The point of a re­port

Be­ing recog­nised as a writer can be a dou­ble-edged sword, es­pe­cially if peo­ple don’t agree with what you say, dis­cov­ers David Tom­lin­son

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

I’ve watched all the dif­fer­ent cham­pi­onships: re­triev­ers, springer spaniels, cock­ers, HPRS and point­ers and set­ters. As so­cial events I have en­joyed ev­ery one, as they of­fer a great op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple and I’ve made some last­ing friend­ships from chance en­coun­ters in the spec­ta­tors’ gallery.

Oc­ca­sion­ally I’m recog­nised: “Aren’t you that bloke who writes in Shoot­ing Times?” I ad­mit that

I am. Any­thing is then likely to fol­low, from praise for some­thing that I have writ­ten to ver­bal abuse for an ar­ti­cle that my ac­quain­tance didn’t agree with. Once I was roundly told off for writ­ing about golden Labradors when I should have said yel­low Labradors. I don’t think that I’ve ever re­ferred to a golden Labrador ex­cept in jest, but my de­nial wasn’t ac­cepted.

I’ve only once re­ported on a cham­pi­onship for Shoot­ing Times, which was the 2013 HPR fi­nal held on the Swin­ton es­tate in North York­shire. It was the first HPR Cham­pi­onship to be held for 17 years. Af­ter the 1996 fi­nal, the event was dis­con­tin­ued as the stan­dard of gun­dog work was deemed to be too poor. The world of HPR tri­alling was put into what might be called spe­cial mea­sures.

As it turned out, Swin­ton was a suc­cess and Mick Can­ham was a wor­thy win­ner with his German short­haired pointer (GSP), FTCH Jhe­bron’s Nephrite of Stub­ble­mere. But there were as­pects of the com­pe­ti­tion that were not ideal. I ques­tioned the logic of walk­ing-up grouse in mid-

36 • SHOOT­ING TIMES & COUN­TRY MAG­A­ZINE Novem­ber, when the birds are wary and dif­fi­cult to ap­proach, so get­ting a de­cent point was more a mat­ter of luck than good dog work.

I am not an ex­pert on HPRS, so I took the pre­cau­tion of send­ing my re­port, be­fore pub­li­ca­tion, to one of the most ex­pe­ri­enced HPR han­dlers and ask­ing for his com­ments. The piece was amended ac­cord­ingly.

De­spite this, my re­sult­ing ar­ti­cle was slammed on so­cial me­dia by var­i­ous pun­dits who, though they hadn’t been at the trial, clearly thought they knew a lot more about it than I did. All I can say is that I had writ­ten what was an hon­est and truth­ful ac­count of what I had seen, and a re­flec­tion of some of the views and com­ments I’d heard, or even over­heard, dur­ing the two-day event. I’ve no doubt that sports writ­ers who re­port on foot­ball matches get sim­i­lar abuse all the time but it is an un­pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence.

Next week the 16th HPR Cham­pi­onship is be­ing held

“Re­cent years have shown the depth of tal­ent in the HPR world and the abil­ity of less fa­mil­iar breeds”

Two of the past four HPR cham­pi­onships have been won by German short­haired point­ers

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