19th Century Saber Training Program

A man wearing a blue US Army Dragoons uniform holding a saber inside the reconstructed Fort Vancouver.
Try your hand at 19th century saber techniques used by the US Army dragoons!

NPS Photo

The 19th Century U.S. Army Dragoon Saber Training Program is presented in partnership with Academia Duellatoria. This training course, which debuted in the summer of 2017, focuses on the saber techniques used by the soldiers of the U.S. Army Dragoons, who arrived at Vancouver Barracks in 1855, and is based on techniques also used by the British Royal Navy.

Saber training is similar to many other martial arts; it requires the development of physical discipline and mental control. This training program is a great opportunity to learn about the history of the military at Fort Vancouver while also learning some of the skills that the soldiers would have relied upon.

Within the program, three training levels are offered:
  • Basic 1: A program designed for someone new to saber training. Basic 1 begins with footwork and progresses through solo and partner drills, including offensive cuts and thrusts and defensive guards and parries.
  • Basic 2: A continuation of the skills learned in Basic 1. Basic 2 will consist of additional solo and partner drills and will focus on perfecting technique.
  • Intermediate: A program that includes more advanced skills and techniques beyond what is learned in Basic 2. Intermediate will continue perfecting basic techniques and begin the challenging concepts of offense and defense with an opponent. You must test for proficiency in Basic 2 skills in order to take Intermediate.

All training sessions also provide background history of the U.S. Army at Fort Vancouver and Vancouver Barracks, and its interrelationships with the peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

Training sabers are provided. The training sabers have dull edges and blunt tips.

Participants who successfully complete the Basic 1 training course will have the opportunity to volunteer at living history events and programs at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Who can participate?

This program is designed for participants ages 12 and up.


The 7 week training course costs $100 per person. The training fee is payable to Academia Duellatoria by check or PayPal. Fees must be paid before the training sessions begin. No payments will be accepted at the training sessions. Enrollment in the training is not guaranteed until your payment is received.

Spring 2022 Program

In 1855, troopers with the US Army's 1st Regiment of Dragoons arrived at Fort Vancouver. At that time, dragoons (mounted infantry) were the only 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 US Army at that time. There will be reenactment opportunities for trainees during events at the park.

The training course is seven weeks, on Sundays, April 10 through May 22, 2022. Courses take place in Vancouver Barracks' Building 410, located on East 5th Street northwest of the fort stockade.

Program Dates Times
Basic 1 Sundays, April 10 - May 22 3 pm to 4:30 pm
Basic 2/Intermediate Sundays, April 10 - May 22 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm

Contact & Registration

For more information, or to sign up, please contact Jeff Richardson of Academia Duellatoria at (503) 888-9310 or by email.
Photo of two reenactors in historic military costume inside the fort demonstrating saber techniques.
Graduates of the 19th Century Saber Training Program may be offered the opportunity to volunteer at the national park's living history demonstrations.

NPS Photo by Junelle Lawry

Last updated: March 31, 2022

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