Fencing Buying Guide

While much of fencing is about agility and focus, you can't be at your best without equipment  that's as equally good as your skills.  And while many clubs and gyms  may lend you the gear when you're first starting out, you'll eventually need to buy your own if you want to move on from beginner courses.  Depending on time constraints and preferences, you can either opt for buying individual pieces or grab a starter kit  with all your basic equipment, including a fencing jacket, mask, glove and practice weapon--i.e. foil, sabre or epee.

The Gear

Learn how all your gear works and how to spot top quality goods.

  • Jacket : The primary function of the jacket is protection. Europe requires a 350NW (CE Level 1) standard of protection normally, although the standard for international tournaments is greater. For starting out, however, the basic 350NW should do, and all you will have to choose between is cotton and synthetic material. Cotton is hotter, heavier and cheaper, while synthetic materials are often lighter weight but slightly more expensive.
  • Mask : The mask is for facial protection, and will need to have sufficient interior padding. It should also fit properly, which means it should not press on the top of the head or chin. Fencing masks also come in "standard" (or non-FIE) and FIE (internationally rated/approved) models.
  • Glove : You can buy non-electric gloves, but it is often more useful and common to buy a glove with a Velcro cuff that can be used for electric fencing (the cuff allows you to connect the body cord from under your sleeve to an electric weapon).
  • Foil : The foil is designed for flexible thrusting. The blade is very thin, with a blunted tip that allows for bending and the prevention of injuries.
  • Sabre : The sabre differs from other fencing weapons in that it is actually designed primarily for cutting.
  • Epee : French for sword, an epee is similar to a foil but is stiffer and heavier. When using an epee, the entire body is a valid target.

There's a whole range of other accessories, from body cords to bags and cases, that you can consider buying once you've been practising fencing awhile.  Consult a fencing coach to see what might be most useful to you for your particular skill level.

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