Armory Class

I’ve now taken three of my armory classes, and in theory I should be done… but my teacher realized that we hadn’t done three pieces of the program, and so next Thursday I’m going back for one more hour to do the last bits.  A lot of the problem would have been covered if I’d had a chance to buy the right kind of glue this week, and glue down the wires inside two fencing blades. On the other hand, now I know that they’re done right… and I have a clearer understanding of the problem of foils.

It turns out — which I’d suspected, but not known — that barrels, buttons, springs and screws actually vary in size from one manufacturer to another. This is not true in epee or saber, which have reached a remarkable level of concord in designing weapons parts among manufacturers. However, in foil — which may have the largest number of overall parts — the manufacturers of German-style parts actually make different-sized parts.The manufacturers of French-style parts make different-sized parts. This means that I cannot use French barrels from Blue Gauntlet Fencing with French points or springs from Absolute Fencing Gear.

This came… not as a complete shock, but certainly a degree of dismay.

I’m also dismayed to discover that my French point-setter (a somewhat specialized tool for affixing the wire inside of a barrel, so that it can be run inside the groove of a foil blade) is missing.  It’s not in my tool kit, which means I’m going to have to dig through everything in the fencing closet until I find it.

On the other hand, now I know how to repair a foil, a body cord, and a reel. I can take a foil apart down to stripping the wire, and replacing it. I can clean out a barrel on a foil so that the button functions properly. Next week, I’ll learn how to use a soldering iron to fix the alligator clips on body cords for attaching the cord to the lame. And next year, I’ll be including this in the curriculum.


All the same, it’s made me realize just how specific a fencing curriculum needs to be. It’s not just teaching the moves.It’s teaching the moves with the motion, with the care and respect for the gear.

It’s teaching the personal obligations of the game — to care for your equipment, to respect the strip and your opponents, and to learn the rules well enough that you can referee for your teammates in a responsible fashion. And I still have a lot to learn, as well.

At least I’m better prepared for equipment failures on the strip. And I’ve now learned how to repair the equipment that kids are most likely to break.

I do need some repair equipment, though, so that we have a suitable repair kit for school.

  • work bench with vise (can use school maintenance shop?)
  • Dremel Tool with sandpaper/grinding disks
  • Plastic box with lots and lots of separate compartments, unlikely to spill or tip over
  • Parts for plastic box:
    1. French foil tip springs
    2. French barrels
    3. French buttons
    4. French screws
    5. French wires
    6. pins for 2-prong body-cords
    7. spare wire of appropriate gauge for body-cords
  • Logbook for charging students for repairs
  • spare blades for teaching wiring
  • Tool Box
    1. large screwdriver
    2. pistol grip hex key
    3. 4-mm open-side wrench
    4. Suitable glue for gluing wires into blades
    5. small screwdrivers (jewelers’ style)
    6. Fridge magnets for holding small screws
    7. tape for wrapping foils from barrel to 15-cm down the blade
    8. Soldering Iron

It’s a start.

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  1. I was wondering…

    next year, in addition to getting you here for judging, I’d love to have you come and do a refereeing class. Your ref skills don’t need to be perfect, but I’d very much like the kids to hear from someone besides me about the importance of good judging, and get some tips about how to direct a match effectively.

    And we could also run an armory workshop for folks with broken weapons around mid-season.

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