Regardless of which weapon you practice, the protective equipment for all three weapons is the same: masks, jackets, underarm protectors/plastrons, knickers, gloves, socks, and shoes. All equipment is provided by the school, but you certainly may purchase your own!
Masks – In terms of protection, there are two major categories: FIE and Non-FIE. FIE masks provide 1600 Newton pressure test protection on the bib (protection for throat). Non-FIE usually provides 350 Newton. (Our BG basic masks provide 400-1000 Newton protection). The mesh for both FIE and non-FIE masks MUST pass the same 12 kg punch test for safety. The FIE masks mesh is required to use high grade stainless steel. The non-FIE masks usually use regular steel.
Jackets and Knickers – There are FIE and non-FIE jackets and knickers as well. The FIE jackets and knickers pass the 800 Newton pressure test and the non-FIE jackets and knickers are usually 350 Newton. (BG has a style that withstands 512 Newton, which is right in the middle in terms of protection.) The most basic jackets are usually made from thick white cotton. As a natural fabric, cotton breathes better than synthetics. However, the cotton may shrink a little after washing and it is less flexible than the synthetic models. In addition, some jackets are back zippered and some are front zippered. The back zippered jackets are less expensive, but it is harder to put on by yourself. The front zippered jacket is usually a preferred choice among fencers.
Underarm Protector/Plastron – This is a half jacket that is worn inside the regular jacket. It is either FIE (800 Newton protection) or non-FIE (usually 350 Newton protection). This layer of protection is required for all U.S. tournaments.
Chest protectors – The chest protectors are optional for men/boys but are required for women/girl in all tournaments. They are usually made of hard plastic.
Gloves – At least one fencing glove is required, which is usually for the hand that holds the weapon.
Socks – All tournaments require fencers to wear socks that cover up to the knees.
Shoes – All sneakers can be used as fencing shoes, however, fencing shoes usually come with enhancements specifically designed for the movement in fencing.
Most Voorhees fencers buy gear locally, from Absolute Fencing located in Bridgewater (near Costco). Check out their website for more details.