Foil, épée and sabre: Cross section and target area

There are three different weapons in the sport of fencing: epee, foil, and sabre. While each weapon requires similar skills, they also all require different techniques and specializations.

Foil

The foil has a flexible rectangular blade, 90sm in length, weighing less than one pound. Points are scored with the tip of the blade and must land on the torso of the body, which extends from the shoulders to the groin, front, and back. There are two scoring lights on the machine. One shows a green light when a fencer is hit, and one shows a red light when her opponent is hit. A touch landing outside the valid target area (that which is not covered by the metallic jacket, or lamé) is indicated by a white light. These "off target" hits do not count in the scoring, but they do stop the fencing action temporarily.

Épée

The épée (pronounced "EPP-pay"), the descendant of the dueling sword, is similar in length to the foil, but is heavier, weighing approximately 27 ounces, with a larger guard (to protect the hand from a valid hit) and a much stiffer blade. Touches are scored only with the point of the blade. The entire body is a valid target area and a green or red light illuminates when a touch is scored. Because the entire body is a valid target area, the épée fencer's uniform does not include a lamé. Off-target hits do not register on the machine.

Sabre

The sabre is the modern version of the slashing cavalry sword. The major difference between the sabre and the other blades is that the sabre is not only a thrusting weapon, but also a cutting one. The target area is from the bend of the hips (both front and back), to the top of the head, simulating the cavalry rider on a horse. The sabre fencer's uniform includes a lamé which covers the target area to register a valid touch on the scoring machine. Just as in épée, there are two scoring lights on the machine. One shows a green light when a fencer is hit, and one shows a red light when the opponent his hit. Off-target hits do not register on the machine.