The only West Coast entry to place, Down at the Delta ESB came in 3rd in the English Ales category at Ohio Brew Week 2011 home brew competition (a BJCP sanctioned competition) and the scoring sheet is here.
One of the main reasons to enter a Home brew competition is to find out what you are doing right as well as what you are doing wrong. Your beer is judged by strangers who have no idea who you are, or who brewed the beer they are judging. They are also not your encouraging friends and/or family members who stroke your ego and tell you how great your beer is, although, that is nice too. A home brew competition is supposed to be judged by qualified, objective, and educated judges who do not care if they hurt your feelings.
Judging beer is much more than sitting around, getting drunk, and ripping apart people's beer, well that's probably part of it, but there is an official scoring sheet to be filled out with meaningful opinions and observations. Those scoring sheets are then sent/given back to the brewer. This type of feedback is, in my opinion, worth way more than the cost of shipping three bottles of beer from Washington (state) to Ohio. Getting a medal out of it is pretty cool too.