Every year the Newmarket Fencing Club hosts a challenge tournament in November. It’s very popular among fencers and in particular among those that have never participated in a tournament before. It’s considered a “fun” tournament in that, other than for fencers over 40, (veterans), participation in the event does not contribute to a fencers domestic ranking.
The first, and perhaps the most important reason to participate in a tournament is that they are fun! Whether you are fencing recreationally for interest or health reasons or serious about competing, a tournament will allow you to challenge yourself against other fencers so that you can improve your skills.
How do you know if you’re ready to participate in a fencing tournament? The simplest answer is to speak to your Coach. He or she will help you decide when you’re ready and which tournament would be best for you.
In preparing for your first tournament, you’ll need to obtain an individual membership from the Ontario Fencing Association in advance of the tournament. Check the registration information associated with the particular tournament that you’re interested in participating.
Upcoming tournaments are usually posted on the applicable provincial fencing association website. In the case of Ontario, follow this link to the OFA Event calendar.
Clubs may use their own website to accept registrations, the provincial association website or askFred, (askFred.net, Fencing Results and Events Database is an independent fencing database that is used by fencing clubs in Canada and the United States).
Registration is usually done well in advance of the event to allow the organizers to plan for the number of referees needed as well as the number of fencing strips, (piste), that need to be set up. It is possible to register at the event, but this usually will result in a higher registration fee. Registration fees are usually paid in cash only at the door.
For fencers planning to participate in their first tournament, many clubs will loan you equipment to take to the tournament.
As a minimum you will need:
• Fencing Mask, (appropriate for the weapon)
• Sous plastron, (an under jacket one-armed material protector)
• Fencing Jacket, (and , depending on the weapon, an appropriate lame)
• Breeches, (some tournaments allow track pants)
• Socks that cover the legs to the bottom of the breeches, (soccer socks will work)
• Body wire
• Weapons, (foil, sabre, epee), having two available is good practice
• Running shoes, (typically non marking court shoes)
• A towel
• A gym bag
Over time you may wish to purchase your own equipment, depending on your planned fencing career, you may not wish to purchase equipment that meets FIE, (the International Fencing Federation) international standards initially. Less expensive equipment suitable for domestic competitions can be purchased from many fencing supply companies. Check out our resources page for more information.
Preparing for the Tournament
Preparing for the tournament starts the night before the event. Plan for a decent meal that will help prepare you for the following day. Before bed, make sure you have all of your equipment together and if possible, test your weapons to make sure they work.
Depending on the weapon fenced and the number of fencers registered, plan to be at the tournament for the better part of the day. Consequently, plan for your hydration, (water, sports drinks, etc.), throughout the day as well as a light snack or food, bananas, granola, etc.. Fencing, if you’re dehydrated or are suffering from low blood sugar, is no fun. Remember not every event will have food to purchase.
Keep in mind that fencing in your first bout will begin approximately one half hour after registration check in closes for the event that you’re registered for. That means you need to plan to arrive at the tournament with enough time to check in, pay your registration fee, have your equipment checked by the Armourer, change, test your weapons and warm up.
Everyone wants to do well in a tournament, it is normal to be nervous, some even get emotional after the bouts, just remember at the end of the day, it’s a challenging sport certainly, sometimes frustrating, but above all else, HAVE FUN!