Yup. I was confident we would get our NW1 last weekend. We went in, got 3/4 elements with two pronounced searches. Failed the interior due to two things - One being the heating system kicking on and pushing odor to the opposite side of the room, and the other being me basically convincing Katsu to alert on an object that did not contain the hide. At the end of the trial, the judge explained they did not anticipate the heater variable and all the dogs that tested with the heater on struggled.
Hindsight, I know what I should have done and hope to not make that mistake in the future trials. Overall, I came out of that trial proud of my girl, but disappointed in myself.
I think you could manage an ORT with a few weeks of training. Katsu got her Birch after our Intro to Nosework class (6 or 8 weeks I think). We'll be going for our Anise and Clove ORTs this December and a few AKC Scentwork titles until another NW1 trial comes up in our area.
I agree with practicing in different conditions and locations. I'd also recommend having someone else place hides for you so you're running blind. More power to you if you can get a group of people to come "watch" you. Our first element (vehicle) had about 10 people watching us and it distracted Katsu for a bit.
Congrats on the pronounced, that is AWESOME. And I don't think you should be disappointed in yourself for missing an element that was legitimately made tough by a luck-of-the-draw variable. It happens. We also went 3/4 in our first NW1 and then missed on interiors because I got nervous and called alert too early. I felt bad for messing it up for my dog, but I realized that when we were walking out of the room and she nudged my hand and looked up at me and grinned, that she didn't see it that way at all. I'm certain Katsu doesn't either, and when you get your videos, buy them and review them with your instructor and go back for another try when you're ready. You know the two of you work together well - the pronouncements are tangible evidence of that! - and you'll ultimately become a stronger, smarter team than you were before.
Re your comments, I think that's exactly why a class would be really valuable for Tim and Nyx. The heating system: If you get a good instructor, you will have the chance, over the months or years you train before trialing, to get into a building that might have that variable. With any luck, you'll get to work in buildings that have different types of heating and cooling systems. It isn't just heating and cooling systems, though, it's also hot weather or very cold weather, people entering and leaving the room during/between searches (that changes the airflow and can affect how odor behaves), the dog having to traverse different surfaces in a search area, getting used to wind, rain, all that stuff. We've had class outdoors in frigid temps but then trialing under a winter storm watch? No big deal. We weren't as prepared with training to specifically handle the insane heat and humidity we ran into the day we titled in NW1, but my dog had enough skill and foundation under her belt to work with it.
With respect to the spectators: You would run into that in AKC. There aren't supposed to be spectators in NACSW unless designated by the handler, but you will have the judge, steward, timer, photographer, videographer. If you take group classes, your dog will get practice first in a low key environment with the same group watching, and later on field trips, your dog can gain experience with random people watching. Tractor Supply was a pretty fun night.
All of that might seem like a waste of time and money if you think you can pass ORTs and put titles on your dog right away because they seem to catch on to the game right off the bat, but it isn't. None of it is. Every single week of class will make you a stronger handler and give your dog more experience and skill to work in a setting that isn't your backyard or your living room. Because no trial ever was held in a competitor's backyard.