Faq II: Equipment & Maintenance:
2.10 Points & Blade Wires
Many fencers have experienced trouble mixing their points,
barrels, and wires. They are best used in matched sets.
Points are regularly tested in competition. Both foil and epee
points must pass a weight test, by lifting a mass (500g for foil;
750g for epee) after the point is depressed. (Technically, epees
only have to lift the mass 0.5 mm, whereas foils must lift it to
the top of the point travel.) In addition, epees must pass two
shim tests, the first to make sure that there is at least 1.5 mm
of travel in the tip, and the second to make sure that the point
doesn't light until the last 0.5 mm.
If the weight test fails, the main spring can be replaced or made
heavier by lightly stretching it. If the fencer thinks his point
is too heavy, the spring can be replaced, compressed, or softened
by heating one end in a flame.
If the epee 0.5 mm shim test fails, the secondary contact spring
is too long. It should be adjusted or compressed. If the 1.5 mm
shim test fails, your point may be improperly set up, or may be
mismatched with the barrel.
Most points are held together by a pair of screws on the side of
the barrel, and adjusting the springs requires disassembly. Some
(Italian) epee points are externally adjustable using a small
FIE epee points use a solid contact in place of the secondary
Epee points work by closing the circuit between the two blade
wires when they are depressed. Dirty or faulty points will
normally cause the weapon to fail to register touches. Foil
points work in the opposite manner, by opening a closed circuit
between the blade wire and blade. Dirty or faulty points will
usually cause the weapon to produce spurious off-target lights.
See Troubleshooting (sections 2.13, 2.14), below.
Blade wires are typically insulated with cotton to facilitate
gluing and cleaning. Nevertheless, inexpensive wires can be made
at home using plastic-coated wire-wrap wire from an electronics
store. Use the cup from an old wire, and attach the new wire by
heating the solder connection with a soldering iron, or crimping
it, as appropriate.
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