How to Buy Fencing Equipment
Basic fencing equipment includes a mask, jacket, knickers, knee socks, shoes, a glove, a foil, and a few spare blades, and may be purchased for less than the cost of a high-end tennis racket. Fencing supply stores should have all that you need.
1. Choose a mask that has sufficient interior padding, does not press on the top of the head or chin, and fits comfortably.
2. Put the mask under your arm and squeeze the sides closer together if the fit seems a bit too loose.
3. Pull the sides of the mask slightly apart with your hands if the mask seems a bit too tight.
4. Select a fencing jacket that is well-padded and stitched, with a quilted pattern for maximum protection.
5. Try on knickers to be sure they fit, but still allow stretching in the crotch so as not to impair lunging.
6. Be sure knee socks are long enough to pass over the knee and up under the cuffs of your knickers, so as to cover the entire leg.
7. Choose your fencing shoes as you would any others, making sure there is ample room in the toes.
8. Get a glove specifically for foil fencing, making sure that the one you choose is not too tight and that the sleeve of your fencing jacket will fit into the glove's cuff.
9. Purchase a standard Italian foil if the store has one. Otherwise, ask it to order one, or buy a standard French foil.
10. Reject suggestions to buy a foil with an orthopedic grip.
11. Get a wrist strap if you buy an Italian foil.
Until you are sure that fencing is for you, avoid spending money on top-of-the-line items and other equipment you don't need.
Women will need to purchase a pair of breast protectors, which are inserted into pockets inside the jacket.
Men should wear an athletic supporter with a protective shield.
Some fencing supply stores offer thrifty "starter kits," which include a mask for foil only, a jacket, a glove, and a French foil.
Fencing shoes are frequently expensive. You may want to wear a well-made pair of court shoes or other athletic shoes with low heels and soles instead.
A listing of fencing supply stores can be found on the United States Fencing Association's Web site, at www.usfencing.org/contacts/corporate.asp.