Recreational Event Licensing

1. What is a Recreational Event?

This is an event which provides a Recreational Experience run by the local community based on local needs. Typically these are run by affiliated clubs or regions but may on occasion be run by the HCs, BF or their partners.

All plastic fencing events are automatically Recreational Experience events.

A recreational event can be for any age group. The information below applies to all events, irrespective of age of participant.

2. What is the purpose of introducing Recreational Events?

Through the use of Recreational Events BF & the HCs would like to encourage clubs, counties and regions to embrace opportunities to provide new fencing experiences aimed at people who wish to engage in fencing in different and less traditional ways. Recent insight tells us that there are many people who would like to be involved in fencing but are typically not motivated or interested in the goal of competing (or getting a result) in a traditional fencing competition.  These events do exist already in fencing – run by clubs, counties or regions who have already adapted to the needs of their communities. By recognising these events (and providing a means to register them) we can better support them and ensure that they are covered by our insurance policy.

In addition, those athletes that do wish to go on and compete more seriously need to develop the skill sets to help them progress. A fencing competition is often based on a direct elimination format that was designed in response to pressure from the IOC to ensure that athletes could not lose fights in the Olympics and still progress through the competition.

The most popular competition format at domestic level is now one in which there is a round of poules followed by knock-out direct elimination. The elimination rounds involves the top seeds being drawn against the bottom seeds which can provide for significant mismatches in ability and fencers that arguably need the most development getting the least fencing and experiencing being beaten by the widest margins. From the feedback we receive, many novice fencers do not enjoy this and it can put them off fencing in events.

It is a format that is easier for competition organisers as often more than 50% of the people are out of the competition after one poule and one DE match!

However, there are various other ways to run events which allow for fencers to still experience competitive fencing (5 hits, 15 hits) through a format that provides for a better participation experience and fencer development and it is these types of events that this scheme is intended to encourage by allowing club fencers to participate using only their club level (recreational) BF membership, and low cost event licensing.


3. What is the difference between a Recreational Fencing Event and a Fencing Competition?

A ‘classic’ fencing competition would usually have one or more of the following characteristics and therefore required a Compete licence to participate:

  • Contributes to a ranking (whether by geographical area or by age) or forms part of a qualification process, or an event series.
  • Ends in the word ‘Championships’
  • Would likely be perceived by the average participant as a competitive experience where the emphasis and goal of the event is to present a medal to the champion (s)
  • Fixed start time, end time variable most likely based on how well a participant performs
  • A competitive atmosphere/environment
  • Supporters (eg coaches and parents) encouraging their pupils/children to win
    Referees applying rules in accordance with the FIE fencing rules, and participants expect to have prior knowledge of competition rules
    Typical competition formats being followed (rounds of poules, followed by DEs).
  • One of a 6W metal fencing type


Recreational events give communities and clubs the opportunity to provide a different type of fun experience aimed at meeting the needs of a different group of fencers. Recreational events may have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Non-traditional formats – eg multiple rounds of poules, max 3 hits, mixed teams based on the needs of the local community
  • Fixed start and end times and all participants involved from start to finish
    Mixture of activities, individual and team, ‘battles’, different team formats – focus is on fun and enjoyment, keeping participants active and developing skills
  • Little or no knowledge of ‘competition’ rules expected, referees supporting participants to learn rules.
  • Supporters (eg coaches and parents) encouraging everyone to take part and have fun
  • Likely to be perceived as an event where the emphasis and primary goal is the fun and enjoyment of all participants equally
  • Plastic Fencing


4. I’m running a training day for my club/county/region – do they need compete licences?

No, Recreational Category licences are sufficient to participate in Training Days.


5. Are County/Regional Championships considered Recreational Events?

A typical standard fencing competition, which follows the FIE rules of competitive fencing is NOT a Recreational Event. Recreational category fencers do not have the insurance to compete at these events.

County, Regional & National Championships will require compete licences.


6. Why can’t fencers compete on a recreational licence? A competition licence is too expensive and will stop my local fencers from taking part.

British Fencing and the Home Nations are currently not in a financial position to provide subsidised opportunities to allow fencers to compete, yet not pay for the insurance, safeguarding, workforce development (including referee training) and other infrastructure that is required to support a sport at a competitive level.

If counties/regions have a local issue where financially disadvantaged fencers wish to compete at a tournament it is up to the tournament organisers to decide whether they would like to offer discounts on their entry fees. Counties and Regions can also approach their Home Countries to request a grant to allow them to offer subsidised entries. This allows financial assistance to be targeted to areas of need, rather than subsidising all competitors.


7. How can I register my event as a Recreational Event

Please send an email to [email protected] describing the event in terms of the characteristics described above and explaining the reason why you believe your event is suitable for this type of registration. All requests for Recreational Event status will be passed on and discussed with the relevant HC body.


Please note that it is the responsibility of the organisers to ensure that participants hold the correct membership level for the event. Organisers that permit members to participate with the incorrect level of license may be personally liable in the event of an incident.




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