Buyers Guide for Adults
Many clubs will lend you equipment when you are taking a beginner course. After you have completed a beginner’s class most clubs then want you to purchase your own equipment, so that you can progress with the sport and start fencing electronically scored bouts. There are two equipment buying options for a beginner. The first is to buy individual items one at a time until you have a full set and the second solution is to buy a starter kit, which contains all of the items you will need.
Leon Paul offers two level’s of starter kit for foil, epee or sabre fencers. The Deluxe Kit has standard equipment and is suitable for the majority of fencers. The Team FIE Kit has high-quality FIE Approved equipment, which can be used in tournaments up to, and including, The Olympic Games.
Starter kits provide great value for the money saving you more than 15% from the cost of the individual items. Click here to see our range of starter kits
Leon Paul starter kits are available for all three weapons with a range of components suitable for different budgets. They provide a solid foundation on which you can build as you progress.
If you decide to buy individual items rather than a starter kit then the following is a list of items we recommend roughly in order of importance:
Although you can buy non electric gloves it is almost always worth buying an electric glove with a Velcro cuff. The Velcro closure cuff allows you to easily connect your bodywire from under your sleeve to an electric weapon. Our most popular glove is the Advanced Fencing Glove,but our FIE Approved gloves, which offer better protection and durability, are quickly becoming more popular.
Manchette/Over Glove (Sabre only)
A cuff made of conductive material that saber fencers wear over a non-conductive glove cuff. This is used to define the target area, so that scoring systems can identify a hit to the forearm.
A good quality mask is always one of the first items that you should consider purchasing. Masks are a bit like shoes in that over time they become more and more comfortable. There are different styles of mask for each weapon so the first thing you need to do is decide if you need a Foil, Epee or Sabre mask. The next decision is whether to buy standard (non-FIE) mask, which has a bib that offers 350 Newtons of protection or an FIE Approved mask, which has a bib that offers 1600 Newtons of protection. FIE Approved masks provide greater protection and Leon Paul FIE masks come with unique features, such as removable/replacable bibs and washable interior padding. First time buyers will normally be fencing Foil or Epee, so we would suggest either the Horizon Foil Mask , the Arena Epee Mask with Contour-Fit fitting system®, or, if you want the very best, our X-Change Bib Masks (X-Change Bib FIE Foil Mask with Contour-Fit fitting system® or our X-Change Bib FIE Epee Mask with Contour-Fit fitting system ® or our X-Change Bib FIE Contour Sabre Mask®) Sizing details can be found in our size chart, or if someone at your club uses a Leon Paul mask, you can check the size in the label or by using the colour coded washers on the top of the mask (yellow = small, blue = medium, red = large, black = X-large).
Most fencing clubs supply back-zip jackets for beginner classes, because they are ambidextrous. When you buy your own jacket, the front zip jacket will make a huge difference to your fencing experience. A right handed jacket has a zip on the left side and vice-versa. Generally most fencers are best off starting with our Phoenix Range uniform but for those fencers wanting extra protection the Team Range FIE Approved uniform makes a great long term investment, by combining protection, comfort and durability.
The weapon is the item that many people are keen to buy first, however it is important that you understand what you need in a weapon, before you buy it. Most people start fencing with a traditional French grip and most then move on to use a pistol grip. For children we suggest buying a weapon with a standard blade, but adults may be better served by an FIE Approved maraging steel blade. FIE Approved blades, although more expensive than standard blades, last much longer than standard carbon steel blades, therefore they are considered to be safer and save you money in the long term. They are also made from better quality steel so they are less likely to hold a permanent bend and you don’t need to spend as much time straightening them between hits. Our recommended and custom assembled weapons can be viewed here.
In the United Kingdom nearly every foil and sabre fencer uses the push and twist bayonet body wire connecting system. In the USA, the 2-pin system is more common. At Leon Paul, we feel that the bayonet system of attachment is superior to the 2-pin system, because less can go wrong with it (retaining clips can fall off and pins can crush with use and not fit snugly in the sockets). Still, if everyone at your fencing club uses 2-pin body wires, it may be to your advantage to use 2-pin also, in case you ever need to borrow a body wire. Although it is a simple part of your equipment, not all body wires of the same quality. Cheap body wires are often made with inferior parts and cable that will break easily and need to be replaced more often.
Plastron/Under-arm Protector/Sous Plastron
For non-electric or children’s fencing a 350N plastron is sufficient. However, you may want to invest in an FIE Approved 800N plastron which provides much better protection. In the United Kingdom it is best to go for an FIE Approved plastron as it is mandatory for electric fencing. The Leon Paul Light Weight FIE Approved plastron is a high-performance product that is thinner, lighter and cooler than any other plastron available. If you demand the best, then this is the plastron to get, because you can hardly tell that you are wearing it.
Similar to jackets, breeches come in many different styles. Most people prefer breeches of the same style and material as their jacket so that they match. Like jackets, breeches come in left or right hand models. The reason this matters is because the fly overlap must on the weapon-arm side to prevent an attacking blade from getting caught; the pocket must be on the opposite side of the weapon-arm to prevent an attacking blade from getting caught.
More advanced fencers often wear fencing specific shoes. Many people prefer them, because they provide better traction on the fencing strip and have other special features, designed just for fencing. In general Adidas shoes run very narrow, so most people need to go a half size up for a good fit. Hi-Tec shoes are wider and Nike shoes are the lightest on the market and in the middle of the width range. The Nike Air Zoom Fencer (aka Nike Ballestra) is Leon Paul’s most popular fencing shoe and is worn by the US Olympic Fencing Team.
Purchasing for children
Just as for adults, you can either get a starter kit and save 15% or more or you can buy items gradually over time. There are several issues that fencing parents and grandparents struggle with when ordering fencing equipment for children. The following information should help to make the process as easy as possible. Remember, if you ever need assistance, we at Leon Paul are always happy to answer questions either by phone or email.
Essential Information you need before placing an order
Left or Right Handed
Most items of protective clothing are made specifically for left or right handed people.
Actual Size Measurements
Protective fencing clothing is not sized in the same way as other children’s clothing, though we can provide an estimate for the size based on age and height. You will need to know the following measurements to be able to order accurately.
Chest - Circumference in inches
Waist - Circumference in inches
Height - The full height of the child
Head - Circumference of the head around the face
Hand - Circumference of the hand around the knuckles
Weapons are sized by age, with younger fencers using shorter, lighter more flexible blades. Your child’s age category may require a shorter blade length.
Specific equipment requirements, including blade length requirements for USA Fencing sanctioned events may be found in section 2.6 of the Athlete’s Handbook (2.6 Equipment Requirements for Domestic Tournaments). http://www.usfencing.org/athletehandbook