There are three weapons in recreational fencing, foil, epee and sabre. Some fencers fence all three but top fencers tend to specialise in one weapon.
Foil is a point weapon, which means that you have to hit with the point of the foil to score a valid hit. The target is the main truck of your opponents body, the arms, legs and head being off target.
The fencers salute each other at the start of the match and form a position with their legs bent, their feet in an ‘L’ shape and often with their foil aimed roughly at the head of their opponent so that the point will fall onto the valid target when the fencer lunges (ie makes an attack by stepping forward with his front foot and extending his foil and front arm).
There is a right of way in foil fencing which means that the fencer who attacks first has the right to score a point. This means that often in foil fencing you have to either attack first or parry(block) your opponents attack.
Epee is also a point weapon but there is no right of way, your goal is to hit without being hit. The whole of body is the target and whilst foil fencers only target the truck of the body epee fencers will need to hit their opponents arms and feet as well.
Sabre is different because you can make valid hits with the side of the blade as well as the point. The target is the truck of the body above the waist, the arms and the head.
Because the target area is large and you can hit with the whole of the blade sabre bouts are often fast and furious. Fast footwork is usually the key and it tends to favour attacking fencers.
Unlike foil and epee you can’t cross your legs in sabre but it is still possible to move at great speed with you feet in a classic ‘L’ shape.
Fencers will always wear a mask, a glove for their sword hand, a fencing jacket and a plastron(an underjacket). Never be tempted to fence without these.
Most clubs and certainly the ones mentioned in this site will supply you with equipment when you first start. A few will charge a modest hire fee but most will do it free.
Equipment Manufactures include Leon Paul, Allstar and Swordprice fighters.