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Modern pentathletes fence using an epee, which is a sharp-pointed duelling sword with its end blunted. The target area is the entire body from head to toe. Bouts last for one minute, or until one hit or touch is scored. Pentathletes fence every pentathlete in the competition, in a round robin format. Points are awarded according to the ratio of bouts won to bouts lost.


  • An electronic scoring devise is used in competition to mark a hit which can be made anywhere on the body including clothing and equipment.
  • Fencing is conducted within the piste – a long narrow area marked for play (1.5 to 2m wide x 14m long). Fencers must not go beyond this area with both feet.
  • No one is to approach the piste area and disturb the bout. This includes cheering, instructing or criticizing of referee
  • Instructions will be given en garde (on guard) , allez (play), halt (stop)
  • It is forbidden to turn one’s back on one’s opponent during a bout
  • Use of the non-sword hand and arm (to carry out an offensive or defensive action is forbidden)

Melanie McCann at World Cup #1 in Palm Springs, CA
(February 23, 2013)

Canadian Olympian Melanie McCann (Mount Carmel, ON) during the Fence in the Finals at World Cup #1


  • Agility
  • Tactical Skills
  • Fitness


  • Specialized equipment needed includes FIE approved mesh mask, protective clothing, bodywire to attach to scoring machine and either French or pistol style epée grip.


  • 70% bouts won corresponds to 1000 points.
  • Each victory over or under this number is in accordance with the number of the bouts as laid down by the points table for the fencing event of the modern pentathlon. This points table can be found in the: Complete rules for Pentathlon (Fencing) PDF

Additional Information

Complete rules for Pentathlon are available on the Union International de Pentathlon Moderne Website

Fencing Rules PDF

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