These things don't really work for the common hunter because 1) He doesn't need a horse for every day life; 2) His hunting dogs are usually pets or he has very limited kennel space; 3) it's hard to be competitive.
I think the "hunting dog" or cease at flush stakes are great -- I've tried to make it to a couple NBHA judgment ceases at flush stakes, but I've not been able to make it (there are only a handful in my reasonable travel distance). The last trial I ran my dogs in they were derbies, because they didn't need to be STWS and quite frankly, it doesn't serve me much purpose while hunting.
Another limiting factor is, for me personally, I am a weekend hunter. So, if there's a trial during hunting season, I am not going to go because I am going to be hunting. For me, this means if the trial is after September 15 or before January 31 -- I am not going to participate. There are a few trials later in the year, but when I look at the trial schedules most of those are championships that don't run the JCAF type of stakes.
I think all walking trial dogs ranges are compatible to the foot hunter (when I looked for my last dog I wanted him to be a dog that was on the long end of a walking dogs range -- got that and I LOVE it. I've hunted with a few true all age dogs and most of the ground I can hunt can't hold those dogs. So, I think that there's a lack of compatibility. (This is inconsequential because All Age stakes seem like a whole different world).
Knowing the etiquette: Maybe it's me, but my biggest concern was not with the performance of my dogs, but with not screwing it up for the other folks or coming across as a jack arse for not following proper eitquette. In my conversations with others, I think that my questions probably focused 80 percent in this area.
I've only been around NBHA trials but I thought the people were incredibly welcoming -- like more welcoming than I had ever expected. I talked with more folks, joked with more folks and participated in the good natured ribbing far more than I ever expected. I am pretty poor with remember random people's names when meeting them for the first time -- but I guarantee you that I could pick out over 1/2 of the people that were at the last trial I attended and tell you their first and last name and probably even tell a story about most of them.
After all of that -- Here's my suggestion -- if you increase the number of these JCAF stakes you will attract more folks like me. I think this will have two major impacts on this "game. First you will have them for a long period of time -- because what I saw was a group of folks from varied backgrounds who had something in common and they developed a positive community where the competition was almost secondary to the camaraderie. Second, you will find folks that are competitive and who want to excel and they will want to have or develop a dog that can compete in the upper stakes. It will also be important to make sure that there's some overlap in the professional stakes into the weekends -- because it exposes us newbs to that world.
Just some thoughts from the outside.