Besides lots of practice, there is other preparation (and paperwork) necessary to be a competitor. Fencing is a combat sport, but one of the safest of all sports. Equipment is constantly updated and improved upon, and coaches undergo training and research to be able to provide knowledge, passion, and safety for their students.
Before you can sign up for a tournament, you must become a member of the United States Fencing Association (USFA). Which you can do by clicking here. From the USFA website:
USA Fencing membership is required by all individual members of USA Fencing Member Clubs who utilize the USA Fencing insurance program. Competitive memberships are required to compete in any USA Fencing sanctioned event. The membership year coincides with the fencing season which occurs between August 1 and the following July 31. All dues are payable on application for membership and thereafter on or before the next membership year begins. Membership dues are not prorated at any time."
Once you have a membership, make your way to www.AskFred.net to search for and sign up for tournaments, camps, and clinics. On AskFred, you create login information and it pulls some of your info from the USFA. Once you've created your username and password, you can search for and sign up for events.
Now you're signed up. What else do you need?
The average cost of fully dressing a fencer in standard equipment is around $150. Standard equipment includes: a mask, jacket, underarm protector, chest protector (for women), glove, knickers, long socks, and one practice weapon.
However for competitions, electrical equipment is necessary. Additionally, an electric weapon and a body cord is needed for an epee fencer. For a foil fencer they will need, in addition to that, a lame' and head clip. Sabre fencers need a special mask in addition to the standard equipment, a body cord, lame', head clip, and over-glove. **Note: USFA changed the sabre glove rule. Read about it here.
Athletic shoes must be worn! Running or cross-training shoes are sufficient. But for those who want to take it a bit more serious, or have concerns about their feet, specific fencing shoes should be worn. A few recognizable brands make fencing shoes, including Nike and Adidas. Fencing shoes come in low or high top and some are more bulky, while others hug the feet. Choose the shoe that's right for you! This article provides a great guide to purchasing a fencing shoe.
Fencing weapons and blade sizes: Most fencers use what is called a “Size 5” blade. This is the standard adult size. Youth fencers that are under 10 years old need to use a “Size 2” blade. Make sure when placing an order, you confirm the blade size.
Now you're signed up and dressed and ready to go! Make sure to get a good night's sleep the day before and eat a healthy, but not overfilling meal for breakfast. Bring some snacks to keep you fueled during the day such as granola bars, bananas or apples, and drink lots of water! Most importantly––have fun! It's why you started in the first place, so enjoy it! Whether it's your first or your hundredth tournament––you have to like what you're doing to truly be successful.