Fencing parents are a very special and important part of our community. Check out these guides for parents and frequently asked questions, courtesy of the VA Division.

USA Fencing: For Parents Parent’s Guide to Fencing


What time should we arrive at a competition?

Generally speaking, you should plan to arrive at the venue no later then 30 minutes before the close of registration.

What happens at a fencing competition?

After registration closes, the fencers will be broken into pools of 5-7 fencers each. Your child will fence each person in his or her pool in a 5 touch bout. The results from the pools are used to create a NCAA basketball style single elimination bracket that is called the Direct Elimination round. In the DE round, bouts go to 15 touches (or 10 touch bouts for the younger fencers) and you keep fencing until you lose a bout, or win the competition!

How long should we plan on being at the event?

That really depends on how many fencers are competing that day. The bout committee always strives to get started on time, but events out of their control do sometimes conspire to make that impossible. A rush of last minute registrations, or a referee calling in sick can cause things to get behind. If your child is fencing it is safest to to not plan anything else that day! At a minimum you can expect to be at the fencing facility for about 3 hours. If it’s a well attended event and your child wins a few bouts it can easily be a 6 hour day.

What should I bring to a competition?

In addition to all your child’s fencing gear, a cooler stocked with Gatorade, water, and snacks is a good idea. Seating can be at a premium so lawn chairs are useful. There can be significant downtime between the pool and DE round, as well as between DE bouts. So books, tablets, etc are not a bad idea. A change of clothes for the young fencer is also a good idea.

What are the venues like?

Most private fencing clubs in are located in the industrial/warehouse areas of town. The venues tend to be large open spaces that err on the warm/cool side, so have a sweater or light jacket available. Most will have limited concessions available. (soda, water, Gatorade, snacks, etc.) Food is usually available within the general neighborhood, but rarely within walking distance. Most clubs have a limited stock of equipment available if you forget something or damage something during competition, so it’s always best to have spare equipment if you need it.

Can I take pictures of my child fencing?

You can try! Fencing is an incredibly fast moving sport, and fencing venues usually have warehouse-type lighting. Flash photography is strictly prohibited during the competition! If you have a high end camera and know how to use it, you can get good results. If you have a point and shoot digital camera, good photos can be a challenge. For a point and shoot camera, put it in manual mode, set the f-stop as low as it will go (probably around 2.4), set the shutter speed for 1/90 or 1/125, and set your ISO as high as you can (probably 400 or 800), and then take a lot of pictures. You’ll get a few action shots that are worth saving. Also, be aware of your surroundings and do not interfere with the referee in any way. Taking video is also a great idea, but video is only for personal review and should not be used to influence the referee.

Most importantly, have fun!