If you have attended some classes on Tuesday night or the Sunday DBMA classes, there is a good chance that you have borrowed a fencing mask for stick fighting from the club. Whether you want fight in the upcoming Beat The Crap Out of Cancer event or just want to have a clean mask for your own training purpose, if you are searching to purchase a mask, below is Fencing Mask 101.
Kinds of Masks
Fencing masks are not all made alike. Before even addressing quality issues and reliability, you must decide what kind of mask you need. Masks exist for each kind of fencing: epee, foil, and saber. Owing to the dog brothers theme of fighting with as limited protective gear and recognizing that stick fighting is percussive (not pointed), the masks used tend to be lighter foil or epee masks, rather then the much heaver sabre type.
Epee – Epee masks are sometimes sold as “3 Weapon Masks”. They are the simplest of the fencing masks because there is no lame material used. They are sometimes called 3 Weapon Masks because they are used for all 3 fencing disciplines for beginner classes. An epee mask has insulated mesh for the face area and the bib is usually white.
Foil – Foil masks are structurally the same as epee masks and contain the protective bib and insulated mesh over the face. Foil masks have the addition of lame material on the bib of the mask as this part of the neck area of the fencer is valid target.
Saber – In sabre the entire head is part of the target area, so sabre masks feature a full lame covering over the bib and non-insulated mesh around the face and head to allow for hits to be scored.
FIE and non-FIE Mask?
Basic/Non-FIE – The entry-level fencing masks conform to US Fencing safety requirements for tournament competition. They feature mesh that will pass a 12kg punch test without failing and bib material rated at 350NW protection against punctures.
FIE – Masks that are FIE grade have been rated for international competition up to World Championships and the Olympics. The mesh they are made of to protect the face is stronger than basic masks.
The mesh for both FIE and non-FIE masks must pass the same 12kg punch test. FIE masks are made out of high-quality stainless steel mesh and non-FIE masks use carbon steel mesh. Both provide the same initial protection, but the stainless steel in FIE masks is more durable.
Considering the type of masks, epee masks are usually the least expensive and sabre masks the most expensive due to the differences in materials used. In general, non-FIE masks are much less expensive, starting around U$50 apiece. FIE masks, on the other hand, start at around U$120. Pricing is based on quality and type, but also is affected by the manufacturer. The most popular brands for FIE masks include AllStar (German), Uhlmann (German), Negrini (Italian), and Leon Paul (British) and they come in a variety of styles.
A mask is one of the most important protective gears. Hopefully, the information above would help you with the search of a perfect mask.
Lastly, if you already own a mask, here is a link on How to Clean a Fencing Mask.
Source credit: Fencing.net