Anyone who has spent time attending competitive fencing events has probably know that national level competition requires that names be on uniforms. So if your child is going to attend this year Summer Nationals, , then this is something that you will want to think about.
The two questions that I often hear from parents are:
Where do I stencil on the uniform?
This answer is simple: most often on either the lame or jacket.
How do I stencil on the uniform?
This answer is a little more complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are four ways to get your child’s name stenciled onto their fencing uniform:
1. Do it yourself.
Fencing uniform stenciling is not rocket science. If you have enough desire and some basic skills you can do it yourself, given you read the USFA guidelines for names on uniforms. This is a great hands on project for you and your kid, perfect for a rainy afternoon.
Expert tip: Before you permanently stencil the fencing uniform, try it out on something less expensive like an old t-shirt or a scrap of fabric. Testing the process of stenciling and drying first on something that’s of less value will keep you from ruining your child’s precious uniform.
2. Have a local shop do it.
This doesn’t necessarily need to be a specialty fencing shop, but could be anywhere that provides similar services. You will need to be sure to provide USFA requirements on: sizing, spacing, color. As for beauty and strict adherence to the rulebook, most referees (even at the national level) are fairly colorblind, font-agnostic, and indifferent to design and pattern. Should the fencing uniform stenciling not be 100% perfect according to the requirements, most likely it will pass and your child will be allowed to compete. Still, this is a service that you’re paying for, so insist on the requirements being followed as completely as possible should you choose to have a local shop do it for you.
Expert tip: Print out the USFA requirements and take a hard copy to leave with the shop. This way you can be certain that they know the specific requirements.
3. Order the uniform already printed.
Many fencing vendors will customize the piece of the uniform that you need with your child’s name already stenciled on it. This is by far the most convenient method in my opinion, assuming that you know your child exact size for the brand you order.
Expert tip: Once stenciled, this piece of fencing garment cannot be returned or exchanged – the name is permanent. Vendors are unlikely to offer a return or refurbishment.
4. Have it done at a tournament.
Big national level tournaments, such as NAC’s or Summer Nationals, always have at least few vendors on site who will gladly stencil your piece of uniform. These vendors know all of the requirements by heart, have done this hundreds of times, and will have your child’s uniform in and done in under an hour. Moreover the chances are, that unless you carry my last name, they have already stenciled similar to your name before and will spell it correctly.
And even with my last name some vendors already have quite a good experience spelling our admittedly uncommon name, having done work for my family’s army of fencers 🙂
Expert Tip: Should you choose to stencil your fencing lame at the venue prior to the tournament: First, check your lame and ensure it clearly passes the weapon check. It should clearly pass, not marginally. Stenciling costs anywhere between $30 and $40, so if your lame is only marginally passed then that might mean that soon it will be dead and your child cannot fence with it. If that happens then $40 will be mostly spent on creating a souvenir. I suggest instead that you buy a new lame (there will be plenty vendors available at the tournament), stencil it, have your child fence the tournament in it and then use the old, plain lame back in club for training.
What I Do
As I am not the best handyman in the world, I usually prefer entrusting this work to the hands of professionals from the fencing community, so numbers 3 and 4 are my own preferred choices when it comes to stenciling.
Our own club believes that having your name and country on your uniform is an incredible honor and privilege. We recommend our parents to do it before their first serious national competition, as a sign of recognition of the achievement of their fencer. This is something to be proud of, that shows how far a student has come and how much dedication they have shown to the sport.