SPRINGFIELD FENCING CLUB
The foil was invented in the middle of the 18th century as a training weapon in order to practice fast and elegant thrust fencing. Fencers blunted the point by wrapping a foil around the blade or fastening a knob on the point. Another factor in the target area is that foil rules are derived from a period when dueling to the death was the norm. Hence, the target area is the torso, where the vital organs are.
The épée evolved from civilian weapons such as the 17th century small sword. The épée developed when authorities in the 19th century decided that they did not like the killing aspect of the duel and changed it to a "first blood" event. This required much more skill, as a nick on the wrist or other exposed area could end the duel. Today’s épée fencing very much resembles the 19th century dueling’s “first blood”.
The saber was originally a heavy curved sword used by cavalry soldiers. Over the centuries, the blade has become much lighter and thinner and perfectly straight. The guard completely covers the hand. The target area for saber bouts is anywhere above the waist (which is reminiscent of horseback days).