NSWFA Competition Handbook

This handbook is intended to be a simple and useful guide for fencers, and the parents of younger fencers, taking part in competitions organised by the NSW Fencing Association.

Comments and suggestions are welcome – please email: admin@nswfencing.org.au



All NSWFA competitions are listed in the interactive calendar.

The NSWFA website also has a static PDF calender which may not be as current and is update from time to time. The PDF Calendar is colour coded for different age groups and includes Regional, State, National and relevant International events.  PDF calendar-2017

The Calendar gives start times for each weapon and gender in each competition. It also indicates which events earn club and individual Grand Prix points.

The Calendar is published towards the end of each year for the following year. The Calendar is subject to change during the course of the year so fencers should check it regularly for updates.



NSWFA competitions, including schools events, are held at:

NSW Fencing Centre
Building 2.04
Sydney Corporate Park
190 Bourke Road
Alexandria NSW 2015



The competition categories are:

Under 7, Under 9, Under 11, Under 13, Under 15, Cadet (Under 17), Junior (Under 20), Under 23, Open, Veteran (over 40) and Novice.

Age categories are determined by a fencer’s age as at 1 January each year. For example, a fencer aged 14 on 1 January is eligible to fence in Under 15 events throughout the year although he or she will turn 15 at some point during the year.

Fencers may ‘fence up’ in a higher age category. For example, a Cadet (Under 17) fencer may compete in Junior (Under 20) or Open events. Younger fencers should consult their coach about competing above their age group.

At State competitions, fencers may compete in one or more weapons on the same day. However, a fencer may not abandon a competition in one weapon to start in another. If you have entered two competitions that overlap in time, please consult the DT.

Novice events are for fencers who have not previously competed in a State open competition. A novice may compete in a weapon category for two years or until he or she has placed in the top 3 in the Novice State Championships for that weapon.



The classes of membership eligible to compete in NSWFA and AFF competitions are as follows:

Senior Affiliated (over 18) and Junior Affiliated  (under 18): may compete in all age-appropriate State and National (AFF) competitions and in international competitions.

Senior and Junior Registered: may compete in Schools competitions and Novice events.

Fencers must register online at Register/Pay and pay the appropriate membership fee before they are eligible to compete.

The membership year runs from 1 January to 31 December. Members who join part way through the year do not receive a discount. Membership renewal should be done in January each year before the fencing season commences.



Individual entries for NSWFA competitions are made online at Register/Pay where entries are paid for by credit card.

Online entries should be made by 6pm on the Thursday prior to the Sunday competition.

Late entries will be double the normal fee.

If a fencer enters two competitions on the same day, a discounted entry fee will apply for the second weapon. This applies to veterans fencing in both open and veteran events on the same day.

NSWFA wants all individual entries to be made online because it is more efficient, avoids handling cash and helps competition planning.

Team entries are made by the club or school entering team events.

Fencers from regional clubs intending to compete in Sydney should check before leaving home that the competition will be going ahead – particularly for novice and other competitions where entries may be low. Email: entries@nswfencing.org.au on the Friday/Saturday before a Sunday event.

In the event that a competition is cancelled for lack of entries, anyone who has paid to enter will receive a credit for another competition entry.

Download Scoresheets, DE Tables and Team formats, etc.



Entries for both individual and teams schools competitions must be received by the Friday of the week prior to the Saturday competition. Schools Co-ordinators should ensure that their fencers make individual online entries by this deadline. Team entries are notified by the school and team fees are invoiced to the school.



The Australian Fencing Federation (AFF) presents four Australian Fencing Circuit Events each year in State capitals, including Sydney.  The AFF also conducts annual Australian Championships for Under 15s, Cadets (U20), Junior (U20), Open and Veteran (+40) categories.

Entries for AFF competitions are made online at www.ausfencing.org.au Check the AFF website for the competition schedule and entry closing dates. Only Junior and Senior NSW Affiliated Members may enter AFF events.



NSW Senior and Junior Affiliated fencers may be eligible to compete in overseas competitions. Entry is via the AFF website.


NSWFA charges an annual membership fee which varies according to membership category. For competitive fencers, part of this fee is remitted to the AFF as a ‘capitation’ (per head) charge to support the national body. When the membership fee is paid, fencers are eligible to compete in the relevant events (see point 4).

NSWFA also charges a standard competition entry fee for individuals and teams competing in NSW State and Schools competitions, which must be paid before the event.

NSWFA applies a levy to NSW entries for National Championships in U15/Cadet/Junior/ Open/Veteran categories. Income from the levy goes towards the cost of NSW team entries and providing team coach/managers.

Competition entry fees are set at the beginning of each year and published on the website.



Entry requirements for Regional Competitions may differ from State Competitions depending on the conditions set by the regional club(s) hosting the competition. Check the NSWFA website and the monthly ‘On Target’ newsletter for details.

Regional competitions and annual Regional Championships are held for the Hunter, Central West, Riverina and Western Sydney regions.

Upcoming regional competitions are advertised in the monthly newsletter and on the website.

Please contact regional@nswfencing.org.au  if you have any queries.

Regional clubs are encouraged to communicate with the NSWFA to make sure your Club/Venue details are current.

Please email: websupport@nswfencing.org.au



The NSW Fencing Association is the ‘Organising Committee’ for State competitions. NSWFA sets the annual calendar, provides a venue, appoints officials and handles administration.

NSWFA provides a Competition Manager for each competition to co-ordinate referees and deal with any issues that may require a decision or directive from NSWFA.

Each State Competition is managed by an office called the ‘Directoire Technique’, commonly referred to as the ‘DT’. Members of the DT set the format for the competition, allocate fencers to pools and DE bouts, record and declare results and generally deal with any matters concerning the running of the competition.

For State competitions from U15 down, and for all School competitions, NSWFA will roster qualified ‘Category A’ referees, supported by referees drawn from the NSW training squad and provided by schools and clubs. For State competitions from Cadet (U17) and above, the fencers in the competition referee the bouts.

For competitions from Cadet upwards, referees are drawn from the fencers competing in the event. The DT indicates on the score sheet which fencers are to act as referees. Fencers who are eliminated are required to remain at the venue for at least the next round as they may be needed to referee bouts. Fencers are required to check with the DT before leaving the venue.

Referee training, assessment and rostering of Category A referees is managed by the State Officiating Director. All fencers are encouraged to become competent referees.



Fencers participating in NSWFA events, including competitions, squad training and camps, must have equipment that meets the standards set in the Equipment and Safety Policy published on the Administration page of the website.

All competitors, without exception, must wear an under-plastron rated at 800 Newtons.

Safety requirements for masks, jackets, breeches and weapons vary with age. Fencers with equipment that does not meet these standards, will not be permitted to fence.



A limited amount of hire equipment is available at NSWFA competitions for young fencers. This includes 800N under-plastrons, conductive lames for foil (not for sabre), weapons (foils, epees, sabres) and body wires for these weapons. For safety and hygiene reasons, NSWFA does not hire masks, jackets and breeches.

For schools competitions, schools must order hire equipment in advance of the competition and pay on invoice from NSWFA.

Fencers are encouraged to buy their own equipment – professional suppliers of fencing equipment are present at all NSWFA State and schools competitions. They also offer a repair service.



Participants in NSWFA competitions are encouraged to provide their own equipment.

Local equipment suppliers (armourers):

Swordsplay (Jeff Hardge and Carla Harbison-Hardge)
www.swordsplay.com   E: jeff@swordsplay.com  M: 0415 919 569


JG Fence (Jeff Gray)
www.jgfencesport.com  E: enquiry@jgfencesport.com   T: (02) 9773 4515  M: 0419 286 810


Sydney Sabre Centre
www.sydneysabre.com      E: info@sydneysabre.com       T:  (02) 8094 9837


Fencing International Equipment
Angelo Santangelo   T:  (02) 9419 8968


Andrew Szandurski Fencing
E:  haas@smartchat.net.au    M: 0414 231 654

Armourers please email: websupport@nswfencing.org.au to update your details.




NSWFA is obliged under NSW law to protect children (anyone under the age of 18) from any form of abuse.

Child Protection Officers have been appointed and any child who believes he or she has been subject to inappropriate behaviour, or any parent or other person who has concerns about the way a child has been treated should contact one of the Child Protection Officers. See: NSWFAChildProtectionPolicy

Reports made to the CPOs will be treated in confidence.

All coaches and officials who have contact with children must comply with the NSW Working With Children requirements.

More generally, NSWFA adopts the AFF Member Protection Policy which can be found under Documents and Policies at www.ausfencing.org.au



The competition format is set by the DT and generally follows international practice. The DT uses a software program called ‘Engarde’ to manage the competition.

There are two stages to a competition:  first, a preliminary pools round when fencers compete in groups and are then ranked in competition order depending on their results in the pools bouts; second, the direct elimination round (DE) which is a ‘knock-out’ competition.

(1) Pools

For individual events, fencers are divided into pools of up to 7 fencers. Pool sizes can vary according to the number of competitors. The allocation of fencers to each pool is decided by the DT usually based on rankings, but can also be based on other factors. The method of ‘separation’ of fencers in pools will be noted in the competition format notice posted by the DT before each competition.

Each fencer faces every other fencer in the pool in bouts of 5 hits within 3 minutes.

When the pools round is completed, fencers should check that the results of their bouts are entered correctly on the score sheet before it is handed to the DT.

At the end of the pools round, fencers are ranked by the ‘Engarde’ system from first to last depending on bouts won, hits for and against. This list is posted on the wall so fencers can check their position. If you think your pools results are not accurately reflected in this ranking, let the DT know so your scores can be checked before the DE round commences.

(2) Direct elimination

The competition then moves to the ‘Direct Elimination’ stage with the order of bouts published in a ‘tableau’ posted on the wall.

Higher ranked fencers face corresponding lower ranked fencers in bouts of 15 hits in three 3 minute sessions with one minute in between sessions. This applies for foil and epee but in sabre there is no time factor – a one minute pause is called when the score reaches 8.

Under 13, Novice and Veteran events are fenced to 10 hits in two 3 minute sessions.

In the DE rounds, the field of fencers is progressively reduced from 64 to 32, 16, 8, 4 and then the final bout which determines the gold and silver medal winners. There is no fence-off for third place so bronze medals are awarded to both of the semi-finalists who do not go through to the final.

When the field does not divide neatly into these multiples the DT will adjust the DE schedule by either giving several of the highest ranked fencers a bye for the first round of DE matches or making the lowest ranked fencers ‘fence off’ for the final positions before the DE rounds begin.




For all age groups the winner of a pool bout is the fencer who reaches five hits first or who is leading when three minutes of fencing time have expired.

Direct Elimination:

For U15, U17, U20 and Open competitions, the points target is 15 hits which can be scored in three sessions of three minutes with a one minute break between sessions. The winner is the fencer who reaches 15 first or who is leading when time expires.

For U9, U11, U13, Novice and Veteran competitions, the points target is 10 hits scored in two sessions of three minutes with a one minute break between sessions. The winner is the fencer who reaches 10 first or who is leading when time expires.



Teams are comprised of three fencers with an optional reserve fencer. Each of the three fencers faces each of the three fencers in the other team in 5-hit bouts of three minutes. So the points target is 45 – nine bouts of 5 hits.

The reserve fencer may be named by the team captain to substitute for one of the other team members for one bout. The substitution must be advised to the referee and to the captain of the other team before the bout preceding the substitution is fenced.

Bouts are fenced in the sequence indicated on the score sheet so team captains must be careful to nominate their team members in tactical order. For example, the team captain often chooses to fence the team’s best fencer in the last bout so if the team is behind at that point they have a chance of catching up.

Team captains must also ensure that their fencers fence in the right order as set out on the score sheet.

All nominated members of a team receive a medal if their team is successful.

Fencers are expected to fence for their club in NSW teams competitions. Regional teams can comprise fencers from different clubs within the region.


Format can vary

While most competitions are fenced to the above standard formats, the DT may change the format to take account of factors such as the number of entries and the time available.

The DT may also decide, depending on entries, to combine male and female fencers in mixed bouts.



In individual events, medals are awarded to the first four place-getters – gold to the winner, silver to the runner-up and bronze to the two fencers in third place. There is no fence-off for third.

A full set of medals is awarded regardless of the number of fencers in the competition.

In mixed events, a gold medal is awarded if a fencer of the minority gender in the event wins a DE bout. For example, if a female in a predominantly male mixed event wins a DE bout, she will receive a gold medal. If she wins a medal in the mixed event, other than gold, she receives the appropriate medal plus a gold medal.

If there are two or more fencers of the minority gender in the event, after the pools they will fence off for medals. However, they may choose, if all agree, to forego gender-based medals and compete equally for medals in a mixed event.

In team events, all team members, even if one did not fence, are entitled to a medal

The Medals Policy can be found on the website.




NSW A Teams in National events are selected in accordance with the Selection Policy published on the website: [insert link

Selection is objective and based on established rankings as well as performance in the individual competition preceding a teams event.

For NSW A Teams, the first three nominated team fencers are selected according to their published ranking in the relevant age category. For example, for NSW team selection for an U17 national competition, only the fencer’s U17 ranking is taken into account.

The fourth team position goes to the fencer, not already selected, who ranks the highest in the individual National competition.

For NSW B Teams, the four fencers are selected in order of their placings in the individual event preceding a teams event.

Selected A Team members are advised in advance of their selection and must confirm whether they will be available to fence. Selected fencers who subsequently withdraw for any reason must advise NSWFA immediately so the next ranked fencer can be invited.



The results of all NSWFA competitions are published at www.nswfencing.org.au usually within a day or so of the competition being held. Results are also provided to the media and may appear in metropolitan newspapers (e.g. the Sydney Morning Herald) the following day.

Up to date rankings are published on the website which also shows the methodology for rankings and the ranking points awarded to each fencer according to their competition results.

Fencers from the ACT are included in the NSW rankings, but not fencers from other States or overseas.

Any queries about rankings should be directed to: secretary@nswfencing.org.au



  • When the annual calendar is published, check the events that you would like to enter and put them in your diary. Check the calendar regularly in case there are changes.
  • Make sure you are a registered member of NSWFA in the appropriate category.
  • Make sure that you enter the event online at Register/Pay by 6pm on the Thursday before the weekend competition and pay the entry fee online.
  • Check your weapons and wires at home before you leave for the competition to ensure they are in working order. You can purchase a testing kit from equipment suppliers.
  • Pack your fencing bag the night before the competition making sure you have a mask, jacket, breeches, long socks, fencing shoes, weapons and body wires (at least two), conductive clips (for foil bibs and sabre masks), a glove, a towel and drink bottle. You don’t want to discover just before the competition that you are missing a piece of gear.
  • Keep a repair kit in your fencing bag comprising: an Allen key for tightening handles, tape for foil blades, a small screwdriver for tightening/replacing epee grub screws, spare grub screws and tip springs and, ideally, a weapon testing kit.

It is important to check your clothing and equipment before you arrive at the competition so you do not have any last-minute problems that may affect your composure before competing.



Before you start

  • Arrive early so you have time to check in with the registration desk and to warm-up – allow at least half an hour before the start time for the competition.
  • Check with the registration desk that your entry was received and your name is on the entry list.
  • Listen carefully to announcements made by the DT.
  • When the pools list is posted, move to your nominated piste.
  • Be ready to present yourself on the piste, properly clothed, wired and with weapon in hand, when called by the referee.
  • You must have at least one spare weapon and wire.

On the piste

  • The referee will check that you are wearing an 800N under-plastron, that your mask is securely fitted and will test your weapon with gauge and weight to make sure it is working properly. If the weapon or wire is faulty, a yellow warning card will be issued. You must then change the weapon/wire. Note: for schools competitions, weapons are not tested and a yellow card is not issued for weapon faults.
  • Be sure you keep at least one spare weapon and wire at your end of the piste.
  • Be ready to step onto the piste, ready to fence, as soon as the preceding bout is over.
  • At the beginning of the bout, salute your opponent and the referee. At the end, salute again, shake hands with your opponent and thank the referee.
  • If your weapon fails at inspection or during the bout, you must surrender it to the referee for the duration of the bout. Then either fix it yourself or give it to an armourer for checking and repair.
  • It’s a good idea, without holding up the next bout, to quickly check your weapon with gauge and weight so you know it is in working order for your next bout.
  • When the pools round is completed, check the score sheet to make sure it correctly records your wins and losses. If it doesn’t, point this out to the referee managing the scoresheet and, if necessary, to the DT.
  • Check again when the pools results are posted on the wall. Look at the indicator column – for example, if you have won all your bouts the indicator rate will be 1.00; if you win half your bouts, the indicator rate will be 0.50.
  • If you don’t think your posted pools result is correct, check with the DT.

Direct elimination rounds

  • Check the tableau when it is posted to see who you will be fencing in your DE bout.
  • Listen carefully to the DT’s announcement on which piste your DE bout will take place.
  • Make sure you are ready to fence when your name is called.
  • If you lose your DE bout, you must remain at the venue for the next DE round in case you are needed to referee. You most check with the DT before leaving the venue.
  • If you have been good enough to win a medal, make sure you are wearing your club jacket (or your fencing whites) for the medal presentation ceremony.

Useful tips

  • During the competition, stay well hydrated, particularly if the weather is hot. Keep a bottle of water and face towel with you while fencing.
  • A fencing competition takes several hours. Keep your energy levels up.



Fencing competitions may be recorded by officials and spectators using video devices such as cameras, smart phones, tablets, video recorders etc. Fencers consent to their images being recorded when they register as a member.

NSWFA may also live stream fencing bouts on social media.

NSWFA will only use images of fencers for promotion of the sport.

Video devices must not be used as refereeing aids or to question the decision of a referee other than when video referring is being used officially in competition.



Fencing is a relatively safe sport, but injuries can occur. The most likely are muscle sprains or joint injuries.  Occasionally, a weapon may cause injury.

A basic first aid kit is on hand at NSWFA competitions, including schools competitions. Ice packs are stored in the refrigerator in the sick bay at Marrickville.

The registration desk has details on the nearest medical centre and hospital.

It’s a good idea to keep a basic kit in your fencing bag – e.g. plasters, a pressure bandage.

Although an indoor sport, heat stress can be an issue for some fencers on hot days. Keep well hydrated. If you don’t feel well, don’t continue to fence.

Check the heat guidelines issued by Sports Medicine Australia on the NSWFA website.



Competitions in NSW are governed by rules set by the Internationale Federation d’Escrime in the FIE Rules for Fencing – Technical Rules.

All fencers should have a working knowledge of the FIE Rules. The Rules are published at www.britishfencing.com and www.fie.org.

In addition to the FIE Rules, all participants at competitions, including spectators, are covered by the NSWFA Code of Conduct and the Conditions of Entry. Please ensure that you have read and understood your responsibilities under these rules which can be found at www.nswfencing.org.au.

Note: In schools competitions, the following rules are not enforced:

  • the ‘non combativity’ rule (except for Seniors)
  • stepping off the piste (where the edge of the piste is not clearly marked)
  • coming to the piste with a defective weapon or wire



The FIE Rules set penalties for various transgressions. Penalties are indicated by the showing of cards. Yellow is a warning. Red is a point conceded to the opposing fencer (two yellows make a red). Black means instant expulsion from the event and a period of  suspension from competition. Fencers can receive a black card for refusing to salute their opponent after a bout or for an offence against sportsmanship, e.g. throwing their mask/weapon on the floor.

A summary of penalties can be found on the scoresheet clipboards at competitions.

You can minimise the risk of penalties by:

  • reporting on time to your nominated piste
  • making sure your equipment is in working order before you step onto the piste
  • fencing within the Rules and showing respect for the referee and for your opponent
  • keeping calm and good tempered
  • accepting the result of a bout – win or lose – with good grace



As well as the FIE Rules, competitors and spectators at NSWFA competitions and other fencing activities are bound by the NSWFA Code of Conduct.

An alleged breach of the Code will be considered by the NSWFA Executive or by a disciplinary panel appointed by the Executive. Remedies under the Code range from suspension to expulsion from NSWFA.



Under FIE Rule t82 and the NSWFA Code of Conduct, spectators, including fencers, coaches, parents and others must not interfere with the smooth running of a fencing competition. In particular, spectators must not, by word or gesture, harass a fencer or a referee. Attempts to influence or intimidate a referee will be considered a serious breach of the FIE Rules and NSWFA Code of Conduct. Competitors and spectators should always display good sportsmanship.

Coaches may not communicate with their fencers while fencing is underway.



All Affiliated and Registered fencers in NSW, including Associate Members, are covered by an insurance policy arranged by the Australian Fencing Federation. The policy covers public liability, professional indemnity and personal accidents.

The insurance policy handbook can be found at www.ausfencing.org.au on the ‘Policies’ page.