In the world of fencing gear, the two broad categories of product quality are FIE and non-FIE, which stands for the Federation Internationale d'Escrime, the international governing organization of fencing. This organization makes the call on whether or not gear can be used in international tournaments, and their stamp of approval can often come with a high price. Therefore, it's important to examine whether or not this qualifier is entirely necessary when picking out your first full set of fencing gear (from an outlet such as Fencing Armor). In order to clear the air, and save you a considerable amount of money in the process, here are some reasons why going FIE certified might be a bit more than a beginning fencer needs.
It's Mostly a Formality
Many manufacturers will forgo official FIE certification because the process of sending gear to the FIE for examination and approval is expensive and time-consuming. Instead, they will ensure on their website that the gear in question is compliant or even exceeds FIE standards. Whether or not they believe this claim is a different issue, but many manufacturers with a long history and large customer base can be considered credible, especially if they have celebrity endorsements.
As mentioned previously, the actual process of getting something FIE certified is costly, and that cost is often passed on to the consumer in the form of a higher price for the gear. Non-FIE gear cannot be used in international competitions, so that alone will bring down the price, along with the saved cost of having the gear approved by the FIE. These two factors can considerably decrease your cost of getting started, which is a big help to those looking to try out the sport.
It Won't Keep You From Competing in the US
Perhaps the biggest kicker for buying non-FIE is the fact that this gear is still legal to use in American tournaments. That said, gear that is non-FIE certified will cover you in just about every tournament a beginning fencer could reasonably enter, and your wallet will thank you greatly. Once you do get into international tournaments, however, these events are usually hosted by the FIE, so they will require gear that's been approved. For many beginning fencers, this prospect is years off, if it's on the table at all, so this usually isn't a concern for those simply looking for a new way to stay fit and meet people.