40K was a lot of fun starting out, but it quickly got pretty tired. Playing a game like 40K requires that you really have a good group of people to consistently play it with, or else, you're likely to get burned out pretty fast. I happened to start the game playing with only one other person - we were never really able to turn any of our other friends to the hobby, which meant that we were constantly running the same armies against each other. After you run the 20th game of Space Marines vs. Necrons, you're also pretty likely to get burned out. So, we were pretty much forced to find better, more interesting opponents to play against outside of our circle of gamer buddies who refused to join the miniature game revolution.
That's pretty much how I started playing in 40K Tournaments. Our FLGS held Tournaments, like I mentioned earlier in this series, on most weekends. The cost was only $5 to enter, but you had to field a significant number of points in order to play. After a few months of saving up the cash, buying the minis, painting and basing them, I finally had enough Tournament-ready models to bring my Space Marine army down to the local tournament.
My first experience with 40K tournament play was pretty bad. Having only played against one other person who was interested in the game/hobby I had become incapable of fighting off anything other than Necrons :P I found myself getting destroyed pretty quickly most of the time, but after several months of play, I start developing as a player. I never won a single 40K Tournament, but I came close a few times. Playing against other, more skilled players, who had interesting and distinct armies, was reward enough - though I did pull down a few solid victories during my time playing the game on a competitive level.
Going to one of the Games Workshop Games Days clinched it for me. After that I would become hopelessly enthralled with the game and would end up building a number of different armies to play around with.