I too had never been a club member guy and had always trained my "meat dogs" myself. Through the THF I ended up buying an actual gun dog and started researching training and testing. I joined Cowtown HRC and that was the best decision I made. Like you, I'm 1˝ hrs away and don't make all the meetings. The knowledge, experience, equipment and people have helped me to have the best duck dog ever and he's just barely 3 y.o. The only casting I knew of was throwing rocks or shells to get the dog after it. Heck it's only $25/yr, what ya got to lose?!
"Duck hunter's minds are like concrete. All mixed up and permanently set."