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.