|Benefits, Refinements and Embellishments
Stand Alones have the benefits of the dog watching a gunner throw a mark and then retrieving as in a real test or trial situation. For those that train for UKC HRC events, you can step behind a tree to be hidden and then throw the mark. The visible gunner helps the dog to reference the mark and learn the mechanics of hunting the usual fall area near a gunner.
As a general rule, I have found that high-rolling dogs who have a tendency to overrun will more readily check up and establish a hunt with this procedure. I believe that this is because it is you standing there and nothing else. A dog is unlikely to run all over the field because of your "presence." It is also very easy to quietly say "easy, easy" as your dog enters the fall area. This, in fact, may help your dog with gunner awareness. Contrary to what might be expected, stand alones do not encourage dogs to run towards gunners, in my experience. In fact, for reasons I do not quite understand, a steady diet of stand alones helps address this problem of running at gunners. I have found that dogs that regularly (2-3x a week) get stand alones, will run wide of guns or directly at the marks. Part of the explanation may be that as an "adult" thrower, you can ensure that all throws are long. The preferred day-in, day-out throw is a long square one but a huge benefit of stand alones is customized bird placement. Since you are at the fall location, you get an excellent opportunity to study your dog’s marking. You can readily watch your dog’s eyes, ears and posture to determine exactly when he starts his "look." This is when he "thinks" he has entered the fall area. You can also carefully study his hunt pattern. On subsequent throws, you can adjust the bird placement to work on your dog’s weakness and tendencies. For example, you may throw angle-in or angle-back to adjust over-running or hunting short. Dogs who curl under the arc or fade with the wind can be given extra long throws to help counter tendencies.
Stand Alones can employ bumpers, dead birds, shackled birds or even flyers, if you can shoot yourself. Since you always end up with the bird you only need one to do a series.
Another refinement that I regularly do is retire. This can be by lying down in high cover, stepping behind a tree or often using a camouflage umbrella and simply squatting behind it. Locations where you can walk around ponds or down shores allow many water marks and practice on staying in the water. I recommend that the entry of water marks be non-cheaty since it is confusing to try and correct for these cleanly. However, it is reasonable to handle to keep the dog in the water near the end of marks.
For roving, but especially one-place stand alones, you can set up diversions such as white chairs or white stick men in the field before running your dog. If you want to work on a concept such as inclines or indents, set up the locations first with chairs or stick men and use one-place stand alones. As you move from station to station, the experience your dog will get is very similar to that from running singles out of a triple configuration of gunners.
The return to the marker in one-place stand alones has the advantage of getting a dog to run a straight line. If your line to the spot involves factors such as terrain, cover and wind, this can’t help but be beneficial. Another benefit is conditioning. In these set-ups, your dog runs every line twice.
Although many amateurs have not tried these, those that have have been very pleased with their benefits.