Garrett, welcome aboard!
I'm in TN, so wrong 'T' state to be nearby and help you. Failing finding a nearby person, I'd suggest using a remote method.
Start by searching Youtube for some good videos. This is a pretty good video IMO. Well shot and you can hear pretty clearly what the callers are doing.
Next up, on FB (if you do FB), there is a group called 'Competition Duck and Goose Callers'. Join the group and lurk in the group. Learn by watching what others have posted. When you feel comfortable, post up a vid and let others critique it. Plan to do this with a thick skin. Contest calling is all about being judged. Several of the top ten from Stuttgart last year regularly offer critique in there right now.
Get yourself a good contest call. If you have an outfitter nearby that has a selection of calls (competition calls) nearby, then go there. There are obviously tons of opinions of what will win and what will not. The results speak. This year was an Echo year on Mainstreet.
I blew in one mainstreet contest last summer (a money contest, non-qualifier) and took 2nd. Was told that my call was what held me back. I was blowing a 20+ year old Richentone contest call that Butch made for me. I elected to head over to Stuttgart during duck season and get myself a new contest call. I spent some time with my buddy Jimbo and he set up a new RNT MVP for me. I plan to be ready for this year.
As for running your own call - two things -
- First, you must be able to run a contest call at the absolute top level limit without question first. You'll be beating your head against the wall trying to design a contest call if you cannot even run one. I've been competing in competitions since I was a teen, and building calls since I was a pre-teen. I do have 1 win and a bunch of top 5's with my competition call. However, I'm not running my competition call now because it is not up to par with current comp calls and I'm beating my head against the wall trying to get it there - and that is with 30 years of experience!!!
- Second, learn to design and build calls very successfully before you try to design a contest calls. A lot of people put contest calling and contest calls down, but anyone who has tried will tell you that building a contest call is the most difficult kind of call to build by far. Learn to walk before learning to run.