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Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

Why should I order from Physical Chess instead of a different company?
Physical Chess focuses on quality products, customer satisfaction and competitive price. We get you the equipment that you want at a price you can afford. We are  more than a "middleman"-products are made to our specifications and are meticulously checked during production.

How long does it take to ship my order?
All equipment in stock is sent out 24-48 business hours after receipt of your order. Customers who request 2nd or Next Day shipping before 1PM (EST) will have their orders shipped the same day. All "Air" orders received after 1PM will be shipped the following business day. If you want your order shipped by "Air" and if you are ordering after 1PM, you have to phone in your order at 1-800-FENCING.

Up to what amount can I order by COD?
We no longer ship orders payable by COD. Consider other payment options, such as Paypal, etc.

When should I be expecting my order?
All orders are shipped Ground take 3-9 business days to arrive, depending on where you are and on the proximity of the processing center to you. You can have orders shipped "Air" next day and 2nd day upon request for an additional charge.

Which item should I be ordering for myself?
All fencers have special requests when it comes to ordering their equipment. If possible you should order all equipment yourself because you know what you want and like. If you are a beginner it is a good idea to have a coach or advanced fencer give you some advice. If someone else is ordering for you, please give them all the necessary information--your weapon, your measurements, right or left hand information as well as socket requirements, and any other relevant details.

What does FIE-approved equipment mean?
FIE stands for Federation International Escrime, the international governing body for fencing. FIE approved equipment is a mandatory requirement to fence in a World Cup, World Championships and the Olympics Games. Some countries (mostly in Europe) also require FIE-approved equipment. The current FIE standard is 800 Newton material for jackets, knickers and underarms as well as 1600 Newton bibs for masks. A "Newton" is the amount of pressure the material must withstand before being penetrated. FIE-approved equipment is NOT necessary for North American circuits, Division II & III circuits, Junior Olympics or the US National Championships, nor for any competition within US.

What does "Maraging" mean?
Maraging is a type of steel used to make foil, epee and sabre blades. It is the strongest metal used in the manufacture of fencing blades. Generally, maraging blades last up to ten times longer than non-maraging blades. Maraging "steel" is made of special alloy, incorporating iron, nickel, and titanium. Most maraging steel blades are FIE approved for international competition. Another important feature of maraging blades, is that they breaks flat and without any sharpness to them. This is why the FIE considers them much safer than "regular" blades.

What is a "Back-Zipper" jacket?
A back-Zipper Jacket has the zipper in the back. All other jackets have the zipper in the front on the opposite side of your fencing arm. The advantage of back zipper jackets is that a right or left-handed fencer could share this jacket. Back zipper jackets are great for classes or programs where many people share jackets. According to USFA safety standards, a right-handed fencer cannot use a left-handed jacket because of the zipper placement. However, anyone (right or left handed fencers) could use a back zipper jacket.

Why do some knickers (fencing pants) come in "right" or "left" handed models?
Knickers are custom designed for right and left handed fencers because of the fencer's position when fencing. The zipper and back pocket is placed on a different side.

What is the difference between men and women's jackets?
Women's jackets have pockets to put round breast protectors inside, while men's do not. Also jackets are designed to fit the different body types of men and women. Women's jackets are larger in the bust area and more taken in at the waist.

What's the difference between men's and women's knickers (fencing pants)?
Because of the different body types of men and women, our fencing knickers are specifically designed to fit a man or woman. Women's knickers are larger in the hips.

Do I need an underarm protector (plastron)?
Yes. According to USFA regulations, an underarm protector is required for any competition in the United States. For international, FIE, and World Cup competitions, an FIE-approved underarm protector is required.

How do you adjust the mask?
Fencing Masks can be adjusted in three ways:
  1. Pushing the tong (in the back of the mask) down or towards the front part of the mask secures your head.
  2. Squeezing the sides of the mesh part of the mask together provides a larger space for the chin inside of the mask
  3. Using the strap holds the head firmer. If too tight the strap can be taken off or adjusted with the Velcro fasteners.
The mask is quite strong, so don't be afraid to "mold" it to the shape of your head. It is the most important piece of equipment, and it has to fit perfectly.

Should the glove be tight?
It is very important for your glove to fit correctly as you are using your hand 100% of the time you are fencing. As with shoes, a glove could be a little tight because it will stretch. However, you do not want it to be uncomfortable. Your glove is too loose if the fingers of the gloves are baggy. Comfort is key!

Should the jacket and knickers be ordered in my size, or larger?
Jacket should be ordered one size larger than your regular men's suit size. You want a nice, comfortable fit--baggy close slows a fencer down and allows your epee and saber opponent to score a touch on the fabric that is there; a tight fit will not allow freedom of movement. Children's uniforms are usually ordered one to two sizes larger, to allow for growing room and to get more time out of the uniform.

The order that I have just received arrived in a damaged box. What should I do?
When signing for the package, you have to declare the package "Damaged". You should open the box to see if any equipment has been damaged. Most of the time it is only the box that is damaged and not the equipment. If equipment is damaged contact us at 1-800 - FENCING and let us know what has been damaged. We will put in a claim and replace the damaged equipment.

The order does not contain all of the items ordered.
First double and triple-check the box, especially for small parts, as shipping moves items around. If items are still missing call us at 1-800-FENCING to let us know what is not in the package.

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FOIL

The complete foil seems to be bent at the place where the guard is.
All complete weapons-foils, epees and sabers, practice and electric--are better balanced when slightly bent down and bent to the side. Some fencers prefer deeper bends then others. If you require a deeper bend please let us know when ordering.

Why is the mask painted black?
Masks are insulated with a black coating. The insulation prevents touches on the mask to register as a valid touch in foil.

What's the difference between the "Chinese" and "German" and "French" points?
The shape of the tips, barrels and screws are different and cannot be interchangeable. Historically, German points have lasted longer when set to a desired positioning. Some fencers, however, prefer the on French points because they are less expensive and more widely used. Whatever point you choose, you should stick with a single system; this way you will have spare parts when a tip screw, spring or complete point needs to be replaced. Chinese-style points do NOT have screws in them--the tip is screwed directly into the barrel (for both foil and epee ponts). SOME TOURNAMENT COMMITTEES MAY REQUIRE PRESENCE OF SCREWS IN THE BARRELS--CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL TOURNAMENT ORGANIZERS.

Which pistol grip should I use?
You should use a pistol grip that is most comfortable for your hand. The Italian Visconti is the most popular pistol grip in the United States. Other popular grips are the Belgium, Russian and German Visconti. The only way to tell which grip is most comfortable to you, is to try them all!

What should I do if my weapon is getting loose?
When your weapon is loose, stop fencing. Not only is a loose weapon more venerable to break or cause you to clip a wire inside the bell guard on an electric weapon, it is also more likely that the touch will not register against your opponent. Tighten your weapon by placing it in a vice grip or holding the blade secure to make sure it is straight.

Why are some pistol grips painted (insulated)?
Pistol grips are painted for grounding purposes in foil. A non-insulated grip can cause a light to register incorrectly when touched against a lame. It is mandatory to use an insulated grip in all competitions. You can use insulated grips in epee. However, if the tip touches the grip it will register as a touch.

The electric foil continuously goes off target.
Many possibilities: Your barrel could be loose, your tip is jammed or some dirt is in the tip. You can slap your point on the floor for the quick fix. Your foil wire could be broken - which would mean you need a re-wiring job. If this is not the problem it could be your body cord, reel or scoring machine. You can get our "Rewiring and Troubleshooting Video" to learn the quick-fixes of the pros.

The touch does not register even after the tip is depressed.
The wire is clipped or the tip is damaged. First look at the wire down the blade to see if there are any noticeable breaks. If not, take out the old tip and put in a new one. If this does not work there might be a break in the wire near the socket or bell guard and the blade needs a re-wire job.

My lame does not register a valid touch when the opponent hits me.
If the entire lame does not register a valid touch, check to make sure the body cord clip is connected to the lame (this is normally the problem). Another possibility is that the lame is dead or had a "dead spot" (non-conductive area). Dead Spots are due to oxidation, corrosion, broken metal fibers, or tears in the fabric. Moistening them with water can repair high-resistance areas that are due to oxidation. As the moisture soaks up salts in the fabric, conductivity will increase. Sewing lame fabric over the dead area is another solution.

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EPEE

The complete epee seems to be bent at the place where the guard is.
Complete epees are better balanced when slightly bent down and bent to the side. Some fencers prefer deeper bends then others. If you require a deeper bend please let us know when ordering.

What's the difference between the "German" and "French" points?
The shape of the tips, barrels and screws are different and cannot be interchangeable. Historically, German points have lasted longer when set to a desired positioning. Some fencers, however, prefer the on French points because they are less expensive and more widely used. Whatever point you choose, you should stick with a single system; this way you will have spare parts when a tip screw, spring or complete point needs to be replaced.

Which pistol grip should I use?
You should use a pistol grip that is most comfortable for your hand. The Italian Visconti is the most popular pistol grip in the United States. Other popular grips are the Belgium, Russian and German Visconti. The only way to tell which grip is most comfortable to you, is to try them all!

What should I do if my weapon is getting loose?
When your weapon is loose, stop fencing. Not only is a loose weapon more venerable to break or cause you to clip a wire inside the bell guard on an electric weapon, it is also more likely that the touch will not register against your opponent. Tighten your weapon by placing it in a vice grip or holding the blade secure to make sure it is straight.

The touch does not register even after the tip is depressed.
There are many possibilities why your point does not register. Your Contact spring might be too short. You can adjust or stretch it. You might need to tighten your barrel if it is loose. Your point might need to be cleaned from rust or dirt. You might need to re-wire your blade if the epee wire is broken. If these problems are not the case, make sure you are plugged in, your body cord and floor cord are working, and that the scoring machine is working properly.

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SABRE

Where does the sabre connector go?
The sabre connector clips onto the mask and the special "tab" on the rear neck part of the lame.

Why is the mask silver and not painted?
The mask is silver (not insulated) because the mask is a target and must be conductive to register a touch when contact is made from a sabre blade.

Why does my foil socket NOT work in my electric sabre?
The sockets on the sabers are different than the ones on foils. The saber sockets have to be "grounded" (continue the circuit from the socket onto the weapon), whereas the foil sockets cannot be grounded.

Can I use my insulated foil/epee mask for sabre fencing?
No, you must use an electric sabre mask when fencing electric. An insulated mask will not register a touch to the head. You can, however, use the insulated mask for practice and non-electric bouting.

My lame does not register a valid touch when the opponent hits me.
If the entire lame does not register a valid touch, check to make sure the body cord clip is connected to the lame (this is normally the problem). Another possibility is that the lame is dead or has a "dead spot" (non-conductive area). Dead Spots are due to oxidation, corrosion, broken metal fibers, or tears in the fabric. Moistening them with water can repair high-resistance areas that are due to oxidation. As the moisture soaks up salts in the fabric, conductivity will increase. Sewing lame fabric over the dead area is another solution.

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RETURNS/EXCHANGES

Do I need to call you before sending the item back?
There is NO need to call. Please read our Return Policy.

What should I do to return or exchange an item?
You can print and fill out the Return Authorization. There is also a page that you can print and paste onto the returning box. This page has our address. Please fill out your address on the top left-hand corner.

Do you arrange for a package to be picked up?
No, we do NOT arrange for pick up of the packages. This leads to mistakes, confusion, and lost returns.

What correspondence should I include inside the box that I am sending back?
You should fill out the Return Authorization. If you also include a copy of the Invoice and a letter of explanation, this will be very helpful in processing your return/exchange.

How should I send the box to you?
The least expensive trackable way (by ground UPS, or by USPS with Delivery Confirmation).  

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