Gear Failures - on or off the Piste

How to work out what’s not working correctly on the piste (Weapon, Body wire, Lamé, Spool, Ground Wire, Box).

Reasons your gear may fail at competition weapons check can be found here.

Weight Testing Failures

Weight testing is done to check how much pressure is needed to push the tip in and score a hit.

For epée the spring needs to be able to hold 750g, for foil, 500g.

The main reason a foil or epée will fail a weight test is a problem with the spring. Either the spring has broken or been compressed. If the spring is broken, you will need to replace it. If the spring is compressed, you can either stretch it or replace it

The second possibility is that the barrel, or the shaft of the tip, is dirty. This makes it hard to press in the tip and can often stop the tip from coming out. To fix this you will need to remove the tip and clean the barrel and tip with sand paper or a metal file

An easy way to test your weapon (but not accurate and not suitable for competitions) is to sit the weapon on it’s tip, if the weapon does not go off, you know the weapon passes. This can be done as an epée is 750g and a foil is 500g.

Grub Screws

Both epées and foils must have two grub screws holding the tip in the barrel.

Weapons Do Not Register

Foil and Sabre

Problem - If the box continues to flash a yellow light when the foil or sabré is plugged in, there is a break in the circuit., check that everything is plugged in. The two wires in the body wire that plug into the weapon provide a closed circuit. For foil, the wire from the 20mm pin goes down the blade into the barrel. The other wire is connected to the guard and blade. These two wires provide a live circuit. When the tip is pressed we create a break in the circket. For sabré the circuit is the blade and guard.

Fix - If the box is flashing yellow, we can identify where the break is and fix the problem. First we start with the weapon by unplugging the body wire and holding the two pins against the guard (for a bayonet you will need to hold the tip and the base of the plug against the guard). If the light continues to flash, it is not the weapon. The next step is to grab a piece of metal (such as an allen key) and pull the body wire out of the spool end until you can fit the piece of metal between the plastic part of the plug and the socket. Now hold the piece of metal against the two pins with the 20mm gap between them (the middle pin goes to the blade, the pin that is 20mm away from the middle pin goes to the wire and the last pin, which should be 15mm away from the middle pin, goes to the lamé). If this does not stop the flashing lights, then the body wire is not at fault, if it does, then the body wire should be replaced.. Repeat the test with the end of the ground wire that plugs into the spool, if the light is still flashing, continue to the end of the ground wire that is plugged into the box. If the light still flashes, then there is something wrong with the box.

Hits Do Not Register - (IE: No Hits Register)


Problem - If the weapon does not register hits, on or off target, there will be a break in the wires going to the weapon. The difference in this case is that the two wires going to the weapon are touching making the box think that there is a weapon attached.

Fix - Unplug your body wire. If the yellow light flashes, then the problem is the weapon. If there is no change, check that the box is on foil. If the box is on foil, unplug your body wire from the spool end, if the yellow light flashes, change body wires. If there is no change, then try unplugging the ground wire from the spool, if the yellow light flashes, then there is a problem with the spool. If there is no change, unplug the ground wire from the box, if the yellow light flashes the ground wire needs replacing. If there is no change, try a new box.


Problem - This means that the circuit is not closing. Fore epée we have a open circuit that closes when the tip is pushed in. the wires going down the blade into the tip are the two pins 15mm apart. The third wire goes to the blade and guard, earthing any hits made by the opponent that are on the blade or guard.

Fix - For Epée, this could be the tip, as described above in the gages section, or one of the cables going to the weapon. This can be check in the above way (as for foil) except the two pins on the three pin plug to be checking are the middle pin and the pin 15mm away from the middle pin.

Hits Do Not Register (IE: On Target Hits)

Foil and Sabré

Problem - When you hit you opponent on target and only an off-target light comes up. This suggests there is a problem with the connection between the lamé being hit and the box.

Fix - The very first thing to check is if the crocodile clip is connected to the lamé. If not, clip it on and try again. If the crocodile clip is connected, try pushing the tip of the weapon against the crocodile clip. If the target light comes up, then there is a problem with the lamé. If the off-target light comes up, then unplug the body wire from the spool end enough to push the tip against the pins (the pins will need to still be in the spool end for this test to work). The pin you want to push the weapon tip against is the pin 15mm from the middle pin. If the on target light works, then the body wire is at fault. Otherwise move onto the ground wire end that is plugged into the spool, if it works there, try another spool. If the off target light comes up, try at the other end of the ground wire. If it works there, try another ground wire, else another box.


The same as “if no hits register”.


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