and those who have expressed interest in learning about leadership roles in the Chapter. So we’re going to create a Volunteer Corps to formalize some of the training and help spread the workload in an effort to avoid volunteer burnout.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 9.07.55 AMBut to be fully successful, we need your help. First, we’re using an online application to build training day rosters. Please respond to invitations from Signup Genius to help us build training day plans and wrangle enough volunteers to keep handlers training and not standing around waiting.

Second, we need you to understand that we’re here to help you learn how to train your dog, but that you need to become your own training director. No one knows your dog like you: Is he/she soft or a knucklehead? Did your dog just blink a bird or did it miss the scent? What’s worked in the past? What hasn’t worked? For Utility handlers especially, you need to be training at least once a week on birds – and a couple times a week at home on other skills. From experience I can tell you it’s so much easier and more effective if you can work birds a small group.IMG_2213

So as you look around you at our March training day, try find a partner or handful of handlers to work with this year. Don’t be araid to ask one of the more experienced handlers if you can meet with them for training. Your dog will love you for it.

That’s all for now. If you haven’t updated your membership, please do. Training season is just around the corner.

See you in the field!

Theo Stein

Ready to dive into training?


The Rocky Mountain Chapter of NAVHDA has finalized its 2017 training schedule.

In addition to the traditional five training days at Cobb Lake SWA, we’re offering three new training opportunities this year.

  • Indoor training day – February 25: To make sure we hit the ground running on March 4, we’re holding an indoor training day at the Spicer Arena on Saturday Feb. 25. The goal of the day is to introduce new handlers to the equipment they’ll be using during training days and the elements of NAVHDA tests. Trainer/handlers of young dogs will learn about preparing for the Natural Ability Test, and we will also discuss the various aspects of more advanced testing designed to help provide fully functional hunting dogs. Handlers working on more advanced skills (Utility Prep, Utility, or Invitational Test levels) are encouraged to attend so we can hear what your training goals are for the coming year. Look for an invitation from Signup Genius soon.
  • Force Fetch Clinic – June TBD: This is a special clinic for UT Handlers who want to successfully take their dog through Force Fetch. Tom Swezey of Indian Brook Kennels – an experienced trainer and NAVHDA breeder, will host it. Participation will be limited to 10 handlers per day. (A second day will be added if there’s enough interest.) There will be a fee. Expect an invitation through Signup Genius when details are finalized.
  • Advanced Skills Training Clinic – July 8-9: This is a special, two-day clinic to help UT handlers learn how to train their dogs to be successful in the skills possessed by a finished gun dog, including steadiness in the field and duck search. To be hosted at Cobb Lake SWA by Blaine Carter of the NAVHDA Yankee Chapter in Maine. Attendance will be limited. There will be a fee. Expect an invitation through Signup Genius when details are finalized.IMG_1845

Regular Training Days
at Cobb Lake SWA

  • March 4
  • April 1
  • May 6
  • June 3
  • August 5

What’s up with Signup Genius? We’ve been blown away by the increased membership over the past two years. Planning for and managing training days to make sure they are productive for all handlers has been a challenge. To ensure we’re ready for you, we create a training roster for each day – something that’s proved to be time-consuming. This year, we’re using Signup Genius to help us track RSVPs and to take bird orders. IF YOU DO NOT RSVP TO TRAINING INVITATIONS WITH SIGNUP GENIUS, YOUR BIRD ORDER WILL NOT BE TALLIED. You’ll still be able to train with us, but you’ll be on your own for birds that day. To ensure you receive Signup Genius invitations, update your Chapter membership today!

Questions? Email RMC NAVHDA.


Spring Test Update

Rocco retrieve

Director of Testing Phil Goodwin sent a note yesterday ( Jan 31) advising that the Spring Test is completely full.

The Fall Test has a maximum of six slots remaining ( depending on whether dogs are running NA or UT.)

If you’ve wanted to test with us this year and have not gotten your application in – DON’T DESPAIR. We normally see a number of registered dogs drop out of each test, so hurry up and send in your application so you can get on the wait list.

Theo Stein


2017 RMC NAVHDA Test Dates Announced

IMG_1878RMC NAVHDA hosts 2 two-day tests each year – one in the spring and one in the fall.

2017 Test Dates

  •  Saturday, May 20 / Sunday, May 21st.
  •  Saturday August 19 / Sunday August 20th.

2017 Test Fees

  • Natural Ability – $145
  • Utility – $150
  • Add $25 to the above fees if not a member of RMC.

For more information, please refer to our Tests page, where you’ll find  2017 RMC NAVHDA Testing Information and the current NAVHDA Test Entry form. Slots are assigned according to the order in which completed applications and fees are received, so register now.

Rocky Mountain Chapter Annual Meeting


The RMC Board invites you to its annual meeting on Tuesday Jan. 17 at the Rock Bottom Brewery off CO 36 in Westminster, starting at 5:30 pm. Active members are encouraged to attend – and those interested to learn about RMC NAVHDA are welcome. Please RSVP using the Signup Genius portal and IMG_1839plan to arrive as close to 5 as possible so we can start promptly at 5:30.

RMC NAVHDA experienced strong growth in 2016, more than doubling our membership over previous years. Now our challenge is making sure we meet your needs as a handler and hunter. The annual meeting is where we set our goals for the year – and we need to hear from you.

Key items on the 2017 annual meeting agenda include:img_4834

  • Information on our first-ever indoor training and new handler orientation day in February.
  • A decision on whether to host a NAVHDA Trainer’s Clinic to provide advanced training and handling skills for UT and Invitational handlers.
  • Formalizing 2017 test and training days

As you know, Rocky Mountain Chapter tests fill up quickly, but we don’t accept test registrations until we formalize dates. If you do attend the annual meeting, you’ll be able to register for either or Spring or Fall tests on the spot.

We anticipate being done with the meeting between 6:30 and 7 and look forward to socializing with all members in attendance afterwards. Rock Bottom has a full service restaurant and bar. The Board will provide snacks and finger-food.

Please RSVP so we can plan food and seating accommodations.  We look forward to seeing all members, new and old, as we look forward in anticipation to another great RMC NAVHDA year!

Sincerely, img_4196

Theo Stein

Date: 01/17/2017 (Tue.)
Time: 5:00pm – 8:00pm MST
Location: Rock Bottom Restaurant
Westminster Promenade
Westminster, CO

A new Versatile Champion!


Rick trains a new generation of distraction gunners.

If you’ve attended a Rocky Mountain Chapter training or test day in the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly run in to Rick Huber.

In addition to running the Frontier Chapter, Rick is one of the most reliable, selfless and giving volunteers the Rocky Mountain Chapter has.

So it’s with great pride that we congratulate Rick and his burly, loveable Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Norton on a great achievement – earning the title of NAVHDA Versatile Champion!

From all of us at the Rocky Mountain Chapter – Congratulations Rick & Norton!

Can’t wait to hear the story!


Tom Swezey judging the Rocky Mountain Chapter’s fall test.

Congrats also to Tom Swezey, another pillar of the Chapter, for qualifying Lunn’s Rock Star – only the 81st Irish Setter ever to be registered by NAVHDA – for this year’s Invitational. Like Rick, Tom is selfless with his time, counsel and advice. He’s a highly respected GSP breeder, taken who knows how many dogs to the Invitational,  has served as a mentor to too many current and former Chapter members to count. Tom is irreplaceable resource for the Chapter.

Tom judged our fall test and also served as an Invitational Judge on Thursday.
Tom- thanks for all you do.

Take note all you Rocky Mountain Chapter UT handlers out there: You can get there from here – and we’re ready to help. Have a great hunting season and let’s get you ready for your own Invitational story!

Theo Stein

A very special thanks to our volunteers


Saturday’s stalwart bird crew awaits the judge’s call.

Just a quick note to again thank you for your amazing support of our Fall Test.

Saturday was nice but Sunday was HOT and you all bore up with aplomb.

Once again, we hit all our marks. The judges waited for nothing and the handlers all complimented the Chapter on the show we put on.

We have a very solid membership core now, the best that I’ve seen in my five years with the Chapter. What’s also gratifying is the number of you who have moved past Natural Ability and are squaring up to the challenge of the Utility Test. The Chapter is here for you – we want to be sure you are learn the skills you need to train the dog you want. I hope that volunteering for the tests is giving you perspective on training that will pay dividends in the future.

Look for information soon on a chapter shoot. Please plan to attend our Christmas potluck and annual meeting in December to help us finalize our plans for 2017. And be ready to get a head start on your training in February in a covered county horse arena to be named later.

My sincere thanks to you again. The health of any organization is measured by its ability to attract the next generation. This club is very lucky indeed to count you as members.

Will be in touch soon.
Theo Stein
Rocky Mountain Chapter

Dan Sprague serves as distraction gunner as judges Jason Wade, Jeff Sowerby and Tom Swezey follow a pup into the field.



COBB LAKE SWA – Eighteen handlers enjoyed typical summer conditions ( hot)  and great cover August 20-21 during the Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Fall Test.  Scores are below.

The Chapter wants to thank the handlers who presented their dogs for evaluation as well as Senior Jason Wade, and judges Jason Sowerby, Tom Swezey and Brian Thoman for evaluating the handlers and their dogs.


NA Spruce Creek Jed’s Ellie May GR F Jed Tallman 112 / Pz I
Spanish Oaks Hot Brown Mess GS F Robert Barr 110 / Pz I
Madison Montana Gripfast GR F Andy Leslie 100 / Pz III
Standing Stones Kennel’s Adelaide GS F Mark Van Akkerman 95 / Pz III
Outlanders Noble Reflection GS F Sara Heesacker 112 / Pz I
Spruce Creek Jedi GR M Bryce Daviess 110 / Pz I
Snowbird’s Johnny Cash GR M Chris Tibbets 102 / Pz III
Northern Exposure Dark Passenger GS F Brian Thoman 106 / Pz II
Dierenfields Birdy Brady GR F James McCardle 95 / Pz III
Hun Hill Diggity Dog GR M Brett Crary 81 / NP
Jason Wade SR
Jeff Sowerby J1
Tom Swezey J2


UT Dutch Hollow J-Henry GS M Gary Gunterman 130 / NP
Bone Points Ukiah GR F Robert Schweikhardt 170 / NP
NA Griffen S Rangel GR M Bruning Rangel 87 / Pz III
Pitypang Ika VI F Aniko Solyom 98 / NP
Jackson’s Creek Whiskey Girl PP F Dale Parker 94 / Pz III
Herz’s Raise a Little Hell SM F Christopher Hirsch 90 / Pz III
Reece Mystiko Crocodile Rock GW F Stephanie Josey 102 / NP
El Oso Diablo GR F Seth Gallagher 112 / Pz I
Jason Wade Sr
Jeff Sowerby J1
Brian Thoman J2