The competition section of each PGI Convention is intended to foster interest and develop the skills of the membership in the construction and/or display of pyrotechnic devices, and to give all members a chance to admire, study, and better understand those devices. The overall competition is divided into three divisions for member-built pyrotechnics and one division for commercially produced items. The divisions are: 

  1. Aerial Shell Competitions 
  2. Rocket Competitions 
  3. Ground Competitions
  4. Class C Competitions 

Within the divisions, there are two types of competition, “Level” and “Best”. The “Level” competitions are intended to allow competitors to demonstrate steadily increasing knowledge of the craft from novice to expert. The “Best” competitions are ones in which all competitors attempt to build the best examples possible of a particular device. 

Trophies are awarded for first and second place in “Level” competitions and first place in “Best” competitions. A trophy will be awarded for second place in “Best” competitions when there are more than six competitors in that competition. In all cases, a minimum score of at least 4.6 must be achieved for a trophy to be awarded.

The complete 2019 PGI Convention Competition Rules are available for download.

Questions? .

The Gerry Gits Challenge 

Gerry Gits was an accomplished fireworks maker and lifelong member of the PGI.  For many years Gerry served as the PGI’s Chief Judge at the annual convention.  During his tenure as Chief Judge, Gerry created a new competition category he called the ‘Judges Challenge’.   Its purpose was to give competitors the opportunity to take an idea and ‘challenge’ them to use their creative talents to present it as a work in pyrotechnics.

Sadly, we lost Gerry on Christmas Eve, 2007.  To honor Gerry’s many years of service to the PGI as Chief Judge, in 2008 the award was renamed “The Gerry Gits Challenge” 

The Gerry Gits Challenge is different every year and is announced for the next year immediately following the PGI convention in August.  

The 2019 Gerry Gits Challenge - “Wild Wild West”

by Chief Judge Dr. Arthur R. Tilford

The Wild West was so named for the rough and lawless untamed territories west of the Mississippi River during a 30-year period, from 1865 to 1895.  The farther west from the Mississippi River, the wilder it got and was dubbed the Wild Wild West. 

This period was famous for cowboys, native Indians, lawmen, gunfighters, pioneers, prospectors, gamblers, scouts, outlaws, gangs, fur trappers, and black powder miners who could blow a hole in the side of a mountain for treasure. Wyoming, an official territory since 1868, was part of this period, and had a real zest for equality and Wyoming became the first state to offer the women’s right to vote (even though it was a territory at the time).

When Wyoming became a state in 1890, this rule of women’s equality remained. Thus, Wyoming is nicknamed both the “Cowboy State” and the “Equality State.” Famous people of the Wild Wild West included Wyatt Earp, “Wild Bill” Hickok, “Billy the Kid,” Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Frank and Jesse James and the Clanton gang. 

The most notorious event was the Gunfight at the O.K. Coral. Paralleling  this  summary  with  the  Gerry Gits challenge 2019, a series of pyro devices come to mind from the small table top “Devil among the Tailors” mine (hmm, I’ve never seen a giant one), to the much larger tethered “Devil Wheel” with its terminal  surprise,  and  then  to  the  un-tethered, mind-of-its-own, very large Girandola. 

On a much grander scale, lance-work possibilities are innumerable – covered wagons, bucking broncos, cowboy and  Indian  portrayals,  and shootouts. 

Those who chose to use music accompaniment might select from TV or motion picture wild west themes such as, “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “The Lone Ranger,” “The Big Country,” “How the West Was Won,” or “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.

This challenge is created for participation from all PGI members. Good luck to all participants.  (Remember, all devices must be approved by the safety committee).

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”

-Teddy Roosevelt