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 When to Start Fencing Competitions?

Fencing Intro


Find a Fencing Club Kids Fencing Fencing Equipment Fencing Terms
Referee Signals Fencing Penalties Three essential skills of fencing Tips for Selecting a Fencing  Teacher Tips and Advice on Fencing Competitions
Equipment Care

Competition is not mandatory but it is essential in the learning process if you intend to become a high level-fencer.  Once you have passed the beginner's level and have gained some experience you may want to consider competition.  It is important that you feel confident in your abilities and you are ready to take the competition seriously.  It is only then that you should approach your instructor about competing and discuss the what is right for you.  Your instructor will help you select the tournament that is right for you.

Local events, hosted by other fencing clubs, will usually be your entry into the competitive world.  These smaller venues are usually single weapon events.  The Divisional and Sectional Tournaments are used to qualify the fencer for national tournaments. The Regional Open Circuit (ROC) and Youth Events are Regional Competitions. The Summer Nations, Junior Olympics, and North American Cups (NAC) are National Tournaments. Many advanced competitions are broken down by weapon, age, and gender.

What Is Required For Competition?

You must be a member of the US Fencing Association which is the governing body for fencing in the United States.  The fee for a Basic Membership is approximately $40.  This gives you the ability to participate in US competitions and provides you with insurance. You can register at

You should create an account on the askFRED website. This site is a great resource for planning competitions to attend. 

Register for the event.   If you do not prepay be sure to bring a check with you to the event.

You are required to have a full set of electric equipment with age appropriate weapons.  Check in advance to make sure all components are in good working order.

For beginners your instructor must be there to guide, direct and give advice.  Coaching fees for a competition vary based on location, coach's demand and level of competition.

Work with your coach to set attainable goals prior to the competition.

Early arrival is necessary to give yourself time to check-in and warm-up.

Keep a fencing journal and write down your thoughts about the competition. Include what actions worked and what failed against who and why.  You can use this to discuss topics with your coach at your next class.

What To Bring To a Competition...

  • Mask

  • Underarm Protector

  • Girls must have a Breast Protector

  • Jacket

  • Knickers

  • Long White Socks that reach bottom of knickers (soccer socks work well)

  • Glove

  • Lame

  • Shoes either fencing or sneakers

  • Two working weapons and two working body cords

  • Fencing bag to hold equipment

  • Water bottle

  • Snacks

  • Towel

  • Plastic bag to hold wet equipment

  • Tool kit (small and large screwdrivers for tip and pommel, spare screws, springs, Allen wrench, small white towel)

  • Warm up suit and change of clothes

  • Check or exact change for entry fees if not prepaid

  • Hair bands

  • Medical kit with band-aids, ice pack, ace bandage, feminine products and required prescription medication

  • Medical insurance card

  • Emergency contact information

  • Money

  • Books, Ipod, or games to pass the time.

  • Camera

  • Cell phone

What Will Competition Do For Me?

  • Improves your skill level and fencing abilities
  • Allows you to test your proficiency against other opponents.
  • Teaches good sportsmanship.
  • Allows you to meet interesting people and make new friends.
  • Improves general fitness level.
  • Helps to increase focus and develop an ability to make quick decisions.
  • Allows you set goals and strive to achieve them.
  • Can gain ranking at a national level.

What To Expect On The Competition Day...

  • Start your day off with a good breakfast well before the event starts.

  • Remember to bring a towel, change of clothes and winning attitude.

  • Arrive early to the event.

  • Check to see if your club has a gathering spot where you can put your gear.

  • Events are often listed as the close of check-in which means you have between a 1/2 hour before and this time to present yourself to the registration table.  The fencer must check-in themselves. Once check-in closes it takes about 1/2 hour to draw up the pool sheets.  So you can expect fencing to begin about 1/2 hour after the close of check-in.

  • You must have your equipment officially tested.  This is something that a parent can do for you while you warm-up.  You can not compete if your equipment does not have the correct inspection markings.

  • Your warm-up process should consist of a physical warm up and a fencing skills warm up. Both are very important to get you ready for your bout.  Plan on spending at least 30 minutes on your fencing skills, 15 minutes for kids under 10, so you are prepared for the first bout.

  • You will be placed in a pool with between 5 - 7 competitors.  Depending on the venue they may call your name and send you to a strip or you may be required to look at a posted list. Pay attention to all announcements.  Proceed to the strip with all the equipment needed.  Take a look at the score sheet to make sure you name is spelled correctly and to see who the other fencers are in your pool.  Remember it is never too early to strategize.  Most directors will announce what match is starting as well as which match is on deck. It is recommended that you stay near the strip at all times.  Remember that the best way to see your opponents abilities is to watch the in their other matches.  Try and rest between bouts if possible.  A pool of 6 fencers will finish in about 1 1/2 hours.  Sometimes it is necessary to have 2 sets of pools, so the second would start when the first is finished.

  • Keep hydrated and eat light and healthy throughout the competition.

  • When every fencer has fenced every other competitor the pool is concluded.  Be sure to check over the referee's score sheet for accuracy before you sign it.  Results are then seeded and posted.  It will usually take some time before the elimination bouts begin.  Do not do anything to exert yourself between elimination bouts and put on clothing to keep your body warm.