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Epee: Lags Saber & Outperforms Foil in USFA Divisions, 2008-2009 through 2016-2017

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Epee is a solid performer among weapons according to NFCR’s analysis of askFRED.net data for all USFA Divisions over the nine-year period 2008-2009 to 2016-2017. The number of epee fencer events (entries), excluding epee events at North American Cups (NACs), has grown from 28,244 in 2008-2009 to 40,197 in 2016-2017, a compound annual rate of growth (CAGR) of 4.5%. The epee fencer events include local (club), divisional (qualifiers, etc) and regional events (RYC, SYC, RJCC, ROC), etc.

This compares with saber and foil which have grown at CAGR 6.3% and 3.1% over the period. Fencing activity for all weapons has grown at CAGR 4.4% between 2008-2009 and 2016-2017 across the nation (excluding NACs). Epee continued its robust growth in 2016-2017 at 4.2% compared to saber and foil which grew at 5.5% and 0.1% respectively.

Our major findings for epee are:

  • The number of epee fencer events generated has grown from 28,244 in 2008-2009 to 40,197 in 2016-2016, representing a CAGR of 4.5%
  • Epee fencing activity has grown at CAGR 13.8% in the ten fastest growing Epee Divisions which include Border Texas (21.7%), Arizona (16.7%), Gold Coast Florida (16.3%), Central Florida (14.6%), Northeast Pennsylvania (13.7%), New England (13.6%), Virginia (13.15), Nevada (12.6%) and Westchester-Rockland (12.2%).
  • Epee fencing activity grew by an average annual rate of 6.5% in the ten largest Epee Divisions in terms of epee fencer events generated. The Divisions include New England (13.6%), Gulf Coast (6.7%), New Jersey (3.2%), Virginia (13.1%), Illinois (6.3%), Central California (13.7%), Southern California (2.8%), Metro NYC (5.9%), Georgia (0.7%) and Colorado (2.4%). 
  • Epee’s share of the entire fencing activity market has remained at about 36% over the nine-year period.
  • There is a poor correlation between the CAGR in epee across the 68 Divisions and the other weapons. (Foil – Saber 0.53), (Foil – Epee 0.44) and (Saber – Epee 0.21).
  • Epee is the most popular weapon in 31 of the 68 USFA Divisions as identified in the table below. The largest Divisions where epee is the most popular weapon includes Gulf Coast, Virginia, Illinois, Southern California, Georgia and Colorado.

Related: A Brief Statistical Review of USA Fencing 2016-2017

The scatterplot below provides the relationship between the number of epee entries generated by USFA Division members in local/regional events as well as in NACS. The equation for the “line of best fit” is y = 0.2535 x – 21.581. This means that for each 100 epee entries at the local or regional level, there are 25 events generated by members of the Division at NACs.

The accompanying table provides the annual epee fencer events generated for each of the 68 USFA Divisions for every second year since the 2008-2009 season. It also identifies the most popular weapon for each of the Divisions in 2016-2017. You may click on a column heading to sort the data based on that criteria. For additional Divisions, please toggle on the “Next” button at the bottom right of the table.

Epee Fencer Events (Entries) Generated (Excluding NACs) by USFA Division Members 2008-2009 through 2016-2017

USFA Division2008-20092010-20112012-20132014-20152016-2017Compound
Rate %
Most Popular Weapon
Border Texas4836367023121.7%Epee
Gold Coast Florida15519626752051916.3%Epee
Central Florida23243771560368814.6%Foil
Central California5867376321249164113.7%Foil
Northeast Pennsylvania3875748110613.7%Epee
New England908138920491678251713.6%Foil
Inland Empire17728625332540510.9%Epee
Western New York1864204483073488.1%Foil
Gulf Coast147613211731154224816.7%Epee
San Diego4224355904376876.3%Epee
Mountain Valley1761783033432846.2%Saber
Metro NYC8238081124128613055.9%Foil
Central Pennsylvania1051641831401514.6%Epee
Southwest Ohio97123121651364.3%Foil
San Bernardino1672541761512294.0%Foil
Columbus Ohio3341791952864373.4%Saber
Northern California81286981393710613.4%Foil
New Jersey181128202950219423283.2%Saber
Gateway Florida3332614352634192.9%Foil
Southern California123415411664140515422.8%Epee
Plains Texas1962711892022392.5%Epee
Nebraska-South Dakota7594128168912.4%Foil
Orange Coast1151871231861382.3%Foil
Utah-Southern Idaho4896664023695701.9%Foil
St Louis2212571092352561.9%Foil
Long Island8286117769689341.5%Foil
South Texas7136129906917640.9%Epee
South Carolina2703824091942870.8%Epee
New Mexico1472663071371560.7%Epee
Green Mountain4614213353514670.2%Epee
Western Washington9169031131756893-0.3%Foil
Northern Ohio537492601682520-0.4%Epee
North Carolina587442705641565-0.5%Foil
North Texas619948504491593-0.5%Saber
Western Pennsylvania210215145151127-6.1%Foil
South Jersey10063573038-11.4%Saber
North Coast14893597836-16.2%Epee
Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net data.

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 medium to long term growth rates in fencer activity across Divisions and States. Provided the inconsistencies are consistent over time we are able to get a trend, and therefore an average growth rate.

Despite the data limitations, we are able to make valid comparisons on the performance of States and Divisions. For strategic decision making, timely, consistent, and directionally correct information is more important than data that is 100% accurate.

Related: The Geographical Distribution & Growth of Fencing Clubs in the U.S.A. – 2016-2017

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