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It is essential that the gunners act independently but as a representative of the contestants and in support of the other team members. In the case of an experienced gun team, it is apparent that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Safety and intent to help the handler and dog are the foundation for the quality gunner's decision-making process. The ultimate results may be argued for each situation, and some gunners may make better choices than others; but the bottom line is safety and the intent to aid the dog and handler. This is otherwise known as "Shooting for the dog." Regardless of whether the game is considered a hunting test to improve the breed or a competition to determine a winner/loser, the gunner's decision-making platform is clearly safety and fair representation of the contestants.

Some gunners shoot for ego gratification and are just trying to display their own abilities. These individuals are obviously misguided and this is not the focus of a true field gunner. A field trial gunner should have excellent shooting skills, but the trial is not the place to display those abilities at the expense of the dog and handler. A true field trial gunner will represent the dog and handler while naturally displaying his or her own talents as a shooter in the process of supporting the contestants.
The 2002 National Open Gun Team.

Per the rule book: "The guns are supposed to represent the handler up to the time the game is shot, although not interfering in any manner with his work or that of the down dogs." The gunner is a silent extension of the handler and should act accordingly. Gunners should strive to support the handler in all situations with the goal being a safe and professional representation of the dog's hunting abilities. The gunner should be considered a part of the field and speak only when spoken to, except under circumstances where a judge's decision is necessary. A judge's decision and input may be required under certain

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