Yup, that's the best plan I know. The "local" clubs I know of are IDPA and they let you shoot the first match free if you join IDPA. Since IDPA lets the local club have some of the $$ for joining it works out.
Helping out with the taping, clean-up, etc is THE way to go. Not only do you get to prove your value but you probably pick up more friends and advice than if you left early. Personally I think it gives you a competative edge too. You get more time and more hands on at the stages so when you're shooting them you have more of a feel for it.