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pigdog
08-17-2010, 02:52 PM
how many years was the span from starting q'ing for fun in the backyard to your first comp? I've been toying with the idea of comps, but I have a ton to learn just in the backyard. I guess it would be ok to go out and pull a Paul(1st pitmasters), but I'd rather not.

pd

Smoke & Beers
08-17-2010, 03:11 PM
19 months. I would have done it sooner, but that fear of "pulling a Paul" kept me from doing it sooner. My words of advice...go for it!
I've competed in 2 contests so far...got a 6th place call in Chicken at our first contest thanks to my teammate TrustTheDust and a first place call in Brisket my last go round.
We'll be competing in our 3rd contest ever in two weeks with hopefully equal or even better results...

pigdog
08-17-2010, 03:15 PM
good for you S and B. Those are definitely accomplishments to be proud of. I'd have to upgrade my cookers considerably.

pigdog
08-17-2010, 03:17 PM
Do you use your barrels for comp?

tmcmaster
08-17-2010, 03:20 PM
2 years. Most of that time was due to monitary and new baby issues.

If I had any advice to give, it would be to find a team in the Mentoring Section of this fine forum (Mods; make my check out to...:becky:) and work with them for a contest or two if you can. You'll work your butt off, make some lifelong friends and learn more than you thought possible. Ask questions, take notes, listen... And above all else HAVE FUN!!! This is the greatest hobby (obsession, whatever) on Earth and the coolest people on Earth are as equally obsessed as we are.

cgwaite
08-17-2010, 03:41 PM
tmcmaster is right on the mark! The mentoring area is there especially for those who want to get their feet wet in competition BBQ. If you can't hook up with any local brethren, at least attend a local competition or two. Talk to as many of the cooking teams as you can and observe everything. You will discover all sorts of different methods to produce good BBQ.

Competition BBQ is different from backyard BBQ. If your backyard BBQ is done a little late, it's not that big of a deal. In a competition, it is. A backyard BBQ is the place to experiment with new sauces, rubs and techniques, but definitely not at a competition. I have only done a couple competitions myself, but the focus is more on time management and eliminating any "variables" that could creep into the cooking process. The objective is always to produce a specific result within the exact time frame provided.

As for your question it took me about twenty years to go from backyard cook to my first competition. That being said, I wish that I had done it a lot sooner. But then, I didn't have the BBQ Brethren site to teach me what I needed to know!

Good luck!

Anchors Smokeshop
08-17-2010, 05:24 PM
I bought my first smoker, a Char-Broil Silver Smoker (COS) in 2007 and used it a few times each summer to smoke ribs. I joined this website in 2009 looking for some help with my ribs and began to take backyard bbq very serious. In 2010, I got 2 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountains and a 22.5" Weber Kettle and decided to take my passion for bbq to the next level. It was the knowledgeable and friendly members of this website that convinced me to enter a competiton. So in May 2010 I began practicing heavily in my backyard. After going crazy practicing, making checklists and timelines, making and modifying rub and bbq sauce recipes, I was ready to enter my first competition, The Battle of the BBQ Brethren, in August 2010.
I took 4th place in the pork category and 31 out of 36 overall. I would've done better but I got hammered in the chicken category. (Note: If something tastes good when you cook it in your backyard, don't change the recipe at a competition!) It doesn't really matter what place I came in though, the fact that I had a great time with my father and uncle, met some really cool people, especially the brethren, and learned a few things made it a success.
So, my advice is, if you are considering entering a competition, just do it. Go and have fun and don't take it too serious. Everyone there was a rookie at one point. And you'd be suprised to see how friendly and helpful the other teams can be. If you're serious about it, look in the events section of this website, or on the kcbs website, and look for an event near where you live. Find out if any brethren are competing in this event and pm that person and see if they can mentor you.
Bottom line, if you practice and prepare, and don't go into it thinking you're going to walk away the Grand Champion, you will have fun and you won't regret it.
I had so much fun at my first event that I am now competiting in 2 more events in the next month. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.
Good Luck!

CivilWarBBQ
08-17-2010, 07:21 PM
Johnny did various non-sanctioned stuff for three years before we hooked up. After 18 months of cooking together, we started entering sanctioned shows as "pro" cooks.

Smiter Q
08-17-2010, 07:31 PM
:arrow:Where is the "mentoring" section?

I am looking for a BBQ Yoda in my neck of the woods.:pray::biggrin1:

Lake Dogs
08-17-2010, 07:34 PM
Guess this is going to age me, but +- 25 years. Lots of reading along the way, and
lots of trial and ERROR. The web would've shortened it greatly. Now 6+- years ago
I started judging. It REALLY helped see what was coming across the table and why
something won and why something didn't do well. Then talking to successful
competitors and later helping a few out when not judging. Then about 3 years ago
we started on our own. So far we've about broken even on the money, and to me
that's not too bad for a hobby. I still judge some times too, but I really prefer the
competition and goofing with friends.

swamprb
08-17-2010, 07:49 PM
Just get involved! If there is a BBQ organization in your part of the country, become a member. Volunteer your time, become a judge, take a BBQ 101 or Competition class. It is not a cheap hobby, so start planning what you'll need to cook the 4 meats on. PNWBA is all about mentoring new teams that want learn.

CBQ
08-17-2010, 07:52 PM
I cooked for 2 years before jumping in the ring, and the first couple of years I only did 2 or 3 a year before moving on to the current "Hey, we are competing 5 weekends in a row" kind of schedule.

Don't wait, it's a learn-by-doing kind of sport. Look for reasonably priced contests to start, and do a practice cook. Maybe you make great stuff, but can you cook everything at once on the same smoker and have it all done on time? Have a plan, test it, and then dive in.

Anchors Smokeshop
08-17-2010, 09:46 PM
:arrow:Where is the "mentoring" section?

I am looking for a BBQ Yoda in my neck of the woods.:pray::biggrin1:

In the competition bbq section.

TrustTheDust
08-17-2010, 11:06 PM
Do you use your barrels for comp?

Yep. 2 UDS and a Traeger that we use just for chicken.

Ken V
08-17-2010, 11:14 PM
Just over a year and a half.

Ken

Spanx
08-17-2010, 11:24 PM
About 11 years for me, I never knew there was such thing as BBQ competitions until our city hosted one a few years back. It was an MBN comp and we just thought it would be a bunch of locals. We borrowed a pit and only entered ribs, we came in 7 th out of 30 teams and were very surprised. We only did the local comp 1 time a year but I have now bought my own pit so we travel to a few a year now. I've never done anything but MBN and unsanctioned events so far.

Alexa RnQ
08-17-2010, 11:38 PM
We got our first offset smoker, a Bar-B-Chef (!) in July 2005. We didn't even know there was such a thing as BBQ competitions until we heard of and entered a local one in November 2006. We took QN4U's class the following February, spent most of that year practicing and helped out on a couple of cooks, then debuted as RnQ on Labor Day weekend 2007. It's been all downhill since.

Captain P.J.
08-18-2010, 12:17 AM
It has been about 2 years of really doing a lot of research as well as trial and error. My first contest was a first year event that was pretty small (23 teams). It had a small entry fee ($50), and all I thought was at least I could meet some cool new people, have a beer or two and make some leftovers for lunch for the upcoming week. I ended up having a blast, getting a call for my pork (8th place) and learned about the Brethern from Stockcar BBQ! So I say go for it, and like me, at least you will have leftovers for lunch and meet some cool people!!

Smokesman
08-18-2010, 06:47 AM
I've been messing around with low and slow for at least 15 years in one form or another on anything from a modified gasser, clay pots alla alton brown, to el cheapo uprights and offsets. My now BBQ partner (cousin's husband) who loves to cook as much as I do decided to put some money into a real smoker and settled on a 22 WSM in April of last year. I helped him fire it up the first time with some loin backs and the results blew our minds. Best ribs by far either of us had ever cooked. So I bought a WSM as well and we quickly improved our results and got many accolades from family and friends. This led to the crazy idea of entering a bbq contest so we settled on the backyard event at Ribberfest in Madison, IN last August. Got a 2nd place call in brisket and of course we were hooked! This BTW was IndianaGriller's (aka Big JT) first outing as well were he got 1rst place in brisket. :boxing: :-D We didn't make this connection until meeting up this year at a pro comp in Liberty, IN. Anyway we did 2 backyard events last year and a whole lot of cooking and have done 3 sanctioned and one open this year. Have managed a call at every outing including a GC at the open event and a 2nd place rib in Liberty. Getting consistent top notch results on ribs, pork and brisket...chicken though is another story. Those little buggers (thighs) are a pain in the arse!

RobKC
08-18-2010, 08:38 AM
It took me way too long to jump into competition BBQ. When I turned 18 and left home for college, I took my dad's old Weber kettle with me. It was 20 years later that I attended my first contest, one in Gladstone MO. I got the bug at that point and found myself helping on several teams over the next 15 years. Timing was never right to officially join a team though. Three years ago, Chris and I decided to form our own team and Border War Smokers was born. This is our 2nd year competing. I guess when the years are added up it took me about 36 years to get my own team started.

ZILLA
08-18-2010, 08:43 AM
About 10 years for me. Just jump in and do it.

early mornin' smokin'
08-18-2010, 08:46 AM
jumped right in. Had a weber performer and one touch, added a pro-q 20excel to my arsenal and went to the 2nd battle of the brethren in sayville. Cooked my first brisket and butt there and didn't place DAL and I was hooked. Cooked my 3rd brisket at williepalooza 08' and got 3rd place brisket. We took this year off, busy year for my whole team. But we'll be back next year, we've all got the bug.

Yazoo's
08-18-2010, 08:46 AM
With the availability of competition classes, forums and informational sites, exceedingly well built cookers and commercial rubs and sauces, there is no reason for a long, drawn out process of "maturing" to enter contests. While you may not jump right out into the winners circle, some research and practice cooks in the backyard should prepare you pretty quickly. At the end of the day, you just have to jump in and do it!

Bourbon Barrel BBQ
08-18-2010, 10:08 AM
I started cooking BBQ in 08. In 09 I stepped up and bought a BGE. I had no intentions of cooking comps and to be honest didn't know they existed. I'm not ashamed to say BBQ pitmasters got me hooked on the idea of doing comps. I saved up cash, bought a bigger cooker, took a class and did my first comp last weekend. Reserve Grand first trip out. Shocked the hell out of me. Basically don't wait just jump in feet first.

Cliff H.
08-18-2010, 10:23 AM
I hung around with Double D and his wife for two comps. I am sure I was annoying. Every time he got up to check his pit temp, I made a point to be right there with him. The only place I didn't follow Dallas or his wife to was to the bathroom.:shocked:

The exposure was priceless.

I have yet to compete. When I make ribs that my wife says are good, then, well, maybe then. She is a very honest critic.:mad2:

Good Luck

Bigmista
08-18-2010, 11:25 AM
2 years for me. Get the book "Starting The Fire". It will give you years of insight about starting a BBQ team. And read everything you can here.

And I seem to remember someone's first contest being the American Royal...

JiveTurkey
08-18-2010, 01:04 PM
I've been cooking since I was knee high to my dad. It wasn't until earlier this year that I helped a team at a local comp since it was just down the road from my house I and was officially bitten by the bug. Been having a blast ever since. My advice is help a team if you can just to see the logistics of the comp itself then jump in. Most contests don't require you too cook all 4 meats so start with 2 meats that you do well and grow from there. have fun and good luck.

4dueces
08-18-2010, 01:44 PM
I've been grillin most of my adult life. Built a smoker this spring, finished it in March. 1st comp was in May, jumped right in. Finished DAL, good start huh? Second comp was in June, 1st place for our ribs. We practice almost every weekend with something, briskets, ribs, fattys, ABT's and whatever else we choose to throw on the smoker. Next comp is Sept 3-4, briskets, butts, ribs and chicken. We're in it for fun, meeting new people and making friends along the way. And if we happen to win something or just finish well once in a while,then the ride will have been great.

42BBQ
08-18-2010, 03:08 PM
Good post and question, same one bouncing around my own head. So I read all the responses carefully. Just started queing this summer, might start competing next summer.

JiveTurkey
08-18-2010, 04:46 PM
I'd have to upgrade my cookers considerably.

No you don't. I cook on 2 homemade UDS' that cost me practically nothing to build and a Weber kettle. Next comp I'm bringing a new Spicewine to cook PC food on, comp food still goes on the drums! Something is inherently wrong with that on some level.

PigTamer
08-18-2010, 09:32 PM
Gentlemen,

I have been in the same boat as PIGDOG, been backyard seriously for 2 years and look to practice and plan thru the winter and try a comp in the spring. I want to thank all for the help and the confidence that all has shown.

Anchors Smokeshop
08-18-2010, 10:03 PM
Gentlemen,

I have been in the same boat as PIGDOG, been backyard seriously for 2 years and look to practice and plan thru the winter and try a comp in the spring. I want to thank all for the help and the confidence that all has shown.

That's the spirit. Practice all winter, read through hundreds of threads on this site, pick the brains of the brethren, make and modify a bunch of rub and bbq sauce recipes, get organized, and you will be ready for battle come springtime. :boxing:

Captain Caveman
08-18-2010, 11:02 PM
good for you S and B. Those are definitely accomplishments to be proud of. I'd have to upgrade my cookers considerably.

I have NEVER cooked on a comercial pit (other than a webber grill). All of my stuff is homeade. Just learn YOUR pit and don't fight it. If it want's to run hot learn to cook hot and fast, if it wants to run cool, learn low and slow. Just make sure you have a clean fire.

indianagriller
08-19-2010, 01:24 AM
Like Smokesman said Madison Ribberfest was my first comp and first call i started cooking bbq in May of last year and kind of took off from there. Ribberfest 2009 hooked me into comp Q once you get that call you are hooked. Cant describe that feeling! Hey Smokesman when you got that rib call who took 1st LOL!

rksylves
08-19-2010, 07:09 AM
Always wanted a smoker and so in December 2008 I bought my 18 WSM. I was searching around for information on how to use it and found this site, Virtual Weber, and FBA. Did some reading up on FBA and decided to go to Live Oak 2009 as a spectator. Met Tim (Flirtin' with Disaster) who let me hang around for a few comps. Been competing on my own since.

Russ

Smokesman
08-19-2010, 09:06 AM
Like Smokesman said Madison Ribberfest was my first comp and first call i started cooking bbq in May of last year and kind of took off from there. Ribberfest 2009 hooked me into comp Q once you get that call you are hooked. Cant describe that feeling! Hey Smokesman when you got that rib call who took 1st LOL!

:confused: Hmmm, I don't seem to recall? My memory is a little hazy possibly from sleep deprivation? :-P

sitnfat
08-19-2010, 09:17 AM
my BIL and I had talked about doing it we both love bbq. I went to the Jack last year and told him we can do this. I was able to go down to Mobile AL and help Ford down there learned alot and got my feet wet helping him so if someone needs help and you can go I highly recommend it we have been competeing about once a month and wish i could do more have placed in something in all but one and in the last comp got 3 calls one of those being peoples choice.. just understand on thing this is a very very very addicting hobby and I have had several this is by far the most addiciting good luck

Jeff Selle
08-19-2010, 10:46 AM
We just started this spring ... We were going to do one contest on Father's Day with our Dad. We did the cook school before the event, and I won Grand Champion at the school, and I was hooked. We did the Father's day thing and now 4 other comps... we've walked at every one of them... Now, the whole team is hooked...

Our lives will never be the same...

Podge
08-19-2010, 10:55 AM
Started the interest in BBQ around 1994.. screwed up ribs 2-3 times a year. Got frustrated a lot.. 1997, went to Memphis in May, it was then I decided that BBQ competition is something I wanted to do… Waited 7 years until 2004 before I competed.. Madison, and just dove into the ‘pro’ division.. 16th out of 47 and I was hooked.. rest is history.

Smokesman
08-19-2010, 12:25 PM
Started the interest in BBQ around 1994.. screwed up ribs 2-3 times a year. Got frustrated a lot.. 1997, went to Memphis in May, it was then I decided that BBQ competition is something I wanted to do… Waited 7 years until 2004 before I competed.. Madison, and just dove into the ‘pro’ division.. 16th out of 47 and I was hooked.. rest is history.

And quite the history it has been Podge! What are your prospects for the Jack draw this year? Kettering is a least one draw right? Good luck in Madison this weekend!

Southern Home Boy
08-19-2010, 01:18 PM
I've been cooking since I was eight years old and barbecueing/grilling since I was 10. That was over 30 years ago :shock:

A couple of years ago, I got this crazy notion to create, market and sell my own line of BBQ sauces and seasonings with a buddy of mine. We created the recipes, did a lot of test cooks, put together a business plan and got a very small test batch run and bottled.

We told some friends and neighbors what were doing and someone mentioned that there was a BBQ comp literally just down the street from where I lived.

Thinking this would be a good way to do a little more market research and peddle a few extra bottles of sauce, we signed up. Knew absolutetly NOTHING about competition BBQ. Had never heard of it before.

There were 80 teams in that comp. We took 6th in Brisket and 2nd in ribs and were in the top 25% in all other categories. I was hooked!

So, to answer the question, it took me about 29 years to go from the back yard to comps.:wink:

DawgPhan
08-19-2010, 05:41 PM
I had a hand me down Electric Brinkman for about 6 months before I entered my first contest, Dillard in 2005. Got called for 3rd place in ribs and 7th pork and it was all down hill...sadly that remains my highest dillard call after 4 more trips to dillard.

Bigmista
08-19-2010, 08:00 PM
Exactly what I did at my last contest except I had a Chargriller instead of a weber kettle.

No you don't. I cook on 2 homemade UDS' that cost me practically nothing to build and a Weber kettle. Next comp I'm bringing a new Spicewine to cook PC food on, comp food still goes on the drums! Something is inherently wrong with that on some level.