Neil, if you can take a KCBS Judging Class, I would strongly encourage it (for your buddy too)
It will give you a judging framework of how judges are initially instructed, with sample product to get a basis to understand judging criteria.
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Jack Reacher
Bandera, M-BGE, WSM, Gold Kettle, Kenmore Gasser, 36Qt Turkey Fryer, ECB, Dutch Oven