Why buy your own fencing gear?
Fencing with the gear the club provides is encouraged for new fencers. However, experienced fencers generally have their own gear because:
- It is required to attend tournaments, camps, and some other fencing clubs.
- It fits better
- You are the only one who has ever sweated in it, and you can wash it when you want it washed.
- You can practice things like point control at home if you have a Foil or Epee.
What gear does the club provide beginners?
Everything to take the first 8 classes at the very least. Some fencers fence with club gear for a year or more while working on the basics.
When should I buy my own fencing gear?
Not for the first 8 weeks at least. Fencing may not be your thing, and you may decide between fencing Epee or Foil after 8 weeks.
After the 8 weeks, you should consider acquiring gear when you are ready to take your fencing to the next level. This means you’re coming to Open Fencing after beginner classes or you are preparing to attend tournaments. Attending Open Fencing doesn’t necessarily mean you own 100% of your gear, but we’d like fencers attending Open Fencing to be moving towards this as a goal.
Talk to a coach about what you want to do in fencing and what gear you should get before you order things.
Where can I buy fencing gear?
You will need to order it online. There are no fencing stores in North Carolina or adjacent states. See next answer for how to choose which online store to buy from.
What exactly do I buy and how much will it cost?
This is a very tricky question, which is hard to answer in a one size fits all approach. Below is my advice on how to buy your gear. Cost can vary highly depending on what you buy.
It is generally slightly cheaper to buy all the fencing gear you need to attend tournaments in one (or two) “starter kits”. I highly recommend you buy an electric starter set so that you can use it during Open Fencing and attend tournaments. I recommend starting off with cheap gear and moving up to more expensive gear a piece at a time as you decide what elements of your gear you wear out, grow out of, or want to get more performance out of.
We recommend the following distributors of fencing gear. These folks have low prices on their house brands, and also carry higher end gear. Higher end gear can also be ordered direct from the manufacturer (e.g. Leon Paul USA)
http://www.absolutefencinggear.com/ (As of July 2016, Absolute had the better choice of starter sets because you could upgrade the mask and Foil to electric versions but these things change.)
To feel comfortable at Open Fencing a fencer will will want to have:
- Two Electric Foils or Epees. (if you get just one, it will break and you’ll have to borrow until you can learn to fix it) Your first foil should have a pistol grip (DO NOT BUY A FRENCH GRIP) of the size and type (probably visconti) you like best after trying different gear at practice. You should get a two prong foil socket because that is what the rest of the club uses. French or german tips doesn’t matter. Your first epee should also have a pistol grip unless you’re very sure you want something else and have tried fencing with that other grip.
- One Body Cord (Epee or Foil). Two prong for foil.
- Fencing Lame (Foil only)
- Fencing Mask (Foil mask or Epee mask- the Foil mask has an electric bib the Epee mask doesn’t)
- Head Cord (Foil only)
- Fencing Glove
- Fencing Jacket
- Underarm protector aka plastron (and chest protector for women)
- Fencing bag – Highly recommended to keep track of all of the above.
All of this gear doesn’t have to be purchased at once, but it’s cheaper. It’s listed roughly in order of importance. If buying a starter set, make sure the mask and Foil are upgraded to the electric versions.
To attend formal tournaments – casual events in Greenville don’t count – you will need EVERYTHING on the above list and you will also need the following items:
- Fencing Knickers
- Long socks that cover the entire gap between knickers and shoes
- Second Head Cord (Foil only)
- Second Body Cord
What size gear should I buy?
Adult size Foils and Epee (size 5 blades). For everything else, follow the sizing instructions on the distributor’s website.
What should I avoid buying?
Non-electric fencing gear. You can borrow non-electric masks or foils from the club if you really need it.
French grip Foils. These are helpful for beginners but everyone grows out of them quickly.
Coaching equipment or extra padding.
Plastic chest protectors for male fencers.
Fencing Shoes – Find a way to try these on first or be very sure what you need and your size.
High end (i.e. stuff not manufactured in China) stuff before you know why you’re paying extra for it.
FIE gear- local and regional events don’t require it, and not all national events do. It’s pricey.
Things from Ebay or Craigslist. Once you’ve owned fencing gear, its easier to shop for good deals. If you haven’t owned this stuff before you won’t be able to tell what’s a good deal and what isn’t worth it.
Amazon is an option, but I don’t recommend it for new fencers. It’s generally easier to order direct and you’ll get about the same prices, better customer service, and more help with sizing, returns and exchanges.
If you need more information about ordering, or just want to talk it over, ask a coach before or after practice or give us a call at the contact us number in the top right.