Getting Started in British Flyball Association (BFA) Flyball
If you want a positive and active relationship with your dog, enjoy team sports and would like to be part of a community of supportive, like-minded dog-lovers, then BFA Flyball could be a great choice for you and your family. Flyball is a uniquely inclusive sport that provides fantastic sporting opportunities for both people and dogs. The BFA provide a national structure for UK flyball that allows people to compete with their teams and dogs throughout the year, up and down the length of the country. The BFA is not a business, it is a volunteer run unincorporated association run by the memebrship for the benefit of the membership and the development of flyball as a safe and rewarding sporting opportunity for people and their dogs, and has been since flyball first started in the UK in 1994.
The best way to get started is to get in touch with the BFA Representative for your region; they will be able to advise you of the teams in your area who are looking for new members. You can get an idea of how many BFA registered flyball are in your area by using this link to find BFA registered teams.
What is flyball?
A flyball race sees two teams of four dogs each, racing side-by-side over a 51 foot long course. There are different tournament formats but each format involves racing between two teams at a time. Within a team, each dog must run over the jumps, trigger a Flyball box releasing a ball, retrieve the ball and then return over the jumps. The next dog is released, in relay fashion, to run the course but can't cross the start line until the previous dog has returned over the finish line. The first team to have all 4 dogs finish the course without error wins. Each race comprises up to five legs, and the team that wins the most legs wins the race. Each flyball team consists of four dogs, plus up to two reserves that can be interchanged after each leg. An electronic judging system that uses lights and timing sensors is used on the start / finish line to determine accurate times, and the winner when both teams complete the course in quick succession.
Tournaments are run in divisions based on the fastest speed of the team in a previous competition or a time declared by the team captain. Arranging divisions based on speed enables the racing to always be competitive.
Can any dog play flyball?
Flyball is suitable for virtually any breed of dog, as long as he or she is fit and healthy. Different sized breeds can all take part, as all dogs compete over the same course with a concession made for smaller dogs - the jump height is lowered to the appropriate height for the smallest dog in the team. A small, fast dog can therefore be a huge asset to a team as it enables the larger dogs to run over lower jumps.
To compete in BFA Flyball, dogs must be over 18 months old. Some dogs will be fast, some will be slow, some will pick up flyball quickly, and some take a longer time. The most important thing is to have fun with your dog.
BFA Sanctioned Competitions
The BFA govern compeitive flyball competitions throughout the UK, including Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. BFA flyball competitions are run in accordance with the BFA Consitituion and Rules of Flyball Racing, and all dogs and handlers must be registered with the BFA to enter a BFA sanctioned ring.
All dogs must race with the primary team that they are registered to. You can have any mix of any breeds within a team.
Teams must contain 4 different breeds of dog (all cross-breeds count as one breed), with only one dog of each breed actively racing in the team at any one time. Teams made up of dogs from different BFA registered teams are allowed to race as Multibreed teams.
Intermediate and Starter racing
Intermediate and Starter tournaments are not sanctioned by the BFA, but are instead as the names suggest, ways for new dogs and handlers to be introduced to a competition setting. Dogs must be at least 12 months old, and the ring is set up the same as for an Open tournament, however wings and/or netted lanes can be used at the side of, or between jumps to help guide the dogs. Dogs don't have to trigger the box and boxloaders can give the dogs plenty of encouragement. Younger dogs benefit from lower jumps irrespective of their own height.
Dogs cannot race in more than one team at an Open or Multibreed BFA Sanctioned Tournament, and dogs cannot take part in starters, intermediate or fun events on the same day as they are entered in Open or Multibreed.
Flyball Milestone Awards
As well as winning rosettes depending on your final position in the division at a tournament, BFA points are awarded to each of the dogs racing in a leg of a sanctioned competition provided they successfully complete the race in a set time. To recognise thier achievements, Milestone Awards are awarded to dogs throughout their flyball career.
This information is intended to give a brief overview of the sport of Flyball. Please consult the BFA Rules of Flyball Racing for full details of BFA Sanctioned Flyball (available as a download in the members section of the website).