I'm going to say that the best way to learn about this is to go and actually watch it. Go to the ranges and talk with the shooters. They've got decades of experience behind them, and they're all doing exactly what you want to do. I know when someone asks me about matches, I'm more than willing to tell them ANYTHING they want/need to know.
Keep in mind, though... You will run into a few ***holes. Simply thank them for their time, and find someone else... You'd be surprised, too. As Jesse said, some of them will even let you take their gun for a spin, no matter how customized. I second him... If you came up to me really wanting to know (and being respectful), pending your parents' ok, I'd hand you my .45 and take you on the range, no problem. The way I see it is the more competition I have on the range, the more excuses I have to get to the range to practice, and the longer the sport will live on.