How to Maintain Your Fencing Gear: The Lamé

foil and sabre lamé maintenance

Let’s talk about every competitive fencer’s nightmare.

You’ve gone through the trouble of preparing for today’s tournament. You’ve taken a few lessons this week, fenced nearly each day, and you got a good amount of sleep last night. You’ve packed plenty of water, fruit, energy bars, possibly a sandwich. You have extra weapons, you have the under armor, and you remembered to wear pants today! Everything’s looking good when you arrive at the venue.

And then you bring your lamé up to the officials.

They tell you it’s unusable. There are too many dead spots, it has resistance problems, maybe it’s suffered some physical damage. Even worse, there’s no vendor and no extra lamé lying around. Looks like you get to go home early today.

Naturally, you want to avoid this nightmare. To that end, it’s time to learn how to repair your lamé and keep these problems from happening with proper maintenance.

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How to Maintain Your Fencing Gear: Épée and Sabre

Épées and sabres are deceptive.

Not that they’re trying to trick you (duh). They’re deceptive in that diagnosing their technical problems can be tricky. Unlike in foil, épée and sabre don’t have the advantage of an off-target light to indicate that something’s gone wrong. You’re just as likely to think you missed that touch because of bad luck as you are to suspect some kind of technical problem.

These weapons’ problems are also trickier to identify because they’re wired differently from a foil, as you learned from our very first article on gear maintenance. That’s why épéeists and sabreists get their very own article dedicated to diagnosing and fixing these weapons’ most common issues.

Let’s talk about épée first.

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How to Maintain Your Fencing Gear: The Foil

You can’t find anything wrong with your body cord: There aren’t any breaks in the cable, no overly-compressed pins rattling in the socket receivers, and no cold solder joint on the A clip. Yet you still get that irritating off-target light on blade contact. That means something is loose in the weapon between the tip and the guard, possibly in multiple places.

Whenever your foil has a technical problem, the off-target light fires on blade contact because the circuit in the foil is broken for more than 15 milliseconds. The boxes neither know nor care where or why the break occurs — could be a properly depressed tip on a hit, could be something loose — it sees the break and the off-target light fires.

Without further delay, let’s dive into some of the intricacies of foil repair with plenty of how-to videos!

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How to Maintain Your Fencing Gear: The Body Cord

You’re getting ready for a fencing bout: You hold the body cord as you put on the jacket, put on the lamé, you hook up to the reel box, and you’re ready to fence. But as you lift your arm to test your opponent’s gear, the box shows an off target touch. Or maybe your opponent’s light registered off target when they tested your lamé — or there was no light at all, if you’re a sabre fencer — but you know that it doesn’t have any dead spots.

You test every other weapon in your bag, but the same problem keeps arising. Then you use a different body cord, and everything starts working. You correctly conclude that something’s wrong with the first body cord, but what’s the problem and how do you fix it?

Welcome to the second installment of our fencing gear maintenance series, where we discuss how to fix some common technical difficulties that fencers encounter with their gear. Today, we’re focusing on the piece of equipment that most often gives fencers grief: body cords. We’ll look at some of their most common problems, why they occur, and show you how to fix them.

If you haven’t read part one yet, go do that. It has crucial background information. If you’ve already read it, let’s get started!

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