Because Modern Pentathlon involves competing in five different sports, and may require travelling to regional, national, and international competitions, keeping your costs under control is an important concern.
It is possible to get started in the sport with a minimal investment. In fact, you can compete up to the regional level in Northern California, such as at the annual Placer County Pentathlon (in January) and the annual Davis Pentathlon (in April), without buying any of your own equipment.
Costs can be managed to almost any level that you are comfortable with and should not discourage you from participating. Here are some tips for minimizing the costs.
Assuming you have everything you need for swimming and running, here is some equipment you should consider purchasing in order to start developing your skills in the other three sports of Modern Pentathlon–shooting, fencing, and equestrian.
Starting Shooting Equipment
At first, you do not need to buy your own laser pistol. For example, some members of Wolfpack Pentathlon Club own laser pistols and will let you borrow them for short periods of time for practicing. Additionally, extra laser pistols are typically available at competitions for use by competitors.
However, in order to have the best results in competitions, you should consider purchasing your own laser pistol. In this way, you will be assured of using the same laser pistol in competitions that you use in practice. Also, you can take responsibility for the accuracy of the laser pistol (e.g., through careful calibration, maintenance, and storage).
A list of shooting providers is available on the UIPM web site. See http://www.uipmworld.org/shooting-providers.
Make sure the pistol you select is homologated for UIPM competitions.
Recommended: Ecoaims EO1201A PP320 Laser Pistol Set (see https://www.ecoaims.com/product/135/e01201a-pp320-laser-pistol-set) plus E01109A LT50 Laser Travel Target (see https://www.ecoaims.com/product/127/e01109a-lt50-laser-travel-target).
Wolfpack Pentathlon Club has a limited quantity of laser pistols and targets available for rental or sale at a discounted price. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atlanta Laser Shot LLC is an authorized reseller of Ecoaims laser pistols. For more information, contact Keith Berryhill at email@example.com or 404-932-7791. He sells the recommended laser pistol set and travel target for about $800.
Starting Fencing Equipment
You also do not need to buy your own fencing gear at first. Instead, when you take your first lessons at a fencing center, you will be able to borrow the necessary equipment. For example, if you join Wolfpack Pentathlon Club for a lesson at Golden Gate Fencing Center (typically $45 per person), fencing gear will be provided to you.
However, you will eventually want to buy your own gear. One of the most important reasons for doing this is so that you can participate in open fencing at a fencing center of your choice. Open fencing typically costs around $25 per person for two hours of unlimited bouting, which is the best possible way to improve your skills! Also, the first Thursday of every month is FREE at Academy of Fencing Masters in Sunnyvale. As soon as you have your own equipment, you can start fencing with us there.
Most members of Wolfpack Pentathlon Club purchased a starter set of Absolute Fencing gear, including mask, underarm protector, jacket, glove, pants, epee, body cords, and bag, from Cole at Victory Fencing Gear in San Francisco. For more information, see https://www.victoryfencinggear.com/. He sells the starter set for around $450.
You can reduce this cost by ordering a starter set directly from Absolute Fencing. For example, this deluxe electric 8-piece epee set, listed for $304.00, has everything you need: https://www.absolutefencinggear.com/shopping/product_info.php/products_id/938/cPath/62_82.
For competitions, you will eventually need to have at least one backup epee. Although they are not of the greatest quality, you can purchase a national-grade epee for about $70 on Amazon.com.
You will also need to buy fencing socks and shoes. Although there are some shoes that are designed specifically for fencing, any court shoes will do. Additionally, any thick, knee-length socks (e.g., soccer socks) will do.
Starting Equestrian Equipment
None! Unless you are coming from the equestrian world, it is recommended that you focus on Tetrathlon at first — running, swimming, shooting, and fencing. In fact, you can compete at all levels in the sport, including the World Championships, without ever getting on a horse. Therefore, you don’t have to commit any resources to the equestrian sport until you are ready.
If and when you do finally decide to jump into the sport of equestrian, you will likely need to purchase paddock boots, half chaps, riding pants, and helmet. The cost for these things is likely to be around $400.
After you are fully invested into the sport of Modern Pentathlon, you may want or need to start upgrading your equipment. For example, fencing at the international level (e.g., at the World Championships) may require FIE fencing gear, including mask, jacket, plastron, pants, glove, and epee. (The starting fencing equipment specified above is “350N” equipment, which is suitable for national-level competitions, but not international-level competitions.) Additionally, fencing at the international level requires your last name and country code to be embroidered onto the back of your jacket.
Advanced swimming gear to consider includes competition swimming suits, caps, and goggles, as well as training equipment, such as snorkel, fins, paddles, buoys, and so on.
Advanced running gear can include racing shoes, racing jerseys, racing shorts, compression socks, sunglasses, and so on.
Advanced shooting gear can include custom grips, special eyewear, special sights, and so on.
Advanced equestrian gear can include saddles, safety vests, and so on.
Monthly Training Costs
Training costs related to running, swimming, fencing, and shooting need not be much more than the costs of focusing exclusively on any individual sport.
Laser Pistol Shooting (~$0 per month)
Twice weekly Laser Shooting Practice is currently being offered for FREE by Dr. G., High Performance Director at USA Pentathlon. The training sessions are available on Zoom on Tuesdays and Fridays at 4 pm Pacific Time. Just click on the link for more information.
Running (~$35 per month)
Youth, high school, and collegiate athletes are strongly encouraged to join their school track and cross country teams, which are FREE and likely sufficient for athletes to develop their running ability for Modern Pentathlon.
Post-collegiate and masters athletes are encouraged to join a competitive USATF running club, such as Wolfpack Running Club. The cost of joining Wolfpack Running Club is currently $150 per year or $90 per season (e.g., $7.50 – $12.50 per month).
Coach Kirt of Wolfpack Pentathlon Club is a Certified USATF Level 1 Track and Field Coach. He can serve as another resource for athletes looking for training advice, especially with regard to the Laser-Run discipline of Modern Pentathlon events.
Running requires a small monthly budget (~$25) for replacement equipment, including running shoes and clothing.
Swimming (~$95-175 per month)
Access to a swimming pool for two non-coached workouts per week is likely to cost around $70 per month; in contrast, a swimmer who is focused exclusively on swimming would likely spend over $150 per month.
Younger athletes should commit to a year-round competitive swimming program, such as at Santa Clara Swim Club. Such programs are likely to cost around $150 per month.
High school and collegiate athletes should consider joining their school swim teams.
Masters (post-collegiate) athletes should join a competitive masters swimming team for coached weekly workouts. The cost for three weekly coached masters workouts is $70 per month through Santa Clara Swim Club Masters.
Swimming also requires a small monthly budget (~$25) for replacement equipment, including swimming suits and goggles.
Fencing (~$200 per month)
A combination of private lessons and open fencing that is sufficient to lead to improvements is likely to cost around $200 per month. (In contrast, an athlete who is exclusively focused on fencing would likely spend around $500 per month.)
Some Wolfpack Pentathlon Club members take group training lessons at Golden Gate Fencing Center on some weekends. Each lesson is $45 per person.
Additionally, some Wolfpack Pentathlon Club members participate in Open Fencing at 8:00 pm on some weeknights at Academy of Fencing Masters (AFM) in Sunnyvale, CA. The cost is $25 per person. However, the first Thursday of every month is FREE.
Note: Fencing centers are currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Equestrian (~$300 per month)
Integrating the equestrian sport into your budget may require significant planning. For example, according to the UIPM Riding Training Technical Guidelines, 80-100 hours of saddle time is an elementary requirement for any athlete in Modern Pentathlon.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, each hour of saddle time costs approximately $80 per hour. Therefore, a full commitment to the equestrian sport would translate to about $533 per month.
Many Wolfpack Pentathlon Club members are taking group horse jumping lessons at Isola Riding Academy at Isola Stables in Portola Valley, CA. The cost of each beginner group lesson is $80 per person. A package of 11 lessons can be purchased for $800, which reduces the cost to $73 per lesson. Thus, the monthly cost of riding once per week is about $300. Taking a few weekends off per year can reduce this cost even more.
Monthly Training Costs Summary (~$330-710 per month)
As outlined above, a year-round commitment to training for four of the five sports of Modern Pentathlon (i.e., everything except equestrian) is likely to require a budget of approximately $330-410 per month.
Equestrian training is likely to add about $300 per month to these costs.
Therefore, a complete commitment to year-round training for all five sports of Modern Pentathlon is likely to require a budget of about $630-710 per month.
Note: a full commitment to the fencing sport by itself would likely to require a budget of $500 per month, so Modern Pentathlon training is only a little bit more expensive than a full commitment to the sport of fencing.
Of course, these costs can be significantly reduced by limiting training to six or nine months per year. For example, training for all five sports for nine months per year would cost about $465-$525 per month.
Monthly Membership Costs
Athletes must join USA Pentathlon in order to be eligible to participate in USA Modern Pentathlon events. Adult membership is $50 per year and youth membership is $30 per year. Be sure to specify Wolfpack Pentathlon Club as your club when registering!
Additionally, athletes are encouraged to become members of USA Track and Field, USA Swimming (or U.S. Masters Swimming), and USA Fencing, in order to be eligible to compete in sport-specific events, such as regional and national track, cross country, swimming, and fencing competitions. The cost of each of these memberships is about $50-75 per year.
Finally, athletes should consider joining one or more regional clubs. For example, Wolfpack Pentathlon Club is a regional club for the sport of Modern Pentathlon. Wolfpack Running Club is a regional club for USA Track and Field, and Santa Clara Swim Club is a regional club for USA Swimming. The cost of joining each of these regional clubs is about $50-150 per year.
In summary, memberships into the various organizations that support the five sports of Modern Pentathlon are likely to cost approximately $400-500 per year ($30-40 per month).
Yearly Competition and Travel Costs
Registrations for running, swimming, fencing, modern pentathlon, and other related competitions are likely to cost around $100 per month. The registration costs need not be much more than registrations for an individual sport. For example, while a fencer might compete in two fencing tournaments per month, a Modern Pentathlete might compete in a swim meet and a road running race instead.
Because there are few local Modern Pentathlon events, participating in the sport will require some travelling. At the highest levels (e.g., World Championships, World Cup, and so on), you will need to budget for international travel.
Here are some interesting events in 2021 to consider budgeting for:
- May 21-23, 2021; U.S. National Championships (Roswell, NM)
- June 7-13, 2021; UIPM Modern Pentathlon and Laser-Run World Championships (Cairo, Egypt)
- August 25-29; UIPM 2021 Biathle/Triathle World Championships (Weiden, Germany)
- ~November, 2021; 2021 Wolfpack All-Comer Track Meet and Laser Run (Bay Area, CA)
- ~January, 2022; Placer County Pentathlon (Rocklin, CA)