Buying your first fencing weapon
Regardless of weapon, you shouldn't spend a lot of money buying branded premium fencing weapons for your beginner. Chinese or Eastern European made fencing weapons are very good value for money for a beginner, and will meet your fencer's needs. The first complete weapon you buy shouldn't cost more than $50, and don't forget that you will need to purchase a 2nd weapon. Tournament rules require that fencers have 2 working weapons at the strip at all times, failure to do so earns the fencer a yellow card. The 2nd fencing weapon is also a back-up in case something happens to the first one during practice.
Remember that fencing blades break, and you can expect to replace your fencer's blades several times a year. Even if the blade doesn't break, you may need to re-wire the weapon. Unless you know how to re-wire the blade yourself, you are looking at incurring some parts and labor costs.
It is important to make sure that you buy the right size blade for your child's age and height. There are 4 blade sizes, #0, #2, #4 and #5. The numbers represent differences in length #0 = 30", #2 = 32", #5= 35". The differences in weight due to length differences are material and will affect your child's ability to handle the weapon. Keep in mind that the #5 blade is used by teenage and adult fencers, so make sure you buy the right length blade, and size up as your fencer grows.
Useful Link: Fencing Blade Size,:How to Choose the Right One
There are differences in fencing style between clubs and coaches. For your fencer to learn effectively, the weapon you assemble must fit both your fencer's characteristics and the coach's fencing style.
Before you make your purchase, be sure to consult your child's coach for guidance on the following:
Blade stiffness - stiff blades provide greater point control, and are generally ideal for all beginners. More advanced fencers may prefer more flexible blades for flicking, a skill that beginners will not be ready to learn for a few years, at least.
Blade size - younger fencers typically start with the #2 blade, though very little fencers can use the #0 blade. A longer blade weighs more, and will affect your beginner fencer's ability to handle the weapon effectively. The #2 and #5 blades are the most commonly available, though you can get #4 blades from Absolute Fencing. The #4 blade is a transion size for fencers who are not yet tall enough to handle #5, but are too big to use the #2 blade. (Note that Y10 fencers are disallowed from using the #5 blade in competition)
Grip Style and Size - Your fencer must be able to hold the grip firmly and comfortably, and manipulate the blade effectively with the grip. When the stem of the grip is too long, your fencer will have less control over the blade. The ideal is to have no more than a 1/4 inch gap between the hand and the top of the bell guard when the fencer is holding the grip, the blade will feel much lighter. Differences in fencing style will also influence the size of the grip.
Length of Tang - The tang is the piece at the end of the blade over which the grip fits. It should be cut to allow for the 1/4 gap described above. Consult your coach about bending the tang. as this will affect the bend of the blade.
Tips - Ask your coach for his/her preferences and recommendations.
All of this detail can get pretty complicated, and your coach may want to focus on just one or 2 characteristics at the start.
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