Art of Fencing, Art of Life

12 Important Tips for Your Fencing Equipment Check

Fencing equipment check at regional, national and international fencing tournaments. French grip epees are subject to compliance weapon testingFencing equipment check. For many novice parents this sounds completely unknown – what is an equipment check? When is it required? In a nutshell, an equipment check is an organized and consolidated check of the equipment by tournament organizers during the competition. Every equipment check must be completed before the start of the first event. The designated armorer will check different pieces of the equipment to ensure that they meet specified conformance criteria and mark them accordingly.

The marking of wearable parts involves stamping them with a specific tournament stamp. This way the referees will recognize it when they check your equipment before the match. Body cords will be also be marked with a piece of tape near the clips or sockets so the referees can see them. You will only need to have your equipment checked before the first event. The marking stays valid through the entire tournament.

Fencing equipment check - gloves will be checked and stamped at regional and national fencing tournamentsIt is always important to ask the organizers (bout committee, registration desk) whether a specific competition has a required equipment check. All regional/national events will require this, but they may have different specifications. There are a few things to remember about your equipment check when heading into competition.


  1. Never skip the equipment check. Lack of markings on your equipment immediately will warrant a red card and will put you on the clock to find a replacement that is already marked. In the heat of a competition this is the last thing you want to have on your mind.
  2. Allow extra time for the equipment check. Especially if your event is the first in the day and all the fencers in this event will be standing in the same line to be checked.
  3. Parents or any other person can take the equipment of their fencer to the equipment check. I have often seen that instead of warming up, young fencers wait with their parents in the long line to be checked. This is one area where parents can definitely help. So if you are short on time between arrival and the start of the event– your fencer should spend their time warming up.
  4. Always ask at the equipment check desk which pieces will be checked. This may vary from competition to competition based on what the armorer concluded with the bout committee. They will always check masks, lames, and cords (both body and mask), but sometimes they will also check gloves for lack of holes and French grip epees for conformance with rules.
  5. Most of the armorers will check only what you gave them! They will not ask whether you have an additional body cord, or glove. This is not their job. They are busy and often times they might think that you brought up just a few spare items. So when later on you are going on strip without properly checked equipment, the fact that the “armorer didn’t tell you to check your glove” is not a valid excuse.
  6. Do not limit yourself to checking only the bare minimum of the equipment. For example, you may only need 2 body cords, but if you have 5 body cords in the bag – test all of them. You never know when and what your child will need during the competition!
  7. If you bought a new piece of equipment from a vendor at the competition (and big events might have fencing vendors at the venue), go and check this piece if it is part of the “to be checked” list.
  8. During the big competitions, it is always a good thing to check your equipment a day before. It offers peace of mind and less dependency on anything else. This way, on competition day you can focus on your warm up procedure.
  9. If you have not stenciled your lame just yet, before rushing to the vendor on site to stencil it, check first and see that it passes the test. I have noticed a few times that parents first stencil the lame (and pay $30-$40 for that) only to discover later that it failed an equipment test.
  10. It is always good to pre-check your equipment at home or at the club before you are heading out to a big competition, regardless of whether they have an equipment check or not.
  11. The penalty for coming with equipment that does not have a check mark is a RED CARD!
  12. Always check that the body cords keep the checking tape on them. When my son undressed between DE’s at Summer Nationals last year, the tape somehow fell off. We didn’t notice until the referee checked him. So he started his first DE with the red card, which meant a touch for his opponent.

Make sure your child doesn’t get a red card because of a careless mistake! Check early, double check, and know what needs to be in compliance before you go. Don’t let an oversight with your fencing equipment check cause additional stress on competition day!

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  1. L Mao

    Re: Tip #3. Parents can definitely wait in line in lieu of their fencing offspring if time is of the essence. But it is best for the fencer to be the one presenting their equipment for inspection. Every so often, you will encounter an armorer (usually an older gentleman) with strong opinions on the subject of personal responsibility for equipment check. These folks do not appreciate it when the owner/user of the equipment is not present for the check.

    • Igor Chirashnya

      Actually this does not contradict – most of the time spent in weapon check is the wait in the line, which is mostly idle time and could/should be leveraged by fencers to warm up, especially if time is of the essence. The last few minutes of actually going with armorer thru the check should be done by the fencer – they can interrupt their warm up for these few minutes. It is good to take responsibility in any case.

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