A competition for individual fencers will usually have two parts. In the morning either one or two rounds of Pools (round robin leagues) are fought which allows the organisers to rank the fencers for the knock out part of the event called the Direct Eliminations or DE. Pool bouts to 5 hits last 3 minutes and 2 minutes for Under 10′s. DE bouts to 15 hits last 9 minutes (3 x 3 minutes) with 2 x 1 minutes rest intervals is required. DE bouts for Under 12′s and Under 10′s are to 10 hits last 6 minutes (3 x 2 minutes) with 2 x 1 minutes rest intervals is required. Sabre DE bouts to 15 hits have a break at 8 hits because they rarely go the distance.
Teams of three, sometimes with a reserve, compete to reach a score of 45 (18 for younger fencers using Midi-Fence kit). The format requires each fencer on a team to have about with all the members of the opposing team. Bouts are for 3 minutes. The maximum score attainable by a side increases as the bouts are fought, 5 after the first bout, 10 after the second bout and 15 after the third and so on until the winning score of 45 can be reach in the 9th and final bout. The Midi-Fence equivalents are 2 minutes bouts, maximum score increases by 2 per bout until the winning score of 18 is reached in the 9th bout.
Fencers may choose to fight for a period without keeping score but acknowledging hits to practice various techniques or tactics of their own choice. Alternatively, a coach (or a diligent fencer) may set objectives to be achieved in the course of practice bouts with the aim of preparing the fencer(s) for formal competition. Fencer commonly will also bout just for enjoyment.
Rules, Regulations and Penalties
FIE Rules for competition are available for download in an authorised translation from the British Fencing web site. A table of Offences and Penalties can be downloaded from the same page. I recommend all fencers and parents to read these.