Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Asked and Answered – Division Eligibility at Fencing Summer Nationals

Division Eligibility at Fencing Summer Nationals

What are the Division eligibility requirements for fencing in Division 1A, Division 2, and Division 3 at Fencing Summer Nationals?

A lot of fencers ask us how to determine when they can participate in Division 2 and Division 3 at Fencing Summer Nationals. It’s a question we typically hear from parents whose children get a higher rating during the season then the official Division eligibility that they want to compete in. Are they eligible to sign up? Are they not eligible to sign up? It can be confusing, to say the least.

Competition timing is key to determine Division eligibility

The thing is very simple, and here’s how it goes.

In order to participate in the Divisional section at Fencing Summer Nationals, a fencer needs to qualify. The easiest and most common way to qualify is via regional points earned at regional competitions. Regional points are earned at regional competitions like ROCs, which a fencer can participate in anywhere in the country. That happens when a fencer makes it to the top 40% in a ROC – he or she get respective Division points that qualify can them for respective Division Fencing Summer Nationals.

Which division a fencer qualifies for is based on their rating, A through U. Depending on the rating that a fencer has when they participate in a regional competition, they will qualify for either Division 1A, Division 2, or Division 3. That bears repeating – the timing of when a fencer has their rating is what matters. Whatever the rating is at the START of the competition is the rating that determines qualification. Should a fencer’s rating change during a competition, then it’s what rating they started with that matters, not what they end with.

Ratings are what push you to certain categories in Divisional competition at Fencing Summer Nationals. Excluding Division 1, which is a main Senior Division in the USA, following the correspondence of the rating and the respective Division championship

  • U, E and D rating = Division 1A, Division 2, and Division 3
  • C rating = Division 1A and Division 2
  • A or B rating = Division 1A only

The higher your rating, the fewer divisions you qualify to compete in at Fencing Summer Nationals.

Note that it does not matter what happens after you qualify. If you get a higher rating later in the season, you still qualify in whatever divisions you originally qualified in.

Examples of how qualification works

Let’s now walk through some examples of what the qualification path can potentially look like. If you’re unclear on how it all goes, hopefully these will help you to make sense of it.

  • You are a D rated fencer who attended a Division 1A ROC tournament and you finished in the top 40%. You qualify for Division 1A, Division 2, and Division 3. All three of these divisions are possible for you to compete in!
  • You are a D rated fencer who attended a Division 2 ROC tournament and you finished in the top 40%. You qualify for Division 2 and Division 3. All three of these divisions are possible for you to compete in!
  • You are a C rated fencer who attended a Division 1A ROC tournament and you finish in the top 40% of the competition. You now qualify for Division 1A and Division 2 for Fencing Summer Nationals, based on your rating.
  • You qualify at a ROC  tournament that you enter with an A rating. You qualify for Division 1A at Fencing Summer Nationals.

When you get into the deeper questions of qualification, it’s again so very simple! People tend to get confused because they overthink it. The only thing that matters is what your rating is when you begin the competition that you qualify in. Here are some further examples to refine your understanding of this point.

  • You qualify for Fencing Summer Nationals in Divisions 1A, 2, and 3 in September by ranking in the top 40% at a Div1A ROC and being a D rated fencer. In February of that season you are now an A-rated fencer. You are still qualified for all three divisions.
  • You are a C rated fencer at a ROC and through the Div1A or Div2 ROC’s you for Division 2 and Division 1A competition at Fencing Summer Nationals. At the end of the same competition, you earn your B rating. You can still attend BOTH Division 2 and Division 1A events at SN.

What matters is what your rating was at the time that you competed at the qualifying event and that you succeeded to qualify in it. When and if you upgrade your rating in the same season matters exactly zero percent! All that matters is what you were at the start of the tournament that you reach qualification in.

Signing up for Summer Nationals

Once you know what you are qualified in, and as time gets closer to Fencing Summer Nationals, you’re going to want to register for those Divisional Championships. This is of course done through the USA Fencing website. This is a point where things can potentially get a little tricky if you have upgraded your rating through the season.

When your fencing rating goes up in the system, it makes you only eligible to sign up for the competitions that are consummate to your rating at the time that you’re on the website. An A-rated fencer cannot sign up for competitions that are only meant for D and lower rated fencers and vice versa, that kind of thing. Sometimes the system will catch this with Fencing Summer Nationals in Divisions 1A, 2, and 3, but sometimes it won’t. It’s a thing you won’t be able to know until you get into it.

You are eligible for that competition if you qualified for it this season no matter how your rating changed! Even if the computer system kicks you out.

If this kind of scenario happens to you, what do you do? The answer is very simple – don’t give up! Write to the USA Fencing (mail to: and tell them your situation. They will help you to get signed up for Fencing Summer Nationals in the proper division, no matter what the system is letting you do or not do. Don’t just assume that you made a mistake if the system won’t let you register – ask a real person! Give a brief description of the event you qualified at and how you think that you qualify in the context of the rules. Be sure to point out that your rating has changed over the course of the season, and that this is the heart of why you are unable to register properly online.

Computers make mistakes! No system is perfect and that’s perfectly alright. Don’t let your nerves surrounding the competition or your unsureness about what Division eligibility looks like. In my experience with the USFA, they are always happy to help out and figure things out for you. The worst that will happen is that you’re said to be not right, but that’s not so bad! Either way, you’ll know.

You have not missed the train just because of a glitch in the system. That’s a lesson for every kind of competition and every aspect of life. Because one person tells you something does not mean you should strictly go by that if you have some other understanding of things. Always ask! If you are still unsure of what’s going on, reach out to your coach or your club staff for more information. The USFA has the final say of course, but if you know the rules then you know the rules and pursue that qualification if you want to go compete in that division.

I hope that you now have a better understanding of where you are and how to go about figuring out Division eligibility and qualification. It’s worth competing in Summer Nationals as much as you can! Don’t let a mix upkeep you or your child out.


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  1. R

    Next season, Summer Nationals registration Division eligibility will be according to your classification at registration. P.S. We’re USA Fencing.

    • Igor Chirashnya

      That’s quite a change for the next season. I haven’t seen this yet – can you point to the source of this new rule, please?

  2. R

    Tournament Committee 2/15/19 MInutes: “Beginning in the 2019-2020season, the classification of a fencer at the time of registration for Summer Nationals will be used for determining eligibility. An exception will be made for fencers earning ratings at a Division III division qualifier. The Athlete Handbook for next season will updated to reflect the new language.

    • Igor Chirashnya

      Thanks R! Looks there will be quite a lot of changes in the tournaments next season.

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