Guide to USFA Competition

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If you want more strip time than you can get in collegiate competition, or if you want to compete during the offseason, you can fence in USFA events. The USFA is the national governing association for amateur fencing in the US. Local clubs host numerous USFA tournaments throughout the year.


USFA Membership

To compete in USFA events, you must have a USFA competitive membership. All members of the University of Maryland Fencing Club must have at least USFA non-competitive memberships; talk to the club secretary for guidance in upgrading your membership to a competitive one. In the USFA, members of the University of Maryland Fencing Club represent Terrapin Fencing, and are members of either Capitol Division (which comprises Washington, DC and Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland, including the University of Maryland) or whatever division their homes are located in. Note that Maryland Division includes only parts of Maryland outside of Montgomery and Prince George's Counties; residents of Montgomery and Prince George's are members of the Capitol Division.

Types of Tournaments

USFA events are distinguished by the following criteria:

  • Gender - Men, Women, or Mixed
  • Weapon - Foil, Sabre, or Epee
  • Age - Youth, Cadet (under 17), Junior (under 20), Senior (13 and older), or Veteran (40 and older)
  • Rating - see below


A fencer can receive a rating in a weapon by placing sufficiently high in a tournament of the appropriate classification. By default, a fencer has a rating of U (unrated). The lowest rating above U is E, and the highest rating is A. A rating is followed by the year it was earned, e.g., a C2014 was earned in the year 2014. After four years, a rating decays to the rating immediately below it, e.g., in 2014, a C2010 becomes a D2014.

The classification of an event is determined by the number of participants, the rating of the participants, and how well the rated participants finish. For example, any event with 6 or more participants is at least an E1, which awards an E to the winner. Any event with 15 or more participants is at least a D1 if the event has at least 4 E-rated or better fencers participating and at least 2 of them finish in the top 8. A D1 event awards a D to the winner and E's to the fencers that finish between second and fourth. The full chart can be found here.

Events can restrict what ratings fencers must hold to be eligible to compete. Common event eligibility restrictions include Division I (A, B, or C), Division II (C, D, E, or U), Division III (D, E, or U), E & Under (E or U), and Unrated (U only). Open events allow fencers of all ratings to compete.

Using AskFRED

AskFRED is the website used to find and register for USFA events. You can use AskFRED's search function to find upcoming tournaments that meet whatever criteria you specify within a given radius of a location. Click on the name of any tournament to get more information about it. You can sign up for the tournament by clicking preregister. Do not list your club affiliation as University of Maryland. Our USFA club name is Terrapin Fencing.

Requirements to Compete

You must bring the following things to compete in a USFA event:

  • Proof of USFA membership (normally a plastic card that is mailed to every member by the USFA, but a printout of the receipt works as well)
  • Entry fee (usually $25-$35)
  • Plastron
  • Jacket
  • Glove
  • Mask
  • Two weapons
  • Two body cords
  • Lame (for foil and sabre)
  • Two mask cords (for foil and sabre)
  • Overglove (for sabre, if not using a conductive glove)

If you don't have your own, the necessary equipment can usually be borrowed from the UMD club. Ask the armorer.

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