USA Fencing (previously called USFA) is the national governing body for fencing in the United States. It sanctions tournaments at various levels from small local tournaments to the National Championships. It also selects the fencers who represent the US in the Olympic Games and other international competitions.
USA Fencing is organised into Divisions, with Atlanta being in the Georgia Division.
Joining USA Fencing
Fencers do not need to join the USA Fencing in order to compete in GHSFL tournaments, but they must be a member to compete in a USA Fencing sanctioned tournament. You can sign up at www.usfencing.org/page/show/698115-individuals. Membership runs from August through July (even if you join in March, membership only runs through July). One exception to that is that new members (or those who have not been members in the last five years) who join on or after 1 April have their membership extended though July of the following year. As of the 2015/16 season: competitive membership (the type that allows you to compete in tournaments) costs $70 for one year. You will be sent a membership card that you may need to show at tournaments. If you sign up close to the tournament date, you can print your membership card from the website.
Competing in USA Fencing tournaments
The level of competition at USA Fencing tournaments varies, but even at a local tournament it is usually a little higher than at a GHSFL tournament. The best way for fencers to know if they are ready for USA Fencing events is to talk to their coach.
Registration for most USA Fencing tournaments is through www.askFRED.net which is a national clearing house for fencing tournament registration. You will need to create an account there (no charge) and enter your USA Fencing membership number before you can register for a tournament. There is often a registration fee for the tournament as well as a separate entry fee for each event in the tournament. Payment may be by credit card through askFRED (which charges a small handling fee), or by cash or check at the door. Sometimes only one of those options are available, payment information should be on AskFRED.
USA Fencing classifies fencers with the ratings A – E (A is highest) based on their results in USA Fencing tournaments. Fencers who have not earned a classification are listed as “U” (unclassified). Fencers may have different ratings for each weapon. Some tournaments are restricted to fencers with certain ratings (e.g. “A-C”, “D or lower”, or “U only”).
For initial seeding in tournaments, fencers are classified by their rating letter and the year in which they last earned that rating (e.g. B14, E15); within the same rating letter, fencers who earned or renewed rating in a later year are seeded higher (so B15 is ahead of B14 and B14 is ahead of C15).
Fencers keep a rating until they earn a higher one, or until August of the fourth year since they last earned it (when their rating drops one letter). For example fencers earning a D in 2015 who do not earn a higher rating and do not renew their D rating in later years will be classified as D15 until August 2019, when they will drop to E19.
See the USA Fencing Classification Chart for details for how classifications are awarded.