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New Jersey – The Largest Division for Fencer Activity in the U.S.

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New Jersey

The New Jersey Division, which covers the Essex, Morris, Hudson, Somerset, Hunterdon, Union, Bergen, Passaic, Sussex, Middlesex, Monmouth, Warren, Mercer and Ocean counties in the State of New Jersey, is the largest Division of USA Fencing in terms of membership and fencer activity.  Generating almost 9,600 fencer-events in 2015-2016¹, the Division eclipsed the New England Division and remained the #1 ranked Division for fencer activity in the nation.  The Division is home to Bergen Fencing Club, a “Fencing Club of the Year” recipient in 2015-2016.  It is also home to 21 “Best Fencing Clubs” recipients for 2015-2016. Two of the Division’s clubs, Medeo Fencing Club and Cobra Fencing Club, made the Top 20 in the National Fencing Club Youth Championships – SYC for 2015-2016.

The Division is also home to the largest high school fencing competition in the country. The number of high school participants in New Jersey has grown from 864 in 1994-1995 to 2,494 in 2015-2016, a compound annual rate of growth of 5.6%. See our post on the growth of high school fencing in the U.S.

The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division has grown at the compound annual rate of 4.6% per year since 2008-2009 and mirrors the national average growth rate of 4.6% per year over the same period. In recent years, however, fencing activity has slowed, growing at 1.6% per year since 2010-2011.

The growth in fencer-events has been underwritten by the sustained growth in saber which has grown at the compound annual rate of 6.5% over the period. Foil activity has trailed saber, growing at the annual rate of 0.7%, while epee activity has slumped declining on average by 2.7% per year. The historical growth in fencer-events is illustrated in the accompanying graph. Due to saber’s robust performance of late, it is now the largest segment and accounted for almost 38% of fencer-events generated in the Division in 2015-2016, followed by foil at 37% and epee 26%.

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 tournament events 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 fencer-events generated by the largest clubs in 2015-2016 is illustrated in the accompanying graph. The Medeo Fencing Club, Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy, and Lilov Fencing Academy accounted for about one-third of fencer-events generated in 2015-2016. Fencers from the Medeo Fencing Club generated the most fencer-events in 2015-2016 at 1172, about 67% from epee, 18% from foil, and 15% from saber. Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy followed with 721, 84% foil and 16% saber.

The growth in foil fencer-events generated by the clubs with large foil programs in the Division is illustrated in the accompanying graph. Located in Fair Lawn, Bergen County, Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy generated the largest number of local and regional foil fencer-events in 2015-2016 at 604, down from 1024 in 2012-2013.  The second largest club, Empire United Fencing, located in Union City in Hudson County has recorded a jump in the number of foil fencer-events,  rising from 136 in 2013-2014 to 399 in 2015-2016 as illustrated in the graph.

The following graph clearly demonstrates that Bergen Fencing Club and Escrimeur Fencing Club, are the largest generators of saber fencer-events. They accounted for about a quarter of all the local and regional saber fencer-events generated in the Division in 2015-2016.

Medeo Fencing Club is clearly the dominant club generating local and regional epee fencer-events in 2015-2016. The club accounted for 32% of the epee fencer-events generated in the Division. Atlantic Fencing Academy has witnessed a steady rise in generated epee-events in the last few years.  

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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