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Training Clinic Site

The Potomac Chapter hosts a formal Training Clinic typically on the first Saturday of each month from March through September at the McKee-Beshers WMA.


Potomac Chapter Training Clinics

The clinics are designed to help each Chapter member train his/her dog from novice to advanced levels. These clinics are not designed for someone else to train your dog. There will be trainers and experienced handlers at the Training Clinics who are willing to help you learn how to train your dog to be a successful versatile hunter.

Please come prepared to work and to help out as needed. One of the best ways to learn is to walk along with/behind other handlers/trainers and their dogs that are going through a particular training event. The fields are often damp or muddy so having some type of waterproof footwear is highly recommended. It is also highly recommended that you use some type of flea/tick repellant on both you and your dog as the area where we train is highly infested with ticks. The clinics will last as long as it takes to ensure every handler gets the information and experience that he or she needs. At some of the clinics a lunch may be available for a small cash donation. You will be advised ahead of time if there will be a lunch. If a lunch is not provided, you may want to bring a lunch as there are no facilities close to the training area. The chapter is not responsible for any property or equipment left on the grounds.

McKee-Beshers WMA is a public use area. Keep in mind that we share these grounds with others (hunters, hikers, fishermen, bird watchers, etc.) some of who are non-hunters. Be aware of their presence and respect their right to access the property just as they should respect our right to train in the designated gun dog training areas. Safety and Courtesy First!

All Maryland regulations apply. The trainer, or anyone assisting in the training, must possess a valid Maryland Resident / Nonresident hunting license while training. In addition, a Retriever Trainer Permit ($5.00) is required to shoot pen-reared quail, chukars, pheasants and mallard ducks for training dogs. If the birds are held for more than 48 hours, a Game Husbandry Permit is also required. Hunting licenses and Retriever Training Permits can be obtained from any DNR Sport License Agent or by phone, mail or online (http://dnr.maryland.gov). MD licenses and Retriever Trainer Permits are valid from Aug 1st to Jul 31st of each year.

Versatile Hunting Dog Magazine - April 2013
"A YEAR IN THE LIFE" By Bob Gramzinski
Click Here for PDF

Training Clinic Guidelines

1. Training Clinic activities begin at 8:00 AM and will run until completion. Please be on time. We normally start off with a short meeting for general announcements and discussion about the day’s training activities.

2. Training will then begin with basic obedience and control work to include table work. Following that session, handlers will typically be divided according to their skill level and will then participate in that month’s featured training lesson (e.g. whoa, steadiness training, tracking, introduction to water, duck search, backing, etc.). Training techniques will be covered and will usually include hands-on demonstrations and member participation with their dogs. When the dogs work in the field or water they will be working individually unless training to honor another dog.

3. Following the completion of the formal training and lunch, many members will continue to train their dogs on field and water work. Typically the order for use of the sites is in the order in which people arrived that day. Common courtesy prevails.

4. The Chapter does not provide birds for training. The Chapter maintains a list of local game farms. If you make arrangements with those game farms to pick up birds for your training use it is imperative that you do so. We do not want to adversely affect our relationship with our suppliers. If you have made arrangements for someone else to pick up your birds it is your responsibility to pick up those birds from that individual. The correct amount for the cost of the birds is always appreciated. If you are unable to pick up your birds the Chapter will make no effort to hold your birds until the next clinic. You should bring a carrier for any training birds that you may have ordered.

5. Please show respect for the land and area. Pick up after yourself and others if necessary. All trash and debris to include dead game must be removed from the grounds at the end of the clinic. Pick up empty shotgun shells you may use or come across. Leave the training grounds in a better condition then when you started off. The Chapter sponsors a clean-up day at McKee-Beshers WMA once a year – typically in the March timeframe. Announcement of the specific date is made at the Winter Meeting in February.

6. Guests and visitors will be allowed one free regular monthly Training Clinic. After this complimentary clinic the guest or visitor must join both the Potomac Chapter and NAVHDA International to continue participating in monthly Training Clinics.

7. All participants and spectators in the field where live ammunition will be used must wear a fluorescent (Hunter) orange hat or piece of clothing (e.g. vest).

8. Only those Chapter members approved to be gunners will shoot live ammunition during official training or testing sessions. Shooting at a Potomac Chapter clinic is reserved for Chapter members who are International and Chapter adult members in good standing; posses a current valid MD Resident or Nonresident Hunting License and Retriever Trainer Permit; have demonstrated safe gun handling skills at a prior Potomac Chapter event; have been active in the NAVHDA system and have an understanding of dog training that will allow them to know when a bird can be safely shot; and have been approved by the Executive Council. Gunners must use hinged frame (break-open) shotguns with shot no larger than #7 ½ and that should be "low brass" in powder load. Only training birds flushed beyond the "No Shoot Zone" marker shall be subject to live Fire in the direction of the road or parking lot. All planted birds subject to live fire shall be placed beyond the "no shoot zone marker". Under no circumstances may a guest or visitor shoot at a Potomac Chapter Training Clinic. If you are not eligible to shoot someone will shoot for you.

9. Safety is a necessity. All Maryland regulations apply. Releasing and shooting birds is permitted in the designated areas marked by the signs Gun Dog Training Area only. Steel shot must be used for waterfowl.

10. Potomac Chapter Training Clinics are not an extension of one’s hunting season. In consideration of other trainers please keep your field and water sessions short and productive. During Training Clinics we also ask that Chapter members limit their training efforts to a maximum of two dogs to allow other people the opportunity to train. It is understandable that individuals training for the Invitational Test will require longer training sessions.

11. Absolutely no alcoholic beverages are permitted on the training grounds while there is training or testing being done. This is regardless of whether you are a participant, a handler, a helper or an observer. Any member/guest in a visibly intoxicated condition will be asked to leave. Any one that does consume any alcohol is finished with all participation in training and/or testing for the day. No Exceptions.

12. Vehicles and ATVs may not be driven on any fields.

Training Equipment Checklist

Considering that Training Clinics occur only once a month, and that you may have traveled quite a distance to get there, it can be very frustrating to arrive and find that you left an essential piece of equipment back home. It is also unrealistic to rely on other Chapter members to supply all of your equipment needs. Therefore the following checklist suggestions, although not inclusive, will help you initially to arrive prepared for the clinic. At the clinics the Chapter will have limited equipment available such as dummies, training tables, blinds, bird launchers and heeling course stakes.

For the Handler

*Current MD Resident / Non-Resident Hunting License with Retriever Trainer Permit

*Hunter orange hat or vest

*Tick / Bug spray

*Waterproof boots

Plastic trash bags

Lunch, snacks and something to drink

Folding chair



Waders or hip boots

Bird cage, box, bucket or bag

Money to pay for birds

First aid kit

Blank pistol and blanks

Break-open shotgun – if you are allowed to shoot

Shotgun shells (lead, steel and popper loads)

For the Dog

*Extra water and water bottles for use in field

*Dog crate or tie-out stake

*Collars (regular collar w/name-tag, electronic collar)



Food and bowl

Retrieving dummies

Bag or bucket of rocks (you may need this for water work training)

Dog first aid kit

Optional Equipment

Canoe or kayak with paddle(s) and life-vests for water work

Set of heeling stakes / blind


Bird launcher(s)


The Potomac Chapter is sanctioned by NAVHDA to conduct periodic testing of dogs. The Chapter conducts tests twice a year in the spring and fall. The tests may consist of the following levels:

Natural Ability (NA) Test.
 This test is designed to evaluate the inherent natural abilities of young dogs and gain insight into their possible usefulness as versatile gun dogs. It rates seven important inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire and cooperation.

Utility Preparatory (UPT) Test.
This test measures the dogs’ development midway through their training toward the Utility Test.

Utility Test.
This test evaluates trained dogs in water and field, before and after the shot, as finished versatile hunting companions as well as many other specific tasks.

Entry fees for the Potomac Chapter NAVHDA tests are $125.00 for NA and $150.00 for UPT and Utility tests. If the handler or owner is not a NAVHDA member, an additional $55.00 will be added to the test fee.

When the test dates are announced the Director of Testing may begin to accept applications for that test. A complete entry packet including entry form and entry check should be forwarded to the Director of Testing. Your dog must be NAVHDA registered therefore you will also need to provide your dog’s NAVHDA registration number. The Director of Testing will not accept any application that is not complete and submitted with the full test fee.

For more information and forms, please visit the NAVHDA website testing page:

If the testing date requested is full the Director will contact the applicant to determine if the applicant would be interested in the first date open or be placed on the waiting list for the date originally requested. When the test is full the waiting list will be established in the order in which the application was accepted. Once the running order is established it will not be changed except in accordance with NAVHDA rules pertaining to a "bitch in season" or at the Senior Judge’s discretion. Bitches in season may be run in NAVHDA tests, but will run last at each phase of testing. If an applicant currently placed in the running order withdraws from the test, an applicant who is on the waiting list will be placed last in the running order.

A refund equal to eighty percent (80%) of test entry fee will be provided for any dog withdrawn from the test for which a fully paid replacement is found. No refund will be provided for a test withdrawal for which a replacement test entrant cannot be found.

NAVHDA test calendar http://www.navhda.us/TestSked/ListUpcoming.asp?W_MODE=DATE