Trial Rules



NLGDC Running Rules for Shoot to Retrieve and AF Trials

Table of Contents

 revised 2-25-2024

  1. Judging System
  2. Open Book
  3. Closed Book
  4. Pointing
  5. Retrieving
  6. Backing
  7. Handling
  8. Safety
  9. Dog Safety
  10. Sportsmanship
  11. Derby Class
  12. Puppy Class
  13. Age Brackets and Classes
    1. Derby
    2. puppy
  14. 12 Braces and Drawing
  15. 13 Interference
  16. 14 Dog Pick-Up
  17. 15 Birds

A Bird Planting

B Field Boundaries


The following Rules maybe be downloaded for your convenience on the Forms Page

The open book rules below are for Shoot To Retrieve Trials only (STR), not AF Sanctioned Trials. The NLGDC strives to follow NSTRA rules for running organized STR trials. The American Field does not support or award placements in any of our club STR trials. Your dogs earn points towards a NLGDC Championship; see below for explanation. National Llewellin Gun Dog Club adheres to National Shoot to Retrieve (NSTR) scoring and judging.

  1. Judging System:The Club Uses the Current NSTRA Judging and Scoring Rules. They Superseed any Club Judging and Scoring Rule  Based on scoring points awarded by the judges in five categories: *

Points or Finds: 0-100 per scored piece of work/added together for one score
Retrieving: 0-100 per scored retrieve and added together for one score
Backing: 0-75 for one scored back
Ground Work: A one time score 0-100
Obedience/Handling: A one time score 0-75
Trials are conducted and winners are declared one of two ways, at the discretion of the particular trial committee:

  1. OPEN BOOK: where scores awarded by the judges are posted as run, and placements declared by the judges using these as a guideline.
  2. CLOSED BOOK: whereby the judges maintain their own scorebook, using these as a guide to award placements based on their best judgment.

*All score cards will be signed when coming off field going forward; once owner/handler signs it, the score is finalized with no further questions asked of the judges.

  1. Pointing:

Scored when: For a point to be scored a dog must firmly establish point and the judge must positively verify the presence of a live bird, either in flight or on the ground. In addition, the pointing dog cannot cause the bird to volunteer and receive a positive score.

Special situations: When a double find occurs, two dogs pointing the same bird simultaneously as opposed to a point and back, the judges may elect to score both dogs for the find, allow one of the dogs to score a retrieve (preferably the dog that has not yet scored one) and award the other dog an average retrieve. I this case all scores are divided by half.

Judging Criteria: Desirable qualities include intensity on point, style, self-confidence, and intelligent handling of difficult situations. A dog must initiate point on its own without being whoaed until after the point is established. Flagging, unnecessary movement, looseness and lack of confidence are negative factors. Steady to wing and shot is not required.

  • Retrieving:

Scored when: To receive a scored retrieve a bird must be flushed over a valid scored point, although the judge may allow a handler to toss a live bird that will not fly, shooting or not at the handler's discretion. A refusal to retrieve when a bird is downed in a reasonable, known location is scored a zero.

Special situation: A missed bird that is seen by the judge(s) but refuses to fly, or a bizarre situation is considered a no opportunity and is not considered in scoring. When a bird cannot be shot for a safety reason, or a retrieve is interfered with by a brace mate, the judge will award an average retrieve scored one of two ways. If the dog has one other retrieve it is counted as the average of all actual scored retrieves.

Judging criteria: Retrieves should be quick, efficient, near to hand and soft mouthed. Handler assisted retrieves are scored relative to the degree of handler assist offset by the difficulty of the retrieve. Dog must retrieve bird within one step (3 feet) of handler to receive a score.

  • Backing:

Scored when: A dog catches sight of a brace mate on point. A back may be scored over a false point. The pointing dog should be reasonably stylish and solid on point in order to require a back of its brace mate.

Special Situation: Backing dogs must be held by their handler for a reasonable period of time while their brace mate attempts a point, flush. and retrieve. After a protracted relocation the judge(s) may allow the backing dog to heel and release the dog away from the action.

Judging criteria: The dog should honor its pointing brace mate immediately, on sight with style and intensity. Calling a dog in for a backing opportunity is fine, but whoaing and hacking to get a dog to back is severely negative. Only the first backing opportunity is awarded a score.

Ground Work : The dog should put forth a hustling, snappy, thorough and intelligent effort, covering the birdy objectives and adjusting to cover and wind conditions. Pottering indifference and self relocating are all negatives.

  • Handling:

This pertains to the dog's willingness to obey and ability to work with its handler, the dog should perform its duties to the front and mindful of direction, cover and distance with a minimum amount of instructions from the handler, who should proceed at a reasonably comfortable hunting pace.

  • Safety:

Handler, judges, and any assigned shooters must call a safety any time a potential shot would pose even a remote danger to people, dogs or property. Judges are instructed to be very liberal in approving called safeties. If a shot is fired after a safety is called any retrieve that results will not be counted. Guns must remain open and unloaded at all times, except when in the field and under judgment, and must remain on safe until birds are flushed from under point. Any less or unsafe action, including running in the field may result in immediate disqualification for any part or all of a trial. ALL INDIVIDUALS IN THE FIELD; judges, handlers and assigned shooters shall wear prominent blaze orange.  Birds must be thrown and retrieved for a score. The trial committee shall have the phone number posted for all to see of the local emergency response team if other then 911.

  • Dog Safety:

There must be at least three (3) water containers or sources within trial boundaries for dogs to immerse in. Each area shall have water containers approximately 15 min apart for dogs. At any time the Handler/Owner or Judge feels the dog is in need of attention or cannot continue due to a possible physical problem that dog may be removed from competition. Refer to Pick-up rule for proper procedure on removing a dog from the field. It shall be the responsibility of the trial committee to have available a local number for veterinary care if needed.

8 Sportsmanship: Any Trial participant who displays unsportsmanlike, childish, sorry or common behavior may be given the gate by the judges or trial officials at any time. Of course constructive criticism delivered at an appropriate time is fine. No alcoholic beverages or the consumption there of, is permitted on trial grounds during the trial hours. Any participant who violates this rule shall not be permitted to compete and may be asked to leave trial grounds.

  • Derby Class:

Scoring is exactly the same as in open class, except derbies are judged less strictly and more on natural ability than open dogs.

10 Puppy Class:

Pups are judged more on potential and enthusiasm and less on finished manners than the older dogs. Shooting over the puppies is optional.

11 Age Brackets and Classes:

Open Stakes: No age restrictions

  1. Derby:

Open to dogs up to two (2) years of age at the start of NLGDC trial season September-March.

  1. Puppy:

Open to dogs up to one (1) year of age at the start of NLGDC trial season September-March.

Younger dogs may enter in a class for older dogs, but older dogs may not enter in a class for younger dogs. Entries must be Field Dog Stud Book Registered Llewellin Setters and should be able to furnish a copy of registration papers. Open and Derby stakes are 30 minutes, Puppy classes are 20 minutes. .

12 Braces and Drawing:

The drawing for braces must take place no later than the night before the day the trial is to be run. Braces must be run in the order drawn, except that brace mates of withdrawn dogs may be run together at the discretion of the judges. In one course trials, bitches in season must be scratched. To prevent an entry from competing without a brace mate, an unjudged bye dog of appropriate age, ability and appearance (a tail) should be available. Handlers should be available at the starting point at least five (5) minutes before the previous brace's time has expired, and should carry a leash into the field, and leash their dogs quickly after their time has expired. Dogs and handlers not ready to go on time may be considered withdrawn by the judges. Handlers and dogs must remain in a blind or out of sight while birds for their braces are being liberated.

13 Interference:

Any dog(s) that is over aggressive, continually interferes with their brace mates work or continually interferes with a brace mate while on point, the handler will receive warning from the judge after the first infraction. At the second infraction, the judge shall call a time-out, and the interfering dog will be ordered by the judge to be removed from the field for the remainder of the brace. A bye dog will substituted for the remainder of the brace. If the dog interfered with is on point at the time of interference, said dog shall receive a score for that point and an average for the retrieve.

14 Dog Pick-Up:

  1. Handler shall not take a dog off the field or put on leash, except by permission of judge. Handler violating this rule SHALL be suspended for the remainder of that trial and also could be suspended from running in NLGDC trials for a calendar year.
  2. If pickup is ordered by judge, time must be called until a replacement dog is put in the field. The second handler must hold their dog until replacement dog is released in same area of pick-up dog.
  3. A dog out of judgment, meaning out-of-bounds, for a total of ten (10) minutes shall be picked up and will receive a zero (0) on his scorecard. A dog picked up for any reason and does not compete the brace shall receive a zero (0) on his scorecard.
  • Birds:

Where liberated quail are used, six birds are put down prior to the first brace, and five released for every brace thereafter. Five and Four are put down respectively in the puppy class. Birds should be distributed evenly and randomly throughout the course. Once a bird is scored on it is out of judgment for that brace and every effort should be made to remove it from the course. Marked birds so declared by the judges and indicated to the handler, are considered marked for three (3) minutes or whatever time the judges feel it takes to make that bird fair game to both handlers. A marked bird pointed by one of the dogs is declared out of judgment for that brace and should be removed if practical. When multiple birds flush from under a point, only one of the birds will be scored for a find and retrieve. The rest are treated as marked birds.

  1. Bird Planting:

Birds will be planted prior to each brace. NO MORE than ten (10) minutes shall lapse between planting of birds and the starting of the brace. Bird planters MUST wear gloves when handling and planting birds.

B Field Boundaries:

All work must take place within the course boundaries to be scored. Both the dog and bird MUST be inside boundaries. Prior to running their braces judges or other trial officials shall instruct to the handlers where these boundaries are and how tightly or loosely they will be called.

Exceptions: If backing dog is inside the boundaries and pointing dog is outside the boundaries the back will be scored.


The Minimum Requirements for Field Trials for ALL Pointing Breeds, published every year or so in The American Field, are incorporated here for reference.

Wins will not be recognized and recorded unless the trial and/or each stake in which such win is made conforms to the following conditions:

  1. The name of the club, place and date of the trial and the secretary's name and address must be announced in an issue of The American Field bearing a publication date at least fourteen (14) days before the trials are to be run; entry blanks, with complete description of each stake, are to be available to owners and handlers at least six (6) days before the date of the drawing.
  2. Recognized stakes are: Puppy Stakes: From January 1 to June 30 of each year for dogs whelped on or after January 1 of the year preceding, and from July 1 to December 31 of each year for dogs whelped on or after June 1 of the year preceding. (To compete in Puppy stakes during the spring season, 2001 dogs shall have been whelped on or after January 1, 2000.)
    Derby Stakes: From July 1 to December 31 of each year for dogs whelped on or after January 1 of the year preceding, and from January 1 to June 30 of each year for dogs whelped on or after January 1 of two years preceding. (To compete in Derby stakes during the spring season, 2001 dogs shall have been whelped on or after January 1, 1999.)
    All-Age: For dogs of any age. An "open" stake is one in which there are no limitations with respect to either dogs or handlers. An "amateur" stake is one in which all handlers are amateurs as defined by the By-Laws of the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America. Winners in Members and Shooting Dog All-Age Stakes will be recorded but winners of Children, Ladies, Brace and other stakes not conforming to the foregoing definitions will not be recognized.
    Championship, Winners Stakes and Futurities: Wins will be recorded only in such amateur events of this character as are recognized by the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America and in such open events as are recognized by The American Field Publishing Company and the Field Dog Stud Book.
  3. The minimum length of heats for all stakes other than Puppy Stakes shall be thirty (30) minutes on the basis of the time that an average brace takes to negotiate the course. In the case of one-course trials, no more than eight (8) minutes of the thirty (30) shall be spent in the birdfield. Minimum length of heats for Puppy Stakes shall be fifteen (15) minutes.
  4. A stake must be drawn no later than the night before the day the stake is advertised to be run.
  5. Dogs shall not be substituted after the draw.
  6. Braces shall be run, and handled, as drawn, unless given prior consent of the judges, which consent must not be given for the purpose of accommodating owners, handlers or dogs that are not available when reached in the regular order of the draw. In the case of withdrawals, the bracemates of such withdrawn dogs may be run together at the discretion of the judges. Bitches, which come in season, braced with a male, are scratched.
  7. No entry shall be accepted after a stake is drawn.
  8. No more than one brace of dogs shall be run on a course or any part of a course at the same time, irrespective of whether the dogs are in the same stake or in different stakes.
  9. Stakes shall be run only on recognized game birds whose flight shall not be impaired by caging, hobbling, wing clipping, brailling or in any other manner.
  10. Bitches in season shall not be permitted to run in one-course trials. In multiple course trials they may start only if, in the opinion of the judges, it can be accomplished under conditions which will insure absolute fairness to other entries. Bitches in multiple course trials must be drawn in season and braced with a female.


If practical, the judges should switch dogs halfway through a brace. Judges should award points based on quality of the work observed, using the full array of scoring options available and not merely assign typical scores to given pieces of work. Electronic Collar, training or tracking devices are prohibited while a dog is under judgment. Ties are broken with three (3) additional birds liberated. Judges shall be given a copy of the NLGDC rules prior to each event so he/she will be familiar with the rules and shall have them with him/her on the field during the braces.

CLASSIC and CHAMPION Trials---Special Rules

The length of braces shall be one-hour (1), with additional series and callbacks, as the judges deem necessary. Dogs will be called back in the identical order of the original drawing. Where liberated quail are used, 12 birds are to be liberated prior to the first brace, randomly placed along the course, with 10 birds released for each succeeding brace. Judging will be by the closed book method. To be eligible to enter a Championship trial, dogs must have a recognized placement in an American Field OR NLGDC recognized open or derby stake. The NLGDC maintains a list of known, qualified Llewellin Setters, a copy of which is available by writing the Club Secretary. Any dogs with qualifying placements not on this list must provide documentation of their qualifying placement to the trial chairman along with their entry form. (I.e. copy of The American Field in which this placement was recorded or other documentation obtained from the American Field. At the discretion of the judges, it is not a requirement that a champion be named. In this case, the stake will revert to a conventional open trial.


  1. Dog must be enrolled with the Field Dog Stud Book.
    2. Champion points must be accumulated by dog placement in NLGDC field trials. Open or Derby Stakes. Only 4 points from Derby placements go toward the Championship.
    3. Owners and Handlers of dogs must be members of NLGDC.
    4. Champion status shall be awarded when a dog accumulates a total of ten (10) points as follows:
Open:  16 dogs or more:  1st Place awarded 3 pts, 2nd Place awarded 2 pts, 3rd Place awarded 1 point, 4th Place awarded 1/2 point 

Derby Points:  6 dogs or more: 1st place awarded 3 points; 2nd place awarded 2 points; 3rd   - 1 point.

5 dogs or less:  1st – 2 points; 2nd – 1 point; 3rd – ½ point

All STR events use this point system, see below for special rule on points towards Championship award.

AF events 30 minute stakes

1st....... 3 pts, 2nd.......2 pts, 3rd........1 pts