Where To Buy Fencing Equipment
In addition to the basic gear, many clubs will require knickers (fencing pants) for added safety. Also, many clubs will recommend you purchase an electric weapon instead of a practice weapon, as practice weapons are only good for fully recreational, dry fencing, and most clubs will move you beyond that phase fairly quickly. This makes the beginner weapon you purchase only useful for a short time. A kit with all of these items will typically cost in the $200 range.
where to buy fencing equipment
Although you can buy non-electric gloves it is almost always worth buying a glove with a Velcro cuff that can be used for electric fencing. The Velcro cuff allows you to easily connect the body cord from under your sleeve to an electric weapon. The less expensive gloves are sized either as small, medium or large, while the more expensive gloves come in individual glove sizes for a better fit.
Sabre: The sabre weighs only a couple of pounds is designed primarily for cutting. It differs from the other modern fencing swords, the épée and foil, in that it is possible to score with the edge of the blade. For the other two weapons, valid touches are only scored using the point of the blade.
Besides the basics, there exists a whole host of other pieces and parts which fencing equipment suppliers can provide for you. These consist of everything from spare blades and parts to replace broken gear to component upgrades, premium uniforms, and tools to help you test and fix your own gear.
We recommend the following distributors of fencing gear. These folks have low prices on their house brands, and also carry higher end gear. Higher end gear can also be ordered direct from the manufacturer (e.g. Leon Paul USA)
Fencing is blessed with relatively unsophisticated equipment requirements. It is possible to fence a large selection of tournaments with equipment that costs under $250. Unfortunately, fencing is also cursed with very little real information on how to select, purchase, or evaluate the equipment you need to fence. This is a quick guide to buying equipment for your first lesson or tournament.
When you start to purchase equipment, you will often hear fencers talk of "FIE" equipment and "non-FIE" equipment. FIE stands for Federation International d'Escrime, the international organization that governs our sport. When fencers speak of FIE equipment, what they are really referring to is an FIE homologated piece of equipment. That means that the manufacturer has submitted samples of the equipment to an independent testing lab, and the equipment has been tested to rigorous standards, as set by a commission of the FIE. If the equipment meets these standards, the lab then certifies this equipment, and the manufacturer agrees to continue to produce the equipment the same way in the future. It is understood that any changes to the process of manufacturing the equipment requires the equipment to be re-submitted. Naturally this testing process is very expensive, and FIE equipment is the most expensive line of equipment available from any maker.
The Mask. The most important part of your equipment is the mask. All masks sold in the US must pass a test before being used in competition: the 14K-punch test. Armorers at every National tournament (and many local ones) will perform this test; the armorer at your club may also perform it, if you are lucky enough to have an armorer at your club. If both masks must pass the same test, what is the difference between FIE masks and non-FIE masks? FIE masks have a stronger bib, often made of ballistic nylon or kevlar. Non-FIE masks can be as strong as an FIE mask, but usually wear much faster. If you are considering purchasing any piece of FIE equipment, the mask should be your first purchase.
The Underarm protector or plastron. This is an inner sleeve worn under the jacket when fencing. In case you should be hit with a broken blade, it is your last line of defense between the broken end of the blade and your skin (and the squishy organ-stuff underneath that). A plastron is required to be worn during competition. As with other fencing gear, there is the FIE homologated version, and an non-FIE version. FIE plastrons are made of very tough stuff indeed, usually kevlar. Currently, the USFA does not require FIE plastrons for competition. Many types of plastrons exist, usually differentiated by the thickness of the padding. A thick plastron adds a layer of padding against bruising. If you are purchasing a very thick plastron for extra protection, be sure to buy a jacket a size larger to accommodate the extra bulk.
Socks must cover all skin not covered by the knichers on the leg, and knickers should overlap them. Don't plan on fencing a major tournament without meeting this requirement. There are fencing socks on the market, but depending on the length of your calf, basketball or soccer socks may work as well.
Grips are another matter. Everyone should fence for the first year with a French grip: a long, straight training grip which will help with finger control and build up hand strength. While fencing with a French grip, ask to hold the orthopedic or pistol grips you will see other fencers using. Use these tests to determine what grip might be best for you, and then plan on buying few other grips after that. Many fencers try two or three grips before they settle on one that they like. Remember that grips are usually inter-changeable between weapons, and that any French grip blades that you have can be modified to fit into the pistol grip you decide on in the future.
Body cords attach to the plug behind the weapons guard, run up the fencer's arm, and out the back of the jacket, where they are attached to another cable and in turn, connects with the scoring box. There are two types of body cords, depending on the type of socket being used in the weapon: the "two-prong" type, or the "bayonet" type. Both types of sockets have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is not easy to change between them. When buying electrical weapons, you will be asked what socket you want put into the weapon, which will determine your choice of body cords. At the start, it is usually best to see what everyone else in your club is using, and copy them, since it will be your teammates you borrow body cords from when yours fail!
Jackets, Knickers, Plastrons and Gloves can be washed in a regular washing machine and then hung dry. Using a dryer subjects the material to a lot of abuse, and in the case of cotton or canvas equipment, shrinkage. Do not use bleach on FIE Uniforms, stubborn dirt or stains might be lightly dabbed with bleach or a commercial spot remover (we like Wink), but washing an FIE Uniform in bleach weakens the fibers that the fabric relies on for its protection.
Blades and Body Cords. Moisture is the enemy of steel and electrical connections. Don't store your blades next to sweaty t-shirts or uniforms. The blades and body cords will rust and corrode, and your clothing will be stained. If you fence a lot, it's a good idea to rub your blades down with steel wool to remove any burrs or "risers" that serve as an entry way for corrosion, as well as invisible splinters to catch your hands and fingers when you touch your blade. Body cord connections should be checked and tightened if necessary every month or so. Cords will often develop breaks inside the insulation (where the break can't be seen) and stop functioning. The cord then has to be taken apart, cut back, and re-affixed to the plug. An armorer will show you how to do this. Blades, likewise, stop working for a variety of reasons, and must be rewired. There are several pamphlets on armoring that can be helpful to do this (it's a simple process) or one of the more experienced fencers at club can show you.
Lame material, including saber and foil masks and saber over-gloves should not be stored wet. Some fencers wrap their lames in dry towels at the end of fencing, both to protect the material and to absorb any moisture. Like any metal object, lames and lame-covered masks (saber and foil) should not be stored with wet t-shirts or uniforms.
Below is a list of equipment from one of our favorite vendors, Absolute Fencing. We mention them here because most of the equipment you have used at club comes from Absolute, and we have a very good relationship with them. However, they are not the only equipment supplier, and it could be argued that they are not the best equipment supplier. But we provide this chart, and a link to their web site as a way to get you started shopping for equipment. For more equipment suppliers, check out the US Fencing page (Note that these prices date from several years ago, and are not intended to be accurate quotes).EquipmentHigh end (non-FIE)Budget (non-FIE)MaskUhlman mask ($180)Absolute practice mask ($50) (without electrical bib)JacketAbsolute nylon or Uhlman jacket, front zip ($68/$130)Absolute cotton padded jacket, front zip ($55)Underarm protector (Plastron)Absolute nylon plastron ($20)Absolute comfort plastron ($20)Chest protector (required for women)Absolute chest protector ($25)Absolute chest protector ($25)KnickersAbsolute nylon unisex pants ($45)Absolute unisex cotton pants ($40)GloveAbsolute Advanced 3W washable glove ($18)Absolute Advanced 3W washable glove ($18)WeaponGold STM electrical foil ($60)Absolute Standard electrical foil ($45)WeaponAbsolute E. Sabre w/STM S2000 Saber Blade ($80)Absolute Standard Electric Saber ($46)WeaponChevalier Elite Gold E. Epee w/French Grip ($80)Absolute Standard E. Epee w/French Grip ($46)LameUltra-lite washable lame (foil and saber) ($99/200)Absolute front zip lame (foil and saber) ($65/89)Again, we want to emphasize that this is not the only equipment we might recommend. We would urge all of you to start with this table and comparison shop. In addition, a lot of manufactures offer complete "kits" for beginning fencers, at a substantial savings over buying each piece individually. Often this is their lower priced equipment, but some sellers offer a limited amount of substitutions for better quality equipment. 041b061a72