Going to a Competition

Heading to a competition is an exciting time. Competition is where you go to test your skills against other fencers. They are a lot of fun and can teach you a lot. Remember to go in with a humble attitude and an open mind. Always be respectful and polite to the referee, host club, and other fencers.

USA Fencing Membership

To attend a competition you will need a USA Fencing Membership. For Unsanctioned competitions you sometimes only need a non-competitive member, however most fencing events require you to have a Competitive Membership.

Competitive Memberships cost $75 per year and are renewed every August 1st. If you happen to be upgrading to Competitive for the first time and it is after April 1st, you Competitive Membership is good until the following August 1st!

You can get your USA Fencing membership on their website: www.usafencing.org

Finding a Competition

Fencing competitions are found at AskFred.net

It is a great resource that allows you to search competitions in a date range, proximity to location, and even weapon type. This database also automatically stores all the results from competitions as well.

On the home page click the more button in the upper right hand section of Tournaments Coming Soon widget

That will open a new window with drop down options to find events. You can enter a zipcode in the from field to search in a radius from that zipcode. Protip: You can adjust the search radius in the url or the search results by finding that parameter and changing it to what you want and then hit enter. I like to do this to find things 150 miles of closer. I find that I can make it to those events easier than ones over that distance. 

Things to pay attention to when signing up for a competition:

There are several different types of competition that are usually listed by age, gender, rating, or classification.

Age restrictions can be found here: https://www.usafencing.org/age-classification-eligibility Basically Y# events have a max age cap on them. Cadet and Junior events have an age minimum and a cap on them. Senior events have an age minimum of 13 and no cap. Vet events have an age minimum of 40 or as listed in the event and no cap on them. It gets a little weird because they go by birth year rather than birthday, so I recommend you check out the listed web page to make sure you are eligible to participate if you are on a borderline.

Rating and classification restricted tournaments. First it is important to know how fencers are ranked. When you join USA Fencing you earn your first rank U. U stands for unrated. Everyone starts out here. You gain ranks based on how you perform in sanctioned fencing events. All the ranks available  are A, B, C, D, E, and U. A is the highest and U is the lowest. Each rank is earned for an individual weapon and they decrease over time unless they are re-earned.

Restricting a tournament based on rank can happen two ways. The first is to say rank [A, B, C, D, E, or U] and under. This means anyone of that rank or lower may participate. The second is to name it as a DIV I, DIV IA (aka Open), DIV II, or DIV III event. DIV I events are only open to fencers of rank A-C, DIV IA (sometimes called open) is open to anyone, DIV II is open to C or lower rank, and DIV III is open to D or lower rank.

It can be confusing because some tournaments are geographically restricted to divisions. Those events you can only participate in if you are a member of that fencing division. This should not be confused with division based on rank. Usually only JO and National Qualifying events have the geographical division restriction.

Generally you will find that you have more success signing up in events that match your current age and ranking. IE a 13 year old U rated fencer will have more success in a U and under Y14 event than they would in a Senior Open. However just because you don't have as much success doesn't mean you shouldn't try the event. Just go in with humility and be prepared to learn as much as you can.

Gear Required

People planning on going to competitions should have:
  • electric mask (foil has bib, saber fully conductive, epee nothing conductive)
  • jacket
  • glove (FIE glove needed for Saber Competitors)
  • plastron (underarm protector)
  • plastic chest protector with foam layer (optional for males, mandatory for females)
  • knickers
  • two working weapons
  • two working body cords
  • two working mask cords (foil or saber only)
  • lame (foil or saber only)
  • a bag to carry it all in
  • long socks
  • non-marking, closed toed, athletic shoes with a good grip
If you need to buy stuff you can check out my post on that http://www.wsfencers.com/2018/05/buying-gear.html 

Optional things to pack:
  • a floor towel (this is a small hand towel used to wipe your feet and prevent slips)
  • a towel to dry off (you will sweat!)
  • change of clothes
  • plastic bag to store wet gear and towels
  • change of shoes (you should just use your fencing shoes for fencing)
  • repair supplies
  • snacks
  • water and sports drinks
Go out and have fun. Remember to get some pictures and video if you can. If you do take video remember to get both fencers in the frame and the scoring box. It is also helpful to get the referee as well.