The first field trial in South Africa was held on the 3rd of August 1908, under the auspices of the newly formed South African Field Trial Club. The rules, standards, registrations and judging guidelines evolved over time under the stewardship of the club, with documents such as F.J. Finch Smith’s 1916 “Training of Gundogs for South Africa” and H.W. Ardler’s 1938 “Judging of Field Trial Dogs” serving as valuable benchmarks.
The Border Field Trial Club was founded in 1945 in Cathcart, an area with a long tradition of fine wing shooting. In 1971, The Natal Gundog Club hosted their first trial, with help and support from the SAFTC. The Rhodesian Field Trial Club was very much an item on the field trial circuit at the time.
In 1979, the National Field Trial Association (NFTA) was formed in an attempt to bring uniformity to the sport, and hosted its first National Field Trial in the same year. The National Field Trial Association is the Sports Governing Body for field trialling in South Africa for purebred pointing breeds. Since its inception various clubs have joined the NFTA, namely the Transvaal Hunt Point and Retrieve Field Trial Club, The Highveld Field Trial Club, The Western Cape Field Trial Club, The KZN HPR Club and The Central Field Trial Club. Sadly, there have also been withdrawals, most notably The South African Field Trial Club in 2010.
Various updates and revisions to the Constitution, Trial Conduct Regulations and Rules for Judging have been made over the years, notably 1971, 1978, 1991, 1999 and 2007. The primary objective of the National Field Trial Association is to promote and encourage the sport of field trialling in South Africa.
In its capacity as the Sports Governing Body for the pointing breeds in South Africa, the NFTA keeps a database of purebred field trial British Breed and Continental Breed dogs, which records their lineage, their field trial awards, certain health-related information and other data that are pertinent to the sport of field trialing.