We do 10-12 competitions, usually more if you count grilling events, in a season. We have no sponsors, but we have the best teammates in the entire WORLD!
This is the greatest sport (hobby) there is... I wouldn't want to do anything else. We bring our kids (who also cook), so it's a family adventure. We love to 'roadtrip' with our mates. We make BBQ friends all over the country, and get to see places we probably would never go if it weren't for competing. And winning every now and then doesn't hurt either!
Although, I have to admit, my house is really in need of some paint!
Too bad, it can wait...
To try to get back to your original question... I PLAN well in advance...
lunchmeat BBQ team
President - New England BBQ Society
2 Backwoods Partys
WSM, 2 Weber kettles, Weber Performer