An introduction to some volunteer jobs at an agility trial
So, you have completed the intro to agility classes (or maybe a couple of them), loved the handling classes, and finally, here you are ready to enter your first trial. As you complete the registration form, not only must you decipher the form, you also must indicate what volunteer jobs to work. What? Volunteer?? Well, this blog is all about those “little” jobs around the ring which help so much in keeping a trial running smoothly. First, let me state a couple of facts about these volunteer/ring crew positions - pay is terrible, for our Charleston, SC club, most of them take place in the hot sun, and finally, the work is very, very appreciated but with thank-you's not said enough to those who do volunteer.
Let me start with Ring Crew. The ring crew actually gets the honor of sitting inconspicuously around the ring to replace fallen bars and change heights on bar jumps, spread jumps, the table, the A-frame, and swing-tire between the runs of various heights of the dogs. Did I mention it is also a great place to get a tan, relax, and watch other people run the course? Bar setters should be prepared to move swiftly to reset any fallen bars during a run (at the Judge's discretion) especially if the jump is used multiple times during a run. The judge or the gate steward announce the jump height to which the bars are to be set. This job requires up and down sitting, bending, and walking.
Chute Setter: Not too hard here - this job is exactly as it sounds. What can be rough is when those speeding fast agility dogs run thru the chute like a bullet and tangle the end of the chute upon exiting. This job requires lots of bending and fluffing of the chute.
Leash Runner/Scribe Sheet Runner: The leash runner moves the leash of the dog running the course from the Start line to the Finish line (after the dog/handler have begun their run). Wow, that sounds easy and one gets to check out everyone's cool leashes. Ok, so while admiring that leash and watching the dog run, don't forget to actually walk the leash from point A to point B, not disrupting the dog while it is still on the line, or during the run. Better to wait until the dog has crossed several contacts or jumps, then retrieve the leash and either lay it on the ground or hang it on the leash holder near the exit. Scribe sheet runner takes the completed sheets from the scribe (who/what is the scribe will be discussed in a future blog) at the end of the run and hands them to the scorekeeper. Both of these jobs require standing, some bending, and walking.
Course Builder: These are the individuals who actually place the various jumps, contacts (table, dog walk, A-frame, teeter), and/or tunnels on the field as per the Judge's course maps so everyone runs the same specified course. This particular job is an all day trial job: you'll be working in between each change in the level of competition (Masters/PIII to Advanced/PII, Advanced/PII to Starters/PI and vice versa), and between categories such as Jumpers, Gamblers, Snooker, Steeplechase, etc. This job requires a lot of manual lifting of jumps, A-frame, teeter, dog walk, the table, etc. and requires knowledge of how to read the course map (what each symbol on the map represents, how to determine distances and positions on the field from the map, etc.)
There are other jobs like timer, scribe, and gate steward, but these jobs are more complicated and may not be the best for your first trial. I hope this helps when it comes time to indicate your volunteer position at your first and subsequent trials' registration form.