Thunder Equipment - AKC / UKC Competition Training
Multiple marks are a fundamental concept for any field dog to master. The ability to watch multiple birds fall, remember their location, and retrieve using marking and memory is a critical skill. In order to do this effectively a multiple shot launcher is a crucial tool. If you train by yourself the best scenario is to have two launchers. You put them in the field and shoot each one while the dog marks the fall. They go out and retrieve the first bird and come back for the second. What if when the dog looks out for the second bird they don't remember where it fell (this is very common with a young dog). If this "memory bird" was shot with a single shot launcher you don't have many tools to help the dog remember. If you have a Thunder launcher at that location you can shoot off another bumper to the same location. Showing the dog the mark again helps them to remember where the mark fell and builds confidence in their memory.
When teaching doubles a recognized method is to shoot the memory bird as a single, retrieve that bird, and then shoot the double. Unless you have multiple people in a training group at each station, a Thunder launcher shooting multiple shots is the only other way to repeat and train this concept by yourself. This is why 5 shots can be beneficial even if you have only one or a few dogs.
Another great method when training with a buddy before hunting season is to put the launcher on the long bird. Your buddy throws the short bird. It will save both of you time to have the long bird shot remotely and you can run multiple dogs before reloading. Your buddy can help the dog be successful on the short bird and then the dog can go long for the bumper. It really works well if you "seed" the area of the long fall with birds. Also, if the dog breaks down or has trouble remembering the long mark you can shoot off another bumper to help with memory and ensure momentum. This is a MAJOR benefit of the Thunder launcher.
LONG DISTANCE MARKS
Long distance marks are the cornerstone of a competition dog. The ability to look between 150 - 400 yards and mark effectively makes the difference between success and failure. Although distance is not a "factor" in retriever training, the ability of a dog to understand distance, carry a line, and build momentum is critical. How do you teach and reinforce this concept with a launcher? One recognized method is to shoot an additional bumper for a young dog to help them remember the location of the fall and help sustain momentum. Let's say you have a young dog just learning long marks and you have provided the appropriate foundation for marking skills. You move your pup back to 200 yards and shoot the mark. You puppy runs toward the mark and then you read a little confusion or potential that the mark was forgotten. You can immediately shoot another bumper to help the pup remember the location and increase momentum toward their destination. This type of training scenario is impossible with a single shot launcher. Also, even if you only have a few dogs you can see why 5 bumpers would be necessary.
HOW TO USE REALISTIC "LIVE BIRDS"
Training dogs for live flyers (birds) is a key principle for competition training and hunting. I am sure you know that live birds are much more exciting to a dog than bumpers. Many people watch their dogs perform like statues in training; standing still, focusing, and waiting patiently until sent. Put the same dog in the situation where gunfire and live birds are involved and excitement and adrenaline take over. The dog will break from the line or the hunting blind, bark, and be undisciplined. How does an individual or training group mimic the live bird experience without the use of live birds, bird crates, messy cleanup, high bird cost, and overall inconvenience of live birds. We received a recent submission from one of our customers outlining a process of attaching bird wings to the bumpers which will imitate the fluttering, exciting action of a live flyer. Add some realistic duck quacks and the loud shot of the launcher and you have the closest imitation possible to live flyer training.
How to realistically imitate "live" flyers- submitted by Don Freeman of Colorado
I would like to share with you what has turned out to be an excellent way of rigging the bumpers for some extraordinary flight characteristics. They fly erratic and spiraling every time. The dogs love it. The process literally takes less that 30 seconds. Surprisingly, I have not worn out a pheasant wing...I have only broken zip ties. You can click on the steps to see more detailed pictures.
Step One: Drill a 1/4" hole in the forward part of the wing joint. Put a zip tie through the hole. Don't engage the zip tie yet.
Step Two: Put a zip tie around the bumper, just behind the larger diameter "nose", but in front of the vinyl padded collar. Engage this zip tie but don't tighten.
Step Three: Slip the bird wing zip tie under the bumper zip tie to where the bird wing will lie beside the bumper
Step Four: Tighten the bird wing zip tie fairly snug.
Step Five: Tighten the bumper zip tie very tight so that the zip tie disappears between the expanded nose of the bumper and the padded collar.