Dale Luther Jr. began gunning over spaniels when he was eight years old, helping me train dogs in an area in front of our house. Later, he would shoot training sessions as a youngster where he was mentored by two former gun captains, Dan Carlson and Tom Kirkman. Those first years didn't just include gunning, they also involved shagging at field trials, planting birds and doing whatever else was needed during a training session or field trial. From those first sessions to this day, he involves himself in gunning over dogs, whether it be training, hunt tests, hunting upland birds, jump shooting waterfowl or waiting in a blind for ducks or geese. He is also known to shoot registered targets at a national sporting clays association (NSCA) course and occasionally a competitive live pigeon shoot.
As far as formal shooting instruction is concerned, Dale has been mentored by the best, Mr. Chuck Dryke. During those early years, and even today, Dale continues to spend time at the Sunnydell Shooting Grounds, where he not only shoots sporting clays, skeet and trap but also confers with Chuck, the founder of the WWESSC Gun Team (circa 1965), on all aspects of shooting. These conversations include discussions of shooting over spaniels in addition to the shooting of clay birds and live birds in the ring. Physical and mental aspects of shooting are usually the prime topics of these conversations and it would be difficult to determine which one receives the most attention. In short, Dale has made quite a study of all aspects of shooting and especially the art of gunning over spaniels.
Dale was invited to shoot his first trial for the Western Washington English Springer Spaniel Club (WWESSC) at the age of 19. Since that time, he has been gunning regularly at local trials, periodically around the United States (including four US national English springer spaniel championships) and occasionally Canada, for a total of around 60 trials. Dale is also actively shooting for the local hunt test programs in his area and shoots cocker spaniel field trials.
Whether it be clay birds or live birds, one would see Dale as the complete shooter who is able to adjust his skills to the shooting situation at hand, but whose first love is gunning over spaniels and making a study of it in the process. It can be said that he is a highly qualified gunner who possesses the knowledge, expertise and experience necessary for leadership in the gunning over spaniel's arena, whether it be a training session or field trial.
Best of all for me is that Jr. hasn't forgotten where it all started and still helps Sr. train - plants, rolls and shoots. Not bad having someone with all of the above as your personal training partner. By the way, how many of you have ever asked a "gun" about dog work, handling, etc? I think you will find an experienced gun to be a valuable source of information.
By Dale W. Luther Sr.