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FAQ

For more details, see the Information page.

1. Who Are You?
bulletThe Huntsville Fencing Club is a private amateur fencing club in the traditional sense, open to recreational and competitive fencers, with any exceptions noted below.
bulletThe club has existed under its current organization since 2000. Prior to this, there were at least two other iterations of the HFC, the first organized in 1973.
bulletThe club has its ultimate roots in the M.A.R.S. fencing club formed in 1963 by a small number of NASA Apollo Program engineers.
bulletThe HFC has also been influenced by the instructorís association with the pre-Katrina New Orleans Fencing Club.

2. Where and When Do You Meet?
bulletWe meet for open fencing on Tuesdays 7 to 10, Fridays 6 to 9, and Saturdays 2 to 5.
bulletOccasionally the club is open earlier on Saturdays when there is no beginning class in session. Contact us first.
bulletOur address is 2319 Bob Wallace Ave., Huntsville, Alabama.
bulletDirections: Heading west on Bob Wallace from the Parkway, turn left at the Tower Loan sign into the east (left) parking area. Our facility is at the end of the building. An HFC sign is on the door.

3. What Weapons Are Fenced?
bulletThe HFC is primarily an epee club, although some members do occasionally fence foil or saber. Most of the time, however, our members fence epee.

4. Is There a Best Weapon?
bulletThere is no "best" weapon.
bulletThe choice of epee, foil, or saber has much to do with personal preference and physical and psychological characteristics.
bulletEpee, however, is suitable to a larger percentage of fencers and a wider variety of personalities and physical types than are foil and saber.
bulletPlease note that there only a few fencers to practice with at the HFC if you fence foil or saber.

5. What Are Your Fees?
bulletRegular and associate member fees are a $30 (prorated) membership fee, and floor fees that range from $8 (a single practice) to $35 (all you can fence for a month). See the Payment & Fees page for details.
bulletAll members and visitors are required to be USFA members (the $10 general membership will suffice).
bulletFees are typically waved for short-term (a week or less) long distance visitors.
bulletAs noted, the HFC is an amateur fencing club in the traditional sense: we are not a business. Our fees pay our rent, insurance, new equipment, and equipment and facility maintenance.

6. What Are Your Membership Requirements?
bulletAnyone who has at least completed a competent beginning fencing class in modern foil, epee, or saber may join, with the exception of local area fencers from other local Alabama clubs (Madison and adjacent counties).
bulletAll members must have a working knowledge of USFA rules and traditions.
bulletWe do not discriminate based on sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, religious belief, or sexual orientation. We do reserve the right to refuse or revoke membership in cases in which a memberís behavior breaches, or is likely to breach, HFC safety rules, discipline, good order, or traditions.

7. Are Visitors Permitted?
bulletNon-fencing visitors are welcome, although itís best to email first to ensure the club is open. Please note that space for observation is limited.
bulletVisiting fencers are also welcome, with the following caveat: those from other local Alabama clubs (Madison and surrounding counties) must be approved in advance by the HFC directors, without exception.
bulletAll visiting fencers must hold current USFA membership. Regular visitors must become associate members of the HFC.

8. When Do You Hold Beginner Classes and How Much Do They Cost?
bulletWe hold two or three classes per year, typically late winter/spring, summer (on occasion), and fall.
bulletWe post dates, determined primarily by instructor availability, at least two weeks in advance.
bulletThe classes run for eight two-hour sessions on Saturdays from noon until 2 PM.
bulletThe class fee is $100, payable to the Huntsville Fencing Club, plus a $10 USFA membership fee, payable to the USFA, and is required by our insurer.
bulletDue to space constraints, class size is limited to fourteen.
bulletAt the moment we are unable to hold beginning classes at other hours.
bulletDue to time constraints, we do not teach true beginners--those who have never fenced before--individually.

9. What Are the Requirements to Attend the Beginning Class?
bulletStudents must be reasonably physically able and healthy enough to engage in occasionally vigorous activity.
bulletYouth under the age of twelve must be pre-approved by the instructor. Although we have made occasional exceptions, we typically do not accept students under the age of ten, given that youth are integrated with adults in the beginning class. The instructors ensure that all pairings in drills and exercises are appropriate and safe.
bulletThere is no upper age limit.
bulletThe HFC provides all necessary fencing equipment.
bulletAppropriate dress consists of athletic shoes, sweat pants or track pants (jeans may work), and a T-shirt long enough to cover the top of the pants by three or four inches.

10. I Have My Own Equipment, Can I Use It in the Beginning Class?
bulletYou may, subject to the instructorís approval.
bulletAll equipment must meet current USFA safety requirements.

11. Do You Have a Separate Youth Program?
bulletWe do not, for reasons logistical and philosophical.
bulletWe lack the time to run a separate program, mandatory for youth under the age of ten.
bulletFurther, it is our belief that children should be trained slowly and carefully, if at all, and not taught too quickly and pushed into competition too soon, as is all too common today in many clubs, an unfortunate practice advocated by many coaches and parents. This often results in less than positive outcomes over the long term, although it may be financially lucrative for fencing programs.
bulletThe HFC welcomes students age twelve and over, and may make exceptions for younger students, but we are primarily an adult-oriented fencing club.
bulletFor more information, see the "For Parents" section on the Information page.

12. Are Fencing Lessons Available?
bulletLessons are available to members in all three weapons from the instructor, Benerson Little, according to his availability.
bulletCost is $7 per 20 minute lesson, a rate a third or more less than the usual rate in most clubs. We can do this because we are not a business, and want to make lessons readily available.
bulletWe do not consider these to be "private" lessons, but individual lessons. Fencing lessons are the most effective way to learn to fence well.
bulletThe manner of training in lessons, and even if a lesson will be given at all, is up to the instructor.
bulletLessons are generally available on Saturdays 2 to 4 PM, and occasionally on Fridays 7 to 10 PM.

13. Do You Sell Fencing Equipment?
bulletWe do not have a "pro shop". However, our armorer, Dave Young, periodically orders equipment, and members and beginning students may place associated orders. This usually saves on shipping charges.
bulletMembers and beginning students can also order weapons through our armorer, which he personally assembles. Not only does this save on shipping, but you get exactly what you want.
bulletThe club does not make a profit on these orders; it is a service to members via the generosity of our armorer.

14. What Are the Benefits of Fencing?
bulletFencing is excellent for developing coordination, speed, balance, and reflexes, as well as a fair degree of aerobic and anaerobic endurance. But its benefits go far beyond the mere physical.
bulletFencing has a mind-body connection, which has been demonstrated over time and in modern studies to promote longevity, as well as a healthy body and active mind.
bulletFencing sharpens the mind and develops self-control.
bulletFencing is stress-relieving, with many of the benefits of meditation.
bulletFencing is a safe, healthy way to relieve our competitive nature.
bulletFencing promotes camaraderie, good will, fair play, and a sense of honor, at least in most fencers.
bulletFew if any sports offer so many short-term and long-term benefits.

15. Does Fencing Have a Rating System Like Traditional Martial Arts?
bulletNot exactly: fencing ratings can only be earned in competition. Currently, ratings run from unclassified, followed by E, D, C, B, and A. A-rated fencers can be further classified as unranked, nationally ranked, and internationally ranked.
bulletFencing ratings are not always a good way of determining fencing ability: ratings diminish one degree every four years, thus many excellent fencers who seldom compete anymore have ratings lower than their actual ability.
bulletFurther, the modern direct elimination system occasionally promotes fencers to ratings higher than their general ability.
bulletFencers should concentrate on their fencing and not on ratings.

16. Is the HFC Associated with the United States Fencing Association?
bulletThe HFC is an insured USFA member club in good standing, adheres to USFA membership and insurance requirements, and follows USFA rules and policies.

17. Does the HFC Adhere to Safe Sport Requirements?
bulletThe HFC follows USFA Safe Sport requirements, including the background screening of instructors and officers.

18. Is Fencing a Good Sport for College Scholarships?
bulletIn general, no, because there are not many fencing scholarships available. (See http://www.scholarshipstats.com/fencing.html.)
bulletFencing is not a popular college sport: only 40 or so schools offer fencing as a varsity sport.
bulletFurther, most schools with NCAA fencing programs are Division I and Division III schools. Div III schools do not offer athletic scholarships (but many provide strong academic-based aid to athletes), and many of the Div I fencing schools are Ivy League, and therefore do not offer scholarships.
bulletOf the schools that do offer fencing scholarships, only nine or ten, usually partial, are available on average per team, for nearly forty members per combined menís and womenís fencing team.
bulletFull scholarships for fencing are rare.
bulletIn general, sport as a means of paying for college is overrated. Academic scholarships are far more readily available.
bulletThe best that can be said of fencing and college admissions is that successful competitive fencing might make an admission application standout in general, and might in some cases help pay for college.
bulletHowever, none of this should deter a high school fencer from applying for fencing scholarships if he or she has good competitive results. A competitive high school fencer has a one in three chance of fencing in college at the varsity level, but unfortunately a much smaller chance at a scholarship.

19. How long does it take to become "good"?
bulletThe old school answer: a lifetime.
bulletHowever, you can enjoy fencing almost immediately, and in three to five years you can become a reasonably capable swordsman or swordswoman.
bulletAnyone who suggests you can do so in less time is, to paraphrase a line from The Princess Bride, selling something.

 

 

Copyright © 2004 Huntsville Fencing Club. All rights reserved.
Revised: July 21, 2015