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Metro NYC – The Capital of U.S. Fencing

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Metro NYC – The Capital of U.S. Fencing

Long considered the Capital of U.S. Fencing, New York City (Metro NYC) is home to five fencing clubs that trained 12 of the 17 fencers that made up the 2016 U.S. Olympic Fencing Team. It is also home to four 2015-2016 “Fencing Club of the Year” recipients; New York Fencing Academy (Youth Women’s Epee), Manhattan Fencing Center (Junior Men’s Saber and Veteran Women’s Saber), New York Athletic Club (Senior Men’s Saber, Senior Men’s Epee and Senior Women’s Epee) and the Fencers Club (Senior Women’s Foil).

In addition, five of the City’s clubs were awarded the “Best Fencing Clubs” designation for 2015-2016; Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club (Foil), Brooklyn Fencing Center (Foil), Peter Westbrook Foundation (Foil, Epee and Saber), Sheridan Fencing Academy (Saber) and Tim Morehouse Fencing Club (Saber). The city also boasts having seven colleges with NCAA-sanctioned fencing teams.

The Metro NYC Division of the United States Fencing Association (USFA) is one of the largest Divisions¹ in the nation. In 2015-2016 the Division was ranked 3rd out of 68 in terms of the number of local and regional fencer-events generated by the Division’s members. It ranked below New Jersey and New England but above Southern California, Central California, Illinois, Northern California, Long Island, Georgia and Virginia to make the Top 10 list of the most active fencing Divisions in the nation. Members come from all five boroughs of the City; Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division has grown at the compound annual rate of 4.9% per year since 2008-2009, compared to the national average of 4.6% per year over the same period.

The significant growth in fencer-events has been underwritten by the sustained growth in epee which has grown at the compound annual growth of 14.7% per year since 2011-2012, while foil has enjoyed steady growth at 6.9% per year over the same period. Saber has had a lackluster performance growing at 3.3% per year on average.  The historical growth in fencer-events is illustrated in the accompanying graph.

Club Activity

The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by a club is related to the number and profile of competitive members in the club, the approach of the club’s coaches regarding competitive tournaments and the quality and distance of nearby fencing competitions. Local tournaments include events that are organized by clubs, consortia of clubs and USFA Divisions. They do not include ROCs, RJCCs, SYCs, RYCs and Divisional Qualifiers which are all classified as regional tournaments. National tournaments include NACs, Championships, and the July Challenge.

The composition of local and regional fencer-events generated by the largest clubs in 2015-2016 is illustrated in the accompanying graph. The Manhattan Fencing Center, Fencers Club, and New York Fencing Academy accounted for about 71% of the fencer-events generated in 2015-2016. Fencers from Manhattan Fencing Center generated the most fencer-events in 2015-2016 at 1263, about 70% saber and 30% foil. The Fencers Club followed with 1147, 45% foil, 36% epee, and 19% saber. The New York Fencing Academy is a single weapon club specializing in epee as illustrated in the graph.

The growth in foil fencer-events generated by the largest clubs with foil programs in New York City over the past five years is illustrated in the following graph. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Fencers Club generates the largest number of local and regional foil fencer-events, but the number has fallen from a peak of 788 in 2012-2013 to 520 in 2015-2016.  The second largest club, Manhattan Fencing Center, has also recorded a decline in the number of foil fencer-events, falling from a peak of 597 in 2013-2014 to 383 in 2015-2016 as illustrated in the graph.

The following graph clearly demonstrates that the Manhattan Fencing Club, located in Midtown Manhattan, is the dominant saber club in New York City. It accounts for about 53% of all the local and regional saber fencer-events generated in the Division.

The New York Fencing Academy and the Fencers Club are the dominant clubs generating local and regional epee fencer-events as illustrated in the graph below. Between them, they account for 85% of the epee fencer-events generated in Metro NYC. Located in Brooklyn, the New York Fencing Academy opened in 2010 and has seen its epee fencer-events grow from 154 in 2010-2011 to 897 in 2015-2016.

¹ Source: askFred.net

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 States, Divisions, and Clubs. 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, Divisions, and clubs. For strategic decision making, timely, consistent, and directionally correct information is more important than data that is one hundred percent accurate.

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