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Entering Competitions

USA Fencing National Tournaments Tournaments 101

As a fencer or parent new to competitive fencing, the structure, schedules, rules, requirements and even the vocabulary, can be confusing. You may hear discussions about NACs, SYCs, ROCs, ratings, rankings and so forth. What does all this mean?

Which competitions should my fencer attend?

You should consult with the head coach before making any final decisions, but here are some general guidelines. Beginning recreational and competitive fencers should start with the FRFC club competition. For competitive fencers the next step is local tournaments (Denver and Colorado Springs). For fencers 14 and under local youth tournaments have age divisions denoted by the oldest age allowed in the division, for example Y10 is 10 and under. An athlete’s “fencing age” is the age as of January 1 of that season August 1 – July 31. More experienced fencers can fence in the Regional Youth Circuit (RYC) tournaments, followed by Super Youth Circuit Tournaments (SYC), the USA Fencing North American Cup (NAC) tournaments, and the USA Fencing Summer Nationals.

How much does it cost?

The entry fees for competitions range from $35 to $120, with the local tournaments fees generally being about $35.

Which event is the correct one to enter?

The Regional Junior Cadet Circuit (RJCC) is designed to promote and develop strong regional tournaments for the Jr/Cadet (14-19) aged fencer who seeks competitive opportunities beyond local/division levels but below NAC levels.

The Regional Open Circuit (ROC) is designed to promote and develop strong regional tournaments for the Open/Division I-A fencer who seeks competitive opportunities beyond the local/division levels but below the NAC Division I level. Other competitive opportunities in ROC tournaments are provided for Veteran (40+) and Division II (C, D, E or U) fencers.

Regional Youth Circuit (RYC): Tournaments are held throughout the season. There are no national points awarded at Regional Youth competitions. These competitions are one of the possible qualification paths for Y10 and Y12 events at both the March NAC and the Y10, Y12 and Y14 Summer Nationals.

Super Youth Circuit (SYC): Youth fencers may participate in one or more Super Youth tournaments, however, only the competition where the fencer earns the most points (their best result) will be included in the revised point standings published after the latest SYC. These competitions are one of the possible qualification paths for Y10 and Y12 events at both the March and/or USA Fencing Summer National Championships.

What events am I eligible for?

You can fence in your age group and in one group up. When you are 13 as of January 1 of the season year, you can fence in any event Y14 and up. We recommend “fencing up” one age group for all fencers that have been competing for more than one year. If you are interested in fencing up more than one age group,you should ask the head coach if you are ready. There is a significant jump in ability between age groups, especially at national tournaments. If you have a national ranking in the older age group, then you are eligible to “fence up” to the next grouping. For example, if you are 10, but have national points in Y12, you can fence in Y14.

What Equipment do I need?

Check out the Entering Competitions page on the FRFC website.

Do I need to be a competitive member of USA Fencing to attend?

Yes! If you joined as a non-competitive member you may pay a fee to upgrade. FRFC club competitions do not require competitive level membership.

How do I register and what is askfred? is a clearinghouse for fencing tournaments. You may refer to the Competition Quick Feed” on the FRFC site click the Member Entering Competitions tab. Many, but not all, tournaments are listed here. You can search for tournaments, pre-register, see who else is pre-registered, get the day schedule and find out hotel information at askFRED. For almost all events pre-registration is required. Information and registration forms for the NACs and some of the SYC’s are available at (check both schedule and documents links). For specific instructions on setting up a profile and registering on see the FRFC Entering competitions page. The askfred and USA Fencing profiles are different

When should I arrive?

The event time listed for a tournament is the CLOSE of registration. You should arrive 45-60 min before the close of registration to get your equipment checked and warm-up. Exception: FRFC club member only competitions report at report time noted. The official competition armorer will conduct a safety test on your mask, glove and check your body cords. Weapons will be checked with weight and shims at the start of each bout to make sure they are legal.

What happens at a tournament?

Assuming the tournament is running on schedule, your event should begin about 15 minutes after the close of registration time. Fencing competitions are usually run with one or two rounds of pool bouts followed by direct elimination (DE) rounds. Fencers are initially seeded based on their classification earned at previous tournaments. If a fencer does not have a classification, then they are considered “U” or unclassified. In as much as possible teammates are separated into separate pools. For pool rounds fencers are divided into pools (groups) of between six to eight fencers where they compete in a round-robin of 5-touch, 3 minute bouts. The results from the pool round rank the fencers for the next round. At this point initial seeding, classification and teammates have no bearing. Direct elimination bouts are for 15 touches, with one-minute breaks at three-minute intervals. The bouts end when one fencer scores 15 touches or when three, three-minute periods elapse. If the bout is tied at this point, one fencer is awarded priority (advantage) by a coin toss. The bout then continues until a touch is scored or one minute elapses. If no touch is scored after a minute, the bout goes to the fencer with priority. Youth fencers y12 and under fence best 2 out of 3, five touch bouts. The winner of each DE round bout advances to the next round and eventually the finals.

Before you fence, your “referee” will check your weapon to make sure it is working properly. You must have at least two weapons available in case one of them fails. If one fails, you will get a yellow card for that bout. If none of your weapons pass the test, you will not be permitted to fence and the victory will be given to your opponent.

What is a rating, why do I want one and how do I get one?

Ratings are designed to indicate a fencer’s ability. Fencers are rated from U (unrated) to E (the lowest rating) to A (the highest rating). Ratings are used to seed the pools at tournaments. Whether or not you can earn a rating at a tournament depends on the number and quality of fencers. The rating classification chart isavailable on the FRFC entering competitions page. Please Note: Cadet and youth events do not use the E1 or D1 classifications. This means cadet and youth events are not rated (NR) until they achieve a C1 event level or higher.

Finding Tournaments

You can search for local and regional tournaments on the website. (FRED = Fencing Results and Events Database). You can specify what you are looking for by age group, location, weapon fenced and so forth. National events, most of which must be pre-qualified for can be found on (

Remember that to enter competitions (except the club closed competitions) you must be a competitive level member of USA Fencing. Local and national tournaments are also listed on the FRFC calendar.

Which tournaments should you compete in?

It is best to consult your coach to help you decide on which events will help you meet your goals. FRFC sends a coach to several (but not all) local competitions each season. Coaching at National competitions may be arranged.

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