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Gearing Up

Recommendations for starter gear, in approximate order you should consider acquiring them. There is no one right answer for everyone, but if you are at the beginning of your journey into HEMA with the SHFA, something similar should serve you well. If you have any questions Discord is the best place to ask them. 

Mask, Gloves, and Groin, the absolute essentials:

Absolute Force HEMA Mask

Protect your head. It is important. This mask is a good starting point, but they take a lot of abuse and you should not be surprised if you need to replace one occasionally.

The Sparring Glove

Mitten style gloves tend to protect your hands from strikes while providing a lighter inside that allows for relatively dexterous sword handling. Split hoofs are an added risk for probably no benefit. Individual finger gloves are dangerous if they aren't VERY rigid, such as close fitting metallic plates.

Your choice of cup/groin protection, this is not HEMA specific. Test it out yourself, before someone else does on accident.

Gorget/Throat Protector:

PBT Gorget

Wintertree Crafts Gorget

There are many right answers, but if you are hesitant to punch yourself in the throat while wearing it, it is not good enough. Very important before starting sparring of any kind, because accidents happen.

Recommended Starting Jackets:

SPES AP Light Jacket

An excellent jacket for entry level fencers but also sturdy enough for competition. Provides protection where you need it an can have additional plates added if needed.

SPES AP Pro Jacket

Overkill for the beginning historical fencer, this is a heavy duty jacket for high level competition at large events against unknown opponents. If you don't know how much control the person you are fighting has in their fencing this is the jacket you want. 

SPES Officers Jacket

An excellent choice for rapier and anyone working with lighter weapons such as competitive light saber. It doesn't provide enough protection for long sword although more experienced fencers may use it. 


SPES Locust Fencing Pants

When you're looking to start full sparring regularly, 350N puncture resistant fabric is the minimum you want to consider. Consider getting hit with a chunk of steel travelling at speed, and if you want more padding in your clothing.

A note on 350N, 800N, etc.

The rating that you will find on gear such as 350N puncture resistance is only in relation to a blades ability to penetrate the fabric. Masks and gear with higher rating do not provide additional protection from strikes, just penetration from potentially broken blades. 


If you're going to look more into going to tournaments and/or full force sparring, consider adding additional protection like hard points and chest plates, such as the following:

SPES Elbow Protectors

SPES Knee Guards

SPES Forearm Protection

Elbows, knees, and forearms taking a hit at a bad angle can be a bad time. If you have the Pro jacket you may already be covered.

Absolute Force Chest Protector

This is basically just a piece of plastic to go under your jacket and dull the sensation of getting forcefully poked in the sternum. Can really save your day.

Fun stuff: SWORDS!

VB Technique Feder

The basic technique trainer sword. You will likely want to upgrade later on. The possibilities rapidly become endless.
Some places to consider:

SIGI Forge

SIGI Forge makes reasonably priced trainers and are highly recommended. They can be customized to a variety of styles, lengths, and designs. 

ENSIFER-Jan Chodkiewicz

Very popular blades, carried by Purpleheart Armory if you don't want to deal with international ordering and shipping. 

Regenyei Armory

Arguably the HEMA standard in many areas. Starting to become less popular as other makers become available, still a quality producer. 

Castille Armory

A relatively local producer making quality swords, if you want to support companies making swords in the USA check them out. 
Youth Program Now Available

Youth Program Now Available

We are excited to announce that we are now offering classes for kids! 

The SHFA Youth Program provides training to kids 14 and under* who are interested in learning how to fence with historical weapons such as the long sword. Students will learn how to safely handle a sword and use it to defend themselves.


Cost$160 for 8 classes

When: Sundays at Noon

Where:  McKinley Park 

To enroll just fill out the form below. All necessary equipment is provided, no additional gear purchases are necessary. Students make use of wooden and padded weapons in their training.

*Minimum age is 8 although some students may be declined at the discretion of the instructors.

Thank you for enrolling! We will contact you shortly to confirm your enrollment. If you have any questions just email us at