There are a few things to consider when using a dummy launcher for gun dog training and in this article we’ll look at the key areas and also take time to review some of the best dummy launchers that are available.
A dummy launcher can be a useful addition to the gun dog trainer’s equipment bag and, when used properly it can help to create a range of scenarios and situations That could be difficult to create manually.
What is a dummy launcher?
A dummy launcher is a device that can propel or fire a hard dog training dummy over a considerable distance.
They are used for retrieving based training and allow the gun dog trainer to create retrieves that would be tricky to create by hand mainly be firing the dummy much further than it could be thrown.
Most gun dog dummy launchers use a long .22 blank as a means of propulsion.
The blank is inserted into the end of the launcher, near to the handle.
The dummy, which is normally a hard plastic tube covered in canvas is placed over the end of the launcher, at the opposite end to the handle.
Dummy launchers that use pneumatic cartridges of compressed air or nitrogen are also available.
The launcher is then aimed upwards in the direction that the dummy is required to go.
When the trainer is ready a spring loaded trigger is pulled at the end of the handle and released.
This fires the blank and the gases force the dummy off the launcher and into the sky.
With practice and skill the dummy can fly a decent distance and can be placed reasonably accurately.
Do I need to get a dummy launcher?
It all depends on the type of work that you intend to undertake with your dog and the type of dog that you have.
Dummy launchers can send a dummy over a considerable distance, much further than you can throw one.
This is great for long range retrieves and helps a dog to improve his marking ability and range.
For retrievers and retriever based work, a dummy launcher really does help to create training situations that will help your dog.
With spaniel training, and spaniel work, the likelihood of a long retrieve is much less, however if you are picking up at a shoot with a spaniel then you could be required to pick birds that are some distance away from you, so using a launcher in training would help.
It’s also possible to get balls for dummy launchers that roll across the ground when fired.
These can be great options when spaniel training as you can fire the launcher when the dog is hunting.
The bang replicates the sound of the shot and the ball replicates the action of a rabbit or other ground game running away.
With careful use this method can be great for getting a spaniel steady and dropping to shot.
Whatever your training style or dog, a dummy launcher enhances your training options.
Are they truly necessary for gun dog training – the answer is no they are not.
But it will give you more options if you have one.
Are dummy launchers safe to use?
The key thing to remember about a dummy launcher is that it fires a hard, canvas wrapped piece of plastic into the distance.
It creates a substantial amount of force to do this so you need to be careful when using a dummy launcher for gun dog training.
If used properly then there is little risk.
There are of course basic rules – that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, you only use the correct type of blanks in the launcher and the correct dummy.
The key rule is that you never point the launcher at anyone, if it were to go off and fire the dummy then it would be painful and could cause a bad injury.
Launchers also create recoil, which you need to be prepared for.
Dummy launchers also make a considerable bang which, for a dog can be a concern.
You should never operate a launcher around a puppy or a dog that has not been introduced properly to the gun.
If you do this then you run a serious risk of frightening your dog and you could end up with a ‘gun shy’ animal.
Can you use a dummy launcher in public?
It’s always advisable to check locally to see if you’ll face any problems using a dummy launcher as different areas have different rules and legislation.
From a common sense and experience perspective – I have used launchers many times in the past.
This use has always been in rural areas where there are no people around. I train my spaniels in areas that are quiet and open countryside where you never really see anyone and don’t have any issues.
This is probably the best route to take, I would say that if you use a launcher in a public place such as a park, where there are other people, then you are probably asking for trouble and may find it.
Remember a launcher can sound like a gun, and this will frighten and concern people if they don’t know what you are doing.
So best to be sensible and considerate of others as well as careful.
The other option is to use a launcher on private land, if you can get permission, this should ensure that you’ll be problem free.
Best Dummy Launcher for Gun Dog Training
There is a wide range of dummy launchers available for gun dog training from a variety of manufacturers and they all perform a similar function of firing a dummy over a distance by using a propellant.
In this section we’ll take a look at some of our favourite launchers and their features and cost.
At a glance our favourite dummy launchersTable could not be displayed.
D.T Systems are specialist gundog training equipment suppliers and manufacturers.
Based in Dallas, TX the company have been developing training gear for over 30 years and is staffed by gundog enthusiasts.
The business are one of the key suppliers of dummy launchers for gun dog training in the United States and are respected operators in this field.
This dummy launcher is a standard style dummy launcher. The launcher has two dummies, a box of blanks for firing the dummies and a whistle.
DT systems dummy launcher
2 dummies, one orange, one yellow for dog training
Box of 100 medium red powder loads to power the launcher
Out Rider Pro whistle
What we like
A great dummy launcher kit that will get you off to a flying start with your gun dog training sessions
Fires a dummy over 200 feet easily
Contains everything that you need
What we don’t like
Needs cleaning after every session to keep in prime condition
Another great dummy launcher set from DT Systems. The Pro version is a step up from the Orange launcher option.
This dummy launcher set comes with a variety of power loads for activating the launcher.
It has a launcher dummy, a whistle and a variety of training scents that can be added to the dummy to re-create game scents.
The Super Pro Launcher Value Pack includes:
A standard launcher with a white launcher dummy
A feather weight launcher dummy
Three boxes of power loads – red, yellow and green
Training scents – pheasant and dove
What we like
A great value dummy launcher set, the boxes of power loads offer different power levels for the launcher so it is easier and more flexible to fire.
The scents are great and allow you to add a drop to the dummy, re-creating the action of your dog finding the game via a more realistic scent as opposed to the smell of a dummy.
What we don’t like
Nothing. We think that this is a great set for gun dog training sessions.
Retriev-R-Trainer have been producing and supplying gun dog dummy launcher equipment since 1965 in the USA.
Products include standard style launchers and shoulder launchers to replicate shotgun use.
Their range of launchers are all US manufactured and come with 1 to 3 year warranties.
This is a full launcher kit for gun dog training. It comes with a plastic carry case, a cleaning kit, blanks for firing and dummies.
The Lucky Launcher II is a shoulder mounted dummy launcher with a pistol grip launching action.
The style of the launcher replicates the use of a shotgun in the field and the associated bang and launch of the dummy helps to introduce a dog to the shooting action, without actually shooting game.
The design allows for a free hand to control the dog.
The kit comes with:
- The shoulder mounted Lucky II
- Two dummies – both white canvas, one standard and one with a tail
- One box of yellow blanks
- A cleaning kit
- A solid plastic storage and carrying case
What we like
This is a great kit.
It has everything needed to get a young dog ready. We like the shoulder style launcher as it replicates the use of a shotgun in the field well.
The solid storage and carrying case means we can keep everything secure and tidy when not in use.
The cleaning kit is a great addition and is useful for cleaning other items as well.
What we don’t like
Nothing. Did we mention that it has a collapsible stock? Which we love as it makes it easier to carry and store.
A dummy launcher is not a vital piece of equipment and, unless you are mad keen for long distance retriever training then it’s not really necessary.
However, if you enjoy the prospect of being able to fire training dummies over long distances then the launchers that we’ve discussed are all more than capable of doing a good job.
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Last update on 2022-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API