Caring for your gear
It is essential for safety and hygiene that you take care of your gear. When your gear is properly taken care of, it should last you for several years.
Here is a great article by Rebekah Vande Velde on the maintenance of fencing gear.
One of the first rules of equipment care is: Never mistreat it! Throwing, tossing, dropping, or otherwise beating up the gear will leave you with a pile of junk that is liable to break when you need it.
Taking care of your weapon
Your weapon should be stored separately from your other equipment. Since fencing is a very sweaty sport, throwing your wet jacket on top of your metal weapon is going to cause rust. An easy way to prevent this is to buy a length of PVC pipe or a garden hose long enough to cover the blade. Not only will this prevent rusting, it will protect the blade and keep it from breaking once it is in your bag.
You should check your weapon for rust periodically, as all weapons get rusty after a while. To clean the blade, use a piece of sandpaper and rub the rust away. Not only will this keep your blade rust-free and safe, it will keep it from leaving brown marks on your friend’s nice, clean, jacket.
Every time you pull out your weapon to fence, check your blade to make sure that it doesn’t have any sharp bends or crooked places in it. Sharp bends are only a few steps away from breaks. To correct bends, very gentle bend the blade back in the correct direction. Take it slow and be careful as you bend it, as “cold” blades are more likely to break.
Make sure that your tip is on, and that the pommel is still tightly screwed into the grip. The blade should not rattle if you shake the foil. If it does, check the pommel and try to tighten it.
Taking care of your jacket
Jackets should be washed in cold water with a little bit of detergent. Do not use bleach. Bleach will whiten the jacket, but it breaks down the fibres in the fabric, which compromises the jacket’s integrity. Frequent washing will also start to wear out the jacket, so wash when necessary, but don’t over wash. After training, if you don’t need to wash your jacket that evening, hang it on a plastic hanger and let it air out. You can also air out your glove at the same time.
Taking care of your mask
Your mask is the most important piece of equipment you own. Remember the rule about dropping equipment? This is especially true about masks. Do not drop your mask! Dropping the mask causes damage, whether you can see it or not.
After training, take your mask out of your bag and set it out to dry. You can hang it on a dresser drawer by the tongue and leave it overnight before packing it away again.
Masks are washable. There are several different methods online, but the one I’ve used is this:
Fill a bucket with water and add a little bit of wool detergent. Dunk the mask and squish the water through the padding. Rinse with water, squeezing the padding to get all the soap out. Squeeze out the rinse water. Take it inside and dry it with a towel and blow-dryer until it is almost completely dry. Set it somewhere it can air dry.
Taking care of your glove
Most gloves are washable, but check the tag on yours to be sure. Since most gloves have a dark color on the palm, you will not want to wash it with your jacket or it will stain it. You can fill a sink with cold water and a little bit of wool detergent, and wash it by hand. Rinse well and remove it to a towel on the counter. Roll up the glove in the towel and press it. Avoid wringing or twisting the glove, as that will stretch and distort the fabric. Hang the glove to air dry.
Look after your gear!
If you have questions about caring for your equipment, it is a good idea to get in touch with the Club Armourer. They will know best how to help you care for your equipment.