Entering Competition for the First Time
Entering competition for the first time can feel like a really difficult thing to do. How do I find all the information I need? Is my work good enough? How should I set up my case? What are the Judges looking for? These and other questions may seem so difficult that you don’t even start. Don’t let the questions keep you from this fun side of our hobby.
The rules and much exhibiting information is readily available in the AFMS Uniform Rules, a document that is available to anyone on the AFMS web site free or for a small fee from Pat LaRue. Your club Director or club shop may have a copy. If one of your club members has entered competition or is a Judge, they may have a copy they can lend you (or, better yet, they would probably be happy to help you get the information you need). Anticipate needing some help interpreting the rules; even experienced Judges sometimes have problems.
I think one thing that keeps many people from competing is the feeling that they don’t have a good enough piece of work. Well, maybe you do and maybe you don’t. Don’t let that stop you, there were probably a lot of things you didn’t know how to do before you went to school; think of competition as just another form of school.
There are three levels of competition: Novice, Advanced, and Master. Pick the level that you think best applies to you. Do your best workmanship and showmanship; get the best advice you can from those around you, and enter your work. Expect that the Judges will find some problems with your case, but also expect that they will give you written information about your case and how to improve it. There is a Judge-Exhibitor meeting on Saturday around noon. Go to the meeting; talk to the Judges about your case and listen to their comments about how to improve your display. Use the information to improve your exhibit and bring it back next year.
It can sometimes be hard to understand that no matter how good your work is, it must conform to the rules the Judges use to judge your case. You may have a perfect “widget”, but if the rules say it is “out of class” don’t put it in or enter in another class where it is allowed.
Don’t think that the only reason you are going into competition is to get a trophy. The trophy is your reward for your hard work. The larger benefit comes to you and your club when you show your work back in your own show. Look around your own show; you may be surprised to find out how many of the best displays have been past winners or are by people that have won with other displays.