The fencers compete (bout) on a rectangular strip of floor that is 5.9 to 6.6 ft (1.79 to 2.01 m) wide and 46 ft (14.02 m) long. Each fencer has a cord attached to him, which is connected to a reel on each short side of the strip. Each cord is spooled on a reel and each reel is connected to the scoring machine. The scoring machine is on a table just off the middle of one long side of the strip. The machine has four lights (one white light and one colored light for each fencer).
On the other long side of the strip is the director. The director ensures that all equipment is safe, supervises the bout, starts and stops the action, observes and recounts the action, awards points and penalizes faults. A fencing bout lasts six minutes of actual fencing time, and is played until one player scores five points or until time runs out. In the case of a tie, play continues regardless of time until the tie-breaking point is scored. (To see a diagram of the fencing field of play, click here.)