What kind of equipment should I buy?
This FAQ does not endorse particular brands, but will point out some
of the things to consider when purchasing equipment.
CLOTHING: FIE 800N clothing is the most expensive available, and is
required at the highest levels of competition. It includes special
fabrics (such as kevlar or ballistic nylon) around vital areas such
as the chest, belly, and groin, and is highly resistant to punctures
by broken blades. Alternatively, you can purchase kevlar
underclothes and wear regular cotton outerwear. If not using 800N
clothing, cotton or synthetic jackets should be utilised in
conjunction with a plastron. Most jackets are left- or
right-handed. Sabre fencers may wish to consider extra protective
padding and elbow protectors. Jock straps are helpful for men, and
breast protectors are essential for women. A glove for the fencing
hand is essential; it should cover the sleeve cuff, and have an
opening at the wrist for the body wire. For the anal-retentive, FIE
rules state that fencers must wear only white, and that skin must
not show between the socks and pant legs. For casual and beginner
fencers, sweat pants or baseball knickers are reasonable
alternatives to genuine fencing clothing.
MASKS: The best have FIE 800N bibs to protect the neck, but cost
considerably more than the regular varieties. For foil, masks should
be well-insulated to prevent touches to the head from conducting to
the lame' and registering as a touch. Electric sabre masks must be
conductive, on the other hand, to allow head touches. Avoid old and
rusty masks, and consider subjecting a used mask to a punch test
before using/purchasing it.
LAME'S: Stainless steel is preferred, as they are much more corrosion
resistant than older copper ones. Your lame' should come to your hip
bones, and be form-fitting but not tight. Most lame's come in right
and left-handed versions. Regular rinsing or careful hand-washing of
your lame' (especially immediately after a tournament or practice)
improve its lifespan. Avoid folding, crumpling, or abrading it.
WEAPONS: Maraging steel blades are now required at the highest levels
of competition. They are about twice the price of regular blades, but
are supposed to be more durable, and break more cleanly. There are a
large number of variables to consider when shopping for blades,
including stiffness, length, durability, flex point, weight, balance,
and (of course) price. Which qualities a fencer prefers is largely a
matter of taste. The length and thread of the tang may also be an
issue. A wide variety of grips are available to epee and foil
but choice is also a matter of preference. Guards come in various
sizes and weights. Some fencers will also have preferences between
2-prong and bayonet body cords and connectors.
SHOES: Fencing shoes are ideal, but expensive. Indoor court shoes,
volleyball shoes, and even wrestling shoes are good alternatives.
Link to the next chapter: Where can I order or buy