Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America 1917 – 2017

The association known as The Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America, Inc. enters its centennial year in 2017, having expanded its mission since inception to include a broad base of objectives and functions, as the field trial sport and the organization have evolved.

The increasing popularity of field trials at the amateur level around the turn of the last century had established the need for a unified structure within which to coordinate the many aspects and details of the sport. The idea to form a coalition of clubs, a parent organization under whose aegis amateur field trials might be conducted according to specific standards and guidelines, had been considered from various angles by prominent sportsmen for some time before the concept was formalized.

At a meeting of key field patrons in 1917, the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America was established for that purpose and so named. Officers were elected, and by laws and running rules were drafted and adopted, many of which are still in effect today.

The membership of certain clubs had been pledged by delegates present at the initial meeting to launch the organization, and others were invited to join. At the conclusion of the first official season, dogs qualified for national competition were named, and certificates were issued. The inaugural running of the National Amateur Championship in Thomasville, NC in 1918 produced the organization’s first national champion, a setter called Fairy Beau.

It was not long before the AFTCA began to grow into the vision of its founders. Though the five original member clubs ran primarily on grounds in the eastern US, all clubs promoting trials for amateur handlers were eligible to join, and the demographics expanded as the idea took hold. Within ten years, the organization had subdivided its membership into six regions, encompassing New England, the Middle Atlantic, Southeastern, Central, Midwestern and Southern states. By 1930, there were 38 member clubs.

In early days, the shared aim of the organization’s leadership and its constituents was simple and to the point. By establishing an official structure and rules of competition for conducting and judging pointing dog field trials, the merits of contestants might be fairly tested and assessed. Performance results, officially documented, would thus provide a sound basis for selective breeding. In this way, the association would accomplish as its primary objective, “the elevation of the standard and quality of the amateur dog.”