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19th Century Military Saber Training Course At Fort Vancouver National Historic Site


19th century military saber training allows participants to experience an important part of military history/NPS

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, in partnership with Academia Duellatoria, is offering a course in 19th-century military saber training for beginning and intermediate levels. This course is open to the public.

In 1854, troopers with the U.S. Army's 1st Regiment of Dragoons arrived in the Pacific Northwest. At that time, dragoons (mounted infantry) were the only U.S. Army-enlisted rank soldiers that were issued sabers as part of their personal weaponry. This training course will focus on the saber techniques adopted by the U.S. Army in the mid-19th century. There will also be information provided related to the history of Fort Vancouver, the dragoons and their weaponry, and saber-driven military tactics. Once a certain level of expertise has been achieved, there will be reenactment opportunities for trainees during events at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Unlike sword work seen in the movies and media, true sword training is similar to many other martial arts - requiring physical discipline, mental control, and the development of muscle memory. Beginning-level training will start with basic footwork, then move into solo and partner drills on offensive cuts and thrusts, and defensive guards and parries. The drills provide a good sense of what sparring is like. Intermediate-level training (for those who have previously participated in beginner training) will consist of additional solo and partner drills focusing on perfecting form and more advanced interactive sequences.

The training course lasts seven weeks and takes place on Sundays, October 1 through November 12, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Pearson Air Museum Historic Hangar (or outdoors during good weather).

People ages 12 and older may participate, and the cost is $100 per person. Training sabers, which have have dull edges and rubber covers on the tips, and safety glasses will be provided. Anyone acting in an unsafe manner will be assigned solo drills, or their saber will be taken from them. The training fee is payable to Academia Duellatoria, by check or money order. Fees must be paid before the training sessions begin. Your enrollment in the training is not guaranteed until your payment is received.

19th Century Military Saber Training Course, Beginning and Intermediate Levels

  • When: Sundays, October 1 through November 12, 4 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Historic Hangar at Pearson Air Museum, Vancouver, Washington
  • Cost: $100 per person
  • How to enroll: To sign up and to learn more about payment information, contact Elaine Dorset at 360-816-6254 or by email


i hate to tell you this but the swords pictured in the article are not sabers.  They are dueling swords, probably an epee.  Sabers have flat edges and are used to cut and slash at the enemy while riding horseback.  Dueling swords are rounded and are used to deflect or parry thrusts front an opponent.  They have a sharp point for stabbing the enemy.  My guess is that they are using sports type eves in he picture.

They appear to be fencing sabres - used for the modern version of the competitive sport (non-electrified).

While those indeed are not the modern full weight trainers we prefer to use, and which the adults do use, they are indeed sabers.  They are modern non electrified sport sabers.    As for dueling swords... all kinds of swords were used for duels, including sabers.  I suspect you are refering to the epee, which with a sharpened tip was the common dueling weapon during the time of the first half of the 20th century.   Those swords are not in fact round but commonly triangular in cross section.

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