Mentorship Event Tips
Mentorship is a new event designed to promote and reward getting new rocketeers involved in competition. There is no silver bullet to winning this event, but there are several good ideas that you can borrow from others to get your friends interested in competition rocketry.
Once you’ve got a section and you have a contest coming up, how do you get others interested? You need to connect with them. If your club has club meetings, talk to others about competing in the contest. Bring some of your competition rockets to show them. If your club only has launches, bring some rockets to a non-contest launch and fly them. Get others interested by showing them various things you’ve already learned. If the events are interesting, some may have their own ideas that they’d like to try. If the events aren’t interesting, ask what events they would be interested in flying and talk to your Contest Director about flying them next time!
If your club has build sessions, ask your club officers if you can lead a build session focusing on one of the upcoming contest events. If your club has some funds, buy a bulk order of kits ahead of time and charge members for them at the build session (or give them away). If you don’t have funds, apply for a section grant and ask! You’ll find lots of events can be built from parts, you may just want to front the money yourself, the worst thing you’ll be stuck with is a bunch of extra rocket parts!
You can also use your club’s email list, web page, or facebook page to recruit some new competitors. It usually only takes showing people the interesting technical challenges that competition presents for someone to get interested. Start with a single event to talk up a little bit. Take some photos of your rockets and talk about what you’re planning to enter.
If you can’t find current club members interested in flying the contest, go recruit some new NAR members! This isn’t that hard. If you’re in school, many classmates might be interested given the opportunity. If your 4-H club, CAP group or scouting group does rocketry, some of your friends may be interested in getting involved in competition rocketry. If your TARC team wants to improve their skills, you can get involved in contest rocketry, many of the skills transfer directly over. You can even ask your Contest Director to hold a version of TARC at a NAR competition. Your friends and workmates may also be interested in competition rocketry, or so might their children!
So you’ve gotten a few more people interested in coming to a contest. Your mission does not stop there! At the event, help them with their flights. Inspect their rockets before and during preparing them for flight, helping them to avoid common mistakes that lead to disqualifications. As a section, you should all help each other watch where models land so that the owner can retrieve them easily. Congratulate them on good flights. Don’t forget to help out the contest director, launches run more smoothly when they have an extra timer or someone to mark returned on the flight cards.
If you’ve done a good job, your friends will get their friends involved. The next contest will be even bigger. You may want to invest in a club tower to get better performance in many events. You may want to buy a few altimeters if your club uses them for altitude events to share amongst the many new competitors. Remember that section grant, you could apply for that for both of these too!
If you’ve done all these things, congratulations, you’ve just helped NAR competition grow a few percent. Your club may be holding the biggest meets in the country (most meets around the nation have only 10 competitors, only a handful have more than 20).
Your friends could now think about carpooling to a nearby club’s contest or even a NARAM. Sharing a ride is lots of fun and great way to talk rockets all the way to NARAM and back. If you have some B division aged competitors in your group, consider applying for a B Division Travel Grant. If NARAM is far, consider having one or two people drive so the rest can fly. While it is possible to fly in completely, you’ll have to ship models, arrange to buy motors at the field (don’t ship them!) and worry about things getting broken, but many rocketeers do it every year.
In short, the more fun and interesting you make competition rocketry for others, the more interest you’ll get. Be warned, your own competitiveness may suffer somewhat, but the rewards are worth it!