I am taking a group of young kids to Amarillo tomorrow to a competition. Mostly beginners. On the low side, a few of them can barely do the lifts legally. On the high side, fairly proficient in technique, but not strong.
I could care less how they "place" or "rank". There are things you can ONLY learn by competing.
I would encourage everyone to compete as early as possible, compete as often as possible, etc. I would have a meet here every Saturday if I had the facilities for it.
Most people put way too much importance on how well they will do, really overestimate the importance of how they do in their first meet. Better to just go and have fun. Put up some numbers and have fun doing it.
Competitions are fun, especially if you are a beginner and have the right mindset. If your on Team USA and at the Pan Americans representing your country, in some hot and humid arena in the middle of Guatemala, have an unfriendly audience, have been "escorted" by guys with M-16's to guard you from the gangs and kidnappers for 5 days, and are going out for your third lift which will vault you into gold over some socialist Venezuelan bastard, then its a different experience, rewarding in its own way, but not what id call "fun". But if your a beginner, dont ramp the stress level up to the above scenario for no reason. Just go out, lift weights, put some numbers up, have a good time and establish a baseline to beat next time out.