The biggest problem with the U.S. rating system may be that folks that don't get to attend lots of competitions (in more sparse geographic areas for example) won't get a rating very quickly if at all, while fencing-dense communities have ratings all over the place. But overall, I think the system works OK. If I go to a competition and see that a guy is a "B05," I'm thinking, "he may be a B, but he hasn't re-earned his rating in two years, so I've got a shot at taking him out." If I fence a guy that's a "B07," now, I'm thinking, "this guy is in peak form, I'd better be cautious." A good fencer who is under-ranked won't stay that way, and a weak fencer who is over-ranked won't stay that way either. If you stay competitive, you will generally maintain your rank or improve, so while there is the occasional fluke, for the most part I think the ratings are fair. High ratings may bring bragging rights, but surprising people is fun, too. I think a lot of fencers didn't see me coming when I showed up at the beginning of the year as a "U." I'm back up to a "D" after just one season back in the saddle. I think it's a fair rating. I feel I can eventually bring myself up to a "C" level if I can practice consistently, but earning a "C" will be a matter of attending competitions where I have a shot at it. Back in the early 1990's you'd be lucky if you could find even a "D" level comp in the whole state of Georgia. I had to go to nationals to get my original "C." With fencing apparently on the rise, there are lots more opportunities. I think a numeric system would dilute the significance of ratings and just make everything a lot more complicated.