For the uninitiated...

Fencing can be confusing for people who are new to the sport. Hopefully this page will clear up some of your queries, but if you still have any questions, feel free to e-mail us at info@adelaidehillsfencing.club

For parents, there is a good guide here:
Be aware that this guide is written for an American audience, thus certain information bears no relevance to Australian fencing. Disregard all of chapter 3, 'Ratings, Points, Age-Brackets & Divisions' especially.

Fencing is one of the safest sport in the world. Injuries from Fencing are often caused by pulled or strained muscles from people not warming up correctly. All the weapons are made from a metal alloy which allows them to be flexible and strong at the same time. The Fencing gear made out of tough cotton, nylon and more recently Dyneema, which make fencing gear very hard to puncture. However, small bruises can occur from time to time.

In the sport of fencing there are three weapons which are used. These are the Foil, the Epée and the Sabre. Each weapon has slightly different physical attributes and rules of play.

The foil is a light thrusting weapon with a maximum weight of 500 grams. The foil targets the torso, and not the head, arms, or legs. The foil has a small circular hand guard that serves to protect the hand from direct stabs. As the hand is not a valid target in foil, this is primarily for safety. Touches are scored only with the point. Touches that land outside the target area (called a non-valid touch and signalled by a distinct colour on the scoring apparatus) stop the action, but are not scored. Only a single touch can be awarded to either fencer at the end of a phrase, thus the referee uses the rules of priority (right of way, or RoW) to determine which fencer is awarded the touch. If the referee is unable to determine which fencer has right of way, no touch is awarded.

The epée is a thrusting weapon like the foil, but heavier, with a maximum total weight of 775 grams. In epée, the entire body is valid target. The hand guard on the epée is a large circle that extends towards the pommel, effectively covering the hand, which is a valid target in epée. Like foil, all hits must be with the point and not the sides of the blade. As the entire body is legal target, there is no concept of a non-valid touch. Unlike foil and sabre, epée does not use priority ruling, and can award simultaneous touches to both fencers.

The sabre is a light cutting and thrusting weapon that targets the entire body above the waist, except the weapon hand. Like the foil, the maximum legal weight of a sabre is 500 grams. The hand guard on the sabre extends from hilt to the point at which the blade connects to the pommel. Hits with the entire blade or point are valid. As in foil, touches that land outside the target area are not scored; however these non-valid touches do not stop the action. In the case of both fencers landing a scoring touch, the referee determines which fencer receives the point for the action, again through the use of priority.

Because of the contact sport nature of fencing, lots of protective gear is required before you can face other competitors. Some equipment is rated (in Newtons) to ensure it's resistance to puncturing; the standard ratings are 350N (club standard) & 800N (international standard). Any equipment branded with the FIE (Fédération Internationale d'Escrime) symbol is rated at the 800N standard or higher.


Chest Plate: Also known as chest protector, body protector or BP, this piece is mandatory for females as it provides rigid protection for the upper chest. Male fencers can also wear one if they wish. The AHFC recommends all young fencers use them, regardless of gender.

Plastron: This piece of gear goes under the jacket, upon the sword arm for extra protection. The plastron has a gusset which ensures a solid patch of material beneath the jacket's seam.

Jacket: The jacket covers the whole upper body, and includes certain safety features such as the side/back zip, and an upside-down pocket at the collar known as a throat catch.

Glove: The glove is needed to protect the sword hand. Available as unrated or FIE

Mask: This is what protects the face from the opponent's weapon. The mask consists of a wire mesh and bib to protect the face and neck area. The FIE standard for masks is 1600N!

Bodycord/wire: The wire goes under the jacket. This is what connects the weapon to the scoring system.

Lame: Pronounced Lah-May, lames are used to denote target area in Foil and Sabre; to register valid hits by completing a circuit and sending a signal back to the scoring box.

The gear listed above is all you need to start fencing with the addition of track suit pants. The club provides this equipment for a small quarterly charge (with no extra charge for beginner course participants). Once you decide to take the sport more seriously, you will want to purchase your own. Below is additional gear that completes the competition fencing uniform.

Breeches: These protect the top half of the legs and are made from the same rated materials as the jacket. They extend to just below the knee.

Socks: The socks are to extend above the knee.

Shoes: Court type shoes (indoor soccer or squash, gum soled) are recommended for Fencing as shoes with high soles often result in ankles being rolled. Fencing specific shoes can also be found and generally last longer as they have been designed with the physical rigours of the sport in mind.

Don't get lost! You are Here:

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software