My first competition?

Competitions have a feel of controlled chaos. Often the number of entries is unknown beforehand and it is difficult to predict how long any competition will take. Plan on a long day. Snacks, drinks and some form of entertainment for siblings is a good idea. Folding chairs are useful at some venues. Think indoor picnic.

Arrive early, have all your equipment checked beforehand. You need to find the sign in area, you need your USFA card or at some competitions you can purchase a one day membership (check beforehand as this is not always possible). At larger events you will need to typically check weapons, body cords and masks.

Usually it takes 30 minute or so after the close of registration for the organizers to post what strip you will report to. You will fence everyone on that strip, called a pool. When you are called to fence you will have all your equipment on, two working weapons and one extra body cord besides the one you are wearing. They will check to see your wearing all required safety equipment and that it is in good condition. They will check you weapon to assure it is legal. Pools typically are 5 touch bouts. After the bout you will be asked to sign the Directors log agreeing with the outcome.

After all the pools are done you then wait for the organizers to set up the Direct Elimination bouts or DE’s.
These are best two out of three 5 touch bouts in youth events or 15 touch bouts for seniors. There are other formats however and I will refer you to the rulebook.

You will be tired after such a long day, remember to bring a change in clothes as well as a towel.

The typical reaction I hear is the student is scared and wants to back out of their first competition. After the competition they all start bragging how close they were to winning and how they are going to beat so and so the next time. Take pictures! Have fun. In my opinion competitions are a great motivator. Just going to that first one is a win in my book!