Long Island Division - USFA

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So You Wanna Be A Rock And Roll Star ...

Note!!!!. Many qualification rules were changed in September 2006, and only reflected in the Athlete's Handbook as of Feb. 7, 2007. Although I have attempted to make this document as accurate as possible, it may not be completely up to date. Please consult the REVISED Athlete's handbook for definitive information.

How to Qualify for USFA National Events

Disclaimer:The information presented here is an un-official distillation and simplification of the rules from the "USFA Athletes Progams Handbook". Neither the Long Island Division of the USFA nor the author (Tony Aiuto) makes any claims as to the validity of this information. It is provided as a convenience to fencers who want to begin to understand the competitive qualification process. It leaves out many details relevent to Veteran fencers and highly successful youth fencers competing above their age group. If you are old enough to be fencing Veteran, you either know the rules or can decipher them. If you the parent of a child who is going to World Cup events, then you should have read USFA athletes handbook thoroughly.

There are many regional and national events you can attend. Some are open to all USFA members, some require you to qualify. Some are restricted by age, others by USFA classification. Some are "open" to any fencer. Our calendar of competitions lists as many relevent events as we could find. This guide describes how to qualify for the USFA National events. [Practice! :-) ] It is aimed towards the competitive fencer who is starting their career.

Age, Classification, Division & Points

Age Groups
The USFA divides fencers into different age groups and maintains a rolling national point standing for fencers in each group. There are also different sets of age groups for the Junior Olympics and for the Summer Nationals. Note the distinction between U20/U17 and U19/U16.
For the Junior Olympics's, they are
Age GroupCodeBirth Year
(2007/2008 season)
VeteranVET1967 or earlier
SeniorDIV1,DIV2,DIV31994 or earlier
JuniorU201987 - 1994
CadetU171991 - 1994
Youth 14Y141993 - 1996
Youth 12Y121995 - 1998
Youth 10Y101997 - 2000
For the Summer nationals, they are
Age GroupCodeBirth Year
(2007/2008 season)
VeteranVET1967 or earlier
SeniorDIV1,DIV2,DIV31994 or earlier
JuniorU191988 - 1995
CadetU161992 - 1995
Youth 14Y141993 - 1996
Youth 12Y121995 - 1998
Youth 10Y101997 - 2000
Since the fencing season in the U.S. runs from August 1 to July 31, the years listed above are valid until July 31, 2007.
There is a general exception to the age restrictions for highly successful fencers who are too young for a bracket - if you are on the point standings for any given group, you are usually allowed to compete in the next higher age group. E.g. If you are on the Y14 standings, you can compete in U16 events, even if too young. Please see the Athlete's Handbook for more details.

USFA fencers can earn a classification in each weapon. They range from 'A' down to 'E', plus 'U' (for unrated fencers). Classifications are used in two important ways
  • for determining eligibility in senior competition divisions
  • for seeding certain tournements
Classifications may be earned at virtually any public competition, in accordance with the Classification Reference Chart. Note that Youth and Cadet competitions at the Division level must be C1 or better (see chart) before you can earn a letter, which is why it's difficult to earn one at, for example, the Sophomore Circuit events.

Competition Divisions
DIV IFencers with 'A', 'B' or 'C' classifications
DIV IIFencers with 'C', 'D' or 'E' classifications
DIV IIIFencers with 'D', 'E' or 'U' classifications
Don't confuse competition division with USFA geographic division. I'll always refer to a competitions as DIV I, II or III. I'll refer to geographic divisions as "USFA Division" or "the LI Division".
The top fencers (typically, the top 32) in each national event (as well as in Super Regional Youth events) can earn points. The USFA maintains the "National Rolling Point Standings" (NRPS), and publishes it on their web site. See Appendix B of the Athlete's Handbook for point tables. Points are used
  • for seeding tournements
  • for qualifying for some competitions
  • for comparing yourself to other fencers in your peer group.
  • Points roll down to the lower age brackets. If you earn U19 points, they also count towards your U16 point standings.

    Qualification Paths

    Now let's see how you actually qualify for various competitions.

    NAC Events
    NAC events generally don't have qualifiers. You qualify strictly on age group (for U17 and U20 events) or on classification (for Div 1, 2 and 3 events). If you fence well, you can earn letter classifications and national points at NAC events. Don't let the 'U16' and 'U19' designations fool you. Many of the best fencers in the nation are under 20, so U19 events are often far more challenging than DIV 2 and 3 events. That said, they provide an excellent opportunity to fence against really strong fencers. Who knows, you might face an Olympian in pools.
    EventWays to Qualify
    Youth 10 & 12 You must attend an RYC or SYC or be on the NRPS for your age group prior to registering for the NAC
    Note: this is a change from previous years. Please see the USFA Youth site for more information.
    Youth 14, Cadet and Junior Be in the right age group
    DIV I Have a "C" or higher classification
    DIV II Have a "C" or lower classification
    DIV III Have a "D" or lower classification
    Regional Youth Circuit Events
    Like the NAC events, you don't have to qualify for these - you just have to be the right age group. A few of these events are designated "Super Youth Circuit" (formerly "Super Regional Youth Circuit"). You can earn national youth points at the Super events, but not at regular youth circuit events. Letter classifications can be earned at either type. As of 2006, RYC (and SYC) events are a qualifying path to Y-10 and Y-12 NACs.
    Junior Olympics
    The Junior Olympics usually occur in February. Many college coaches use this event to look at up and coming fencers. If you want to fence in college, you probably want to be at the JOs in Junior year (or earlier) of High School. These are great competitions, and an excellent way to earn points or letters.
    Each USFA division holds qualifiers (for division members only) in the fall to determine eligibility.
    EventWays to Qualify
    Division Qualifier*or Pointsor Other
    U20 Top 25% of Division Qualifier Be on the Junior NRPS after the January NACor
    Be on the Junior NRPS at the time of the Division's JO qualifieror
    Top 16 of the Cadet NRPS after the January NAC.
    U17 Top 25% of Division Qualifier Be on the Cadet NRPS after the January NACor
    Be on the Cadet NRPS at the time of the Division's JO qualifieror
    Top 8 of the Y14 NRPS after the January NAC.
    Qualify for U20
    Summer Nationals
    Qualification to the Summer Nationals is done through qualifying events, points or final standing in a previous championship. Each USFA Division holds qualifiers for National DIV II and DIV III Championships. Each USFA Section (Long Island is in the North Atlantic Section) holds Championships which act as qualifiers for National DIV I-A and U19 Championships. Divisions may hold local qualifiers to allow you to move on to the Sectional Championships. The NAS no longer requires that, so if you are in the right age group, you may enter the Junior or Senior sectionals directly. The applications are available elsewhere on this web site.
    EventWays to Qualify
    Division/Section Qualifier*or Pointsor Other
    DIV I Championships none Be on the senior NRPS as of May 1, 2007 or
    Top 8 of Junior NRPS as of May 1, 2007 or
    Top 4 of Cadet NRPS as of May 1, 2007
    Place in top 8 at 2006 DIV I-A Nat. Championship or
    Place in top 4 at 2006 DIV II Nat. Championship
    DIV I-A Championships Top 25% of Senior NAS Sectional Championship
    (Minimum of 8)
      Top 8 at 2006 DIV I-A National Championship or
    top 4 at 2006 DIV II National Championship or
    be the current 2007 U19 Section Champion.
    U19 Championships Top 25% of Junior (U19) NAS Sectional Championship Be on the Junior NRPS after the April NACor
    Be on the Junior NRPS at the time of the Section's qualifying competition or
    Be in the top 16 of Cadet NRPS after the April NAC or
    Be in the top 16 of Cadet NRPS at the time of the Section's qualifying competition.
    DIV II Championships Top 25% of LI Division Qualifier
    Must be rated 'C', 'D', 'E' or 'U'
    at time of qualifier
    U16 Championships Top 25% of LI Division Qualifier Be on the Cadet NRPS after the April NAC or
    Be on the Cadet NRPS at the time of the Section's qualifying competition or
    Top 8 of Y14 NRPS after the April NAC
    Qualify for U19
    Y14 Championships Top 25% of LI Division Y-14 Qualifier Earn Youth 14 points at a current season Super Youth Circuit Competition or i
    Earn points at a current season Youth 14 NAC, Cadet NAC, or Cadet Summer National Championships or
    Earn points at the previous season's Youth 14 Summer National Championships
    Y12 Open Fence in one Regional, Super or NAC Y12 event in 2006-2007 season. Be on the Y12 NRPS after the April NAC  
    Y10 Open Fence in one Regional, Super or NAC Y10 event in 2006-2006 season. Be on the Y10 NRPS after the April NAC  

    * The percentages of qualifying fencers quoted in these tables is actually more complex and subject to other variables such as the number of automatic qualifiers competing. Don't use the data here to argue with the bout committee.

    What events should I attend?

    Many fencers are unsure of what competitions they should attend. The short answer is - as many as possible. The longer answer depends on your goals. Some people just want to fence for recreation. For them, the choice is simple. Go to the National ones that don't hurt the pocket too much and go to all the local club events. Go to the North Atlantic Circuit championship events as well. You'll meet and make new friends.

    For those of you trying to seriously compete, you have to balance the costs of time, training and travel. Assuming that you want to be in the best shape to do well at the Nationals, you should go to the competitions that give you the most potential value for the money. I don't want to tell you what to do, but I can share some observations gleaned from being a fencer's parent.

    You're probably going to wash out at your first national competition. It's sort of obvious. You're not used to the format. You don't know what to expect. Everyone is better prepared. So, don't make the Summer Nationals your first one. Go to a NAC or the JO's first.

    Having a higher letter classification helps a lot. The USFA seeds tournements by class to get a distribution of abilities in each pool. Being at the top or in the middle makes it easier to do well in pools. Doing well in pools gives you a better seeding for the DEs. That helps you get to the finals.

    Being on the NRPS helps a REAL lot. The points auto-qualify you for various events, so you don't have to worry about division qualifiers. They also are used for seeding at some events. The place to earn junior points are the JO's and the Junior/Cadet NACs. And I do mean "earn". These can be really tough competitions. Don't ever think "Oh, the Cadet event is going to be easier than Div II, because it's only kids". Remember that Div II only has C fencers and below. Junior, Cadet and even Y-14 events often have a large number of A and B fencers.

    Practice makes perfect. The more tournements you fence, the better you get at it. Go to the Pomme De Terre and Mr. Ma events. If you are traveling far to a venue, compete in every event you can, not just the ones you think you'll do well in. If you're young enough to do Y-14, go to all the RYC events. It doesn't matter that you have only fenced for a year. Half of the other people there aren't any better. Who knows, it may be your day to shine.

    Go to your division qualifiers Just because you are an auto-qualifier doesn't mean you should be above showing up for the division qualifier. Having a bigger pool helps other fencers qualify for national events.

    Final Advice

    Remember, you should be fencing because you enjoy it. The real reward is having fun.


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