At King's Swords Fencing Club we are fortunate to have access to the well stocked armory at King's College School, Wimbledon, and we have enough full kit for 40+ beginners. As with most sports, fencers start to buy their own equipment after a while and the guide below will give you an understanding of the key items.
When starting out we ask all fencers to arrive in a t-shirt, loose-fitting trousers without pockets, trainers, and to bring a large bottle of water. They will get hot!
A jacket is worn to protect the torso and arms. There are different styles available (front-zip, back-zip), left and right-handed, and different strength ratings (350N or 800N) required depending on what level of competition you are fencing at.
An under-Plastron is worn on the sword-arm side beneath the jacket. As you stand at an angle in Fencing, the leading side of the target is more likely to be hit, so the plastron provides some extra protection for this area.
This is there to protect the sword-hand. You only wear one as your other hand should be held well out of the way. It overlaps on the outside of the sleeve of the jacket to prevent a blade becoming trapped.
Fairly obviously, the mask is there to protect your head. Made from hardened steel, it protects the front and sides of the head. The back is open so you can get your head in, so for this reason there is a rule against turning your back on your opponent, so you don't expose the back of your head to them.
These are worn on the lower half of the body and are made from the same protective materials as Jackets and Plastrons.
The Foil is is a point-weapon, with a limited target area and was originally developed as a training weapon. It is also a weapon of convention in that it has right-of-way rules associated with it.
Click here to learn more about the foil.
The Epee is the closest you are likely to get to a modern day rapier. Like the Foil it is a point-weapon, but its target area is the whole of the opponents body. Unlike the Foil, the Epee has no right-of-way, meaning there is the possibility of double-hits occuring.
Click here to learn more about the epee.
The Sabre is an edge-weapon (though use of the point is allowed) and is derived from cavalry sabre. Hits are primarily scored by cutting rather than stabbing and like Foil, it has conventions regarding right-of-way.
Click here to learn more about the sabre.