VFA Bulletin
October 24, 2022

1. Punch Card Reminder
A reminder, now that we are on Week 6 for Level 2/3 classes/Competitive Squad, and Week 5 for Level 1 classes: I rely on you to keep track yourself of how many practices you attend (honor system!), and purchase a new punch card ($65) when yours is used up. So, if you bought a card at the first L2/3 class and have not missed any, you will need a new one this week - and Level 1 students who have not missed any classes will need a new one next week. As always, if you come to two practices in the same week (for example, Competitive Squad plus Level 2/3 class), you only have to punch your card once. Please keep track honestly and keep your friendly neighborhood fencing coach in business!

Club dues and equipment rental fees are for the entire fall (you do not need to pay them again when you buy a new class card). They will be due again in January. US Fencing dues are for the entire season (through July 31). They will be due again next fall (although you may need to upgrade from noncompetitive to Access status if you want to participate in tournaments).

2. Become a Fencing Referee - the Green Mt Division Needs You!
I hope that last week's Level 2/3 class made you curious about becoming a fencing referee. The Green Mt Division badly needs new certified referees if we want to continue to offer sanctioned tournaments where ratings can be earned (and of course, we do). With graduations, people moving away and covid attrition, we are down to 3 certified refs who are currently attending tournaments (myself, Ray Schuppe and Michele Wheeler).

Here is a description of the 6 steps toward becoming a certified referee, with lots of useful embedded links:

The good news is that we took Step 1 together last week (and I hope you will continue to practice your reffing skills regularly in the club). Steps 2 and 3 involve downloading the Rule Book and the Study Guide (essentially a practice exam) and working through it. Most fencers start with the general section (required for everyone) and one weapon (the one you fence the most, usually).

Step 4 is to take the official referee clinic. This is an 8 hour course. Before covid, it had to be given live (and before covid we were fortunate to have an in-state instructor in Anne Crocket, who has since moved away). But now, many of the instructors are offering the course on line. Simply go to AskFRED.net, select "Camps and Clinics" and choose "Referee Clinic" from the dropdown menu of types. Some of the clinics will be in person, some on line, and some a mix. Make sure to choose one that has an online option. If it were me, I would look for a course broken in to 2 or more meetings (because do you really want to sit through an 8 hour Zoom?). Here is one coming up soon (Nov 9-10), with the top female ref in the US
You would have to miss one week of Level 2/3 class (since it takes place on a Wed and Thurs evening) but I happily excuse you in order to take the ref course.

Step 5 is to take the exam on line. If you pass the general section plus at least one weapon, you are given the initial ref rating of P (Passed). It's an open book test, and you have 48 hours to retry if you fail one of the sections, before you have to pay again.

Step 6 is to be observed by a Ref Examiner and assigned your ref rating, which ranges from L (you have the skills to ref local tournaments), to R (you are good enough to ref regional tournaments), to N (good enough for national tournaments), with some sublevels within each of these ratings. With Anne no longer in Vermont, we do not have a local examiner, but if we get enough folks who have passed the exam, we will look into bringing one here for an observation session (or you may be able to arrange to be observed at a neighboring division tournament).

Becoming a ref takes time, dedication and money. The Green Mt Division offers some incentives to make it more attractive for you
-The GMD will reimburse the cost of the ref clinic (usually $60-80) and the exam ($25) upon your achieving your P rating.
-Adult refs (age 18+) must pass a background check and Safesport (abuse prevention) training ($25). The VFA will reimburse club members who become certified refs (L or higher) for this expense. Note that minors (teen in particular) can become refs too (and are not required to get "checked" status from the USFA).
-I have proposed that fully certified refs (L or higher) who participate in self-reffed events (i.e. almost all GMD opens) be given free entry into that event (the GMD has not discussed or passed this motion yet).
-All refs, whether already certified or in training, who volunteer their time to ref events for inexperienced fencers (such as E-under, U, and Youth events), earn coupons good for entry in to future GMD tournaments.

3. Fencing Equipment Maintenance and Repair
As you get in to owning and fencing with electric equipment, it will inevitably break. There are no repair shops for this stuff (at least not around here....), so learning to troubleshoot and repair your own equipment is part of being a fencer. In the fencing world, equipment repair is called armory work, and doing it makes you an armorer (which has a cool medieval ring to it, right?).

In the days before YouTube, I wrote a series of manuals describing how to maintain foils, epees and body cords. They are full of useful advice and funky vintage clip art. You can download them for free using the links below.
Viveka's Repair Manuals
Foil Manual
Epee Manual
Body Cord Manual

There are quite a few armory videos on YouTube and I have not watched many of them. But Leon Paul's concise little videos seem good. You might want to check these out:

Epee Tip Maintenance
Assembling an Epee

Foil Tip Maintenance
Assembling a Foil

For a complete rewire, check out this one. I only skimmed through it, but it looks like he uses much the same techniques and tools that I do (and he has a nice YouTube channel with a lot of interesting videos you might want to check out). This is a foil rewire, but doing an epee is not all that different (between this video, the LP epee videos, and my epee manual, you will be able to figure it out).
Fencers Edge Foil Rewire

Like everything else about fencing, armory work takes practice and you get better with experience. If any of you avid YouTube explorers find armory videos you think are particularly well made and helpful, let me know and I'll share them.

4. Register Now for the Stick Season Stab
When: Nov 12
Where: Middlebury Union Middle School
Who: All fencers born 2009 or earlier. If you are currently a noncompetitive member, you will need to upgrade to Access status to start competing (do this on line at usafencing.org). E-Under events are limited to E and Unrated fencers. If you are not sure what a rating is, you don't have one (you are Unrated) - but see the October 10 Bulletin for an explanation. E-Under events are great for first-time competitors and for young teens moving up from the youth age group!

Event Schedule:
10 am Open (Senior Mixed) Foil, E-Under Epee
1:30 pm Open (Senior Mixed) Epee, E-Under Foil
Please do not register for two events that start at the same time.

Entry fees: $20 for one event or $30 for two, if registered by November 7, with a $15 late fee after that. Fees are payable at the door and there is no penalty for withdrawing if you need to.

Register here:

Sign up is via a website called AskFRED (FRED is the Fencing Results and Events Database). New to using it? Instructions for creating an account are here: