I don't have a problem with handlers. Some good breeders have disabilities or simply hate being in the ring. But I'm totally with Sally about going to shows and meeting breeders, seeing dogs, getting a feel for who is around you. I've seen breeds with breeders that are as far from welcoming as is possible, unless you got a pup from them. When we got our first basenji, the other breeders could not have been nicer or more supportive.
You can check your local club and ask if there are handling classes. While you wait on getting a well bred puppy, you can be honing your skills. An all breed handling class is most common, but the local club may know who is sponsoring them. You can go, watch a few times, ask if someone is willing to bring an extra dog for you to work with... maybe even a retired champion who can show you the ropes.
Assuming you are in the US, breeders are listed by state on the right.