This article is from the Model Rockets FAQ, by Wolfram von Kiparski with numerous contributions by others.
9.3.a From Buzz McDermott
I just started competition this year. I must have asked 30 experienced
competitors where to start. I got 30 COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ANSWERS!!
They ranged from 'keep it REAL simple' to 'try everything'. Here is a
summary of the most prevalent advice. It seems to have worked for me.
- Competition requires a large stable of rockets, given all the
possible events and engine categories; start with some of the
simpler ones where a single model might be competitive in more than
one event (for example, the same model might be used for 1/2A-A
streamer or parachute duration, another model might be competitive
in any of A - C streamer or chute duration)
- Try single eggloft (B-C, duration or altitude) before trying the
multi-egg categories (such as D or E dual egg).
- Go for a good, qualified flight first; then decide if 'going for
broke' is appropriate on your second flight (this is for
- Get a teammate and enter as a team. There are too many models you
need to compete to be able to build all of them your first
year. Entering as a team let's you pool time, talent, experience,
- Don't get discouraged if you aren't immediately
competitive. Remember, the main goal is to enjoy yourself and HAVE
SOME FUN. If you are new at this, you're going to learn A LOT about
rocketry by doing it the fun way.
- KEEP A LOG OF ALL FLIGHTS. RECORD WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T. NOTE
YOUR FLIGHT TIMES, ALTITUDES, ETC. Your biggest weapon in many
events is in being able to predict how your models will perform.
- Make a model preparation checklist for each event (i.e., a detailed,
step-by-step list of everything necessary to prep the model). Use
this list for your first few competitions. Comp models are often
prepared a little differently from sport models. The difference
between winning and losing is often just attention to detail, or
lack of it, in the heat of competition.