Looking to get into the sport of fencing? The cost of fencing can range between £250 and £1000 when you first start. This depends on a variety of factors that include equipment, club and membership costs.
In this article, we’ll break down the different factors that affect the price of fencing so you can make an informed decision before you begin your fencing journey.
Note: The costs quoted in this article are example UK costs and there will be outliers when you come to do your individual research. These costs have been taken and in instances estimated by studying actual fencing club fees and fencing retailer prices.
Is Fencing Expensive?
Fencing is often stereotyped as an upper-class or wealthy sport - primarily due to its perceived cost to entry, history, niche appeal and representation in media.
On whether fencing costs a lot, the short answer is - it depends. It depends on the club you join, the country you live in and the equipment you choose to buy.
When starting out, it can be more affordable as you will not need to buy all of your equipment straight away, and actually your largest cost - your own fencing equipment - is a one-off or rare cost, and one you commit to once you know you love the sport.
Fencing Cost Factors Explained
Fencing Club Costs
The first cost you are likely to encounter when starting to fence are your club fees. These are typically broken into your fencing club membership, equipment hire, group lessons and any private lessons you wish to take.
Fencing Club Membership
Your fencing club membership is a general fee paid to your club that allows you to fence there regularly. This could be something you pay weekly or annually. In the UK, this could range between £30 to £50 annually for adults.
Club Equipment Hire
If you begin going to your club regularly, you may need to frequently use your club gear. In order to cover this, your club may ask you to pay an equipment hire fee. This could range between £5 and £10 per item you need, and this could cover you per term.
When you join a fencing club and after you’ve had a free/taster session or open day, you’ll likely join a series of group lessons run by a fencing instructor based on your ability. These lessons will normally last for a term, with one lesson a week, with additional time for free dry fencing against your cohort.
The cost of the group lessons for a term are usually around £10 per lesson, so in a 10 week term this would cost £100 per term. However, these could also be tiered, with cheaper lessons for a beginner cohort, with intermediate and advanced classes costing more.
Private Lessons & Fencing Grades
On top of your group lessons, you may want private lessons to work on a particular element of your technique 1-to-1 with a fencing coach. Alternatively, these could be the ideal time to work towards achieving a fencing grade, if your coach thinks you are ready.
National Governing Body (NGB) Membership
Aside from your club fees, if you are wanting to fence regularly you should, and your club will often insist, that you become a member of your nation’s governing body. In the UK this is British Fencing, in the US this is USA Fencing.
These NGBs offer many peripheral benefits to becoming a member, but membership is primarily for insurance purposes. This ensures you are covered in the event of an accident or injury when fencing, and clubs will often need to ensure members are covered.
Your NGB membership is usually affiliated to the club you fence at, meaning you can’t go and fence at another club if you have registered with another.
If you aren’t a member of your NGB, you will find it hard to fence regularly at your club or compete at any level.
You can normally become a member of your NGB for free on an introductory tier, designed for those who are new to the sport and trying it out. However, this will often have a time limit, so a paid membership is necessary for sustained fencing and for enhanced coverage.
The cost of NGB membership can range between £20 and £60 annually. Membership is usually tiered from beginner to competition level, and each level offers you different degrees of protection based on your need.
Fencing Equipment Costs
Once you have started at your club, are committed and want to avoid using shared equipment and paying rental fees, you may want to get your own fencing equipment.
As a beginner fencer, it’s normally wise to purchase a starter kit from a fencing retailer. These provide you with the core elements you need for dry fencing. This usually includes:
- Fencing bag
This should give you everything you need for routine club fencing. Optional additions might be fencing shoes for additional grip, lamé, electric sword and electric wire. When you occasionally compete, your club will usually allow you to hire or borrow the necessary electric fencing additions for these rare occasions.
The cost of a fencing starter kit can range from £600 to £1300 depending on the quality of fencing equipment you buy.
There are two broad qualities of fencing equipment - FIE (800N) and non-FIE (350N). FIE equipment is the standard held by the international governing body, whereas non-FIE meets the general safety standard for fencing equipment to be sold.
When Should I Buy My Own Equipment?
You should buy your own equipment when you are a committed, regular fencer; club equipment is worn, sparse or ill-fitting; and you can afford your own equipment. You should make sure that you really are committed to fencing before buying your own gear, as it can be an unnecessary expense if you foresee yourself viewing fencing as a phase or simply becoming bored or too busy.
A hidden cost of getting into fencing is your travel costs. Because fencing is a relatively niche sport, you will often find you may need to travel some distance in order to find a local club. This is obviously dependent on the individual, but you should budget your time and money to account for commuting costs, whether that’s by car, train or bus.
Can You Fence for Free?
It is possible to fence for free, but only for a short time. Ignoring commuting costs, your local club will normally offer starters a taster session or two to see if you enjoy fencing, so these initial sessions will be free.
If you decide to commit, you will need to become a member of your fencing NGB. If you sign up for an introductory tier, you could become a member for free for a limited period and with limited coverage.
Your first firm cost will be your first group lessons or club membership fees. So when it comes to actually learning how to fence and fencing regularly, it is not possible to fence for free indefinitely.