Is Competition Rocketry Dead?

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majordude

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I grew up on the east coast and flew with NOVAAR.

We had club launches and regionals. Clubs from MD and NJ would get together for fun.

Now I live in SoCal.

There are at least three clubs local to me: DART, ROC and SCRA.

They all fly sport.

When I read the NAR newsletter it appears that 99% of all rocketry is sport.

Are competitions dead?
 

o1d_dude

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LUNAR flies a lot of Competition but as noted above, the proponents tend to run those contests whiles others fly Sport.

A bit of a drive for you though, Major.
 

BEC

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We've had on again/off again competition in the Pacific Northwest....with a look towards getting something going again this season.

But it is a small group of folks, that's for sure.
 

manixFan

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The local club I used to belong to is pretty big into NAR competitions. It is always the same small group of flyers and they often had to cancel or postpone competitions due to lack of interest. When they did hold contests it was that same small group of flyers who entered and won. But they would hold their contests during regular launches and make everyone else wait until they did their launches which caused some hard feelings among those who paid to fly but then took a back seat to contest flights. That and the 'pink book lawyer' attitude some of them would adopt that took all of the fun out of the contests. I started out very interested in contests but soon lost interest when I got exposed to those who were running them.

If competitions are dead in our area it's because of a few who took them way too seriously and took the fun out of the contests. It's a hobby not a profession. The term 'pink book lawyer' isn't a term of endearment, but applies to those who take the fun out of contests.

Just my observations, your mileage may have varied.


Tony
 

mikec

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If competitions are dead in our area it's because of a few who took them way too seriously and took the fun out of the contests.
I've certainly heard of this happening in some places, but let me offer a counterpoint from my own experience in DART: the people doing competitions were nothing but welcoming, inclusive, and helpful. The competitions were on a separate area of the field with dedicated equipment so as not to interfere with the main launch, and the rules were followed, but not to excess. But it was never a large group flying, some have drifted away from the hobby, and the contest director got busy with other stuff.

The OP said "When I read the NAR newsletter it appears that 99% of all rocketry is sport." Keep in mind that there are at least a couple of issues a year of SPORT ROCKETRY that are totally dominated by NARAM and Internats competition news. But those are national or international events and probably only consist of a core group of less than 100 people. I'm not sure where regional competition is still very active.

It may be that TARC has used up many of the time resources that used to go to running competitions.
 

Bat-mite

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TARC is all competitive, no? Then there is the International Space Modeling Championship. NARHAMS here in MD does semi-annual competitions.
 

kjohnson

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Semi-annual? NARHAMS and NOVAAR used to have monthly competitions back in the '80s!
NARHAMS still hosts a regional a year, but there hasn't been as much interest in having more competitions recently. We do a few "fun contests" a year and focus more on LPR.

NOVAAR provides most of the support for TARC finals and runs the Capitol Cup as a regional and FAI World Cup event, but seem to fly more HPR these days.

Both clubs have a pretty good representation on the FAI side as of late.

Competition isn't dead- but the hobby itself has changed. More folks are into MPH and HPR, and into achieving individual goals, and frankly there hasn't been much innovation on the competition side. Folks seem more interested in arguing about the rules instead of just flying by them to make NAR competition very fun. I still enjoy flying in NAR contests as a member of a team, and still manage to make it fun for me, but the real challenge for me is trying to up my FAI game right now.

kj
 

James Duffy

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Ok so NAR competition isn't dead but maybe a niche within a niche hobby ?]
That's a great way to describe it!

I can speak only for myself, but after I tasted FAI competition the NAR variety became a distant memory. In particular, the continuity of events from year to year allows one to get much, much deeper into the intricacies of an event. In NAR competition you might invest months building and practicing for a NARAM event that might never be flown again.

James
 

samb

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That's a great way to describe it!

I can speak only for myself, but after I tasted FAI competition the NAR variety became a distant memory. In particular, the continuity of events from year to year allows one to get much, much deeper into the intricacies of an event. In NAR competition you might invest months building and practicing for a NARAM event that might never be flown again.

James
I've certainly enjoyed past World Championship reports from exotic locales. Perhaps they could hold one in Texas someday ? :)
 

Daddyisabar

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To my knowledge at CRASH the 2016 Bruce Markielewski Memorial Rocket Contest did not have one participant from outside the club, maybe one independent and a proxy. We have lost our core competitors and at this point 2017 does not look bright for continuing competition. All interest is sport, mostly mid to lower end high power, with standard LPR and Scout Troops bringing in the masses. From second place at NARAM a few years back to recently asking is someone going to run it next year. For now, it is dead.
 

High Desert Rocketry

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As many have indicated, a director or organizer is needed to run a competition. There are several existing nation/world wide that I have worked with...TARC, ESRA/IREC, NASA SLI and just announced yesterday, the FAR-Mars Prize.

http://http://friendsofamateurrocketry.org/Launch_Contest.html

All of these are for students and I have already had many adult amateurs inquire if they can compete in the FAR-Mars Prize (no). For years I have been planning something like a 'FAR 50', charge $50 registration fee and the closest to 50,000' wins all the registration fees minus the $10 launch fee FAR charges. Just what the competition is for is up to the organizers...I would not be interested in anything like highest altitude on an Estes D type of competition but would like something like closest to 25,000' on the least propellant weight...one point for each foot altitude and one point subtracted for each foot below or above 25,000' and one point subtracted for each gram of propellant.

Rick
 

caveduck

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Competition is hardly dead, but the overwhelming majority of activity is now in TARC. With 800+ teams this year and around 5000 team members, TARC participation is now nearly comparable to the entire size of the NAR (just as a point of comparison; many TARC student participants are not NAR members). There's also a fair amount of activity now in college programs including NASA Student Launch and others. Before TARC, the number of classic LPR NAR competitors was never more than a few hundred, even at its peak in the early 1970s when a quarter or more of NAR members competed. In the present, we have nearly 7000 members but get around 100 contestants at NARAM plus up to a hundred more sport / HPR / partial week fliers. These days NARAM really benefits from a large field and a high HPR waiver like any other big launch. The number of NAR competitions outside NARAM has gone down a lot, though I don't have numbers for that. The USA Internats crowd has at least doubled from historic levels but it's still probably under 100 people active.
 

gdjsky01

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Self 'apologetic' post. :(
You WANT a contest? HOLD ONE.
SCRA has long said it's willing to hold contests.. Just not run them. But of course you have abide by their rules and regs. And that is almost always the issue. Refusing as the Contest Director to check your ego at the gate. JMO
 
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