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Referee Ratings Process

Referee Ratings Process

Becoming a certified referee involves multiple steps that are aimed at ensuring a uniform application of the rules and the conventions of right of way. To earn or maintain a referee rating, all referees must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a member in good standing of USA Fencing. Referees who let their membership lapse for over one year will lose their rating

  • Pass the online exam once every two years with a score of 90 percent in the general section, and 90 percent in each weapon being tested for

  • Attend a rules seminar

  • Referee at their level at least every two years

  • Observe the Referee Code of Ethics and always act professionally

Once a referee has attended a rules seminar and passed the online exam, they earn a rating of “P.”

All referees must pass a practical examination given by a Referee Examiner. Referees must demonstrate proficiency at a certain level to earn a rating. Demonstrated proficiency means showing consistency over time in the following skills:

  • Make the calls appropriate for the rated level of fencing (as listed below).

  • Knowledge and utilization of correct procedures, terminology and hand gestures.

  • Apply penalties correctly and appropriately.

  • Maintain composure on the strip.

  • Demonstrate control of the strip.

  • Comport oneself well, and maintain a professional image both on and off the strip.

  • Interact with competitors in a professional manner.

  • Interact appropriately with coaches and spectators.

  • Demonstrate an ability to handle pressure situations; i.e. make the same calls consistently, no matter the bout situation (same call at 14-14 as at 1-1), bout level (pools, first round of DE, or Finals), or quantity/quality of spectators.

The domestic ratings are listed below, with 1 being the most proficient rating. Ratings require demonstrated proficiency at the following levels or their equivalent:

  • Level 10 rating – Finals of an E rated competition

  • Level 9 rating – Finals of a D rated competition

  • Level 8 rating – Finals of a C rated competition

  • Level 7 rating – Finals of a B rated competition

  • Level 6 rating – Finals of an A rated competition

  • Level 5 rating – Round of pools in a Division I North American Cup (NAC) competition

  • Level 4 rating – Direct elimination round of 64 of a Division I NAC competition

  • Level 3 rating – Direct Elimination round of 16 of a Division I NAC competition

  • Level 2 rating – Finals of a Division I NAC competition

  • Level 1 rating – Any level of a Division I NAC competition

Referee Examiners can award ratings from 7-10. Individual RC members can award ratings 5 and 6. Ratings 1-4 are awarded by consensus vote of the RC members who are familiar with that referee’s work. A referee must earn a level 5 rating before they can be considered for higher ratings.