Retriever training was changed forever with the introduction of “wingers” and other rubber-band-type devices that could fling dummies or birds from long distances, creating realistic, challenging marks. Now, SportDOG has raised the bar with a new remote launcher system that provides more efficiency and versatility than anything else on the market. Let me tell you why I’m really impressed with this latest innovation.
In the past, whenever it was time to train for a hunt test, field trial, or for hunting, you had to go find a bunch of friends to do the throwing for you. Now, by placing mechanical throwers in the field and outfitting them with SportDOG launcher receivers, you can train on multiple marks by yourself, anytime you please.
What do I mean by multiple? A lot! Each transmitter can control up to four receivers. Then, if you were so inclined, you could use each receiver to control up to nine machines. So, in the SportDOG system’s Expanded mode, you could control up to 36 devices. There’s nothing else quite like it.
The next thing I like about the system is the ability to use sounds. The launcher receiver has a speaker that emits a duck quack, pheasant cackle or shotgun blast. You simply hit the corresponding transmitter button to trigger the sound. One way I take advantage of this feature is to keep a receiver with me at the line. I can hold the receiver between my knees and “fire” a shotgun blast once or multiple times just by tapping the transmitter button. There’s no more hassle and expense of juggling a shotgun and firing off popper loads, all while being ready to reinforce or give the dog a command. Then, I can have the remote receiver that’s on the launcher make the duck, pheasant or shotgun sound as well.
So, in addition to having a very efficient system literally at your fingertips, it also allows you to tailor the training to match any hunting situation, hunt test or competition you plan to be involved in. For example, in Hunting Retriever Club (HRC) tests, the bird is launched with no sound. In American Kennel Club (AKC) tests, the cadence is Quack-Throw-Boom. In AKC field trials, it’s Boom-Throw-Boom. What if you’re not into any of that and just want to train for hunting? No problem, use the various sounds however you want. SportDOG hasn’t left anyone behind; it’s designed so you can use it in a way that best fits your training style.
Another thing I really like about this system is the reliability, even at long distances. The transmitter and receiver don’t need to be set up in “line of sight” of each other. You can set the thrower behind a hill or the other side of a rise and it’s still going to receive the digital signal and fling the bird. A lot of other systems are still using analog technology so the transmitter and receiver can’t have any obstructions between them or they become unreliable.
Lastly, all of the components of this system are completely waterproof. At my kennel we are out training every day. I’ve left my throwers out in the rain and snow for a month at a time, and they still fire every time I hit that transmitter button.
It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t too long ago when getting ready for a day of retriever training meant coordinating with four or five other retriever enthusiasts and then all getting together to throw marks for each other. A lot of training opportunities were lost simply because of the difficulty of getting everyone’s schedules to line up. That wasn’t the best situation, but it was all we had. What we all wished for is what we now have: Retriever training gear made with the SportDOG promise: “Gear the way you’d design it®.”
Always check your local and state regulations related to dog training and the use of game birds on private and public property.