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Pearce Wilson moves back and forth across the old brown hardwood floor, pushing his foil forward and flicking his opponent's foil.

When he's finished, Wilson and his opponent stop and toss off their fencers' helmets.

It's been a hard battle between Wilson, 51, of Millstadt, and Emma Groom, 13, a home-schooled student from Smithton.

"I think she likes it because she gets to be aggressive," said Emma's father, Clayton Groom, 44, a self-employed technology consultant.

Emma is one of several people who fence Tuesday nights in the Millstadt Venture Crew Competitive Fencing Team at the Bluff Grange, 8567 Illinois State Route 163.

Altogether, about 30 people between 8 and 73 are involved, said Wilson. He's in charge of Crew 1826, a coed Boy Scout program for age 14-21 sponsored by the Bluff Grange.

"The kids were starting to get bored with traditional scout activities," Wilson said. "I told them that I had fenced in college."

As he spoke, Wilson wore white pants, long green socks, an underarm protector covering his rib cage and his arm closest to his opponent and a white jacket. He stood near where two our three groups of two were fencing. Parents and team members who weren't fencing talked at a table in the corner of the Grange floor.

"We started fencing three years ago. I expected it would last maybe six months," Wilson said.

The youngest member is Mario Montulvo, 8, a second-grader at Millstadt Primary Center.

Mario used his foil with the same gusto as the others practicing at the Grange last week. But he let his grandmother, Jennifer Jercick, do the talking.

"I think he wants to be how you see it in the movies," said Jercick, a case administrator for the federal bankruptcy courts.

"It wasn't soccer, so I didn't think he'd be as interested."

But Mario persevered.

Jercick, who usually brings Mario to the Tuesday night events, doesn't worry about him getting injured. "You can get hurt worse, I think, on a soccer field."

The crew has joined the Midwest Fencing Guild, a league made up of college teams in the region, and travels to competitions. For the last two years, the crew hosted the National Venturing Boy Scouts of America Fencing Championships in St. Louis.

The program's not just for members of the crew, Wilson said. People in the Grange are involved, as are others in the community who show interest. They include members from Cahokia, Collinsville, Columbia, Smithton, Belleville, St. Louis city and St. Louis County.