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A Brief Statistical Review of USA Fencing 2016-2017

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NFCR is pleased to provide a brief statistical review of USA Fencing for 2016-2017. It is not meant to be an exhaustive expose, but rather a snapshot into membership, clubs, divisions and fencing activity. Growth data for a range of indicators on the health of fencing is provided at the bottom of the post. As usual, we look forward to your comments.


During the year USA Fencing offered new membership programs, including High School Club Memberships. It has also revamped the existing membership categories. As a result, it is difficult to compare the growth in membership by category, suffice to say that total membership appears to have grown by about 5.5% from 35,447 in 2015-2016 to 37,190 in 2016-2017. 

The largest category of membership is competitive members, which accounted for about 46% of total USFA membership last year. Competitive members have the right to enter and compete in local, divisional, regional, and national-level competitions, and may vote in elections of the USA Fencing membership subject to certain restrictions.

Composition of USA Fencing Membership at Year-End 7-31-2017

Membership Type# of Members% of TotalCumulative %
Foreign Fencer1,7164.6%86.8%
Collegiate Competitive1,4934.0%90.8%
High School Club Member8312.2%93.1%
Professional (Pending)3991.1%96.9%
Life Installment3180.9%97.8%
High School Competitive2470.7%99.1%
Olympian Life1020.3%99.4%
Coach (Pending)690.2%99.6%
Source: USA Fencing Membership List 7-31-2017


At year-end (7/31/2017), there were 667 USA Fencing Member clubs. The number of clubs per state ranges from a high of 84 in the case of California, to one in Delaware, Wisconsin, and Wyoming as illustrated in the accompanying map. Just over 53% of fencing clubs are located in eight states; California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts. About 81% are found in twenty states, adding Virginia, Ohio, Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Tennessee, Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana and Oregon to the list.

The Location of USFA Member Fencing Clubs by State @ 7-31-2017

Scroll over a state to highlight details

Among the largest fencing states, Illinois and New York lead the way with the largest number of new clubs registered in 2016-2017. The number of clubs in Illinois jumped from 21 in 2015-2016 to 28 in 2016-2017, a 33.3% increase, while the number of clubs in New York jumped from 49 in 2015-2016 to 64 in 2016-2017, a 30.6% increase.  The largest state, California, saw its number of clubs increase by 5% from 80 in 2015-2016 to 84 in 2016-2017.

About 50% of the “Best Fencing Clubs” are located in six U.S. states; California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, and Virginia. About two-thirds are found in twelve states, adding Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, and Illinois to the list. See details on the “Best Fencing Clubs” for 2016-2017.

Further details on the geographical distribution of clubs in the U.S. can be found in our recent post: The Geographical Distribution & Growth of Fencing Clubs in the U.S.A – 2016-2017

Local, Divisional & Regional Fencing Activity

Fencers participated in a wide variety of domestic competitions last year. They included local competitions in clubs and divisional qualifying competitions for the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships (JOs) and the USA Fencing National Championships. They also included regional competitions such as Regional Open Circuit (ROC), Regional Junior/Cadet Circuit (RJCC), Super Youth Circuit (SYC) and Regional Youth Circuit (RYC) competitions held throughout the year and around the country.

The following chart shows the growth in fencer events at local, divisional and regional competitions by saber, foil and epee fencers for the past nine years, 2008-2009 through 2016-2017. Over the period, saber activity has grown more strongly at the compound annual growth rate of 6.3% per year compared to epee and foil which have grown at 4.5% and 3.1% respectively. Saber continued its robust growth in 2016-2017 at 5.5% compared to epee and foil which grew at 4.2% and 0.1% respectively.


We recognize that askFRED.net data includes non-sanctioned USFA tournaments such as high school tournaments, private club tournaments, and a few tournaments associated with fencing camps. While the data is not perfect, it nevertheless allows for a comparison of growth rates for the different weapons. Provided the inconsistencies are consistent over time we are able to get a trend, and therefore an average growth rate.

National Level Competitions

Fencers also participated in national tournaments and championships such as the North American Cups(NAC), Junior Olympic Fencing Championships (JO), Division 1 National Championships, USA Fencing National Championships (Nationals) and the July Challenge.

Related: A Brief Review of the Junior Olympics – Kansas City, MO – February 17 – 20, 2017

Six Y-10 and Y-12 events that were canceled at the Summer Nationals in 2015-2016 due to the police shootings, were held in 2016-2017, hence the significant growth in these events as illustrated in the accompanying graph. In all but two age categories (Vet-50 and Vet Open), the number of entrants increased in 2016-2017 compared to 2015-2014, although in the case of Division 1, Cadet and Junior categories, year-over-year comparisons are difficult because of the significantly different qualifications paths to the Summer Nationals over the past couple of years.

Divisional Membership & Fencing Activity (Excluding NACs)

The range of annual growth rates in membership and fencer activity across the 68 USFA Divisions is illustrated in the following table. Readers are able to sort, filter or search the table. The table lists 20 divisions. To see more divisions, either proceed to the bottom right corner of the table and click “Next” or enter the name of the division in the Search box.

Growth in USFA Membership and Fencer Events Generated (Excluding NACs) by USFA Division 2016-2017

DivisionUSFA Members 2015-2016USFA Members 2016- 2017Percent ChangeFencer Events Generated 2015-2016Fencer Events Generated 2016-2017Percent Change2016-2017 Share of TotalCompound Annual Growth Rate 2008-2009 to 2016-2017
New Jersey2,2612,4096.5%9,5718,835-7.7%8.0%4.0%
New England2,1612,3759.9%7,0607,7039.1%7.0%12.5%
Central California9271,04012.2%4,0554,4279.2%4.0%11.2%
Metropolitan NYC1,1721,33313.7%4,2604,184-1.8%3.8%4.3%
Southern California1,0761,1496.8%4,2584,027-5.4%3.6%5.5%
Northern California1,1131,1886.7%3,3123,93318.8%3.6%6.1%
Gulf Coast65488034.6%2,7413,58830.9%3.2%0.3%
Long Island71585018.9%3,2203,189-1.0%2.9%3.3%
Western Washington726484-33.3%2,8882,9682.8%2.7%0.7%
North Texas5535611.4%2,2282,3294.5%2.1%3.0%
Orange Coast35742619.3%2,1812,177-0.2%2.0%15.7%
North Carolina9179685.6%2,0131,999-0.7%1.8%1.6%
San Diego50271642.6%1,6201,88216.2%1.7%4.5%
Central Florida4574978.8%1,8261,695-7.2%1.5%19.2%
Utah-Southern Idaho3453676.4%1,5661,544-1.4%1.4%0%
South Texas5425766.3%1,5871,519-4.3%1.4%-1.2%
Gold Coast Florida3834066.0%1,3121,3845.5%1.3%13.4%
Gateway Florida18322221.3%7171,30582.0%1.2%-4.2%
Western New York267253-5.2%1,0931,21511.2%1.1%9.2%
Mountain Valley19825428.3%1,0401,0541.3%1.0%4.4%
Northern Ohio517487-5.8%1,309975-25.5%0.9%2.5%
Green Mountain16618511.4%8058323.4%0.8%-2.3%
St. Louis162156-3.7%7618278.7%0.7%3.2%
Inland Empire266236-11.3%6937274.9%0.7%1.0%
South Carolina27833620.9%5365838.8%0.5%-3.8%
San Bernardino10211411.8%820579-29.4%0.5%10.2%
Western Pennsylvania29632710.5%595526-11.6%0.5%-1.0%
Border Texas29303.4%32842429.3%0.4%7.8%
New Mexico12116032.2%31741129.7%0.4%3.7%
South Jersey1111219.0%34038513.2%0.3%-7.8%
Southwest Ohio2512572.4%28334321.2%0.3%-5.2%5
Nebraska-South Dakota203186-8.4%451260-42.4%0.2%9.6%
Central Pennsylvania1952034.1%316250-20.9%0.2%4.7%
Plains Texas758310.7%19125030.9%0.2%-10.3%
Northeast Pennsylvania5744-22.8%15919019.5%0.2%0.6%
North Coast10797-9.3%11694-19.0%0.1%-5.1%
Source: USFA Membership Records, Askfred.net and National Fencing Club Rankings.

While fencer events generated by Division members grew by 2.9% in 2016-2017 over 2015-2016, the number of USFA members with Division affiliations grew by 9.2%. While USFA membership grew by 13% for the ten largest Divisions in 2016-2017, fencer events generated grew by only 4.3%. Divisions showing the strongest compound annual growth rates in fencer activity since 2008-2009 include Central Florida (19.2%), Orange Coast (15.7%), Arizona (14.7%), Oklahoma (14.7%) and Gold Coast Florida (13.4%).

USFA membership, especially competitive membership is critical in further expanding fencing activity in the Divisions as demonstrated in the accompanying scatter-plot.


The scatterplot shows the relationship between the number of fencer events generated by a Division’s competitive members (y or vertical axis) and the number of competitive members by Division (x or horizontal axis). The line of best fit is calculated by the equation y=5.0429x -33.499 which means that for each competitive member of the USFA, about 5 fencer events (excluding NACs) were generated in the 2016-2017 season. Almost 94% of the variation in the number of fencer events generated is explained by the variation in the number of competitive members per Division. By using the relationship between these two variables, we can forecast the number of local and regional fencer events generated per Division.

Related: A Brief Statistical Review of USA Fencing 2015-2016

Growth data for a range of indicators on the health of fencing is provided in the following table.

Growth Indicators and Key Benchmarks for USA Fencing 2009-2017

Data TypePeriodCompound
Annual Growth
Rate (CAGR)
USFA Membership
USFA Membership Clubs2015-20176.7%
Divisional Fencing Activity
Super Youth Circuit
NAC Activity
Division III2013-20170.6%
Division II2013-20174.8%
Division I2013-20179.6%
Junior Olympics
Cadet 2013-20175.3%
Summer Nationals
Division III2013-20170.2%
Division II2013-20174.3%
Division I2014-2017-20.0%
High School Fencing
NCAA Fencing
Athletes- Women2009-20161.0%
Teams - Women2009-20161.0%
Athletes - Men2009-20160.7%
Teams - Men2009-20160.4%
Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on USFA website data, askFred.net, NCAA and National Federation of State High School Associations data.

2 Responses to "A Brief Statistical Review of USA Fencing 2016-2017"
  1. J. Flint says:

    Growth in USFA Membership and Fencer Events Generated – Not clear what you mean by “Fencer Events Generated”. Taking New Jersey as an example – for 2016-17 you list 8,835 “events”. This would average more than 24 events per day for each day of the year, so it seems you are counting something else. Is this the total number of fencer entries for the division in the FY? Providing the number of events summarized would seem to be a useful piece of information (or does that number mean something else?).

  2. Ross says:

    Fencer events generated refers to the total number of fencer-events (entries) generated for events, both within a Division and elsewhere, by fencers from a Division. It does not include entries in NACs, but includes local and regional events, in tournaments such as RYCs, SYCs, RJCCs and ROCs. As an example, members of the New Jersey Division made 8,835 entries in tournament events last fencing season, either within New Jersey or elsewhere within the country.

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