The sport of fencing has three weapons: foil, epee and sabre. The object of a fencing bout (what an individual "game" is called) is to land a specified number of touches on your opponent before he/she scores that number on you. Each bout is officiated by a referee called a director.
All official tournaments are conducted using electric scoring systems. The fencers connect themselves, their blades, and their metal jackets (lames) to a retractable cord (reel), which plugs in to a scoring machine (pictured left). The machine shows a light for each fencer who successfully scores a touch on his or her opponent. The director then describes the action and awards points based on right-of-way.
The foil has a flexible rectangular blade, 35 inches long, weighing > 1 lb. Points are scored by depressing the tip of the blade on the torso (yellow shaded area at left) of your opponent's body. The foil fencer's uniform includes a metallic vest (called a lame) which covers the valid target area. A touch landing outside the valid target area (that which is not covered by the lame) is indicated by a white light on the scoring machine. These "off target" hits do not count in the scoring, but they do stop the fencing action temporarily.
The epee (pronounced "EPP-pay"), descendant of the original dueling sword, is similar in length to the foil, but heavier (~1.7 lbs), with a larger guard (to protect the hand) and a much stiffer blade. Points are scored by depressing the tip on any part of your opponent's body. Because the entire body is a valid target area, the epee fencer's uniform does not include a lame, so off-target hits do not register on the machine. In addition, right-of-way has no bearing on the points awarded. This means that whenever a fencer hits his/her opponent, he/she is awarded a touch.
The modern sabre is descended from the classical northern Italian dueling sabre, which is a lighter weapon than the slashing cavalry sword. Its blade is 35" long, and it weighs ~1 lb. The sabre is a cutting weapon as well as a thrusting weapon. Points are scored by landing any part of your blade on your opponent's lame. To simulate the cavalry rider, the target area is everything from the waist up. Right of way applies much the same as it does to foil. The mask has a metallic covering, since the head is valid target area, and a head cord that connects the mask to the lame.
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