The target area for each weapon is as shown on the right.
For Foil, the torso is the only valid area to score a touche. The scoring machine makes a distinction between an off-target hit and a valid one because foil fencers wear a ‘lame’ or metallic jacket. The right-of-way rule apply to foil. A referee, who starts and halts each sequence, has to determine who earned the right of way for attack by the action of extending the sword arm. The opponent must properly parry (deflect) the thrust or avoid the attack in order gain back right-of-way to counter attack.
The Épeé, a descendant of the dueling sword, is the weapon used in the fencing portion of the modern pentathlon. Any part of the Épeé fencer’s body, from toe to mask, is a valid target. Like Foil fencing, ‘touches’ are scored only with the tip of the weapon, but Épeé is the only one of the three weapons in which ‘right-of-way’ rules do not apply. Scoring lights at times register against both fencers, indicating the two hit simultaneously or within a fraction of a second. Touches are counted against both fencers in this case.
The Sabre is a weapon of cut and thrust. The modern version of the calvary sword has a target encompassing any portion of the body above the waist. Touches can be scored in sabre fencing with both the point and the edge of the blade. Just as in Foil, a referee starts and halts each sequence and has to determine who has earned the right of way for attack. The opponent must properly parry (deflect) the thrust or avoid the attack in order gain back right-of-way to counter attack.