Our mission is to promote the Olympic sport of fencing in Western Montana by offering a safe environment where members can learn from qualified teachers using current USFA (United States Fencing Association) rules.
The Missoula Youth Fencing Association was established by our current director, Laura Lee, in the fall of 2007. Laura’s two sons had shown an interest in fencing a couple of years earlier and pursuing this interest quickly brought about the realization that fencing in Montana typically means posts, poles, and barbed wire. Using the University of Montana Fencing Club as a resource, Laura was able to find an instructor for her two sons.
It was not long before word got around that some young people in Missoula were playing with swords, with their parents’ permission! So, with teachers wanting more students, and many young people looking for a way to learn fencing in Montana, the Missoula Youth Fencing Association was born.
We started out offering limited fencing classes in rented gyms all over Missoula. In the fall of 2010 we established a home for ourselves at City Life Community Center and switched to a club structure with monthly membership. At that time, we also expanded our mission to include programming for all ages and changed our name to Missoula Fencing Association. In June of 2011, we moved to our first dedicated facility and finally had a home of our own. That year we also set up a nonprofit sister club called The MFA Booster Club. The Booster Club raises money to support the fencing program by funding equipment, student scholarships, and training for our coaches. These fund raising efforts help develop our program and keep fees as low as possible for our members. In December of 2015, we moved into our current facility at 1134 Longstaff.
In June of 2019, Laura Lee retired after twelve years. In order to maintain the vision and community Laura built, a new nonprofit was formed, Missoula Fencing Association, Inc., and is run by a Board of Directors comprised of adult fencers and parents of youth fencers. This nonprofit will continue the work of the MFA Booster Club and also assume the day-to-day operations of the club.
At Missoula Fencing Association, we train both recreational and competitive fencers. In addition to promoting fitness and athleticism, we value cooperation, respect, responsibility and strong social ties. We support the whole person and their family, not just the athlete. Our programming respects the dinner hour, homework time, school activities, holidays, and individual financial needs when at all possible. We foster respect for all of our members, regardless of age or ability, and focus on an atmosphere of cooperation and encouragement. We also support our local community through various community service events.
We consider ourselves a “fencing family” with shared responsibility for the operation and development of our club and its members. Some of our shared responsibilities include: volunteering in support of club operations; supporting our members in both their fencing and non-fencing endeavors; fundraising; and fostering positive relationships with the broader Missoula community. Parent involvement at MFA is critical to our success, and we appreciate the work parents do to keep fencing viable in Missoula.
It is important to us that all of our fencers feel safe, both physically and emotionally, in our “fencing family”. The MFA community gains strength from its diversity and there is no room in our club for bullying, discrimination, teasing, intimidation or hazing. We design our programs with an eye to fostering positive social connections among our fencers, and also organize regular social activities outside of our fencing instruction.