Foil Mask with Conductive Bib

What is the target area in foil for the upcoming fencing season?  Will I need to purchase a mask with the foil bib as target for my events?

At the FIE level the rule is already in place that a portion of the foil bib is now part of the target area.  During the upcoming USA Fencing season, which starts on August 1, 2011 that rule will be applied to some national level competitions.  Here is our brief guide to Foil: What’s Target? for 2011-2012.

USA Fencing has ruled that all National events which are Team Selection Events will require the use of conductive bib for foil fencing.  This gives the athletes working to be selected for a National Team more bouts using the target area which they will face in International competition.

All other events will be fenced without the foil bib requirement.  Here’s a quick checklist of the events:

Events where the Foil Mask with Conductive Bib is Required:

  • Foil Bib as Target is required in these events

    Division I North American Cups (NAC)

  • Cadet North American Cups (NAC)
  • Junior North American Cups (NAC)
  • Wheelchair North American Cups (NAC)
  • Vet 50 North American Cups (NAC)
  • Vet 60 North American Cups (NAC)
  • Vet 70 North American Cups (NAC)
  • Junior Olympics
  • Division I National Championships
  • Wheelchair National Championships
  • Vet 50/60/70 National Championships

Events at which the Foil Bib as Target is NOT required:

  • No bib as target in these events

    NCAA Foil events in the 2011-2012 Season.

  • Any Local (Divisional) event, including JO and National qualification events
  • Super Youth Circuit (SYC) events
  • Regional Youth Circuit (SYC) events
  • Regional Open Circuit (ROC) events
  • Division IA NACs or National Championships
  • Division II NACs or National Championships
  • Division III NACs or National Championships
  • Vet Combined NACs
  • Vet 40 National Championships
  • Y10 / Y12 / Y14 NACs or National Championships
  • Any Team Events

What if you fence in a combination of events?

There are two schools of thought for your approach to dealing with the variable of target area for your events.

1. If you are training to do your best at a “points event” level, then go ahead and fence all of your local events using the full target area (conductive bib and mask cord).  While you put yourself at a disadvantage for those local and non-required events, the training in the bouts is more real to dealing with the foil bib as target and will be better for the fencer’s development and training towards performance in events where the foil bib as target is the requirement.

2. If you want to do the best possible at each event, then you can cover the lower edge of the foil mask bib with tape (tip tape or electrical tape) to prevent the lame material on the mask from touching that on the lame and becoming a part of the target area.  Alternatively you can invest in the XChange mask from Leon Paul and keep a foil bib and epee bib in your kit to be able to change out the bib based on the target area in effect for that tournament.



  • Worried Dad, July 18, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

    I see all kinds of safety issues with the bib being target, we will see.

  • OROD, July 18, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    So what if a few kids get impaled through the neck?  Isnt it much better to discourage all the ducking started by the last round of rule changes?  I mean, what, do you think you can just GET RID of rules?  Hell no, you need to constantly make new ones to counteract the unintended consequences of the old set of rules.  [/sarcasm]

  • J T S, July 22, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

    This is a strategic mistake on the part of the fencing community; opening up the neck area as a target just lends itself to a potential tragedy.  Humans are adaptive and fencers will find ways to adjust their style to take advantage of this additional target area. Already fencers have developed styles that strike the lame on an “uplift” from the front foot. With the foil extended and forcing itself upward, it seems reasonable to suggest that, at some point, in some competition, somewhere, a fencer will be stabbed in the throat suffering potentially fatal injuries.  This mistake comes on the heels of the last mistake: the “Darth Vader” helmet.  Instead of this dangerous move to expand the target area, the more impactful move would have been to place a target on the foil fencers forward, or leading, arm. This move would greatly reduce “covering” (which is a common practice) and have the same effect of expanding target area.  When the first fencer is “cut down” by this inane ruling of targeting the neck area, I hope to see those who approved this nonsense in front of our judicial system taking responsibility for their actions.

  • Jo shmo, July 27, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

    blue gauntlet has 1000 newton bibs

  • David Minor, July 29, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

    One would think that what you describe would have already taken place in epee fencing, where the bib has always been target and the weapon is stiffer than the foil. In fact, shots do on rare occasion find there way under the bib (I’ve taken one myself) and am still here to comment on the forum.

  • J T S, July 29, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

    So.. since you survived you support the rule? 

  • Mike, August 16, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

    I disagree, epee fencing has an entirely different dynamic of movement. The bent-arm, up-and-under, thrust at the end of a short arm, compound attack is never seen in epee but sadly common in foil, especially women’s foil and especially at lower skill levels.
    The presence of off target surface area keep foil fencers’ eyes open and makes them endeavor to be both accurate AND powerful. The easier it is to hit valid target area the less finesse will be required.
    If there is a good chance that hitting hard with eyes closed will score a point, we will do it more. That is when people MIGHT get hurt, but it is when people will definitely start to fence more ugly.

    Every year the FIE and it’s lapdog the USFA change the rules to make the sport more spectator friendly and when TV contracts don’t roll in they change them back. When are they going to stop trying to expand their market and start worrying about the customers they already have? Every time some new annoying nonsensical rule get’s passed down some fencers leave.

    A bird in the hand anyone..?

  • Billcm48, September 29, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

    Sorry but being unable not to fence my 2 favorite weapons in 15 years might let me give you entouists insite. problem is simple to solve. Tuck the bibs inside and extend collar for the neck target in breast target. Simple inexpensive, and no polarity necessary in face mask, which will keep electrical engineers out of this wonderful sport.

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