Recently, River City Fencing was visited by Joe Garrety of the Lafayette Journal & Courier newspaper. Here are the questions he asked in addition to the personal visit to our salle.
How long has the club been in existence?
River City Fencing was started by Mr. Will Read in 2004. He was a Purdue student and fencing coach for the Purdue Fencing Team. After graduation he wanted to bring fencing to the general public of Greater Lafayette.
How many members and what is the age range?
We usually have 20 members on the roster. Business in increasing recently, so we have more than that now. Ages run from 8 to 54 (that’s me). We have many junior high and high school students. Fencing is appealing to both men and women, so the club, if anything, has more teenage women right now.
Is this an expensive activity? What kind of equipment/membership/competition expenses are there?
River City Fencing will order equipment for the beginner. “Starter sets” are about $125. That gets them a blade, jacket, mask and glove. Annual membership is $250 for the first fencer in a family. For another $50 the entire family can join.
What kind of physical and mental skills can a child develop by practicing fencing? Are any of these skills transferable to other sports or activities?
Fencing is often called physical chess. By the time you are an intermediate level fencer you realize that it is more about strategy and strong fencing skills. Athleticism is important, but skill wins the game. Travis Kepner is a new member who wrestled in high school and college. I’m sure he will see similarities on the mental focus side of the game. Good fencers will be able to transfer their skills to any individual sport. For example, tennis, baseball–any sport were eye and hand coordination are valued.
Compared to other sports, how difficult is it to become competent at fencing?
Great question. Fencing requires that you use talent and skills that are not second nature to people. Your instructor will be asking you to perform attacks and drills that may not make sense at first. That means that the learning curve to competent fencing is, perhaps, a little longer than other sports. You could be joining into tournament play after a year or so depending on your skills level and maturity. Fencing skill is about discipline and time-on-task.
Is it possible to participate without getting involved in competition?
Yes. Presently, most of our members don’t go to USFA (United States Fencing Association) tournaments. We are trying to change that, however. The best way to evolve in fencing is to fence people in other clubs in tournament play. Tournament play is a real eye opener for many fencing students. Many fencing clubs have members who take the sport as seriously as if they were playing basketball or soccer.
Make no mistake–some wonderful fencers never go to tournaments. They tend to be strong fencing “artists.”
Explain the three areas of fencing (foil, epee, saber). What does each involve?
There are three weapons in Olympic style fencing: epee, foil and saber.
• Epee fencing is a sport that came from the old tradition of dueling. For epee the target is the entire body from head to toe.
• Foils were used to practice for the duel. Foils were a teaching weapon originally. The target for the foils is the torso including the back. Legs, arms and mask are considered “off target” hits.
In epee and foil the weapons are “stabbing weapons.” You must score with the point of the blade.
• Saber is from the scimitar from the Middle East. Crusaders realized the curved blade of the scimitar was perfect for use on horseback. In saber the target is everything from the waist up. You can both slash with the edge of the weapon and use the point, too.
There is no crossover fencing. Foil fences foil. Epee fences against epee, etc.
How can people get involved in River City Fencing?
As an aside, how often do you get inquiries from people wanting to have a fence installed? 🙂
That’s not uncommon. Recently, we got an inquiry from the State of Indiana. They thought we sold barbed wire fence.
Finally, and I try and make this clear on our web site. We are a non-profit club. No one makes any money, so we don’t have a reason to talk you into membership. We don’t want “buyers remorse.” Guests are welcome to join us for a few classes to see if they want to make a commitment to the sport.