I have worked a lot this summer on launchers, had to, it has been so wet here that carding the pigeons just don’t work, the pigeons get wet and can’t fly. Here is what I have learned this summer.
The carded pigeons cause a lot more excitement for the dogs and that is a good thing IMO. The launchers can be used with good results if you make them act like a real spooky carded pigeon. What I mean by that is don’t try and point all the pigeons in the launchers.
I set 4 launchers up and start checkcording a dog around, I work on teaching stand still and handling 1st. After that I will work towards 1 of the launchers so the dog can’t scent the bird, 20 yards away I launch the bird so the dog sees the flush, I stop the dog and make him stand still and watch the bird fly away. I might do this on another bird in the launcher before I let the dog point a bird.
I vary the work in each work out, I don’t want to dog to get use to a set routine. What you will see happen with most dogs is once they are stopping to flush on the wild flushed pigeons then they are just about broke. When they get to this point in training they will let me or a helper flush and almost all the time stand steady to wing and shot.
I start shooting some birds for the dog at this point but I don’t allow them to retrieve, whoever is gunning retrieves the dead pigeon back to the dog and let the dog have it to carry around on the checkcord. This really works nice to finish the dog steady to kill if you want to carry the training that far.
I have not noticed any drop in the dogs style using the launchers. They have worked well for me this summer and have allowed me to work dogs in bad weather conditions. Once the foundation training is done and the dog is steady then I am done with the launchers and switch to good flying quail or chukar to finish the dogs.
I still like to work carded pigeons better but sometimes you got to do whatever works the best for the conditions that you have to work in. My launchers do not throw the bird into the air they just flop open and release the bird, this makes the flush look real natural. I bought 5 different sets of springs before I found what worked the best for me, you just have to experiment with some of this stuff.