Fencing Equipment - The Uniform.  Fencers wear protective gear from the head on down.  A Mask consisting of a tough steel mesh encloses the front and sides of the head providing protection and ventilation. A bib extends down from the bottom to allow movement while protecting the front and sides of the neck The head is not typically a target as the epee tip is likely to slide off before a score can be made. The Mask is padded inside and a strap across the back holds it in place while letting it be taken on and off easily, even with glasses. 

The torso is protected by a double layer Jacket of cotton or nylon. Under the jacket a plastic Chest Protector covers the sternum, ribs (and breasts for ladies) for extra protection. A Glove covers the weapon hand and overlaps the jacket sleeve about halfway up the forearm. As the students gain skill at hitting targets, an Underarm Protector is added to back up the jacket in the weapon arm bicep and shoulder area. 

Knickers overlap under the jacket by 10 cm or more and cover the lower torso down to the knees. Long Socks and indoor court type Sneakers complete the outfit, or fencing shoes for those whose feet have stopped growing.

Fencing Equipment - The Epee.  Lets start with the scoring end.  The Tip of the Epee is a blunt 1/4" (8mm) button that slides into a barrel. A compression spring holds the tip out. 2 small screws hold the tip in the barrel. Inside the barrel, a small spring makes contact with two wires when the tip is closed. 

At the handle end of the epee, inside the bellguard, the wires go thru individual plastic tubing and end at a socket.  The socket has three connections; two for the switch wires, and a third to the bellguard/blade, which ends up connecting to a ground circuit.  Touches made against the opponents bellguard do not register.  A French Grip completes the assembly, with a large nut (the pommel) securing the grip, socket, and bellguard to the end of the blade.  A pad inside the bellguard prevents the fencer from manipulating the wires and provides some cushioning should the fencer lose his grip during an attack. The French Grip is basically a straight grip that is used to teach finger control of the Epee; small movements of the tip are all that are needed.  Experienced fencers may switch to Orthopedic grips (commonly known as a pistol grip) for making stronger movements of the blade.  

The Blade is specially forged and shaped to bend with the touch without breaking.  You may get a small bruise from a hard touch, anything else is extremely rare.  Some tools are useful to have on hand - small screwdriver or two for installing tip screws, a small wrench to tighten loose a loose barrel, a hex wrench to tighten a loose grip (pistol grip), shims and weights to make sure all is adjusted correctly when a test box is plugged into the weapon. A simple ohmmeter can also be used and is good for testing body cord continuity also.

Fencing Equipment - The Bodycord.  The Body cord is a three conductor wire with pins at each end. The Body cord runs under the fencers jacket; one end comes out of the glove to plug into the epee socket; the other end goes out the back of  the jacket to connect to the scoring machine. The body cord connects the bellguard to ground and the switch wires to a very low current 12VDC circuit.

Fencing Equipment - The Strip. A bout is fenced on a "piste" (strip), 14 meters long by 1.5 meters wide. There are 2 meters from the middle of the strip to each fencers On Guard Line where each fencer goes to start a bout and after a score, 3 meters to the start of the warning area, and 2 meters more to the end of the strip.  Strips may be metallic; when they are, they are grounded and touches against the floor do not register.   If you get backed off the end of the strip, your opponent gets a point.  If you step off the side, your opponent gains a  meter and you back up.  Step off the side near your own end, and you may end up backed off the strip for a touch against you.

Fencing Equipment - The Scoring Apparatus.  Fencers score by pressing the end of their weapon against any part of the opponent. The arm is used to get the epee aimed and moving toward the intended target, while the legs finish off the attack.  When the epee is pressed with a force of 750 grams or more (about a pound and a half), a switch is closed. Wires running the length of the blade connect to a  body cord that is threaded thru the fencers uniform.  The body cord connects to a floor reel, which connects to the scoring machine. The scoring machine detects when the switch is closed, and if it is not closed against a grounded surface (floor or bellguard) a  buzzer sounds and colored lights (usually Red and Green) on each side of the machine indicate which side scored.  If both fencers touch within 1/25 of  a second (40 milliseconds), then both sides score.  As machines go up in cost, they go up in features; timekeeping, scorekeeping, penalty keeping, remote controls, etc. 

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