A few years back I got involved in doing some dog training for field events. Over the course of the years we had been to many field trials as spectators, we had been to dog shows (and yes the movie Best In Show is way closer to reality than you'd like to think) and then we got our first puppy that I wanted to train to run in competition events. She didn't start out that way, she was going to be a show dog until she grew to monstrous proportions and was too tall to show.
We found a trainer that was very helpful to us and proceeded to train our huntin' dawg. We trained and trained and finally got to the point where we could go to our first hunt test. She passed with little problem and after four tries and four passing scores we had our Junior Hunter title. However I still felt pretty unfulfilled. People were nice enough, but there was still something missing.
The following spring our trainer told us about something called a shoot to retrieve event (NSTRA for those interested out there). Basically you bring your pointing dogs and run against other pointing dogs and you get points for each bird that your dog finds. We went out that day as rank amateurs and found two birds. I managed to shoot both birds and my dog retrieved them. We didn't have great scores and ended up about 12 th out of 32 dogs.
The thing that struck me that day was something one of the judges said to me. As we were walking in after our thirty minute run he asked “Did you have fun?”. I said “well, yeah, we got a couple birds.” He replied, “No, that's not what I mean. Did you have fun?”
The question kind of stunned me. Fun at a competitive event? Hmm. What an odd concept. The question has kept me coming back to many events since that day. While we generally don't win or even place in the top 5, we still have a great time running and hanging out.
As I sat down to write this months column fresh off another shoot to retrieve, my mind flashed back again to that day. It also really got me to thinking about how I approach modeling. Rarely do I find myself asking anyone if they “had fun” building the kit they brought to show and tell. Rarely does anyone ask me anything but “Is it accurate?” or “How did it go together?” or better yet “Didn't that kit just suck?”. Once again, hmm.
How many people do we push away from the hobby by not being a bit more supportive? How many people just see us as “model nazis” or the “color police” and why shouldn't they, it's all we talk about. We don't talk about the fun we had breaking sprue or the night of model building that we got to have when the family was out of the house.
Nope, our conversations are about shades of color, the fit of parts and the millimeters of inaccuracy that may drive an alcoholic back to the bottle. We talk indignantly about how Tamiya “got it wrong” and how could Hasegawa screw up a Spitfire and leave it a few millimeters short.
We've become obsessed with the wrong part of the hobby, the nitpicking and rush to be the first to find something wrong with a kit. We are not obsessed with the fun and enjoyment that we should be getting. After all, isn't that what having a hobby is all about? Fun?
Now, shut up and go have some fun building something!