IMO- I think you should go ahead and do sanctioned events. As long as you are aware of the rules and turn in times, and are satisfied with how your finished product tastes I say Go For It!! If you really don't feel like you are ready to jump in with both feet, I suggest that you find a mentor team or pit bitch for a team and see what it's like first hand.
You may get burned your first time out, but the lessons learned from this will help you on the next try.
My team did this about 5 years ago and we are still learning but have a lot of good times in the process. It is also good to know how you measure up to your fellow cookers.
We will be doing a contest in Kearney Missouri (North of Kansas City) Sept. 16 - 17 and would be more than happy to show you the ropes.
The "Sauce Whisperer"
Award Winning Smokers, Sauces and Spices
PERFECT, PERFECT 180 CHICKEN 2011
1ST. PLACE PORK
AMERICAN ROYAL (OPEN) 2012
PERFECT SCORE180 IN RIBS 2013
BEST SAUCE IN THE WORLD ( BLUE COLLAR )
AMERICAN ROYAL 2009
BEST RUB IN THE WORLD ( HEFFER DUST )
AMERICAN ROYAL 2007
CISC Master BBQ Chef