This program was formulated due to the overwhelming success of the Retriever Hunting Test program. In 1986 Director of Field Trials and Hunting Tests, A. Hamilton (Ham) Rowan, Manager of Performance Events, John Carroll, and AKC Field Representative, Bob Bartel developed the plans for the fledgling Pointing Breed Hunting Test program. The regulations were approved on March 11, 1986 and clubs were encouraged to hold sanctioned Hunting Tests. The Nebraska Brittany Club held the very first Pointing Breed Hunting Test in April 1986. It attained an entry of 43 dogs.
On August 23, 1986, a Seminar was hosted by the Westminster Kennel Club, showcasing the Hunting Test program for Retrievers, Pointing Dogs and Spaniels. According to the Westminster Kennel Club’s spokesmen, Harry Henriques and Fred Wagner, the Club decided to host the first showcase of AKC’s hunting breeds because its officials believed that non-competitive hunting tests have a place among the activities of all-breed clubs. The Seminar was attended by 550 people; the idea of hunting tests for Pointing Breeds became immediately popular.
These tests were designed to showcase what a dog and hunter may be required to do in a normal day’s hunt. They were set up to measure dogs against a set standard as opposed to a competition between dogs. Hunting tests were developed to test dogs at three different levels. Those levels, as created in the mid-1980s, are Junior, Senior and Master. Pointing Breed Hunting Tests were planned so that a dog must receive a certain number of passing scores in order to be awarded a title for that level. A dog was not and is not required to title at a given level before being allowed to work towards a higher title.
A Pointing Breed Hunting Test Advisory Committee was formed to make updates to the rules and regulations for Hunting Tests. Members of this committee are chosen by the nine Pointing Breed Parent Clubs, with a representative from each. This Committee is an important factor in the continuing development of the sport today. The very first dog to receive a title, which was that of Junior Hunter, was the German Shorthaired Pointer, Russo’s Timberdoodle Jake. To date, there have been 16,697 Junior Titles issued. The Senior Hunter level has seen 3,612 titles awarded while there have been 1,826 Master titles earned.
In 2001 there were 437 licensed hunting tests with over 14,000 entries. 2005 saw 401 Hunting Tests held with a total of 25,403 entries. With the continuing growth in this Pointing Breed Sport, it is destined to be a huge performance event.