One of the joys of model rocketry is that there are a number of avenues that one can pursue in the hobby: sport flying, scale, oddball, competition and high-power among many others. As a club though, we are not much inclined towards competition. Saturday's flights included only 5 competition flights. I think that there were more CATO's than competition flights.
I am perplexed by the lack of interest. Perhaps it is a personal bias in favor of competition, or perhaps only history. When I started in rocketry competition was the reason for club launches. In the years since, the NAR has made competition easier, notably by fixing an annual set of events. Moreover, the past couple of NARCON''s have featured video presentations on most competition areas providing good information to those interested in competition. Yet, at the same time competition has become more difficult requiring the use of new materials and techniques. Fortunately, these materials are not any more expensive than anything else in sport rocketry and are readily available from the likes of ASP and Apogee. On the plus side, competition is low-power keeping the cost of engines reasonable.
Competition flying is challenging. It is difficult to believe, but to get the two flights in a duration event to go off as planned is not as easy as it sounds. Even the casual observer Saturday would note the CATO's, lawn darts, failed deployments, un-ignited clusters, unstable rockets and failed launches. I am not complaining here, merely observing that this hobby is challenging. Getting a clean flight is hard enough; getting two for time and qualification harder still. While there can be frustration aplenty, the good news is that under the current NRC system there is always next month's launch.
The reward is that reasonable results are achievable. I flew three NRC events on Saturday. A-Altitude was good enough to secure 8th place in the rankings. 1/4A-PD tied for 3rd (but already holding t-1st place with last summer's flight to Ireland). A-SD, 15th place, although already holding 9th from a flight last year.
Our June 10 launch is registered as an NRC launch. This will be our last launch in the current competition year (ending June 30). Come give competition a shot and see if adds a new dimension to your flying. Competition events are: A-Altitude, A-SD, 1/4A-PD, A-Payload, A-BG and for the truly adventurous, B-Egg Loft Duration.
I appreciate your passion and wish to take part in future competition events. For me the challenge is bringing my young kids along to launches, making my focus more on efficient use of l launch time versus preparation and focus on competition performance. Please continue to encourage this participation within our club!
There is always Junior Membership in the NAR for your kids. Then pick a couple of the more basic NRC events for them to try. There are many kits that can be used for PD and SD. First place in A Division PD is 45 seconds. The leading time in SD is 22 seconds. (These are 2 flight totals; thus an average of 22.5 seconds and 11 seconds for the PD and SD flights, respectively.) Your kids could be national champions.
I recommend a simple scratch-built model. The design is largely dictated by the size of the altimeter your use. I am using a PerfectFlite Firefly which needs a BT-20 tube. An NAR article can be found here, www.nar.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/A...load-Events-Wolf.pdf
that gives two designs, one based on a BT-5, the other on a BT-20. The BT-20 version with the payload section made a bit shorter (and the main tube correspondingly longer) is a good pace to start.