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Fencing for fun

Feb 16, 2017 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

With an epee - a sharp-pointed dueling sword - grasped tightly in his right hand, Riverton Middle School student Taylor Stevens charged towards Cole Broadhead on Monday in an after-school fencing exercise.

The class is organized through the Central Wyoming College R Recreation program. R Rec offered the lessons as an opportunity to learn agility, coordination and quickness while participating in a centuries-old sport-- now part of modern Olympic Games.

Riverton Police Department chief Mike Broadhead led the Monday class. He began the lesson by explaining the purpose of fencing and the gear that would be used: a mask, back-zip jacket, glove, epee and pastron - the protective shirt that goes under the jacket.

"Today we're going to go a bit slow," Broadhead told the students.

He instructed them to always keep the tip of the épée down unless they are instructed otherwise during the lessons.

Each time they meet, Broadhead said the students would learn a new move.

On Monday, he showed the class the proper stance and positions to take that allow them to quickly move forward and backward.

"Right now we're learning the basics of moving in and moving out," he said, noting that fencing is as much physical as it is mental.

The sport incorporates several "nuisance moves," which he described as a game of "physical chess."

"It's about touching the other guy before he touches you," he said.

He anticipated students having sore legs the next day because it's a "very athletic" sport that's a fun way to get exercise.

Teacher

Broadhead learned to fence after taking classes in other places he's lived, he said, adding that the exercise was for recreational purposes only as part of fencing clubs he was part of.

The sport has been an "on and off" thing for Broadhead, who has started to teach his sons, one of whom suggested offering the lessons to the community.

"My son Cole said it would be a good idea to form a fencing class at his school so he and others could fence with people his age and size," Broadhead said. "We hope to grow it over time, but this is a nice group to start with."

Class

The gear was purchased with a grant from the Riverton Police Foundation, a non-profit organization formed by former police chief John Snell.

A corpus was set up once it stopped collecting money.

The money is intended to help with youth activities that will help students turn away from alcohol and drugs and instead stay active.

"That's part of their mission," Broadhead said.

The class is 3:30-4:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays for middle school students only.

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