Fencers are described by the weapon they fence, their gender, their age, and their fencer classification (rating).

Weapon and Gender

Fencers may fence in foil, epee, and/or sabre. When talking about a fencer at a competition, only the relevant weapon is used. In a foil comeptition, the fencer is a foil fencer; in an epee competition, the same fencer is a sabre fencer.

USA Fencing recognizes only two genders: men and women. For transgender athletes, there are specific criteria laid out by USA Fencing to place the athlete in one of the two recognized genders. The specific criteria are beyond the scope of this document. 

Age Categories

Age in USA fencing is normally determined by birth year. It is possible that someone is not in the nominal age based on their actual birth date.

It is possible for someone to be age-eligible for more than one age category. The most overlap occurs for fencers aged 13 years, who may simultaneously be categorized in Y14, Cadet, Junior, and Senior age categories.

The age categories (with nominal ages) are:
  • Youth age categories:
    • Y8: ages 7 to 8 years
    • Y10: ages 7 to 10 years
    • Y12: ages 10 to 12 years
    • Y14: ages 12 to 14 years
  • Cadet: ages 13 to 17 years
  • Junior: ages 13 to 20 years
  • Senior: ages 13+ years
  • Veteran age categories:
    • Veteran (aka "Vet Combined" or VET): ages 40+ years
    • V40: ages 40 to 49 years
    • V50: ages 50 to 59 years (called Category 1 in international competition)
    • V60: ages 60 to 69 years (called Category 2 in international competition)
    • V70: ages 70+ years (called Category 3 in international competition)
    • V80: ages 80+ years. (Currently still an exhibition category in USA fencing, and technically a subset of V70.)

Fencer Classifications

Fencer classifications, or "ratings," are general descriptors of achieved skill abilities for each fencer. The classifications consist of a letter: A (highest) through E (lowest) and a year. The year indicates the year that the letter rating was earned by the fencer, and newer years are considered higher.

Any "A" classification is considered "stronger" than any "C" classification, regardless of years. A "B2018" classification is considered stronger than a "B2016" classification. Fencers who have yet to earn any classification are given a classification of "U" (for "Unclassified.")

Classifications are independent across weapons. A fencer may have a "U" classification in sabre and a "B" classification in epee.

Classifications degrade over time. After 5 years, the classification drops one whole letter, and to the year prior. e.g. an "A2004" classification will degrade in 2009 to a "B2008," which will degrade in 2013 to a "C2012," etc.

How classifications are earned is discussed in the events page <link forthcoming>.