Fencing equipment is expensive and most of it will last for a long time. On the other hand, if your fencer decides to change weapons, do they need a new mask for their new weapon?
Every fencing weapon is different, from scoring, to some elements of the uniform, to the weapon. Though there are some things that are totally interchangeable, like fencing knickers and the fencing jacket, other things like the mask are not exactly the same for each weapon.
This is a problem we’ve come across recently as we moved from a foil/epee club to an epee-only club. Luckily, we found a simple solution!
Electric vs. Non-Electric Masks
The big difference between foil masks and epee masks is that foil masks are conductive in their bib.
Epee masks are straightforward, simple insulated mesh coverings over the face and a plain white bib. The entire body is the target area in epee.
For the most part, a foil mask is the same as the epee mask – an insulated mesh covering over the face and a bib. The difference is that there is lame material sewn onto the bib at the neck, a potential target area during the match. The mask cord connects to the bib to allow for scoring to register.
Converting a foil mask for epee
When fencers change over from foil to epee, the obvious thing is that they need to change the weapons and the body cords, as these are completely different. Knickers, gloves, and the rest of the body armor (chest protector, underarm protector, and jacket) are the same. But what to do with the foil mask? Can it be reused?
We discovered the secret though. All you have to do is to just accurately rip the seam of the electric bib on the foil mask. Voila! Underneath, there’s an epee mask hiding in there. It works with the Absolute Fencing Gear mask and most of the other mainstream brands of fencing equipment. Leon Paul solved this issue differently, with their detachable bib.
My own 3 kids recently switched to epee and so we bought three epee masks, for a grand total of $240! We didn’t realize how easy it would be to just convert their old foil masks.
As is so often in life, sometimes we don’t think and just go with the flow for the most obvious way to take care of a problem. If you just use a little critical thinking, you might figure out that your foil mask is only an epee mask with an electric bib sewn in!